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by Abigail Van Buren

Couples Are Not Destined to Grow Apart With Time

DEAR ABBY: I have only recently realized how unhappy my parents' marriage is. On the way home from a concert one night, my mom started crying and said how much she wanted to be with a man who could stay awake throughout a performance. Then she told me I should never get married. She said people "always grow apart." She has been saying it repeatedly over the last few weeks and has even had some of her friends tell me the same thing.

I began asking other people about it, and they all act like they're not happy in their marriages, either. I am now genuinely afraid to get married.

I am 18 and have just started dating a man you would consider marriage material. But I'm holding back my feelings because I'm afraid one day he might propose. Is "happily ever after" achievable anymore in a marriage? -- UPSET IN GRAND RAPIDS

DEAR UPSET: Your parents' marriage appears to have hit a rough patch. When your mother started crying after the concert, I guarantee she wasn't crying because your father couldn't stay awake until the end. She was crying because she was disappointed in him for something else.

While the intensity of feelings can fluctuate over time in a marriage, couples do not "always" grow apart. The fact that your mother's friends are echoing those sentiments makes me wonder what kind of a crowd she's surrounding herself with, because unhappy people usually attract other negative people.

While I know from experience that a lasting, loving relationship/marriage is possible, allow me to point out that the qualities that attract someone at 18 may not be necessarily the same ones you'll find important when you're older. That is why it's important that before you start thinking about marriage, you first establish yourself as an independent, self-supporting young woman and take your time before committing yourself to anyone.