Carolyn is away. The following appeared in 2004.
Dear Carolyn: I have a dilemma. My boyfriend and I have been together for 11 months. We love each other and want to get married. The problem is, he wants to have sex before we get married. I was raised to wait until marriage to have sex. I love him with all my heart, but I don't want to go against my parents and sleep with him. He says it's either sex or nothing at all.
Carolyn says: You do have a dilemma, and sex isn't it. You're asking me whether to follow your boyfriend's new orders or to keep following your parents' old ones. Wow. The only orders you should ever heed on personal matters are the ones that come straight from your own mind.
If you're old enough to get married, you're old enough to know: What do you want? What do you value? What do you think is right?
And if you don't know the answers, then don't get married yet, to anyone — not even to someone who conveniently agrees with your parents. Then all you get is a new parent, and still no mind of your own.
Figure this stuff out before you make any irreversible decisions. Take the next decade or two, if you need it. I'm serious. The test isn't timed and the only wrong answers are the ones you don't bother to find.
Then, once you have those answers, ask yourself how you feel about his ultimatum.
Don't get me wrong. He is absolutely entitled to decide he won't marry someone he has never slept with.
And you, likewise, are absolutely entitled to decide your values are more important to you than he is.
No one is too good to lose, except you.
Missing his spouse
Dear Carolyn: About four months ago my wife started becoming friends with a man she works with. He's a health nut and she wanted to lose some weight. This led them to become fast friends. My wife has always been very open about their friendship, telling me whenever they do something, and always makes sure I don't mind — which for the most part I don't.
My problem is that now I feel like all the things I used to give her emotionally (a shoulder to cry on, someone to gossip with, etc.) she now gets from him. I feel that if I say something she might break off her friendship and resent me later. I want my wife to have a life outside of our marriage. How can I talk to her and not make her think I want to control her life.
Carolyn says: You miss her. Say so. You're happy she has a friend, but you miss her.
It's neither controlling nor possessive. Nor unfair, paranoid, jealous or scared. It's what a husband should feel when his wife isn't around as much. (Imagine if you felt relief.) If she doesn't miss you, then best to find out now.
If she offers to end the friendship, though, refuse; just ask for more time with her. Then make some. Make dinner reservations, buy show tickets, hold hands. Renew your friendship.
E-mail Carolyn Hax at email@example.com, or chat with her at 11 a.m. Friday at washingtonpost.com.