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SIMPLE CALCULUS FOR MARRIAGE PROBLEM

Q: My boyfriend's very attentive and caring parents left this morning after a five-day visit to our house. My boyfriend told me he's receiving a lot of pressure from them and others for us to get married. He said his parents love me and want me in their son's life "forever."

This is something we've talked about . . . but I do not feel any rush. I'm 27 and don't want kids in the near future. The idea of a wedding freaks me out (I'm kind of shy, don't have money or time to plan, etc.), even though the thought of being married to him is wonderful. My philosophy is: Why change anything when things are pretty great right now?

On their way out, both his mom and dad hugged me and said they loved me. They're nice. I like them. But it just felt weird. Why don't I love them? And should I love them before I marry their son?

A: So, to recap: You don't like being the center of attention/affection, and your boyfriend is a wuss in the face of his parents' displeasure. Close enough?

These are two legitimate problems that aren't serious as long as they're out in the open.

Using them as the framework for a marriage discussion - or, worse, a marriage - instantly puts them into an overheated room on a platform in foofy dress getting fitted for serious problemhood.

Would you marry him, today, in a courthouse special? Yes/No.

Would he marry you, today, if his parents weren't pressing? Yes/No.

If it's Yes/Yes, then, congratulations/congratulations.

Anything short of two yes answers means the only proposal that's ripe is the one your boyfriend presents on bended knee, kindly but firmly, to his parents: "Butt out."

As for loving your maybe-in-laws, give it a week and it might not even seem like an issue. You're an introvert recovering from five days of overnight guests with agendas; give the oxygen a chance to make its way back to your brain.

Write "Tell Me About It," c/o Washington Post, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or e-mail tellme@washpost.com.

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