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Gift registry not list of demands

Dear Annie: My wife and I married a year ago. We registered for gifts, yet only a third of the wedding presents came from the registry and quite a few of those were duplicates. Now we are awaiting the birth of our first child. My wife’s sister was gracious enough to throw her a baby shower. We spent hours registering for items we thought we would need. We got plenty of gifts at the shower, but very few came off our registry.

We are grateful for what we were given, but it does annoy me that, for both of these occasions, my wife and I spent a great deal of time researching the items we specifically wanted. Now we are left to either use gifts that don’t match the theme of the nursery or take them back and exchange them for what we wanted in the first place.

Has registering for gifts become outdated? What is the point of registering if no one uses the list? – Registered Out

Dear Registered: You have mistaken a registry for a shopping list. The registry is to give your guests suggestions, not orders. Those who select from the registry know you want those items (and the store should keep track so you don’t get duplicates). However, guests may prefer to purchase something else, either because your registry items are not within their budget or because they want to get you something more personal. All gifts should be graciously acknowledged.

Dear Annie: I am 30 years old and have been in an off-and-on relationship for the past seven years. My boyfriend is in the Army and scheduled to go to Iraq soon.

We’ve talked about marriage and kids, and we both want that someday. The problem is that we have different timelines. He’d like to wait until he’s out of the Army and doesn’t want kids for another five or 10 years. I feel I’ve given him the best years of my life, and if things don’t work out between us and I have to start over, I’d rather do it now than later.

I love this man dearly, as he does me, but maybe he’s holding on to me only until something better comes along. If he really wanted marriage, we’d be hitched already. If he still isn’t sure after seven years, when will it happen?

Should I wait and hope he will come around? – Confused in Colorado

Dear Colorado: You say you love each other, but this doesn’t sound like a very committed relationship. He seems indifferent, and you are too willing to give up.

Still, breaking up with your boyfriend while he is in Iraq could have serious repercussions, and he may be very different when he is out of the service. You need to have a frank and honest conversation with him so he understands how important these issues are to you, and see if you can reach an understanding.

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar write for Creators Syndicate,