Dear Amy:

I recently joined the service and soon will be leaving for basic training. I care about my girlfriend very much, but recently I have been very concerned about what will happen in our future.

She is banking on me being based near her. I've told her countless times I can't guarantee that will happen.

We've been together for almost a year, and it's starting to get scary. She is mentioning marriage just so we can live together wherever I am stationed.

I am 24 years old and about to embark on a life-changing endeavor, and marriage was not included in my plans.

- Scared Serviceman

Dear Scared: If your relationship is scaring you more than the prospect of basic training, you know you have a problem.

Loving relationships ideally bring comfort rather than anxiety, but you can assume that you and your girlfriend are both anxious and maybe even panicking a little as you face an uncertain future. Many a wartime marriage has resulted from this sort of dynamic, but that doesn't make it right.

The right thing to do is also the toughest thing. You have to be honest about your own goals and straightforward about your concerns. Tell your girlfriend absolutely everything you're thinking about, and take marriage off the table for now. Simply tell her you're not ready.

Dear Amy: Our son and daughter-in-law are divorcing, and our teenage grandchildren have taken sides; our granddaughter is siding with her mother and our grandson with his dad.

This acrimonious divorce was initiated by our son because of his wife's alcoholism, financial irresponsibility and infidelity that have resulted in bankruptcy and losing the house.

We have been getting together with the kids and sometimes included our son, but as the divorce process has moved forward and the reality has hit the kids, feelings have intensified.

We have been a close part of this family until the marital breakdown began to surface. We have a close relationship with the grandkids, and they have a great relationship with each other. What can we do to be with the three of them together, or do we just accept that they have a toxic relationship and hope that time will heal it?

- Sad in Seattle

Dear Sad: You should continue to spend time with these children, with and without their dad. You will want to continue to offer your grandchildren the benefit of your strong relationship while giving them a safe place to be themselves and a respite from the anxiety of their parents' troubles.

Never criticize their mother, but allow them to express themselves, with reasonable and respectful limits. Your granddaughter needs to learn that it is permissible and possible to love both of her parents and that it's not necessary to take sides.

You can hope that the passage of time will help them heal and gain perspective, and you can do the rest by filling in some of the emotional void in their lives.