DEAR ABBY: We have a family problem I have never seen in your column. There are six children in our family, and the eldest (I'll call him Ted) is getting married soon.
For the past eight years, Ted and his brother (I'll call him Gene) have not spoken to each other - this being Gene's decision. Gene has excluded Ted from every family event and will not speak to him - even if they are in the same room.The problem is that our mother wants Ted to invite Gene to his wedding, because we are "family." Ted doesn't want to hurt our mother, and yet he feels that Gene's presence would ruin his wedding day since Gene wouldn't talk to him there anyway.
Please, Abby, what is your advice? - NOT EXACTLY THE WALTONS
DEAR NOT EXACTLY: It's understandable that Mother devoutly wishes to see her sons bury the hatchet - providing it's not in somebody's skull. But unless the brothers have made peace with each other, Mother should not ask Ted to invite Gene to his wedding.
DEAR ABBY: I have a friend who is also a neighbor. She comes over for coffee every morning after she gets her kids off to school.
A few months ago, she started off with, "I'm going to tell you something, but you've got to promise on your word of honor you won't tell a soul." So I promised.
Well, I wasn't prepared for what she told me. It seems she is having an affair with a friend of her husband's. She says she has no major complaints about her husband, but she never really knew what love was until she and this man found each other. (He's also married.)
How I wish she hadn't told me. We're really not that close. She never asks me for advice; she just wants to talk. Abby, I really don't want to hear any more about her romance, but I don't know how to shut her up.
How do I handle this? - A GOOD LISTENER
DEAR LISTENER: Quit listening and start talking. Tell your neighbor you don't want to hear any more about her affair, and if she feels a need to talk about it, she should see a family counselor, or better yet, talk to her clergyperson. This woman needs to see the error of her ways before she wrecks two families.
DEAR ABBY: Is there a discreet way to find out if a dating partner has been circumcised?
I am a young woman who intends to remain celibate until I marry. I have recently learned from the various medical literature that there is a much higher risk of cervical cancer and vaginal infections in some women whose husbands have not been circumcised, so this is very important to me.
Obviously, this is much too personal a question to ask a casual date, but I don't want to wait until after a serious relationship has developed to learn that it could be a problem.
Can you help me? - PERPLEXED IN QUEENS
DEAR PERPLEXED: I know of no way to discreetly ask a man if he has been circumcised. But since you regard it as a legitimate health concern, bring up the subject should you develop a serious relationship that could lead to marriage.
Without asking the gentleman a direct question requiring a "yes" or "no" answer, ask him how he feels about circumcision. His response will probably tell you all you need to know.