DEAR ABBY: My ex-wife has been spending every weekend visiting her fiance, who is in prison. It is a five-hour round trip from where she lives, so she stays the night in a hotel due to the long drive. If she has our 6-year-old daughter, "Emma," on the weekend, the child goes with her. My ex knows I don't want Emma in a prison.
The only way I have to prevent my little girl from having to go is to keep her with me every weekend. My wife is supportive, but she is concerned because we never have a night to ourselves. She says we are enabling my ex's poor choices by taking Emma every time my ex wants to shirk her parental responsibility.
Is my wife right? Are we enabling my ex? Is it more important to keep my daughter away from the prison or take my wife out on a date once a month? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
— DAD IN GEORGIA
DEAR DAD: This is a subject you should discuss with the lawyer who handled your divorce. I seriously doubt that when custody was awarded the judge would have agreed that accompanying her mother to a prison every weekend to visit her fiance is "quality time."
If you and your wife would like to go out on a date, your daughter's presence shouldn't prevent it. Hire a sitter.
DEAR ABBY: Last night, I went to the movies and took an aisle seat in the back row. Two different couples came in late, and each one asked me to move over so they could sit together. I said, "I got here early, and I like this seat." I did not go on to explain that I have a torn tendon in my knee and needed the seat in order to stretch my leg.
They became upset and were very rude. If the seats were so important, they could have arrived early or on time.
Abby, my husband died in an airplane crash many years ago. I would give anything to have my husband in the same theater, the same city, the same planet! Couldn't those people spend two hours separated by one seat from their spouse?
— MARSHA IN SAUSALITO, CALIF.
DEAR MARSHA: Please accept my sympathy for the tragic loss of your husband. Sometimes it isn't what you say to people, but the tone in which it is said. Perhaps if you had been less terse in your reply to the couples who asked you to move over, they would not have become hostile.
DEAR ABBY: The oldest of the cousins in our family is being married in July. My aunt told me over the holidays that because I am now an adult (I will graduate from college in June), I would be receiving my own invitation rather than be included with my parents.
My invitation arrived today and enclosed with it was a personal note from my cousin encouraging the attendance of my boyfriend, who she says would be welcome as well. I believe that because I received my own invitation and will be bringing a guest, I should arrive with my own gift rather than sign my name to the gift my parents bring. My mother, however, says I am being "silly" and that it's not necessary. What do you think?
— JENNIFER IN SAN LUIS OBISPO, CALIF.
DEAR JENNIFER: I think your cousin is thoughtful and gracious, that you are an equally courteous guest and that you should follow your instincts.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.