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by Abigail Van Buren

'Child' Bride Is Resentful of Remarks About Youth

DEAR ABBY: Ever since my fiance and I became engaged six months ago, something has been bugging me. I'm 19 years old, and the man I love with all my heart is 20.

We plan to be married sometime next spring. Meanwhile, whenever I tell people our marriage plans, instead of offering congratulations, most respond by asking, "How old are you?" Abby, I think this is extremely rude and insensitive. Worse yet, when I say that I'm 19 and my fiance is 20, I usually receive another rude comment such as, "Tsk, tsk ... you are so young!"

Abby, how should I respond to such insensitive remarks? In my opinion our ages should not be an issue, since neither one of us is a minor. -- IRRITATED

DEAR IRRITATED: Please don't be too hard on those who ask your age. You obviously look much younger than you are.

When people say, "Tsk, tsk, you are so young!" smile and reply, "Thank you." Then take pleasure in the knowledge that you will probably always look younger than your years, which will be an advantage as you grow older. Trust me.

DEAR ABBY: As a young woman, I was considered very beautiful and had so many suitors that it was difficult to choose. All of my husbands (I had several) were aggressive and successful. Although they pursued me with a vengeance, I never felt that any of them loved the "real" me. I was treated like a trophy to be shown off -- but not a person with needs. Had I been happy in any of those superficial relationships, I could have remained in any of the marriages.

Middle age has been such a blessing. I now have the loving relationship that eluded me in my youth. My present husband met me when I turned 40. Although I'm still considered attractive, I'm too old to stop traffic. But he loves me for myself.

I was always a good and loving person, but now, at last, I'm judged by my character and accomplishments -- not my face and figure. -- HAPPY AT LAST

DEAR HAPPY: You have written a thought-provoking letter. Has it occurred to you that with each of your failed marriages you grew, until in middle age YOU were sufficiently wise to choose a husband who was not seduced by appearances?

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I were recently invited to the wedding of family friends.

The couple was registered at one of the best stores here, so we sent what we considered an appropriate gift. We attended their wedding (which was very beautiful), then went to the reception at a nearby facility where we were greeted with a cash bar! Only the soft drinks were complimentary.

Abby, please tell me, are we out of touch, or is this being done now? -- CONFUSED IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR CONFUSED: Obviously, since these people did it, it is "being done." Had you asked me, "Is it proper?" I would have replied, "No."

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600