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by Abigail Van Buren

Follow These Commandments to Make Your Love Stay True

DEAR READERS: Can you believe it? It's Valentine's Day already! And what better time to revive my Ten Commandments of Love.

Yes, dear readers, I actually had the chutzpah to write my own Ten Commandments. But it wasn't as though I was stealing from strangers; one of my ancestors was privileged to have received them on Mount Sinai from the Lord himself -- at least that's what the Good Book says.

Originally, I wrote two sets of commandments -- one for men and one for women. Then Mandy Stillman, a lawyer from Milwaukee, pointed out that one set of commandments should apply to both men and women. She was right, of course. So how's this for a gender bender?

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF LOVE

-- Put your spouse before your mother, your father, your son and your daughter -- your mate is your lifelong companion.

-- Do not abuse your body with excessive food, tobacco, drink, or any foreign substance that goes into your arm or up your nose.

-- Remember that cleanliness is a virtue.

-- Willingly share all of your worldly goods with your mate.

-- Do not forget to say, "I love you." Even though your love may be constant, your spouse needs to hear those cherished words often.

-- Remember that the approval of your spouse is worth far more than the adoring glances of a hundred strangers, so be true to him or her, and forsake all others.

-- Permit neither your business nor your hobby to make you a stranger to your spouse. The most precious gift you can give is time.

-- Keep your home in good repair, because out of it come the joys of old age (not to mention its resale value).

-- Forgive with grace, because who among us does not need to be forgiven?

-- Honor the Lord your God every day of your life, and your children will grow up to bless you.

Today, be a sweetheart. Call someone you love and say, "I love you." (Make two or three calls; who says you can't love more than one person -- in different ways, of course.)

Go through your closets and give all those clothes that you've been saving until you lose 10 pounds to your favorite charity. Call someone who's lonely and say, "I'm thinking of yu." Or, better yet, say, "I'll be over tomorrow to take you to lunch, run some errands for you, or give you a ride."

Visit a sick friend. Say a prayer. Donate some blood. Adopt a pet. Will your eyes, your kidneys and all your usable organs to someone who can use them after you're gone. Forgive an enemy. Hug your teen-ager. Write a fan letter. Listen to a bore. Pay your doctor. Tell your parents you think they're wonderful. Spay your dog. Neuter your cat. Quit smoking. Drive carefully. If you're walking, watch where you're going.

And don't wait until next year to be a sweetheart again. -- LOVE, ABBY

DEAR ABBY: Like "Examining Life in Ohio," I also dreamed of a soul mate after a long so-so marriage in which neither of us was fulfilled. After my husband died, I adopted a "leave the door open a crack" attitude toward every man I met. He might not be handsome, articulate or well-dressed; he might be too short, too fat or bald, but underneath might lurk the man of my dreams. Well, I finally met him!

How did we know we were soul mates? Because we never stopped talking, could read each other's minds and were comfortable with each other from the day we met.

After five months we were married. He was 69 and I was 68. We've had seven glorious years together, we are still reading each other's minds, and neither of us can shut up! -- BARBARA MILLER, EL CERRITO, CALIF.

DEAR BARBARA: Lucky you, and may it ever be thus. Your experience reminds me of an old saying, "It may take some searching, but there's a lid for every pot."

(Everybody has a problem. What's yours? Get it off your chest by writing to Dear Abby, P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069. For a personal reply, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.)

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