DR. WALLACE: I'm a 19-year-old single mother with a two-year-old son. I work six days a week at a high-end restaurant at a job I enjoy, but I don't earn enough to save much.
In the year I've been a food server, only one guy has asked me out. I've gone out with him three times. He is nice, and I enjoy being with him. He is divorced, and his daughter lives with his ex-wife. On our last date, this guy asked if I would consider marrying him.
I'll tell you a few things I like. One, I enjoyed being with him. Two, he's an attorney. Three, he owns his own condo. Four, he treats me with respect.
Next, I'll give you some things that concern me. One, I'm 19; he's 39. Two, he's been divorced twice. Three, he consumes a lot of alcohol when we're together. Four, I do like him, but I don't love him, and I don't think I ever will.
I wouldn't have money worries if I married him. Should I marry him, or do you think marriage is out of the question? — Anonymous, St. Louis
ANONYMOUS: Since you don't love him and don't believe you ever will, marriage with him should be out of the question. Be honest with him and tell him that you have only been out together three times, and that while you enjoyed his company, you cannot give him a positive answer to this question. I'd also ask you to consider if an age disparity of 20 years may concern you at some point as well, especially given his penchant for consuming high amounts of alcohol.
There are several other ways to network to find suitable guys to date, beyond just looking to have customers at your job ask you out. I'd suggest that you seriously consider looking into ways to find more potentially compatible men closer to your age. Look for areas of common interests to start with, and do speak with as many family members and trusted friends as you can in your quest to locate quality candidates to date in the future. It's wise to network towards quality referrals versus only dating customers who ask you out.
MY FAMILY BUYS LOTTO TICKETS
DR. WALLACE: I'm 15 and a very religious young lady. I try not to commit sins. It's hard, but I try. My family includes my mother, father and an 18-year-old brother. No one in our family smokes or drinks (of course, no drugs either), and we all attend church on a regular basis.
The only "ongoing" major sin that my family indulges in is buying lottery tickets. They don't buy them all the time, but when the winnings go up to $500 million or more, they all get excited, and each family member buys $10 worth. They always ask me if I'm in, and my answer is the same: "Thanks, but no thanks. It's a sin to gamble."
They keep trying to tell me that fine lotto tickets are not a form of gambling, but I know better. My dad says that if he wins "the big one," he'd give some of the money to the church. My brother says that if he's spending $10 a week when the payoff is $500 million, what about the millions of people who put money into the stock market?
I would like your opinion, please. Do you think my family has a gambling problem? — Anonymous, Whittier, California
ANONYMOUS: Is playing the lottery a form of gambling? Well, it certainly fits the definition — Tuesday money on a chance outcome. But a lot of activities fit this definition, including playing/investing in the stock market. Yes, when properly managed, a stock investment portfolio designed to provide funds for retirement is a very good thing, but wildly participating in day-trade betting with money an individual can't afford to lose is a bad thing. Each monetary topic similar to these two has its nuances and must be evaluated in context of the activity and the financial position of the individual participating. This approach, in my opinion, applies to your family.
Does your family have a gambling problem? I don't think so, simply because the amount of money they put up is so small and is spent infrequently. They appear to only do so occasionally in a spirit of fun and even have altruistic plans for any resulting winnings — should they ever come. I understand your zeal to always seek to do the right thing, but with this particular topic as outlined, I see some room for leeway. Some profits from the lottery even help fund education.
However, many religious leaders are not in favor of state lotteries less because they believe them to be a sin, but more so because they consider them an unfair form of taxation. They pull in a disproportionate share of revenue from the poorest communities — where poverty causes many people to dream of a big lotto win as their way out, even though the odds against them are astronomical.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.