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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Preparing to Wed Is Fearful of Growing Apart

DEAR ABBY: I am a 27-year-old woman who has been dating my boyfriend for a number of years. As exciting as the thought of marriage sounds, it is also scary. Too many times I have heard that a couple separated because they had "grown apart" or "grew in different directions."

How does a couple go about preventing this from happening? There have to be things we can do to protect ourselves against this -- but what are they? Your advice would be appreciated. -- SKITTISH IN MAPLE GROVE, MINN.

DEAR SKITTISH: Couples grow apart when they stop talking and listening to each other, when they fight instead of disagree, and when they forget the reasons they married in the first place. They also run into trouble if they're not on the same page before marriage about how to handle money, whether they are sexually compatible, and how their children should be raised.

Premarital counseling is helpful in bringing out these issues, and some churches now insist upon it. Intelligent people get to really know each other before taking the leap, as you and your boyfriend have already done. However, even longtime couples need to make sure they have all their cards on the table before embarking on the sea of matrimony, and to fully recognize they cannot change the other person.