Dear Abby:

My boyfriend, "Harvey," and I became engaged over the holidays. We are beginning to plan our wedding. Harvey was raised Jewish. I was raised Catholic. We envisioned a ceremony with both a priest and a rabbi. However, Harvey's parents have informed us that they will not attend if a priest is present. One solution might be to be married by a justice of the peace, but my parents want a "man of God" to preside.

Harvey and I are willing to do whatever it takes to please our parents, but we are having a difficult time reaching a compromise. Also, my parents are paying for the entire wedding, so I'm not sure if that gives them more "say" in the matter or not. Please help.

Marriage Bound and In a Bind

Before you and Harvey make any more plans, it might be helpful for both sets of parents to get together socially. If there is no "meeting of the minds," I urge you and your fiance to get premarital counseling -- preferably from a nondenominational counselor. The problems you have encountered with Harvey's parents are just the beginning. You and he must come to a clear understanding now about how your children will be raised. If it's anything other than Jewish, I see major family problems and conflicts ahead for you because of his parents' stance.

Dear Abby:

For the past six years, I've had a problem with my younger sister, "Robin." She "borrows" my clothes and other things from my room without asking, and then isn't smart enough to put them back. Every time I walk by Robin's room, I find another article of my clothing, shoes or jewelry on the floor. When I confront my sister in front of our parents, Mom rolls her eyes and says she's tired of my complaints. Then Dad will ask Robin point-blank if she "really did it," and she'll say, "Yes, but I was about to return it." That's it, end of story. It's happened too many times to count.

Last summer, I put a keyed lock on my door, which helped with the problem until the lock was mysteriously filled with "goop." It never worked after that. Just yesterday, I found an expensive dry-clean-only sweater of mine on Robin's floor. She had tossed it in the washer and dryer, and it was ruined.

When I told Mom, she went out and bought me a new one, but just tonight I found one of my shirts on Robin's floor -- also ruined.

I'll be moving out in July to go to college, but until then, I need some advice. Please help me, Abby -- nobody else will.

Counting the Months in Mason City, Iowa

Your parents have been negligent in their responsibility to your little sister. They have failed to teach her responsibility, honesty, and respect for the possessions and boundaries of others. This will come back to haunt them -- and your sister -- in the future. Please show them this column and hang on until July. Your trials are almost over.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.

(c)2003, Universal Press Syndicate