Dear Amy:

I am agnostic, and my fiance is atheist. We plan to marry in a civil ceremony. Because both sides of my family are strongly fundamentalist, I have not informed anyone (other than my more "mainline" parents) of my religious beliefs.

If I invite my relatives to the ceremony, they will note its non-religious nature and will begin asking questions that will likely lead to my being ostracized. However, a decision not to invite them might well generate hard feelings leading to essentially the same result.

Should my fiance and I: (1) elope and use that as an excuse for not inviting my relatives; (2) send them announcements of the wedding but not invite them; (3) invite them and include a notice asking persons who object to the arrangements to refrain from attending; or (4) extend an unrestricted invitation and let the chips fall where they may?

Central Virginia

How about: (5) Have a private civil ceremony with just your parents and hers, followed by a reception to which everyone is invited? If that doesn't appeal to you, I vote for elopement. It's not quite clear what you want to do; obviously you and your fiance should have the wedding you want to have.

Because you feel strongly that your extended family is too narrow-minded to accept your views, don't give them the opportunity.

Dear Amy:

I am married to but not in love with my husband. As a result of this I keep looking for love outside of the marriage. I have dated a lot of guys online on the grounds that I am looking for happiness.

The last person I met online seems really nice but recently has constant demands and money problems. I really do love him, but I don't want to be responsible for his financial situation.

As for my husband, he is a nice man but I just don't feel the way he feels and don't know how to talk to him about my feelings.

Please tell me what to do. I feel so depressed and guilty.

Looking for Love

Because you don't seem inclined to do the right thing for your husband's sake, perhaps you should do the right thing for your own sake. The way to stop feeling depressed and guilty is to stop behaving in a way that brings on your depression and guilt.

Like the song says, you are "looking for love in all the wrong places" and exposing yourself and your husband to a world of hurt. Until you change your behavior and then decide to be honest about it, you will never discover that love in its many forms requires honesty, hard work and the willingness to behave differently.

A marriage counselor can help the two of you sort this out, but only if you are willing to be honest and open to the process.

Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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