Dear Abby: I'm planning my wedding for the spring of next year. My fiance has lined up his groomsmen. I still have two more bridesmaids to ask. Unfortunately, there is a problem.

My fiance's brother (who is one of his groomsmen) hit his wife in the face with his fist, breaking blood vessels and leaving terrible bruises around her eyes. I do not approve of this violent behavior and told my fiance that I do not want his brother in our wedding.

My fiance is leaving it up to me to tell him because we're not supposed to know about this horrible "family secret." What should I do, Abby? Make up something — or let him be in the wedding anyway? I don't want to start our marriage off with tension between me and my new in-laws. — Wants Everything Peachy in Georgia

Dear Wants Everything Peachy: This is more advice than you asked for, but before you make any more wedding plans, you'd be wise to find out much more about this "family secret." How long has there been a history of violence in the family? Did your fiance grow up in a home where it was normal? Was he beaten as a child? If the answer to those questions is yes, you and he have serious issues to work out before you marry.

If it turns out that wife-beating is a trait unique to your brother-in-law, your fiance should insist he seek professional counseling and attend anger management classes before the wedding. The responsibility for dealing with this troubled man belongs to your fiance. It should not be delegated to you.

Dear Readers: An estimated 80 percent of the population of western nations will experience at least one episode of severe back pain.

Of course, any individual who suffers from severe back pain should consult a doctor. Most patients are prescribed muscle relaxants, pain killers and/or sessions with a physical therapist, and given instructions for exercises to be performed at home. Does this mean the patient emerges pain-free? Not necessarily. For many people, the back pain persists to a greater or lesser degree for years.

A new book, "7 Steps to a Pain-Free Life," written by Robin McKenzie with Craig Kubey (published by Dutton), is now available in bookstores. McKenzie is an honored and respected physical therapist from New Zealand, and more than 20,000 health professionals worldwide have been trained in his methods. Most important, patients who have learned to use his exercises for back and neck pain assert that for the first time they could effectively manage — or banish — their own pain.

P.S. A word to the wise: Before beginning this, or any other exercise program designed to reduce pain from any condition, consult your doctor.


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