KATHY MITCHELL AND MARCY SUGAR \ Annie's Mailbox Costly wedding destroys family relationship

Dear Annie: My husband and I are both in our 50s and have been married for five years. I have three children from a previous marriage, one still at home. My husband has an 18-year-old daughter who lives with her boyfriend in another state.
"Bruce" and I have struggled with finances our entire marriage. We have good jobs, but Bruce came into the relationship in debt, and I gave up everything to get out of an abusive marriage.
Recently, my stepdaughter called to say she is getting married and expects us to come up with many thousands of dollars for "our half" of the wedding expenses. Her mother made the arrangements without consulting us.
We had not budgeted for this unexpected wedding, and we are not able to come up with that kind of money. We have no savings and only a small retirement fund. Bruce doesn't see a problem. I told him to get a part-time job and earmark that money for the wedding, but he told me we will take the money out of our retirement account. After all, she is his only child and he wants to do this for her.
I didn't feel it was my place to discuss this with my stepdaughter, but Bruce got so caught up in the moment that he was just going along with everything. I had to stop the train before he started handing out checks. I told my stepdaughter we cannot give her the amount she wants and asked if she would consider something more affordable. She and her fianc & eacute; are not contributing a dime since neither have full-time jobs, nor do they attend school. They live with relatives. I suggested perhaps they could work full time and save.
Now everyone is angry with me, including Bruce. Am I wrong? Are we supposed to go deeper in debt to help? Evil Stepmother
Dear Stepmother: Your head is in the right place, but without Bruce in your corner, you are doomed to be the bad guy. The person you need to convince is your husband. These decisions should be made jointly, but this is Bruce's only child, and he is not going to be rational about it and you are not going to win. Be careful.
Dear Annie: My 18-year-old sister's baby was stillborn. I am 29, and the problem is, my cousin and I are both now pregnant. When my cousin and I are together we like to talk about hearing our babies' heartbeats, doctors' appointments, etc., but recently, my mom approached me and said, "You know your sister lost her baby and you really need to stop talking about your pregnancy."
My cousin and I went to the baby's funeral and we mourned, but our babies are very much alive. We are excited. How can we gently tell my sister that we are sorry for her, but it's time for us to rejoice? Are we wrong? Should we stop talking and pretend that our babies don't exist? Proud Moms To Be in New York
Dear Proud Moms: You should try to show more sensitivity for your sister's loss. Of course you are excited about your pregnancy, but you should tone it down when your sister can hear you. It will be hard enough for her when the babies are born, and she will have to find a way to deal with that. Please don't make it harder now.
Dear Annie: Please tell your readers to slow down when leaving a phone number on an answering machine. Some people rattle off the number so quickly that I have to replay the message a few times to understand it. If it's a long message, I really resent it. Sharon
Dear Sharon: This is a common pet peeve, and with cell phones so ubiquitous, sometimes the message is partially inaudible. Please, folks, the people on the other end of the line are not as familiar with your phone number as you are. Speak slowly, clearly, and repeat.
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