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DEAR ABBY: My daughters are attractive young women, both doing well in their professional careers. "Melanie," who is 27, is married to "Sam," an extremely attractive and successful man.
My 30-year-old daughter, "Alicia," has been divorced for a year. Her marriage failed two years ago because she and her husband had an appetite for sex outside their marriage. While I was disturbed about that, I was horrified to learn that Melanie allows her sister to occasionally have sex with Sam.
Melanie's argument is that Sam is less likely to cheat given this situation. When I asked her and Sam about it, he said it wasn't his idea. My current husband says any man who would refuse this "set-up" would be nuts. Alicia claims she "doesn't have time" to date right now, and after she finishes her MBA, she'll seek out a more normal relationship.
I am distraught about this mess. Melanie says she wants to start a family soon. She says she loves Sam, who can "handle everything," and she enjoys seeing "everyone happy." She says Alicia won't sleep around now and, maybe, one day she'll marry a handsome man like Sam who will "return the favor!"
I can't believe these girls are my daughters. Should I continue to protest or let it go? Is this relaxed attitude about sex prevalent in young people today? I cannot understand Melanie's lack of desire to defend her turf.
- Heartbroken mom in Florida
DEAR MOM: Your daughters appear to be into the concept of open marriage. Clearly, they do not view marriage and relationships the same way you do.
Melanie is naive to think that encouraging Sam to have a sexual relationship with her sister will discourage him from seeking other partners. Far from it. And as for her wanting to start a family, has she considered what will happen if her husband impregnates Alicia at the same time - or first?
But back to your question: Are you right to protest? You certainly are. That's what mothers are for - to inject a dose of sanity when everyone around her is losing theirs.
DEAR ABBY: The other day at work, my girlfriend overheard a group of people in the break room talking about what they'd do first if they won the lottery. Without exception, everyone in that room said the first thing they would do is get a divorce. My girlfriend was stunned.
Have you ever done an informal reader survey on this subject? Is the state of marriage in America really that bad? I'm also curious if answers would differ along gender lines. Let me know what you think, and thanks.
- Happily single but still a believer in marriage
DEAR HAPPILY SINGLE: No, I have not done a reader survey on this subject. But I'm glad you asked, because I think what your girlfriend heard is a sad commentary on the state of the marriages of her co-workers. Readers, if you'd care to chime in on this, I'm sure it would be enlightening.
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.