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Date: 07-17-1999; Publication: The Toronto Sun; Author: DR. JOY BROWNE

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DEAR DR. JOY: I have a friend who is having marital problems and she asks for my advice. I have tried to tell her that she needs to develop her self-esteem and self-worth, whether she is married to her current husband or if she is on her own.

In my mind, she does not bring anything new into the relationship because she waits around to react to whatever her husband does or says.

Can you suggest a book that would give her advice on how to develop self-esteem and independence?

DEAR READER: Self-esteem is one of those wonderful terms that says exactly what it is -- not friend-esteem, not child-esteem, not parent-esteem, but self-esteem. You get it for yourself, or you ain' t gonna have it.

Your efforts to help your friend, while well-intentioned, are misguided. Providing self-esteem isn't something a friend can do with you or for you.

Learning to value yourself is an active process, not something you can get from a book. You develop self-esteem by doing something that you value and doing it well and saying, "Oooh, what a good girl am I!"

It sounds to me like you are getting irritated with your friend, which is certainly understandable. It may be a good time to suggest that she begin sorting through things on her own.

DEAR DR. JOY: My boyfriend and I knew each other 11 years ago when I was going out with one of his best friends. He says he fell in love with me back then, but deferred to his friend.

Now I'm 35 and he's 31 and, since we got back in touch last fall, not one day has gone by that we haven't spoken or been together in some way. We even bought a house and moved in together.

I want to get married. He says we're not ready. I'm so sure that he's my life's partner, and he says he feels the same about me, but says we haven't known each other very long.

Why do I feel the need to keep broaching the subject? I'm sure I'm on the verge of nagging.

DEAR READER: My dear, cool your jets a bit.

Moving in with someone who is dragging his heels on getting engaged is unwise. You are making it very easy for him put off making clear what his commitment is to you.

First, you haven't known each other long enough to be living with each other. Second, especially with the fact that you want a commitment and he is not offering it, if I were you, I'd move out. Continue to date each other and see where the relationship goes.

You are right -- nagging him about the relationship won't do any good. It will just make you both unhappy.

The two of you went too fast on this. Move out. Start all over again.

DR. JOY BROWNE, SELF-ESTEEM CAN'T BE FOUND IN BOOK. , The Toronto Sun, 07-17-1999, pp 53.

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