DEAR AMY: I am a 22-year-old man who grew up in a small village in Illinois, but I am serving with the military in Afghanistan.
Recently, I became engaged for the fourth time, to a girl from a small town in Indiana. I've known my fiancee for two years, and the last time I was home on leave, I proposed. I love her a lot.
I understand things are going to be tough because I'm going to be away, perhaps for a long time. I wonder if that's fair to her. We're also talking about renting an apartment together when I get home. I don't really want to do that, but I don't want to argue with her, either.
What should I do?
— Military Man
DEAR MM: If at 22 you have already been engaged four times, you are a better candidate for engagement rehab than marriage.
It is ironic that you are old enough to serve our country but not necessarily old enough to do other things, such as rent a car — or, in your case, get married.
Your experience in the military means that you have to cope with a high degree of pressure and uncertainty, as well as a lifestyle characterized by frequent long absences — punctuated by brief and intense visits home. This can make people eager to move quickly into marriage, making you a perennial fiance.
Because you are so nervous about the prospect of living together, don't do it.
If your fiancee pressures you or doesn't understand your hesitation, then you and she might not be the right match.
Ideally, a person gets engaged and married one time.
You should be dating, taking your time and enjoying your relationship without the pressure of marriage.
DEAR AMY: I have a situation going on with my mother (my parents are still married, so I don't think she has marital issues).
I honestly try my best to be the best daughter I can be.
I get straight A's and play sports outside of school.
Sure, it might take a time or two to tell me to get in the shower, but I'm a normal teenager, right?
No matter how hard I try — to help her around the house, keep my grades up and have a social life — I feel as if my mom is always yelling and taking her stress out on me.
Yes, I know the economy is tight right now. I completely understand that, but let's say she has a little fight with my father — I feel like she takes it out on me!
No matter how hard I try, I feel like I can't succeed! I don't know what to do!
— Not So Perfect
DEAR NOT SO: You are right — your mother shouldn't take her stress out on you, but things might be tougher for her than you realize.
You shouldn't have to turn yourself into a pretzel shape to make her go easy on you, but it might help if you asked her during a quiet moment to name two things you could do differently to make things easier for her. Then you could ask if you could name two things she could do differently.
Her two things might be for you to pick up your room without being reminded and for you to hop into the shower the first time she asks.
You might suggest that she tell you something positive each day, and to take a deep breath and count to five before expressing her frustrations.
You two could write down your resolutions and exchange them as a contract of sorts, giving you a fresh start.
DEAR AMY: My husband and I were dinner guests at a celebratory party, and the hostess served an excellent ham dinner.
I had a rather large piece of ham left on my plate and asked if I could take it home.
My husband thought this was very rude.
Was I wrong to ask for it?
— Daily Reader
DEAR READER: At a formal dinner party, you should not ask to take your leftovers home with you.
If this was a casual family party, then this might have been acceptable — and maybe even flattering to the cook.
However, we parents teach our children not to ask hosts for anything special, but to wait until it's offered — and you should have done the same.