Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have a serious crush on the minister at church, and I suspect he has similar feelings for me. He is divorced and seems a little shy. Is there some code of ethics that a minister must follow about dating parishioners? I'm a Methodist. Please tell me what to do -- I'm crazy about him. -- CRAZY FOR THE REVEREND

DEAR CRAZY: There are specific rules that prevent clergy from becoming romantically involved with their parishioners. Those who break them are considered predators.

If you are serious about the minister, the first thing you should do is find another congregation. After that, call him, explain why you left his flock, say a little prayer and invite him to dinner.

DEAR ABBY: When I send out dinner invitations, I ask the guests not to bring anything but themselves. But without fail, my husband's mother and sister call him to say they'll be bringing added dishes plus dessert.

My husband, "Nick," refuses to tell them it's not necessary. He says they don't mean to offend and that I am being petty.

But they never ask me what I'm preparing, and their food always conflicts with what I'm serving. This last time, Nick even asked me to change the menu to complement the food they were bringing! Afterward, they asked me to wash their serving dishes and return them in a couple of days.

I have attended other family functions where I've noticed these in-laws did not interfere with the meals being served. I can't help but take it personally. I am very offended. What should I do? -- TIRED OF BITING MY TONGUE IN PA.

DEAR TIRED: There is no rule of etiquette that demands a host serve food that is brought by the guests. (This goes for wine, too.) It is considered to be a gift to the host. The next time Nick's mother and sister bring food after having been asked not to, transfer it to your own containers and put it in the freezer. Put their dishes into a hot soapy sink, and present them to their owners at the door when they leave. Then you and Nick can enjoy their gift at a later time -- or dispose of it if you choose.

DEAR ABBY: I have been married 25 years. I'm in my early 40s and have three adorable children and a good life.

My problem is I cannot get my previous boyfriend out of my system. I long to see him, and when I do -- even a glimpse of him -- I feel the way I did when we were together years ago. I get nervous and tingly and jittery. I look for him wherever I go and dream of him often. It is always the same dream; we are getting married.

I have a good husband who doesn't drink or become abusive. We go to church, have a new house, two nice vehicles and just about everything I could want.

Do I need closure or do you think I still love him? I will always love him, I guess, even though I talked with him several years ago and he is completely different from when we dated. Do I need counseling or is this normal? -- WONDERING IN WISCONSIN

DEAR WONDERING: I suspect you are less in love with him than with the IDEA of him. He can do no wrong because it's all in your head -- the "perfect" love affair. If counseling will help you feel better, I won't discourage you. But I recommend that you also find a project or volunteer outlet on which to concentrate, because it appears you have too much time on your hands.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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