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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Rory," and I both come from close families. Whenever something is wrong, troublesome, etc., in either of our families, we have meetings where the entire immediate family comes together to discuss the issue.

The problem is, I am not invited to his! It's not like I'm a recent addition to this family. Rory and I dated for 15 years before getting married. My family started inviting him to our meetings after we had dated for a year, including discussions about my dad losing his job, my brother's stint in rehab and more.

Rory's family has had lots of similar meetings, but I am excluded because I am not a blood relative. Even when my husband lost his job, I was not invited to attend. I was left sitting out in the hallway with the children and the boyfriend of one of his other siblings.

I am Rory's wife. Shouldn't I be allowed in on the family discussions now that we're married, especially ones that center on my husband? Am I overreacting because I'm so angry about this? How can I overcome this exclusion from his family? -- WANTS TO JOIN IN

DEAR WANTS TO JOIN IN: You are not overreacting. If you haven't done so already, discuss this with your husband. He is the one who needs to make his family understand you are now a full-fledged member of the clan. If their line of thinking is followed to its logical conclusion, then no man or woman who marries in is fully accepted. "What God has joined together, let no man put asunder," the saying goes. The tradition in Rory's family creates division, and it isn't healthy.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Marriage & Divorce

Invitation To Dinner Is Music To Widower's Ears

DEAR ABBY: I have a suggestion for your readers. When you attend a funeral or a wake, or meet a friend or relative who has been recently widowed, don't say, "If there is anything I can do, just ask." Call the person in the near future and invite him or her to dinner with you. It doesn't have to be a steak dinner or anything fancy. A home-cooked pot roast would be wonderful.

Of all my friends, only one has done this several times. The phone rings and he'll say, "We're having spaghetti tonight. Would you like to come over? We'll throw in another meatball." I get so tired of going out alone to eat, or settling for a sandwich. -- GRATEFUL WIDOWER IN ILLINOIS

DEAR GRATEFUL: When a death happens, sometimes people are well-intentioned, but they feel awkward and don't know what to do. Thank you for writing and giving me the opportunity to remind them that it isn't the food as much as it is the fellowship that matters at a time like this.

Read more in: Death

Not Every Email Deserves A Response

DEAR ABBY: The subject is email, which is how so many of us communicate nowadays. When one gets an email from a friend or relative, it seems to me only common courtesy in most cases to acknowledge it with a response, if only to say thanks. The reply need not be immediate, but there should be one, I think. Many people just don't reply. What do you think? -- TOM IN PALO ALTO

DEAR TOM: I think some people may be too busy to respond, particularly if the communication doesn't seem important or contain a question.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics