QUESTION:

My wife and I have four kids, ages 16 to 4. I love them, but already the thought of paying college tuition for them terrifies me. Now my wife is talking about another baby. Would it be wrong for me to secretly get a vasectomy?

Mia:

Well, yes. But not wanting to have five kids is pretty reasonable. You need to talk with your wife and figure out what you should be doing for birth control.

Steve:

Having children is a joint decision. Discuss your concerns and see if you can reach consensus on how big a family you want. Doing things in secret that affect the entire family is a bad idea.

QUESTION:

I have a friend who is 38, has three kids and is enduring a very rough patch with her husband. They are in therapy, but she's wondering if she should throw in the towel. How do you know when it's time to stop trying?

Mia:

When you have three kids I think it's important to try as hard as you can to make things work. Of course, if there's physical or emotional abuse, you should get out. Otherwise, there isn't really a cutoff point. Tell her to stick with the therapy and see if things get any better.

Steve:

Obviously, abuse is a game stopper, as Mia says. But if hubby is trying hard, and the obstacles don't seem insurmountable and you love each other - the key ingredient - then keep trying.

QUESTION:

My younger brother (he's 24) has just proposed to his girlfriend. My family is thrilled. Me, too. But now everybody's treating me like a pathetic old maid. I'm only 28, for God's sake. How do I get them to back off?

Steve:

The next time a family member suggests you think about marriage, say you're going to a biker bar to get knocked up by the first man you meet.

Mia:

Even though they're annoying they do mean well. Just recognize that the wedding will be over eventually. You should focus on your life and your happiness. Don't let your family get to you.

QUESTION:

My father died and left his estate evenly divided among me and my siblings. A few years ago, he helped pay my tuition through law school when I changed careers. My brother says I should relinquish my share to the other three. What do you think?

Steve:

I think your brother is a selfish pig. Ask if he'd also like an accounting for every Christmas and birthday present.

Mia:

These kinds of fights never end well. Never. You should tell your brother that your dad was well aware that he paid your tuition and he never changed his will. So you all should just leave it alone and respect his wishes.

Steve (not his real name) is 50-something and has been married to his second wife for 20 years. Mia (not her real name) is a 20-something single immersed in the dating scene.