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Annie: Should new wife attend stepdaughter's wedding?

Dear Annie: My husband of five years has just learned that his daughter is engaged, and I am already stressing about the wedding.

My husband was married when we met. I didn't intentionally date a married man, but he pursued me, and I told him that if he wanted to date me, he must leave his wife. It only took three months, so he was obviously ready to go. Still, I'm the "other woman."

He has lunch regularly with his daughter, but the only time his daughter sees me is for a short, awkward time at holidays. His daughter came to our wedding, but didn't stay for the reception. I don't blame her. I'd hate me, too.

I don't want to go to her wedding. I feel it would stress her out, and I don't want to ruin her special day. I think the focus should be on her, not on people whispering about the woman who broke up her parents' marriage.

If the bride wanted me there, I would go, but I am pretty sure she doesn't. Should I go and wish them well, then leave? Should I stay away altogether? My husband would have a better time if I were with him, but it's not his big day. Please tell me what to do. -- Somewhere in California

Dear California: You are wise to understand the situation, and considerate to put the bride first. Your husband should ask his daughter directly if she wants you there. If she says no, then stay away. If she says "yes" or she doesn't care, it might be best for you to attend only the ceremony, and your husband should remain for the reception. But keep in mind that you are now married to Dad and in order for the situation ever to normalize, you will need to endure these encounters so that, over time, they won't seem so unusual or stressful.

Dear Annie: I am continually fascinated at the people who are quick to criticize retired husbands for not taking on 50 percent of the household chores.

Why do these stories never include the expectation that the wife will wash the cars, mow the lawn, repair the broken shades, change the air-conditioning filters, clean the gutters and on and on?

Everyone is quick to yell at the husbands for not doing the dishes, but why shouldn't the wives be sharing the other tasks? -- Mike

Dear Mike: We agree that the wives who are retired should pick up some of the slack on the other end, but these are not exactly equal chores. Dishes, laundry and housecleaning have to be done every day. Mowing the lawn or cleaning the gutters is seasonal and periodic. You could count up the hours spent doing each of these if you are determined to make it "equal," but we don't believe household chores should be tit-for-tat. You might be better at some things and your wife at others, and it's fine to focus more on the work you do best. And the rest you should do because you love each other and these things still need to be done, retired or not.

To write to Annie's Mailbox, send to c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

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