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by Abigail Van Buren

War Zone Romance Will Be Put to the Test at Home

DEAR ABBY: I met a man here in Afghanistan. (We are both deployed.) Since that day we have been together. "Ben" knows that I love him very much. He is scheduled to leave in two months. I am scheduled to leave two months after that.

Ben lives in Georgia, and I come from Texas. We want to make it work when we leave here. I'll continue with my job, but because he's a contractor, Ben will be unemployed. I'm not worried about it because I know he's a go-getter.

Abby, I have had difficulty when it comes to relationships. I am scared to let my guard down and let this good man provide a life for my children and me. I trusted my kids' father and he walked out of our lives. Ben is everything I have prayed for. He took the step of giving me a promise ring and told me he'd always be here for me. Please give me some good advice on how I should handle this. -- IN LOVE IN AFGHANISTAN

DEAR IN LOVE: Being under life-and-death pressure sharpens all of the senses. When people are in a strange or dangerous environment, their emotions can be heightened. This is not to say that people in a war zone can't fall legitimately in love -- it does happen. And it may have happened for you and Ben. However, the test of the strength of your relationship will come after you are both back home in the USA.

You two have a ways to go before you step up to the altar. Your children need to meet Ben, get to know him and accept him. And he needs to prove to you that he can be not only a life partner to you, but a father to your children.

So my heartfelt advice is to take this one step at a time. Don't rush into anything. If this was meant to be, it will happen in its own time.

DEAR ABBY: A close female friend moved near me with the intention of starting a serious relationship. We're in our 20s and finishing college.

"Hallie" has just been diagnosed with stage 2 ovarian cancer. While her prognosis is fairly optimistic, her doctors say she'll be unable to have children. Hallie loves kids. Knowing she can't have any has broken her heart. I love kids, too, but it's not an absolute requirement for me.

I just started student teaching and can't be there for her during her chemo treatments and doctor visits. Last night, after a few days of pushing me away, Hallie offered me an "out." She told me I should think carefully about everything before deciding to go through all of this with her. I want to be with her in every way I can, but I can't help wondering how things may change for both of us if she beats this. -- TORN APART IN MICHIGAN

DEAR TORN APART: Hallie is an intelligent young woman. She understands the strain a diagnosis like hers can place on a relationship, so do as she has asked. If she beats the cancer, and you stay together and decide to marry, you will be like many other childless couples -- deciding whether to remain childless, adopt or hire a surrogate. You will also appreciate more fully than most what a gift each day you have together really is. And you'll love each other until death do you part.

DEAR ABBY: What is an acceptable time frame to receive a response to a question you send via phone texting? -- WAITING IN MONTGOMERY, ILL.

DEAR WAITING: Although we live in a world where most of us seek instant gratification, the answer depends upon how busy the person you are texting is.

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