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WIDOW IS STUNG BY BEAU'S EXCLUSION FROM WEDDINGSDEAR ABBY: I took care of my husband for 10 years before his death from early-onset Alzheimer's. I am in a relationship now, and I'm finding that a widow's status is far different than that of a wife.
Not long ago, I was invited to a friend's daughter's wedding. When I asked if I could bring "Sam," I was told, "No, we don't know him and there are a lot of other people we would like to invite." I got the same response from my first cousin when I asked if I could bring Sam to her son's wedding: "No, we don't have room for him and we don't know him."
Abby, Sam and I are a couple; he is not a casual boyfriend. Surely, if we were married he would be invited. Please tell me what is proper when inviting a widow to a wedding or other event. I find the responses I received from my friend and relative to be insensitive and hurtful. -- WIDOW STANDS ALONE
DEAR WIDOW: It is considered a breach of etiquette to ask to bring a guest to an expensive event like a wedding if only you have been invited. If that option were open, your invitation would have been addressed to "Mary Smith, and guest."
It's likely that money constraints dictated the guest list be limited at both of these weddings. If this happens again, it is up to you to decide whether witnessing the event is more important than your discomfort. Some people would skip the reception because sitting around listening to music and watching couples having a great time on the dance floor is too depressing.
The problem is, I lied to him. He's well-educated and he continuously encourages me to further my education. He thinks I'm a college grad, when in reality, I am three credits short of a diploma. I plan to finish this summer. Should I come clean, or should I let him think what he thinks? -- GOING SOMEPLACE AND FEELING GUILTY
DEAR FEELING GUILTY: I think you'd feel better if you cleared the air, and if you do, I'm sure he will respect you for having the character to do so. Explain that in your eagerness to impress him you didn't mention that you're three credits short of graduating, but you'll have them by autumn. If it's a deal-breaker, I'd be surprised, but it would mean he wasn't the man for you.
DEAR MADELINE: Most birthday cakes arrive at the table already lit. Some people reuse birthday candles if they haven't burned down very far. I don't know who told you "etiquette" would be breached if you didn't use candles right out of the box, but the next time someone says it, you have my permission to reply, "Better a cake with used candles than no cake at all."
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