DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, "Pierre," and I have been a couple for 18 months. We moved in together three months ago.
The trouble is, Pierre is French, and he doesn't believe in marriage. He says it's an "outdated institution and a social construct." He also claims that no one in France gets married.
My parents are very religious, and they do not support us living in sin. They say if we have a child out of wedlock, they will cut me off completely.
What should I do? I love my family, but I also love Pierre. And I've always dreamed of having a romantic wedding with my father walking me down the aisle. I know Pierre is committed to me, but he dislikes the institution of marriage and won't budge on this. I'm 34 and my biological clock is ticking. Any advice will be appreciated. -- CONFLICTED IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR CONFLICTED: Pierre has given you fair warning and so have your parents. Marriage exists in France just as it does here in the USA. That Pierre doesn't believe in it should be an indication that the two of you have very different definitions of what a committed relationship is, and it may be partly cultural in nature. How do you feel about that?
I think it's sad that the parents of a 34-year-old woman would threaten to cut her off if she decided to have a child without being married. If you can support one, that choice should be yours and not theirs. My advice is to stop dreaming about a romantic wedding with your father walking you down the aisle unless you can find a man with a different view of commitment than Pierre appears to have.
P.S. I once had a poodle named Pierre. He and I got along fine and marriage was never discussed.
DEAR ABBY: My mom and many others share this problem. She refuses to throw away expired food. I'm not talking about something a few days past its "best used by" date; I'm talking years.
Yesterday, I found a box of bread crumbs that had expired in 2001 (I took a picture). Mom insisted that they "never really go bad." I told her she had better hope she isn't the beneficiary of the life insurance policy of anyone who eats them or she could end up as an episode of "Snapped."
Seriously, though, this is a huge problem for the elderly. I hope you will encourage your readers to help their older friends and family members by cleaning out their fridge and cabinets. I always check the expiration date before eating anything at my mom's. Thank you! -- DATE CHECKER
DEAR DATE CHECKER: Your mother is mistaken. While it is safe to consume some foods a few weeks past their expiration date, other items begin to lose their nutritional value or spoil.
I'm glad you wrote. I'm printing your letter for other readers whose older relatives think the way your mother does, so they can check the expiration dates on packages in their relatives' cupboards (and remove any bulging or rusted cans that could cause botulism, a fatal illness).
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)