Dear Abby: I’m closer to son’s ex-wife than I am to his current wife

Man’s mom has stayed in close touch with the woman he divorced but regrets that she barely knows the busy woman he married next.

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DEAR ABBY: Twelve years ago, my son “Will” married “Mara.” They dated in high school, wound up at the same college and eloped during their freshman year (way too young). In spite of their somewhat rocky relationship over the years, Mara and I always got along well. She became the daughter I never had, and she referred to me as “my other mom” when introducing me to her friends.

Through her, I also became close friends with her mother, “Ivy,” a relationship that continues to this day. When the marriage was ending, I grieved not only for the marriage but also for what I thought would be the end of my relationship with both Mara and Ivy. It didn’t happen. Mara and I are still in contact. We email, text and call each other often.

Happily, Will is fine with us being in touch and with my friendship with Ivy. He and Mara had what must be the most amicable divorce in history. The two of them (and their new spouses) are all great friends and see each other regularly.

Will married “Carrie” three years ago, and Carrie is perfect for him. I love her for the way she loves him and how great they are together. But I’m sad to say that Carrie and I aren’t close the way Mara and I were (and still are), and I’m not sure what to do about it.

Carrie has had a busy life between going to college and a full-time job, and we don’t get to see each other much. She doesn’t like to talk on the phone, and I don’t like Facebook, so we’re not in contact except for a few random texts and emails here and there. I’d really like to be closer to Carrie, but I’m not sure how to get there. Any suggestions? — TORN BETWEEN TWO DAUGHTERS

DEAR TORN: Your relationship with Mara developed over a long period of time. Carrie hasn’t had the time to devote to a relationship with you because of her schooling and her job. As much as you might wish it, it isn’t possible to “clone” relationships. The one you have with Mara and Ivy is deep-rooted.

If Carrie is finished with school now, her schedule may open up enough so the two of you can manage some one-on-one time if you take the initiative and invite her. A weekend “girls” lunch, spa afternoon or shopping together may be the way to approach it.

DEAR ABBY: I have a question about saying grace. I’m not religious, but I do consider myself respectful of others’ religious practices. There is one issue, however, that I’d like some guidance on. When visiting someone’s house and they ask me, the newcomer, to say grace, what do I do? I don’t mind partaking in the custom; I understand it and I am not offended. But saying grace is beyond what I’m comfortable with. What’s the way out of this situation without being disrespectful or compromising a strong view of my own? — WONDERING IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR WONDERING: In the moment, you could always offer a friendly, complimentary deferral such as, “Oh, I’m sure you’ll do a much better job at it than I could!” If it happens again, talk privately with your hosts and explain you are not formally religious and not in the habit of saying grace before meals, which is why you would prefer not to be asked.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $16 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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