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DEAR ABBY: I'm a busy, 72-year-old substitute teacher in the elementary grades, and I do my best to make a difference with the limited time I have to spend with each of the many groups of students I teach in various classrooms.

I realize that I look older than other teachers and, every once in a while, a student will ask me my age. It may be an inappropriate question, but these are youngsters who may not have learned about such sensitivities. Ignoring the question doesn't make it go away and undoubtedly would puzzle the student who asked it.

Is honesty the best policy in such cases? I'm open to suggestions as to how to best handle this situation in the future. -- AN ARIZONA SENIOR

DEAR ARIZONA SENIOR: There are certain questions that are considered rude to ask. A person's age is one of them. If these students have not been taught that lesson at home, then it falls to you as a teacher to enlighten them.

Your answer should be, "My dear, that question is inappropriate and should not be asked of someone who is an adult." Say it gently with a smile so it does not seem like a rebuke.

DEAR ABBY: A close friend of mine, "Trish," is being married next March in Hawaii. The groom's brother, "Tom," and his fiancee announced this week that they plan to have their honeymoon at the same time as the wedding in Hawaii. This has upset Trish and her future husband, whose wedding plans had long been in place.

Should Trish be upset about this? And if so, does she have a right to voice her opinion to the honeymooners? Other family will be at the wedding. Will this steal Trish's wedding limelight? -- MAID OF HONOR

DEAR MAID OF HONOR: In no way will Tom and his bride steal the spotlight from Trish by having their honeymoon at the time of Trish's wedding. There may have been budgetary considerations that led to their decision. It's possible they could not afford to have a honeymoon and attend the wedding, too -- so they combined the two happy occasions.

Your friend may be suffering from pre-wedding jitters, which can cloud a person's judgment. Under no circumstances should she say anything negative to her new in-laws or the rest of the family. If she is gracious, she'll have no regrets -- or rifts -- in the family later.

DEAR ABBY: My wife of 24 years refuses to wear her wedding rings. When I asked why, she said it's because we're not getting along. I asked her to put them back on, but she refuses.

We talk, but my love for her is wearing thin -- and when she goes out of town without the rings, it burns me up. What can I do? She refuses to go to a counselor.

I am a stay-at-home, retired dad, and she works full time. I do all the chores, including cooking dinner. There has been no intimacy for months. We have two boys, 14 and 16.

Why would she do something like this? I think she doesn't want to be married anymore. -- SMARTING IN FORT MYERS, FLA.

DEAR SMARTING: Your wife is certainly acting that way. By refusing to wear her wedding rings, she's not only sending a strong message to you, but also to her co-workers and the community at large that she's "available."

It's a shame she won't consider marriage counseling because it takes two people working together to heal a marriage, and yours appears to be in trouble. Please consider getting counseling by yourself. It will help you decide what would be best for you and your sons -- whether it's continuing to tolerate this stressful atmosphere or ending the marriage.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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