DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I are talking marriage soon, and I'm already stressing over who will walk me down the aisle.
I always planned for it to be my dad, but he passed away a month ago. Mom remarried when I was young, but I have never had a close relationship with my stepdad. He mentioned years ago that he'd like to walk me down the aisle one day, but I honestly would rather he didn't. I don't want to hurt his feelings or strain our relationship, but I also don't want to feel like I am replacing Daddy, who I was very close with.
Is it taboo to walk down the aisle alone? Or must I just suck it up and walk with my stepdad for the sake of not hurting his feelings? — MARRIAGE IN MINNEAPOLIS
DEAR MARRIAGE: Brides can (and should) walk down the aisle with the companion of their choice. When the bride's father is deceased, the escort can be her mother or a close male relative. I have also heard of brides escorted down the aisle by their canine companion, which proves that although they say a dog is man's best friend, it can also be a woman's.
You are not obligated to have anyone walk you to the altar because the person asks. If your stepfather repeats his request, tell him the truth — that it would be too hurtful because it would feel like he was replacing your father, something no one can ever do. You should also know that these days some women feel being "given away" is an anachronistic custom, and make their way alone to join their groom at the altar.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and my mother had a good relationship before we were married. But since our wedding two years ago, he complains about her nonstop while pointing out ways that I am like her. My brothers feed into it too. They often have long conversations together detailing her "many" negative qualities.
Recently, while we were visiting my parents' home, Mom overheard my husband say very critical things about her. She got upset and kind of shut down emotionally and socially for the rest of the visit. We both apologized to her separately, but she said she was tired of being criticized and tired of him being mean to me as well.
I have a history of depression. My husband and I have tried counseling multiple times, with no progress because he feels our problems are "my responsibility." My husband is a good person, but it hurts me to see my mother upset and to have the two most important people in my life so at odds. Advice? — TORN IN NEBRASKA
DEAR TORN: I'm glad to offer some, but first you will have to accept that "good" husbands don't act like yours does. If there are things he doesn't like about your mother, he should take them up with her directly, not behind her back the way he did. I don't blame her for feeling hurt. How else was she supposed to respond?
What your husband did was destructive, not helpful. The same is true for the way he treats you. Counseling hasn't worked because of his unwillingness to accept any responsibility for your problems as a couple. My advice is to talk to a licensed therapist on your own, which will help you to see your situation more clearly than you appear to do.
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.