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by Abigail Van Buren

Man's Family Treats Him as a Second-Class Citizen

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to a wonderful man for 33 years. He doesn't drink or smoke and has never used pot or drugs. We have the best time together, love each other and enjoy our life together.

The trouble is his family. He's the youngest, and they treat him like an outsider. Whenever we get together, his mother often tells him he was a "surprise" baby, and his siblings treat him like an interloper.

I have been wanting to limit our contact with his family, and my husband, who has been loyal to them even though they treat him this way, is finally coming around. I don't want to be rude, but his family will never change their ways. What's the most polite way of distancing ourselves without hurting anyone? -- OUTSIDER'S WIFE

DEAR WIFE: The "polite way" is to tell the relatives you can't see them because you have a schedule conflict, a previous commitment, a trip planned, a sick pet, or think you may be coming down with something contagious and don't want to give it to them. The better way would be for you and your husband to tell them you don't like the way they treat him and if it continues, they will see much less of both of you.

Read more in: Marriage & Divorce | Family & Parenting

DEAR ABBY: I have been at my current job just over a year, and I really enjoy it. My co-workers and I get along, and it is a great job for my skill set.

When I was interviewing for the position, I made a point of saying that I am not the type of person who will leave after a short while because it's a problem employers face where I live. Recently, however, I have been asked to help my father run his business. He's not a young man, and he genuinely needs the help I can provide.

I'm torn. Should I put my family first, or keep my promise not to leave this job after such a short time? -- TORN IN COLORADO

DEAR TORN: I think you already know what you must do. Talk to your boss, explain the situation and apologize. Then give enough notice that a replacement can be found so you are not leaving your employer in the lurch.

Read more in: Work & School

Couple Is Devastated by Sudden Loss of Dog

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I recently lost our beloved pet of 12 years, "Bootsy." He was our first "fur baby." His death was very sudden, and we are devastated. We don't have children; it was as if he was our firstborn. What can we do to get through the death of our beloved dog-child? -- SUFFERING IN THE SOUTH

DEAR SUFFERING: I am sorry for your loss. An unfortunate aspect of being emotionally invested in a pet is the reality that they have much shorter lifespans than humans do. Start the healing process by reminding each other that you gave Bootsy the best life possible. Consider making a contribution in his name to an animal rescue organization. Then contact the veterinarian who cared for Bootsy about joining a grief support group to help you through this time of bereavement.

Read more in: Death

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)