DEAR ABBY: I have been in a two-year relationship with a man who is loving and intelligent. We have talked about marriage since the beginning. I have traditional values, while he doesn't believe the institution of marriage is necessary.
This would be a second marriage for both of us. Our children are grown, so having kids doesn't factor into this decision. He says he's willing to marry me because he knows how important marriage is to me. I was raised in the church, and living together not only makes me uncomfortable, but is looked down upon by my family.
For a while he wanted to wait for a few of his financial issues to be worked out. They have been, but he doesn't seem ready to move forward. Another issue is that while we are compatible in most ways, we are polar opposites when it comes to politics and religion. It bothers me, but he says we don't have to agree on everything -- that if we did, life would be boring. I feel that to have a happy relationship, a couple's essential values and morals should be similar.
He never wants to discuss political issues, and it makes things difficult and awkward. I know he doesn't feel the same as I do, but he doesn't want to start an argument or discussion. We never really fight, but sometimes I'd like to be able to talk about what is going on in the world.
I'm wondering if a relationship with so many differences can survive. He does make me happy, and we have a very passionate, loving relationship. -- OPPOSITES ATTRACT IN WASHINGTON
DEAR OPPOSITES ATTRACT: Opposites often attract, that's true. And, depending upon the people involved, it can lead to successful marriages.
However, couples in a solid relationship need to be able to communicate honestly with each other, and your gentleman friend appears not to be capable of doing it fully, which is not a good sign. If you plan on taking this relationship to the next level, I recommend the two of you have premarital counseling. Your church may offer it. Or, if he would prefer, consult a licensed marriage and family counselor.
DEAR ABBY: My daughter is 3. She has reached the point where she notices and comments upon others' appearance. Generally, her comments are of the "that lady has a big bottom!" variety, spoken loudly and within earshot. We are working on the concepts of manners and tact, in addition to learning that people come in all shapes, sizes, colors, etc.
In the meantime, however, have you any suggestions for how to address the subjects of her comments? I've offered some version of "I'm sorry, we're still working on our manners," but it seems to imply that I'm teaching her to make her hurtful comments in a quieter voice. -- EMBARRASSED IN KENTUCKY
DEAR EMBARRASSED: You are overthinking this. Children sometimes say the darndest things. The way you're handling it is just fine. I hardly think anyone will be wounded for life because of anything a 3-year-old utters. (Everything looks "big" to a kid that age.)