Dear Mike and Nicole,

My girlfriend and I have been dating for almost four years. We've lived together for the past 8 months and I am ready to take the plunge. I want to propose but I want it to be perfect. I'm not nervous about getting engaged, actually I'm really excited. I've got it all planned out. Spoken with her parents, her friends, and family. I knew I wanted to ask her from the 3rd date on. Even though I'm completely ready for it, I have the plans just waiting to go, my biggest fear is that she has been engaged before and I could never compete with this guy. They had a long engagement and would have married him if it wasn't for the fact that he served two tours of duty in the Middle East before he lost his life. It completely devastated her, her family and friends. I know it sounds silly but I feel like I may never live up to his greatness. A decorated serviceman compared to a simple carpenter. Her former fiance really was a part of her family and friends life. There are so many times where we will be out enjoying each others company when a friend or family member will end up saying.."Ya know who would have really loved this....."Jake" And even though I completely understand where they are coming from, I constantly feel like no matter how much I try I'll never live up to him...or even his memory. It's been 5 years since he died so I understand if it is still very fresh.  I'm not a petty person, but I just can't shake this. And yes, I know exactly what your 12 listeners will say, Talk to Her. We have! We go to couples therapy every month. It's one of our biggest hurdles. She says that no matter what happens he will always be a part of her. And that kills me. I feel like even in her eyes I'm not adequate enough. It's not just her best friends, it's her family and her parents. It's constant. My parents have even made comments about being okay with the fact that I'll always be compared to him. I just don't know. So my question is, how do I compete. I'm not trying to replace him, I want to move on from him if anything, but I can't say that to her. If I were to say that I"m worried that could be a deal breaker. I know I'm not marrying her friends, but I am marrying her and her family comes along with that.

Love you guys, I'll be listening in to see what you all say. Also, can't wait to see you at Boise Music Festival. Any free tickets? Just kidding. Thanks again. -Anon in Ada County

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