DEAR ABBY: I am 16 and a sophomore in high school. As someone who is exposed to social media, I see that many people emphasize sex as a sign of love. They seem to be saying a happy marriage cannot survive without sex.
My parents do not have sex and are distant with each other. They have issues between them. I'd like to know if a happy relationship can survive abstinence from sex.
I don't want to have sex until I'm married. Long-term relationships are not an exception. But guys expect the girls they date to have sex with them. Can you help me with this?
- Abstaining in Alabama
DEAR ABSTAINING: Because someone "expects" you to have sex does not mean that you are obligated to. The decision is a personal one, and if you prefer to abstain until after you are married, that is your privilege.
A girl who has sex with a boy as a way to hang onto him will be in for a disappointment. If the sex is all that's keeping them together, he will soon wander when he becomes bored and look for another conquest.
You ask if a sexless marriage can be successful and use your parents as an example. (Are you absolutely sure this is true? Or have you assumed it because they are not demonstrative around you?) The direct answer to that question is, sometimes. No two couples are alike. Some stop having sex because they have lowered hormone levels, which makes them less interested. Sometimes one partner is unable to perform because of a medical condition. This doesn't necessarily spell the end of the marriage. It all depends upon the individuals and the situation.
On the other hand, other couples enjoy sex until they are in their 90s. As long as a husband and wife are in agreement about it, the union can be a happy and lasting one.
DEAR ABBY: With the holiday season coming, I want to offer a word of advice to parents who are considering having Santa photos taken of their kids at the mall. I managed one of those concessions and saw the best and the worst of parenting. Forcing kids to get your memory photo of them screaming in terror is ridiculous, and I will add, not funny. Parents should take the time to ask the children if they want to see Santa.
If necessary, the parent should be in the photo, too. Don't tell the kids to smile and show their teeth. They'll look like the grill on a Ford. Don't wait till the last days, visit Santa when it's really crowded, enter a long line and then complain that the line is long.
And don't assume it's safe or that the company cares. My boss told me I shouldn't have background checks done because it "cost too much." I ordered them anyway, and when the reports were returned, we had to have one of the Santas removed immediately from the floor.
- Santa Helper in Florida
DEAR SANTA HELPER: Thanks for sharing your insight. I'm all for wanting to capture the memory, and during holiday time, temptation can be hard to resist. But forcing a child who finds Santa terrifying to sit on his lap for a picture doesn't seem like great parenting to me. A better idea would be to wait until Christmas morning and take some candid shots of the child opening his or her presents at home. That way the smiles will be genuine and it will ensure a better outcome for everyone involved.