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DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Charlie," and I have been married for seven years. We are in our mid-60s. This is the second marriage for both of us. He was widowed some years before we met. We have a good marriage. He is sweet and caring, but one issue causes friction between us. It's about letters he and his late wife exchanged.

They were high school sweethearts. She kept all the letters he sent her when he was away in college, and after she died, he wanted to keep them. It bothers me that he's still attached to them. Whenever we talk about the subject and I ask him to dispose of them, he gets defensive, says he doesn't understand why it bothers me and accuses me of being unreasonable. He says I don't even "let" him have a picture of his late wife among our family pictures around the house. My first marriage was very troubled, and I never wanted a picture of my late husband. But Charlie's was a happy one.

Am I unreasonable, or is it time to let the past stay in the past, as painful as it might be to detach from objects that were an intimate part of his previous marriage? — REASONING IN ILLINOIS

DEAR REASONING: Why have you not accepted that Charlie had a life before fate intervened, took his wife and you entered the picture? People who had miserable first marriages — as yours was — often choose not to remarry. Charlie is who he is in part because of his happy marriage to his first wife. You are making a mistake by competing with her. Stop insisting that he get rid of the old letters, which hold great sentimental value for him. And if he would like to display a photo of his late wife, quit giving him heartburn. She's part of his history, and it's his house, too.

DEAR ABBY: I am getting married in a couple of months. I feel like I'm living a real-life fairy tale — but not always in a good way. My fiance's stepfamily does not approve of our union. They have asked me to leave him. He is appalled by their behavior and has told them they are no longer welcome in our lives or at our wedding. They were livid and blamed me.

My fiance is my very own real-life Prince Charming, and I want nothing more than to spend the rest of my life with him.

Abby, I am terrified they are going to show up at our wedding anyway or try to somehow sabotage it. What should I do? — CINDERELLA IN NEW ENGLAND

DEAR CINDERELLA: Allow me to congratulate you and your fiance on your upcoming nuptials and offer my sympathy for your grief, which is undeserved. You may need to hire professional security to ensure the peace, or see if security is provided at the venue. The way to prevent unwanted intruders in the future would be to move as far away from his family as is feasible.

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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.

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.)

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