DEAR ABBY: I have been dating “Richard” for three years. We began dating when my daughter was 1. He is great with her, and with me. The only problem is he doesn’t want to get married.

I love him, but I’m not getting any younger and I want to be married. I want another child and a stable family for my daughter. Richard says he is afraid that the stress of dealing with the both of us would drive him crazy. I gave him an ultimatum – marry me or let me move on. Was I wrong to do that? – HAVING SECOND THOUGHTS IN MISSOULA, MONT.

If Richard has been able to tolerate the “stress” of dealing with you and your daughter for three years, then he isn’t afraid the stress of dealing with the two of you will drive him crazy. He’s afraid of commitment.

There is nothing wrong with wanting another child and a stable family for you and your daughter. And if Richard isn’t man enough to provide those things for you, then yes, you were right to give him the ultimatum.

DEAR ABBY: My parents and I go out to dinner once a month. Mother eats slower than the rest of us, and no one in our family minds. She was still enjoying her dinner when the server came to clear our plates. He stood there watching her eat, then offered us dessert! My father and I believe it was very rude.

This has happened to us a number of times. Are restaurants really encouraging their wait staff to rush patrons along by doing this? – ANNOYED IN VERMONT

Many restaurant managers feel that the more often they can “turn” a table, the better their bottom line will be. It also gives the servers the opportunity to earn more tips. However, for your server to have made you feel rushed was tactless.

Because you felt you were being rushed, you should have told the server, “Thank you, but we prefer to wait until everyone has finished eating before you clear or we order dessert.”

P.S. Not every patron feels the way you do about this. Some diners prefer to have their dirty plate taken away and to be served coffee while the slow eaters finish their meals.

DEAR ABBY: I would like to know if there is a “proper” way to hold a pen or pencil while writing. My grandmother and my mother seem to think that penmanship is much neater when you hold it between your middle and index fingers. I, however, naturally hold it between my middle and ring fingers.

They both tried to teach me to write the way they do, but I couldn’t even write my name. If you could help, I’d be grateful. – KAELA IN RED OAK, TEXAS

DEAR KAELA: The “proper” way to hold a pen or pencil is the way your mother and grandmother do. It is the way they were taught in penmanship class in grammar school, and it’s the way you should have been taught by your teachers. Had you been taught correctly from the beginning, you would have mastered the technique at a time when it was easy to learn.

However, because you write neatly holding the pen the way you do, I see no reason why you should worry about what is proper at this late date. Do what works for you, and obviously this does.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.