Dear Margo: Two Fathers, Two Mothers, Wedding in the Middle

Dear Margo: Fifteen years ago, my mother had an affair and my parents divorced. Both are remarried, and I love my stepmother. In fact, I call her “my bonus mom.” But my stepfather is verbally and physically abusive of my mom. My sibs and I have tried on numerous occasions to remove her from the situation, but it never works. We have also tried to get along with him out of respect for my mother and her decision, but recently everything has changed.

My mother is in the process of suing my father for a litany of reasons, all of which stem from her husband. When my siblings or I have tried talking to our mother about this, Stepfather has grabbed the phone and said horrible things about my father and us. The court date is tentatively scheduled for two weeks after my wedding, by my father is trying to get it bumped up so that all this can hopefully be settled and everyone can try to move on. I’m not sure it makes any difference, but I guess that’s another set of issues. I also have strong opinions about the validity of this lawsuit, and let’s just say I do not agree with my mother on this matter.

I have been very clear that Stepfather is not invited to the wedding. Mom has told me that if he can’t come, she won’t come. I’m wrestling with the guilt of not having my own mother at my wedding. Trust me, elopement is on the table, too, but I really do want my family around on this special day. — Almost Married

Dear Al: This is very sad for you, and I am sorry. Your mother is clearly behaving like an abused wife, but she chooses not to deal with that (another sadness).

Regarding your wedding, ordinarily, one spouse cannot be invited without the other, but there are exceptions. Unfortunately your mother is married to one. This man is miserable to her, plus he has put her up to a lawsuit. His presence would, indeed, ruin the day. So if your mother can’t see her way to coming alone, that is her problem and her loss. I hope you don’t elope. I think you are lucky that you have “bonus mom” to act as MOB. — Margo, situationally

Dear Margo: I have a neighbor who is forever asking to borrow stuff: food items, toilet paper, movies, ice packs, money, etc. She doesn’t return anything when she says she will — or doesn’t return it at all! And she also asks me to look after her pets. It just seems to be one thing after the other. When I say no, she says, “Oh, come on, you live right next door.” I have never met anyone so needy in my life, and I am quite a bit older than she is. I am not well and have lots of limitations. Stress just makes my symptoms worse. What is a polite way of letting her know I am done with being her go-to person? — Tired of Being Used

Dear Ti: Because you say you often tell her “no” but she counters with “Oh, come on, you live right next door,” I think you have to put more oomph behind your “no.” Do not let yourself be jerked around.

I hope this falls within the bounds of being polite: Parry her “oh, c’mon” pleas with words of one syllable, saying that because of your lending/borrowing history, you’ve decided that your life will be simpler and more stress free if you both live by the old chestnut: Neither a borrower nor a lender be. Woman up, and do what is best for you. If necessary, remind her that her history as a borrower is not triple-A. — Margo, resolutely

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers‘ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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