Mom turns daughter's wedding into a battle with ex-husband

Dear Abby: I'm in a real pickle. My ex-wife, "Gloria," and I have been divorced eight years, but have managed to remain civil to each other.

Last year, my daughter had a big birthday party to which I wanted to bring a date. Gloria decided that she would not attend because it would be "hurtful" to see me with another woman. After my daughter called me in tears, I canceled my date and went to the party alone.

Now my daughter is about to be married and I want to bring a date to the ceremony. Again, Gloria has announced that she will forgo the pleasure of seeing our daughter get married "so I can have my way and prove to the world I'm able to get a date." My daughter is caught in the middle and wants us both there.

I foresee a host of problems in the future if Gloria's behavior continues. My girlfriend is understanding, but I wish I could include her in family activities, especially one-of-a kind events like weddings. Your thoughts, Abby? —ARIZONA DAD IN CONFLICT

Dear Arizona Dad: Clearly you have gotten on with your life and Gloria hasn't. Eight years is a long time, and by now your ex should have adjusted to the fact that you have separate lives. I, too, foresee a host of problems in the future if you and your daughter continue to succumb to her emotional blackmail.

One solution would be for Gloria to bring a companion of her own to the wedding. Another would be for you to sit with your ex during the ceremony and with your girlfriend at the reception. But for Gloria to say that you only want your girlfriend with you at family events "so you can show the world you can get a date" is hostile.

If you don't assert yourself and end your ex's game- playing, what will wind up happening is you having to alternate celebrating milestone events in your daughter's and eventual grandchildren's lives.

Dear Abby: I like to be tan. Sometimes I tan outside, but often that takes too long and can be damaging to the skin, so I opt for self-tanning lotion. But some people ask me if I have put on "fake-n-bake"! I feel this is rude.

I don't want to have to explain my desire for tan legs. I want people to believe the color is real. They do look that way, but because others are pale in comparison, I get asked about it. How do I reply without giving myself away? —BRONZED BABE IN THE WEST

Dear Bronzed Babe: If people are asking you about the tan on your legs, face it, it doesn't look real. Your problem may be that you are using the wrong product. Or, if you're using it only on your legs, that could be what's made it obvious to others. A possible solution would be to consult someone who works in a spray-tanning salon.