DEAR ABBY: My husband, "John," and I have been married 12 years. My stepdaughter, "Diana," who gave me a "My Second Mom" card on Mother's Day, is being married in September. Diana is very close to her mother, "Charlotte," who resents me.
Because John and I are paying for half the wedding, we requested that my parents and Diana's stepbrother and stepsister be invited. Our request was denied. John and Charlotte will be taking part in the ceremony together, which is fine with me. Diana asked me to play a small role in the ceremony, but Charlotte became very upset, so I was excluded. The engagement announcement also made no mention of me.
As things stand, I'm not sure where I will be seated, if I will be included in family photos, the reception line, first dance, grand march, etc. Out of deference to Charlotte, the wedding seems to have been planned as if I don't exist. How do other second wives in this situation make it through?
I have tried hard to be supportive, keep my mouth shut and remember that the birth parents take precedence, but being treated as if I don't exist is hard to swallow. The more I try to be understanding of Diana's position, the more I'm excluded and the more I feel our relationship is being compromised.
John and I discussed it and I suggested that maybe it would be best if I didn't attend the wedding. He became very sad and said he really wants me there. How can I support John and stop all this from damaging my relationship with Diana? Your thoughts, please. -- DISAPPEARING STEPMOTHER
DEAR STEPMOTHER: Although you and your husband are paying for half the wedding, it's clear that Charlotte is running the show. I don't blame you for feeling hurt; however, you will do more damage to your relationship with Diana if you do not attend. I think you should go -- first to help your stepdaughter celebrate this important day in her life, and second, to inject a much-needed dose of reality into this fantasy.
DEAR ABBY: I left my husband 2 1/2 years ago because he physically abused my son. I tried dating after that, and thought I had found a nice guy. Then I discovered that in spite of being on birth control, I was pregnant. He pulled the "it's not mine" routine, so I again became single -- this time with four children -- and remained that way for more than a year.
Five months ago I started seeing an amazing man. He loves my children and wants to marry me, but I find myself pulling away. Is it because I'm afraid that this man will become the Jekyll and Hyde type, too? -- GUN SHY IN CANADA
DEAR GUN SHY: Probably. Your fear is understandable, considering the luck you've had with the previous men in your life.
Before you distance yourself any further, consider asking a psychologist to help you come to grips with your fears. And while you're at it, couples counseling would also be helpful, so you can get to know this "amazing man" better before you make any more lifetime commitments. If he loves you as he claims to, he will cooperate. If he refuses -- keep looking.
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