DEAR ABBY: What percentage of women's problems do you think could be avoided if, for the first year after beginning to date someone, they were to use birth control and not marry? Many of the women who write to you seem to be shocked that the men they're with do not have sterling characters. But I have never dated anyone who could hide his true colors longer than six months. I'm sure the same is true of women, too.
Much of your advice to these ladies entails seeking counseling or an attorney, but to the millions of women who haven't yet made this mistake, how about a shout-out for prevention? The heart is ungovernable, but people do have absolute power to use birth control and avoid rushing into marriage. -- SUSAN IN ARIZONA
DEAR SUSAN: Sometimes people marry before they really know themselves, let alone their partner. But I'm all for giving that shout-out for prevention of unplanned pregnancies. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 49 percent of the 6.7 million pregnancies each year fall into this category. While some result from carelessness or mistakes in using birth control, others stem from lack of assertiveness on the part of women because they are economically dependent or lack the self-esteem to insist their partner use a condom.
Your comment about rushing into marriage until you really know someone reminds me of the saying, "Act in haste, repent at leisure." Perhaps it should be amended to, "Act in haste, repent, repent, repent."