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DEAR ABBY: The letters regarding the use of the phrase "I love you" reminded me of a story. The Finns are reputed to be people who don't waste many words. An example:

"'Jussi' and 'Kaisa' had been married for 25 years. One day, Kaisa asked Jussi, 'Why don't you ever tell me you love me?' His reply: 'I told you "I love you" when we were married. If anything changes, I'll let you know.'" -- ARNIE HAKKILA, RIO VERDE, ARIZ.

DEAR ARNIE: No wonder they say it's cold in Finland! Jussi may have been a man of few words, but I'll bet his wife had more than a few for him when she heard that reply. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: You may have missed something in your reply to "Hurt in Reno." Hurt told her fiance she loved him and would be devastated if anything happened to him, and was upset when all he said in return was he "probably" felt the same. She also said he was not affectionate, but was good to her son.

You said he might be a poor communicator.

What caught my eye was the line about how he treats her son. Is it possible her fiance is engaged to her so he can have access to the boy? My second husband turned out to be a molester. During the first year of our marriage, while I was pregnant, he began to "groom" my daughter to be his sexual partner.

Please urge "Hurt" to follow her gut instincts. It could save her son's future and years of guilt for herself. -- ALMOST SANE AFTER YEARS OF THERAPY

DEAR ALMOST SANE: It's interesting how the letters in my column are interpreted through the filter of the reader's personal experience. Your warning should be enough to alert that mother.

DEAR ABBY: PHOOEY! on that word "love"! Seventy years ago, when I was in my early 20s, I was engaged to a man who swore he loved me with all his heart. He did -- until I became very sick. That was the end of our wedding plans.

Years later, I met a man I thought was interested in a mutual friend. I was shocked when he invited me to dinner and a movie. During dinner he said, "I'm not an articulate person." "That's OK," I flippantly replied. "Neither am I!"

We saw each other often after that and time seemed to fly. Then I had an attack of pain that came without warning. My doctor advised immediate surgery. When I told my friend, he listened, then put his hands on my shoulders. In a voice choked with tears he said, "I LIKE you. Will you marry me?" I was so astonished I couldn't speak, for we hadn't even kissed, as unbelievable as that seems.

"You do LIKE me, don't you?" he asked anxiously. "Yes," I whispered. I got no further because I was stopped by our first kiss.

I'm a widow now, and more than 90 years old, nearing the end of my life's journey. Please tell "Feeling Hurt" that a happy marriage CAN be built on two people "liking each other" at the start. My husband of almost 50 years didn't say "love" a dozen times, but by his actions, faithfulness, consideration and dozens of ways, he proved -- not only to me, but also to the world -- that he did.

Now I only want to be with him. -- MISSING MY MATE IN ARIZONA

DEAR MISSING: Thank you for sharing your truly unforgettable love story. It touched my heart.

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