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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: You were 100 percent right when you advised "Old-Fashioned Southern Lady" to get a prenuptial agreement. Permit me to share my experience.

My now ex-husband exploded when I suggested a prenuptial agreement. I was a single mother of two, owned my own home and was completely independent. He was coming into the marriage after living at home with his parents, with nothing to his name other than his boat and truck. I bought the part about "not loving him enough" and "you don't trust me."

I wound up having to buy my own home back from him. I was in exactly the same place I was prior to the marriage -- only with a smaller bank account.

I have finally determined that love and property have nothing to do with each other. Please tell "Old-Fashioned" that when and if her marriage ever comes to a parting of the ways, all the love in the world, be it now or then, has nothing whatsoever to do with her property. When tempers and emotions are flaring, hurting the other party becomes the only thing that matters, and that's where the property comes in.

I hope, by the grace of God, that "Old-Fashioned's" marriage will flourish and she will never have to look at the prenuptial agreement again. But if and when she might need to, I promise she'll be glad she did the deed. -- POORER AND WISER IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR POORER AND WISER: You learned an expensive lesson, and no one could argue with your conclusion.

I suspect the reason most people are reluctant to ask for a prenuptial agreement is insecurity or lack of assertiveness. And that's no way to enter a partnership.

DEAR ABBY: Titles and forms of address are confusing. How should a letter be addressed when the husband is a medical doctor and the wife has a Ph.D.?

Another son is a lawyer; his wife is a medical doctor. How should a letter be addressed to the two of them? -- HOWARD STREIM, TRUMBULL, CONN.

DEAR HOWARD: Stay with me on this: According to "Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Book of Etiquette," the envelopes should be addressed this way:

The Doctors Streim, Drs. Sally and Howard Streim, or Dr. Sally Jones and Dr. Howard Streim.

If only the husband is a doctor, it's Dr. and Mrs. Howard Streim, or Dr. Howard Streim and Ms. Sally Jones.

If the wife is a doctor and he is a lawyer, the envelope should be addressed to: Dr. Sally Jones and Howard Jones, Esq. (Esq. or Esquire is from British law and indicates the person is a lawyer.)

DEAR ABBY: Your story about the husband who was asked whether he would save his wife or his mother if they were both drowning reminded me of a charming old tale about the queen and the courtier. The queen, a beautiful lady-in-waiting and the courtier were boating. The queen asked him which of them he would save if the boat capsized. He replied, "But madam swims so well!" -- JOHN TOMASIN, ESQ., WEST NEW YORK, N.J.

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