DEAR ABBY: During college I had a great friend, "Julia." We were roommates and had several classes together. When I became engaged, Julia was my obvious pick for maid of honor. She did a very nice job, and I will be forever grateful.
After college, Julia met "Dirk." This man is a spoiled child who has kept Julia away from me and her other friends. Dirk controls their social calendar and is generally a jerk who complains if he doesn't get his way. Since meeting him, Julia has become distant and her warm personality has changed.
Julia and Dirk are being married, and I am Julia's matron of honor. I accepted because I felt forced to reciprocate and because Julia has alienated herself from all of her other friends. I feel awful for not being excited about my former close friend's wedding, but this isn't the girl I knew in college. She doesn't communicate with me often and is currently no longer on speaking terms with one particular bridesmaid.
Abby, how should I act at a wedding I don't agree with, celebrating a fair-weather friend and her jerk fiance?
— DREADING IT IN N.Y.
DEAR DREADING IT: Has it occurred to you that Julia's personality has changed because she's involved with a control freak who has cut her off from everyone but you? You are calling her a fair-weather friend, but what kind of friend are you?
If you care at all about her, have a frank talk with her NOW. Tell her you are concerned because she has become isolated from all her friends and has distanced herself from you to such a degree that you're no longer comfortable participating in her wedding. It would be better than plastering on a smile and taking part in something you think is a charade.
As for reciprocity — you can stand up for her at her next wedding, because if her fiance is the jerk you describe him to be, this marriage won't last.
DEAR ABBY: How does one share the news of an impending divorce with friends and family? Due to our financial circumstances and the particularly amicable nature of our breakup, my husband and I still live together and we will probably continue this arrangement for a while, so there aren't a lot of obvious indicators.
I hate the thought of the news being passed through the local grapevine as nasty — and potentially untrue — gossip. How do other folks manage it?
— SOON-TO-BE DIVORCEE IN LOUISIANA
DEAR SOON-TO-BE DIVORCEE: Here's how: by presenting a united front. The first people to hear the news should be your parents. Then inform other family members and friends. The message you need to convey is: "The two of us have agreed to end our marriage. While this may come as a surprise to all of you, our decision is mutual. While we care for each other and intend to remain friends, we no longer want to be husband and wife. If you love us as we know you do, please do not ask for further details because we both would rather not discuss it at this time."
If anyone should be insensitive enough to question you further, your response should be unanimous: "We'd rather not talk about it."
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.