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DEAR ABBY: My fiancée has a female friend he has known since they were 15 years old. She's always in the way, and he always makes excuses for anything she does wrong. Should I give his ring back, or should I keep quiet and let her continue to invade our relationship? — DEPRESSED FIANCEE IN MICHIGAN

DEAR FIANCEE: Try this. Tell your fiance that you would like the two of you to have premarital counseling to be sure you are on the same page regarding issues that "might" come up after your marriage. During one of those sessions, you should raise the subject of his old friend and let the counselor/mediator guide you through the discussion. And if you can't come to a mutual agreement, you should THEN return the ring.

DEAR ABBY: My dad died when I was young. He and Mom had a beautiful marriage. Mom was in a long relationship following his death and has been single for three years now. She has been spending lots of time with a family friend who lost his wife some time ago. They have known each other for years, even when Dad was alive.

She goes over to his place for romantic dinners, they talk on the phone at least once a day, and he helps her with anything she needs around the house. He goes above and beyond to show her he's interested in her without actually saying those words, and he has told her she needs to take him more seriously when he invites her on trips because she laughs it off.

Mom flip-flops between being interested and being convinced he doesn't want a serious relationship. Everyone around her thinks she's crazy not to give it a try. I don't know how much I can push her. I haven't seen her this happy in years. I think she's scared and nervous, and I also think she'll regret it if she keeps rejecting his overtures. I think the ball is in her court now. I need help convincing her to pursue this. What can I do? — HOPEFUL DAUGHTER IN CANADA

DEAR HOPEFUL: Tell your mother it's time to stop laughing and have a serious conversation with this man. Their relationship stands no chance of progressing further if she isn't willing to allow it.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $14 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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