DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I are in love and want to be married. I want to make certain that when I marry it is forever. Have you a list of topics that should be discussed before saying "I do"? We both want to be sure we know and understand each other before making this lifetime commitment. -- JENNIFER IN LAKEWOOD, COLO.
DEAR JENNIFER: I like the way you think. Among the topics that should be aired are:
(1) Are you both ready for a monogamous relationship?
(2) Are you both ready to establish a family independent of your parents?
(3) Are you both self-supporting and capable of supporting each other and any children that come along, should the need arise?
(4) Are your philosophies about child-rearing and discipline similar?
(5) Are your career goals compatible?
(6) Do you think alike about sex, religion and politics?
(7) Do you think alike about money and finances?
If the answer to the majority of these questions is "yes," then your marriage should endure with little conflict.
I recently received a little book in the mail that you and your boyfriend might find helpful. It is very well done, easy to read and jargon-free, and although it was written for military couples whose marriages can be subject to extreme stresses, it can provide food for thought to civilian couples as well. It was written by a former military chaplain, Gene Thomas Gomulka. The title is "The Survival Guide for Marriage in the Military." It can be ordered from www.plaintec.net. The price is $11.95 a copy, and it's worth every penny.