Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary recently. He is 70 and I am 56. He had been married for many years and was a widower when we met. I had never been married. Abby, I lived 48 years without a husband, so I know how to appreciate the loving sweetheart I have now.

When I see letters about husbands and wives picking each other apart over trifles, I just shake my head. If they'd had to wait as long as I did, they wouldn't waste time fighting over insignificant issues like whether a toilet seat should be up or down, or whether he picked out an appropriate gift.

We may not always agree on everything, but we would never wound each other and ruin a loving marriage with harsh, cutting words. Life is too short ever to go to bed mad.

Having my husband sit across from me at dinner and sleeping next to me at night is the greatest gift I could ever ask for. I thank God for him every day, and I let him know how much he's loved. Thanks for letting me express my feelings. -- THE HAPPIEST WOMAN IN OHIO

DEAR HAPPIEST WOMAN: Thank you for a day-brightener. You and your husband must be a delight, not only to each other, but also to those around you. I hope your letter reminds couples everywhere to take a second, more appreciative look at the person sitting across the breakfast table.

DEAR ABBY: My friend "Lucy" has been dating "Mark" for two years, and they just got engaged.

After several outings at the beginning of their relationship, I decided that I didn't like Mark. I thought the way he treated Lucy and me was rude and obnoxious. I told Lucy that I wouldn't socialize with Mark anymore and told her my reason.

Now that Lucy and Mark are engaged to be married, however, she keeps pushing me to meet him again, saying I never gave him a fair chance. I stand by my decision. When she asked what would happen when she married him, I told her I would be cordial, but if she expected me to come over for dinner or to play bridge with him, I wouldn't. I don't like Mark and he doesn't like me.

Then Lucy dropped a bomb. Abby, she says if I won't accept Mark, then I am abusing her and our friendship. I was floored. How am I supposed to respond to that? -- ABUSER OR ABUSED?

DEAR ABUSER OR ABUSED: You are abusing neither Lucy nor the friendship. Your opinion of him clearly hasn't influenced her decision -- Lucy and Mark are now engaged. Since tolerating Mark is now a condition of your continued friendship with Lucy, you must decide whether you're willing to pay that price.

DEAR ABBY: I need advice on how to handle a well-meaning friend who continually asks me how much money I spend on things I wear and also purchase for my home. I find this very rude on her part.

She has been a good friend for many years, but her questions about the cost of everything are really getting on my nerves. How do I get my point across without losing her friendship? -- NO NAME, INITIALS OR TOWN

DEAR NO NAME: Try this (with a smile, of course): "I will forgive you for asking, if you will forgive me for not answering."

For Abby's favorite family recipes, send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet No. 1, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4900 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64112; (816) 932-6600