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Ring presented at engagement ceremony is unhappy surprise

Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: When my then-boyfriend asked me to marry him, he didn't have a ring ready, but I happily accepted his proposal. We were in our late 20s and had been dating for almost 10 years. He then took me to the jewelry store so I could select one to my taste and liking (within budget). We took a picture of the ring, and he told me he would bring his mother back to the jewelry shop with him so she could help with the price haggling.

A week later, he told me he had made the purchase and we both couldn't wait for our engagement ceremony as we took the next step in our relationship. On that day, to my surprise, the ring he put on my finger wasn't the one I had selected. However, in front of his family, my family and probably 40 guests, I pretended nothing happened.

I wasn't happy at all and told him later, in private, that it wasn't the ring I chose. His answer was, his mother thought this one would look better (in my opinion, cheaper and tackier) than the one I liked and that I was overreacting. I told him that had he not taken me shopping, I would have appreciated any ring he bought. He brushes me off when I try to discuss it. Why did he take me and then disregard my opinion? Am I overreacting, Abby? -- FOOLED IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR FOOLED: You are not overreacting. Your fiance's mother had a lot of nerve. She apparently rules the roost and chose that occasion to assert herself. Worse, it appears her son values her opinion over yours. He owes you an apology.

DEAR ABBY: My husband was a drug addict 18 years ago. It was a very hard time for us; he went through rehab and we almost divorced. Fast-forward: He has been doing well, and we still have our problems, but he hasn't used heavy drugs for 17 years. To calm his anxiety, he just has an occasional drink or uses CBD oils.

My sister-in-law told me last weekend that my sister told our son (who was 17 at the time) about my husband's drug issues when he was younger. We always kept my husband's past quiet, feeling that we would have that conversation with our son eventually, when we were ready.

I'm furious that she told him. It should have been our choice, not hers. She has violated my trust. There has been a lot of animosity between my husband and my sister in the past, so I am sure she did it out of spite. I am so upset I am afraid I'll explode and ruin the tenuous relationship I have with her. Also, my husband will probably want to disown her for this betrayal. What do you suggest? -- BETRAYED IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR BETRAYED: If your sister knew you wanted to keep this from your son until he was older, she did betray your trust. Once you have calmed down, talk to her, ask if what you were told is true, and if it is, why she would do such a thing. Once you have all the facts, your husband must be told the cat is out of the bag so the two of you can decide whether you want to continue a relationship with this sister. And because a predisposition toward addiction can run in a family, have that long-overdue talk with your son about it.

DEAR ABBY: I have a good friend I'll call Josie. She's kind, generous and always willing to help. There is only one problem -- she lies.

The lies she tells are ridiculous. I find myself getting more and more angry as she stumbles through her stories. If someone makes a comment, she takes over the conversation and we hear a looong story about the same thing happening to her but much worse. I could say I climbed Mount Everest and Josie would say she climbed it twice.

What can I say or do to get her to stop lying? I'm so tired of it I'm thinking of quietly ending my friendship with her. -- TRUTH WINS IN TENNESSEE

DEAR TRUTH WINS: One person trying to convince her to stop probably won't do the trick. Josie won't quit lying until she finally hears it from others and realizes that it isn't achieving the desired effect, which is standing front and center in the spotlight.

Tell Josie in plain English that what she's doing is infuriating and that she's doing herself no favors. But when you do, realize it will probably be part of a farewell speech rather than an opportunity for a new beginning.

DEAR ABBY: I can't travel too far by myself because I'm agoraphobic. I'm having my house painted, and I asked my brother if he could pick up some paint because I needed more. He brought the paint to me and I reimbursed him. He then accused me of being needy and using him because I mentioned I was short on gas money for the trip.

Abby, when I ask him to do things for me, I pay him 90% of the time. I don't ask for his help often, but that time, he argued with me about gas money. Needless to say, I gave him $20.

My brother isn't struggling financially. He has money. He's supposed to be a deacon in his church and calls himself a good Christian. He really hurt my feelings, and he said other mean things about my health issues. What should I do about this? -- IN NEED IN THE EAST

DEAR IN NEED: Your brother may have been in a bad mood the day you asked him for the favor. Have you told him that he hurt your feelings? If you didn't, rather than nurse hurt feelings, clear the air. If this has happened more than once, find a "better" Christian to ask.

DEAR ABBY: This letter is for people who are involved with folks who say they are separated. If you have feelings for someone who is separated, ask when they plan on getting divorced. If they come up with excuses like there are children involved, property disputes or they can't afford a lawyer, end the relationship immediately.

Do not start dating or sleeping with a separated person. They can easily return to their spouse, leaving you high and dry (or pregnant, if you're female). Just remain friends until they are divorced, and afterward proceed with any relationship you two desire.

Bottom line: "Separated" means still married. While I'm not in this situation, I have known several people who were, and they regretted it. -- WORD OF WARNING IN VIRGINIA

DEAR WORD: That's pragmatic advice, and I hope readers will heed your warning. As anyone who has read my column knows, I have printed countless letters from heartbroken readers who wasted time and energy on partners who weren't free.