Dear Amy:

For two years I have been in a wonderful relationship with a beautiful lady whom I adore. After the first five months, we have pretty much lived together. I am 50, divorced with two school-age children. She is 45 and has never been married.

Two months ago my job sent me out of state for two weeks of training. When I came back, my lady told me that she is having trouble sleeping, and asked if I would mind staying in the other room.

Everything else about our relationship is the same. We spend our time together, share a great sex life, and there's no fear that there's someone else. She just wants to sleep alone.

I have tried to understand, but I'm at the end of my rope. I have tried to explain how I miss the intimacy and closeness, but she just shrugs it off.

Amy, I love her with all my heart, but I cannot help but feel that I am missing something truly important.

Any advice? I don't want to end the relationship, but this is something I feel I really need.

Sleeping Single and Lonesome

My theory is that there is something about you that prevents your gal from getting a good night's sleep. Perhaps you snore, hog the bed or scratch her with your toenails as you sleep. It is possible that she has slept alone for most of her life and was reminded that she sleeps better alone during your time away. Your gal may be going through the very early stages of menopause, which can cause discomfort and interrupt sleep.

It is not fair of her to shrug things off when you raise this issue. It is important to you, and she needs to offer you an honest explanation, though she might feel shy about doing so. Give her an opportunity to tell you something about yourself (or herself) that she might find embarrassing. Then the two of you can negotiate a compromise.

Dear Amy:

Thank you for your response to "Worried," the 17-year-old rising high school senior who was worried that she was "doomed" to attend a community college. Your appreciation of the option provided by community colleges is refreshing. Worried and others in her situation may be interested in hearing that Eileen Collins, the mission commander of the Discovery space shuttle, was similarly "doomed" to attend a community college, as was Craig Venter, the scientist who mapped the human genome; California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger; Surgeon General Richard Carmona; actors Tom Hanks and Dustin Hoffman; numerous members of Congress; and many of our country's most successful and respected business leaders.

Community colleges enroll nearly half of the nation's undergraduate students, and our graduates are much in demand. Community colleges also certify the majority of the nation's "first-responders," who keep our communities safe and healthy: 50 percent of new registered nurses and 80 percent of firefighters, law-enforcement officers and emergency medical technicians. Students who transfer from community colleges to major universities to complete the last two years of their baccalaureate degree do at least as well as the students who start at the universities, and they find this option more affordable.

As the national organization representing the nation's 1,175 community colleges and their 11 million students, American Association of Community Colleges is frequently in the position of defending the value of these vital institutions of higher education and training. Thank you for making our job a little easier.

George R. Boggs, president and CEO, American Association of Community Colleges

I can't imagine why your organization has to defend the value of institutions that obviously contribute so much to the amazing educational options in this country. I was lucky enough to grow up in a community that contained a community college, an Ivy League university and several other public and private institutions of higher learning. Community college is just that -- college that makes higher learning accessible to the larger community. So thank you!

(c)2005 by the Chicago Tribune

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