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by Abigail Van Buren

Couple Continues to Date After 14 Years of Marriage

DEAR ABBY: In a recent letter, a young woman said she didn't need a man to open the door for her. I just had to respond to that statement. After 14 years of marriage, my husband and I agreed he would go back to that old-fashioned courtesy of opening the car door for me. (He has always opened doors for me at buildings.) We thought this would remind us that we are still "dating" and to treat each other in a special way. I wait, he opens my door, I smile and thank him, he smiles back and holds my hand as we walk along. At first I thought this little ritual seemed forced; now it feels natural and we like the results. I think it has made us more aware and more considerate of each other.

Our daughters, ages 14 and 10, cannot say enough about how stupid they think this courtesy is. They think I'm the one insisting my husband do this. They can't believe I would put him through it -- let alone be willing to wait the few extra seconds it takes for him to walk around the car to open my door. They don't realize they are taking for granted their parents acting in a loving way toward each other! I feel cherished and connected to my husband all the time, and these little outward acts of courtesy have a remarkable effect on our relationship.

Last night at a parents' meeting at school, my husband sweetly held my hand the entire time. I noticed other parents not doing the same.

We have been at this little experiment in "old-fashioned" manners for more than a year now, and neither of us would ever go back. I realize that the married generations before me understood the value of seemingly meaningless outward gestures. Of course, I am strong enough to open my own doors, but it's not an insult that my husband wants to do it for me. Small gestures go a long way toward reminding us of our constant courtship. -- STILL DATING, KELLER, TEXAS

DEAR STILL DATING: You'll get no argument from me. At the risk of irritating some feminists, I must say that I've never been offended when a gentleman opened a door for me, helped me with my chair or stood when I entered a room. I have always regarded it as a gesture of respect. When a man acknowledges my femininity with an act of chivalry, I always thank him for it.

DEAR ABBY: My parents were married nearly 40 years when my father passed away. About a year later, my mother remarried. A year after she remarried, my father's mother passed away.

At my grandmother's funeral, my uncle referred to my mother as my grandmother's "former daughter-in-law." The same term was used in the obituary submitted by the family.

My mother was hurt by this characterization, as she feels that she was always a good daughter-in-law, and always maintained the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship even after my father passed away. She feels that despite the passing of my father and her subsequent remarriage, she should have nevertheless been referred to as my grandmother's daughter-in-law and NOT "former" daughter-in-law. -- THE FORMER GRANDCHILD

DEAR GRANDCHILD: I'm sure your uncle meant no offense. His reasoning may have been that regardless of how loving your mother's relationship was with her mother-in-law, her remarriage made her a "former" daughter-in-law. From his point of view, it seems perfectly logical.

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