DEAR ABBY: My girlfriend and I love each other very much and have been living together with our children for five years. We intend to get married soon. Here is the rub: She's "old school." She believes she should receive a diamond ring as part of the marriage proposal.
I would marry her tomorrow, but I don't believe in spending thousands of dollars on a piece of carbon. I understand that somehow she equates her value/social status with the size of her wedding ring ("I deserve a nice ring"), but I don't agree. I think the expense is unwarranted and, quite frankly, as the person paying for most of it, unfair.
She has offered to chip in and even buy one from a used wedding site, but I'd rather spend that money on something we could both enjoy or at least on something more practical that she can enjoy. I can find the money to buy the ring, but in my heart, I don't see the value or buy into the fantasy the diamond industry has put into some women's heads.
What do I do? Cave in and give her what she wants because I love her? Or push for a compromise, which will definitely be an uphill battle and potentially spoil what is supposed to be a special thing in our lives? -- HUNG UP ON THE RING IN RENO
DEAR HUNG UP: I'm glad you asked. Give her the ring. It will be cheaper in the long run. Trust me on that. And in the future, when she asks what you would like for a gift, tell her your fantasy is that she'll make a comparable down payment on your next car. That way, she can make your dream come true.
DEAR ABBY: My father and his wife are retired and live across the country from us. Dad is hard of hearing and doesn't like to use the phone, even with hearing aids. He also won't text, so we mostly communicate by email.
The challenge is that he and his wife share an email account. She reads every message I send to Dad and often replies without telling him, so I'm never sure if he receives them or not. Also, if we're discussing something sensitive -- like finances or issues with my siblings -- she'll weigh in when it's not really her business. In one case, she posted parts of our discussion on her social media!
I have talked to Dad about this. He says married couples don't have secrets. I suspect he may not want his wife to be able to communicate privately with other people (she's much younger than he is) and prefers the shared email for this reason. Is it unreasonable for me to want a direct line of communication with my father, or must I save up private conversations for the one time a year we are able to visit in person? -- DISTRESSED DAUGHTER IN IDAHO
DEAR DAUGHTER: I'm sorry I can't wave a magic wand and change your father. What's going on should not be blamed on his wife. Because he has made plain to you that he sees no reason for privacy and wants her to be privy to your conversations, saving up those private chats until they are "in person" is exactly what you are going to have to do.
DEAR VETERANS: I salute your service to our country. My thanks to each of you, as well as to the brave men and women still on active duty, some of whom are in harm's way. You personify patriotism and self-sacrifice with your dedication. I also would like to acknowledge your families for the sacrifices they, too, have made and continue to make every day. -- Love, ABBY
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.)