DEAR AMY: My girlfriend and I are nearing 40. We are both functioning adults with our own finances.
Now she’s starting to hint at marriage. Having seen this before with younger, less established women, I know that once thoughts of marriage enter the picture it almost becomes an obsession! I know that soon every kindness from her will seem like a ticking time bomb that accelerates to destruction.
How do I relieve this pressure from her and defuse it to prevent an implosion of the relationship? Sure, I’m a serial monogamist, but I need love too. I just don’t want to get married. -- Not a Marrying Man
DEAR MAN: The quickest way to defuse a ticking bomb is to snip those wires before the inevitable explosion. You will do this by responding to hints with the offer of a real conversation.
You should tell your girlfriend the truth: that you are a serial monogamist and want to remain in a committed relationship, but that you will not get married.
She will either accept your explanation and make her own decision about whether to stay or leave, or she will continue to work you over in the hopes that you will change.
Then the choice becomes yours. If you don’t want to be a bomb dispersal expert in your own relationship, you will have to find someone else who shares your goals.
DEAR AMY: You ran a letter from “Dogged,” who was upset because her husband’s aunt kept yelling at her puppy, which was running loose in the house during a party. You blew it in your answer. As an animal control officer, I’d like to inform you and your readers of a few things.
Dogs and parties are a dangerous combination. There is a sharp increase in dog bite incidents during parties, whether they be during the commotion of the holidays or otherwise. Even good dogs get stressed, excited or fearful during these times, and bites are the natural result.
In my state, you are financially responsible for any injuries your dog inflicts on a person in a place they have a legal right to be; this includes visitors who are invited into your home.
If that’s not enough to convince “Dogged,” how about this: If your dog develops a pattern with the authorities of being a “biter,” you may lose your dog.
Her view that “when the kids are running through the house, a dog needs to enjoy it too” is a disaster waiting to happen. -- ACO in OK
DEAR ACO: I suggested to “Dogged” that her human guests and their comfort and safety should come first. But your expert reminder of the stresses placed on pets (and the owners’ responsibilities) during the holiday season is very valuable. Thank you.
DEAR AMY: I’m running a program of concerts for families, and some of my performers have started dressing down.
Their clothing has become so casual it’s more fit for the supermarket than a stage appearance, and I feel that it makes our sponsors look bad. I would like to see them dress nicely, as they once did.
How can I make the approach without insulting them? -- Embarrassed
DEAR EMBARRASSED: Regardless of the age, stage or experience of the performer, when a concert is coming up the musical director should issue an information sheet about “concert dress” that serves as a heads-up for some and a reminder for others.
Yours should read, “We are so proud of the work we do. To showcase our abilities to our fullest we must dress appropriately for our performances. All performers must wear black slacks or skirts with white collared shirts for the concert.”
If you don’t insist on this specific performance attire, then you should spell out exactly what will not be permitted, e.g., “No T-shirts, shorts, blue jeans or flip-flops. All performers must look neat and clean.”
This is not insulting. This is a question of setting a standard, notifying the group and trusting that they will respect it.
When you raise your expectations, the group will rise to meet it, and they will be proud to do so.
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