Dear Ann:

Recently, my college sweetheart and I got together again after not seeing each other for 45 years. "Ed" does not understand why I am reluctant to marry him. I believe we have some issues that need to be resolved first.

Ed has had a triple bypass heart operation. He also has emphysema from long-term smoking. When we go out to eat, he will have two drinks before dinner, wine with dinner, and occasionally an after-dinner drink. He then becomes overly friendly and talks to everyone in the place. On several occasions, he has arrived home half-potted and argumentative. I have never associated with people who hang out in bars, and told him so. He says I am a snob and calls me "Mother Superior."

Ed has barely enough income to pay his living expenses, and spends several hundred dollars a month on his addictions. He tells me that everyone he knows drinks moderately (like him) and that I am the one with the problem. When I remind him how harmful cigarettes are, he becomes defensive and says he will cut back "after we get married." Should I marry him? What do you think, Ann?

-- Mother Superior in Oregon

Your relationship with Ed, as you describe it, does not sound as if it has the ingredients of a happy marriage. First and foremost, I believe he has a booze problem that would be a continuing source of trouble. And then, there are the cigarettes. Although you didn't go into detail, I get the impression that Ed has money problems as well.

You need this man in your life like a moose needs a hatrack.

Dear Ann:

I'm writing in response to that inquiry from "G.C. of Sagamore Hills, Ohio," who wondered why photos in obituaries are invariably 20 to 50 years old. I can give him a simple answer. When my mother died recently at age 86, my siblings and I gave the local paper a photo taken when she was in her late thirties, although we had more recent ones. We knew she would want to be remembered at her best -- when she was young, vital and attractive.

We selected a photo for the newspaper that represented our mother -- the mother who raised us, not the old woman she was when she died. I believe this is the way it is with all adult children.

-- Nancy in Lubbock, Tex.

My Sagamore correspondent makes a valid point when he opts for more reality, but I can understand why you and your siblings felt as you did about using a more youthful picture of your mother. You also believed it would have honored your mother's wishes to publish a photo of her in her prime. I believe that the family's preference should prevail.

Dear Ann:

When I married "Dwayne," he had two grown daughters from his first marriage, and I had a grown son. We are very happy together, and I want to keep it that way.

I brought more money into this marriage than Dwayne did. Since much of my money was inherited from my parents, I feel it is perfectly okay if I give special gifts to my son and daughter-in-law. However, I do not want to create problems by making my stepdaughters jealous.

Both of Dwayne's daughters are lovely people, but I did not raise them, and do not feel the same closeness toward them as I do my son. Am I asking for trouble by showing favoritism? Please help.

-- Austin, Tex.

Your stepdaughters are part of your family now, and I assume you remember them on their birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. If so, you should not feel guilty about giving additional gifts to your son and his family.

(C) 1999, Creators Syndicate Inc.