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by Abigail Van Buren

Be a Sweetheart Today and Love Thy Spouse

DEAR READERS: 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. However, 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 Stellman, 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?


-- 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.)

Call someone who's lonely and say, "I'm thinking of you." 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: A month ago I broke up with my boyfriend, "Adam." We had been dating about six months. During the last month of our relationship, his car broke down, so I lent him my spare car. Last night when I called him, I found out that he had resumed his relationship with his former girlfriend. I told him I wanted my car back immediately, and I felt it was disrespectful of him to have kept my car. When he decided to go back with her, he should have returned it.

Who does he think he is, anyway -- driving one girl's car while sleeping with another? He thinks I am wrong for saying he disrespected me. What do you think? -- STEWING IN SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR STEWING: The honorable thing would have been for him to have returned your car when he felt his relationship with you was over. However, you put him in the driver's seat and he enjoyed the freedom your wheels provided, so he felt no guilt in steering the vehicle in a different direction. You're lucky to be rid of him with only a little more mileage on your car.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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