DEAR ABBY: I am a woman in my early 40s. I have two children. I have never been married. Five months ago I met a fine man. "Mr. M." is in his mid-40s and was married for about four years in the late 1990s.
I am very much in love with Mr. M., and he has shown me how much he loves me in many different ways. However, he says there are no wedding bells in the future.
Do you think Mr. M. is afraid to make a commitment because of his divorce? Has a woman ever proposed marriage to a man? Is there anything wrong with it?
I have one more problem. Mr. M. likes to be all alone some days. And he takes long weekends to get away by himself. Is this common for a lot of men? -- CONCERNED IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR CONCERNED: There is nothing "wrong" with a woman proposing to a man; many women have done it. And yes, it is entirely possible that Mr. M.'s experience with divorce has left him marriage-shy. Since you are serious about him, pursue the reason for his statement that there are no wedding bells in the future.
While it's common for men (and women) to spend "alone time" and have separate interests, they don't, as a rule, involve spending long weekends away by themselves. Much depends on the nature of the pursuit that's taking him away, and how often he needs time to himself. If Mr. M. goes on an occasional spiritual retreat, I see nothing unusual about it. However, if he is a loner by nature -- the person who will be lonely is you.
DEAR ABBY: We have read about married couples renewing their marriage vows. My wife and I have been married 50 years and thought perhaps this would be a way of celebrating this marvelous milestone. However, the more we discuss it, the more illogical it seems to us.
We took our vows, ending with " ... 'til death do us part." Over the course of the marriage, we have had many wonderful experiences as well as some of the worst life can offer. Through it all, we have loved and cared for each other. There was never a time that we did not think in terms of "we."
We believe it would be an insult to each other to renew that which seems to be in good condition. Vows don't wear out. Devotion to each other becomes a way of life, to the point that life is unthinkable for each of us without the other.
We still find each other attractive, and sexy, too. Like wine, old vows improve with age and become more precious. -- YOUNG AT HEART IN CONNECTICUT
DEAR YOUNG: You appear to have an enviable marriage, and I congratulate you both. However, some couples experience the same thrill from renewing their vows that they did in pledging them in the first place. Please do not judge them or minimize the reaffirmation of their love.
DEAR ABBY: Over the years, you have provided me with insight and many grins and chuckles. I hope to return the favor by providing you with at least a smile:
Question: What is the name of Bambi's convent?
Answer: Deer Abbey
-- JOSEPH IN OVERLAND PARK, KAN.
DEAR JOSEPH: That's cute! I'd send you a buck if you needed the doe.
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.