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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am 16 and my boyfriend, "Johnny," is 17. He will be going on a religious mission in two years. Johnny has proposed to me and wants us to be married in his church. For that to happen, we would both have to be his religion. My problem is, I don't know if his religion is right for me.

I love Johnny with all my heart, but we have very different outlooks on life, religion and raising a family. I respect him and his beliefs, but I am a very independent person and I don't think it's fair that I have to change everything about myself. I'm losing sleep over this.

I think that Johnny respects that I want to live life to the fullest, but he thinks his beliefs are more "right" than mine. He is also mad that my parents didn't raise me to be particularly religious -- although I have been baptized.

I don't want to hurt Johnny, but I don't think I could live the way he wants me to for the rest of my life. I want to go to college, get a good job and have a career before I start a family. If I marry Johnny, I'll be expected to stay home, be a homemaker and take care of the children.

Please, Abby, any advice you could offer would be appreciated. -- MADE FOR BETTER THINGS IN IDAHO

DEAR MADE: You appear to be a sensible young woman. Your concerns about your future are legitimate. The debate you are having with yourself is healthy and intelligent. Do not allow yourself to be stampeded into making a commitment. You and Johnny may love each other, but your value systems are polar opposites. Johnny should go on his mission and you should complete your education. After that, you will both be in a better position to judge whether you are meant to marry.

DEAR ABBY: My mother and her fifth husband, "Lester," have been planning their funeral arrangements, discussing burial vs. cremation, etc. Mom wants to be cremated. At first Lester said that was what he wanted, too. Then he changed his mind.

Lester was previously married for 42 years to a wonderful woman, "Agnes." He nursed her through her long last illness. Now he says he wants to be buried next to her.

Personally, I see nothing wrong with this. As far as I'm concerned, when people die they are gone. But Mom is making a huge deal out of it. She says that Lester will probably die first, and she doesn't think she should have to visit him if he's lying next to Agnes.

I feel that Mom is ruining the present over an uncertain future. Do you think she's justified? Or is she making yet another relationship mistake? -- DAUGHTER OF RELATIONSHIP DUNCE IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR DAUGHTER: If Lester and Agnes had children during their 42-year marriage, it's possible that the children would prefer their parents rest near each other. It's also within the realm of possibility that your mother could predecease Lester.

If your mother is smart, she'll refrain from turning her husband's remains into 206 bones of contention and concentrate on making this marriage as happy and stress-free as she can -- for both their sakes. When it's Lester's time to go, he should be free to rest in peace wherever he wishes.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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