DEAR ABBY: "Seth" and I have been going out for almost three years. We have been engaged for a year and I love him, but every time he talks about living together or getting married, I get so nervous and scared that I suffer anxiety attacks.
We have differences when it comes to handling money, keeping the house in order and having pets. We also argued about a pre-nup agreement. Seth won't change his position on it and I'm still resentful. I'm worried that if we live together I'll end up with his debts. If things don't work out, I don't want to start all over again.
We're both divorced with kids. We have a good relationship except for my fear of going to the next level. -- SKITTISH IN CANADA
DEAR SKITTISH: You and Seth have significant areas of disagreement, and they are ones that could affect the outcome of your relationship. That's why it is important for you to seek premarital counseling to see if they can be worked out. If they can't be, then you and Seth need to find different partners, because the issues upon which you differ are deal-breakers, and the last thing either of you -- or your children -- need is another divorce.
DEAR ABBY: I have always had a close relationship with my mother. She is smart, wonderful and sweet, but she can also be naive.
In the past Mom has trusted people who turned out to be not very nice. When she began this relationship with the "perfect man," I was curious. I inquired about his prior relationships and history in general. He openly shared details about his past -- except for one thing I later discovered on my own. He has served an extensive stint in prison for being a child predator and is still on parole.
I don't want him around my children or any of my mom's other grandchildren. Mom says he's a reformed person now. He may be, but I don't know him well. Mom is welcome to see my children anytime, but not with him. She thinks I'm being unreasonable, and I'm uncomfortable about the way she is pressing the issue. What should I do? -- CAN'T BACK DOWN ON THIS ONE
DEAR CAN'T BACK DOWN: Stand firm in your resolve until such time as you are convinced the "perfect man" will not offend again. Your mother is emotional about him and is not thinking clearly. If he had leveled about the fact he's on parole and for what, that would be one thing. But he didn't, and that is cause for worry.
DEAR ABBY: I am a man who has tried to lose weight for my health and failed. I am trying again now and have lost 40 pounds. A couple of years ago I did the same thing, and then before I knew it I gained it all back. I'm really trying to keep it off this time.
A co-worker said, "You look good with the weight loss, but do you think you'll be able to keep it off this time?" I had no idea what to say. I told him we all have our vices, but I am trying. Abby, the comment hurt my feelings. How would you suggest handling the situation? -- SMALLER IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
DEAR SMALLER: Your co-worker's comment was thoughtless. But if he brings up the subject again, tell him how it made you feel the first time he did, and that your weight problem is really none of his business.
Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $12 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)