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QUESTIONS BEFORE TRIP TO THE ALTAR

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.

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.

Time for tough love

Dear Abby: I'm a divorced mother of a 19-year-old daughter, "Dawn," who still lives at home. Dawn recently graduated from high school and has a couple of college credits. Even though she lives at home, she does nothing to help me. She's always out with her friends or they're at my house while I'm at work. Dawn has no job (she says she's still looking), and she has been stealing money from my purse and using my debit card without my knowledge. I have confronted her about it and told her she has to pay me back.

What can I do to make my daughter understand that stealing from me won't be tolerated and that living at home means sharing the housework?

-- Wit's End, Allen, Texas
Dear Wit's End: Your daughter didn't hatch from the egg as a selfish, thoughtless thief with no respect for you. You created this monster by allowing her to get away with murder for years.

It's time for your little girl to start acting like a grown-up, which won't happen until you toughen up. Lock up your purse and lay down the law. Give her a deadline to have a job or get out. When she gets one (and I'm sure you'll be surprised how quickly), insist that she turn her paycheck over to you so you can bank half of it for her. Once she has accumulated enough for first and last months' rent on a place of her own, start "helping" her out of the nest. Until then, her "rent" to you will be paid in household chores.

Confidential to My Jewish Readers: A happy Passover, everyone!

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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