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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have been with my fiance for four years. He is 32, I'm 23. He is Catholic and I am Jewish. When I met him, I wasn't particularly religious, but since planning a trip to Israel and after studying under a rabbi, I have become more religious.

I now keep kosher and try to be as close to Orthodox as I can. I eventually want an Orthodox Jewish home and for my children to be raised Jewish. But every time I try to discuss this with him, he nods his head and says in a sarcastic tone, "Uh-huh."

I don't think he understands how serious I am about becoming Orthodox, even though I live the lifestyle now. How can I ensure that he will live and raise our children in an Orthodox Jewish way before I walk down the aisle and it is too late? -- KEEPING KOSHER IN NEW YORK

DEAR KEEPING KOSHER: Your fiance is behaving as if he thinks you are going through a phase rather than making an actual commitment to becoming Orthodox Jewish. If he had any interest in raising his children in the Jewish faith, he would have shown it by asking questions and trying to learn more about what that would entail.

I won't mince words with you: The only guarantee I can offer that your children will be raised Orthodox Jewish would be for you to marry a man who feels similarly.

Read more in: Love & Dating | Family & Parenting

Little Gestures Can Show Wife How Much You Care

DEAR ABBY: My wife is the best thing that ever happened to me. After 34 years together -- 28 of them married -- she is still the love of my life. How can I express this to her?

I have done the usual things over the years: candy, flowers, presents. I give cards, but I am not a wordsmith. I love her so much I don't know if it is even possible to express it with words or gifts, but still I try.

Do you have any suggestions on how I can convey my love to this wonderful woman who I call my wife? -- SPEECHLESS IN OHIO

DEAR SPEECHLESS: You don't have to be a wordsmith to say "I love you" when she awakens in the morning and repeat it as she goes to sleep each night. Flowers, candy and presents are demonstrations of your love, but just as meaningful can be something as simple as holding her hand when you walk together and turning up the thermostat when she's chilly -- even if you aren't.

Read more in: Love & Dating | Marriage & Divorce

Bad Childhoods Can Be Overcome

DEAR ABBY: May I vent about something? It really irritates me when people write to you and blame a bad childhood on how they turned out. I didn't have the best childhood. I was molested by my mom's second husband, was on my own at 15, and pregnant at 16 and again at 17.

I wasn't on welfare when I had my kids -- I have worked and supported them by myself from day one. Don't get me wrong: I'm not bragging. But I had a tough time growing up. Now, at 33, I have two beautiful daughters who turned out well. I also have a good job and a fiance who loves us all.

We are who we make ourselves become. It doesn't always have to turn into a tragedy. I get so tired of hearing about people who kill, people who are strung out on drugs, and people in general who blame everything on when they were kids and how bad they had it. -- DOING JUST FINE IN TEXAS

DEAR DOING JUST FINE: You are entitled to vent; that's what I'm here for. I commend you for your determination, resilience and resourcefulness in dealing with the challenges you faced while growing up, and for passing those traits on to your daughters.

Read more in: Abuse | Family & Parenting

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)