Dear Abby: I am in my late 30s and have been dating "Rick" for six years. The problem is his daughter, "Janet." We used to get along, but now she hates me. She calls me awful names and says she wishes I would go away.
I recently asked Rick to marry me. Now Janet says I am "desperate" and she refuses to talk to either of us. I don't know what to say to her. I'm appalled at her attitude toward me, the language she uses and the things she's saying about me to her friends on the Internet. She won't listen to her dad. Her mother is encouraging her behavior and has been threatening me.
I can't get Janet to understand that her dad and I love each other, that it's all right for a woman to ask a man to marry her and it's not out of "desperation." Please help.
-- Not Desperate in Louisiana
Dear Not Desperate: Toughen up. Recognize that for all of the joy Rick brings you, Janet is his extremely immature daughter and she's part of the package. How old is the girl? She appears to have years of growing up to do. You can't change her behavior, so go on with your life without seeking her approval. Unfortunately, nasty ex-wives are nothing new. If the ex does anything beyond "threaten" you, file a police report and let them deal with her.
A common question
Dear Abby: Can common sense be learned or taught? Some people seem to be born with it. Others have "book smarts" but struggle with everyday common sense.
I fail to grasp simple connections, and I sometimes ask questions that have obvious answers -- for someone else. I know other people who share the same problem, and I admire those who simply seem to "get" what's happening around them.
Is there any way to improve? I'm 38 and married to a man who has strengths in both areas.
-- Bookworm in Montana
Dear Bookworm: Nobody has everything. Your strength is your intellect. Not everyone is a good student, and it can affect their self-esteem as much or more than your worry about not having common sense. If it's any comfort, people usually acquire common sense in the school of life. In other words, they learn from the mistakes they make. I'm sure you have done that and will continue to do so.
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, Calif. 90069.