I have been dating "Paul" for two years. I have two children (6 and 4), whom Paul has loved and accepted since day one. His patience and affection for them never cease to amaze me.
Paul has a 5-year-old daughter, "Daisy," from a previous marriage who spends every other weekend with us. I'm having a hard time accepting her place in our lives. I want to be happy and welcome Daisy, but I am growing more angry and resentful by the day. I'm not a mean person. I love children, so why do I resent her so? This may sound terrible, but I just want a life with my kids and the man I love - no strings attached.
Paul can't exclude Daisy from his life, and I wouldn't dream of asking him to. I hate to end a beautiful relationship, but I don't know what else to do. We've already postponed our wedding. With a huge issue like this hanging over us, we know we can't be married until we figure this out. Help!
- Alicia in Atlanta
DEAR ALICIA: If you want to marry Paul, you will have to fully accept that they're a package deal. You do not have to "love" his daughter, but you will have to respect her feelings. Imagine yourself in her position, coming to visit your household two weekends a month. Wouldn't you want to be welcomed and treated with kindness?
Your inability to accept Daisy may be because she's living, breathing proof that Paul was once in love with another woman. (Is it possible she resembles her mother?) Counseling might help you resolve this. Another source I recommend is a Web site, www.steptogether.org. Please don't wait too long to see what it has to offer.
DEAR ABBY: My 14-year-old daughter's best friend's mother died suddenly. She was 43. I am 44. I know everyone grieves differently, but my question is, why am I crying every time I think about it?
I knew the woman who passed away, but we weren't close friends. I just knew her as my daughter's friend's mom. I could understand it if we had been close. Please help me figure this out.
- Crying in the East
DEAR CRYING: Gladly. First of all, tragedy has hit close to home. You may be crying because the woman died so young. She was a contemporary, and you identify with her.
Also, because your daughters are close, you can see firsthand how much not only the motherless daughter will miss during these important years in her life, but also how much the mother will have missed. And by the way, those are valid reasons to shed tears. Doing so shows that you have a tender, caring heart.
DEAR ABBY: My best friend and I have known each other since we were very young. There's one big difference between us. Her family has a lot of money - mine doesn't.
Christmas is fast approaching, and I still have no idea what to get her. What do you give the girl who has everything and still stay within a tight budget? Please help me. I hate to once again give a cheap gift to such a close friend.
- Poor in New Jersey
DEAR "POOR": A meaningful gift does not have to be something expensive. It's one that was selected with some thought behind it. Because you don't have much to spend, consider making your friend a gift. While it will not be expensive, it will be one of a kind. Or give her something she can "fill" herself, like a picture frame or a diary. *