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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: "Lucy," my friend for more than 10 years, got married last July. She announced her engagement a year before, then lost touch with me and didn't call for almost a year. This was typical of the relationship we had -– she'd keep in touch and then just disappear. I'd hear from her when she got lonely.

One month before the wedding, I received a call from Lucy asking for my address so she could send me an invitation. I was a little insulted that she had waited this long, but attended the wedding regardless. Lucy mentioned that she had registered at a fine department store. However, when I checked out the items on the wish list, I found they far exceeded my budget, so my husband and I bought her a set of nice cookware from another store.

It has been eight months, and I have never received a thank-you for the gift. However, since the wedding, all Lucy has talked about is how busy she and her husband have been getting all those thank-you cards out. I heard through the grapevine that Lucy chose to send thank-you cards only to those who bought her the items she had asked for –- and chose not to acknowledge the others. I'm personally surprised and a little hurt by this.

What would be a tactful way of telling her that this is unheard of without starting a battle? -- HURT IN SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR HURT: If what you heard through the grapevine is true, I hope your gift included cake pans -– because the bride's excuse for not sending certain thank-you notes takes the cake!

The surest way to find out why your gift has not been acknowledged would be to ask Lucy if the gift was received. It's possible that a thank-you note was sent but went astray. However, if the answer is she hasn't gotten around to sending one, perhaps you should send Lucy an etiquette book for her first anniversary. She could certainly use one.

DEAR ABBY: In response to "Old-Fashioned Southern Lady" and to others who say they don't like prenuptial agreements: I would like them to consider the truth about marriage. Anyone getting married in a "Christian marriage" (and other religious or public weddings) realizes that the church wedding and the marriage license are two separate and different entities.

The marriage license must be signed by both parties and recorded by the state before the marriage is legally recognized by the state (except in common-law marriages). Therefore, by definition, this, too, is a "prenuptial agreement" in which you give the state in which you reside the power to determine how marital assets will be divided in case of death or divorce. Like it or not, a marriage is a legal arrangement and should not be left in the hands of an arbitrary document that leaves the state with all the rights.

So, instead of trusting the assets of their marriage to the state government, intelligent adults should discuss and write down their common beliefs as to what would be fair if the unthinkable happens. That's why we buy life insurance. We may not like the idea of having to prepare for tragic circumstances, but a wise couple prepares their marriage for all possible outcomes. -– BRADY L. CROM, PSYCHOLOGIST, HAWTHORNE, CALIF.

DEAR BRADY: You have explained it very well. I have always urged couples contemplating marriage, particularly those who have been married before and have children, to have a prenuptial agreement. In the event of death or divorce, it can prevent grief, heartache and misunderstanding. It brings to mind the Boy Scout motto, "Be Prepared."

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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