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DEAR ABBY: I'm writing in response to "Polar Opposites," who wondered if she should marry her boyfriend because they are so different. (You told her no.)

My husband and I have been married 12 years and a couple for 15. We are the perfect example of why it can work. If there are two people more different than we are, I have yet to meet them.

My husband is an intellectual with an Ivy League education. I never went to college. His family is small and -- well -- not like mine at all, which is huge and loud. He grew up with no religion; I was raised Catholic. As for the other differences she mentioned, they are small and insignificant.

People don't get along 100 percent of the time, regardless of how alike they are. Marriage is about compromise and respect. As long as you have those things, and open lines of communication, it will work. I love that we're so different. My husband gives me courage when I want to hide. I drag him out to play when he'd rather sit on the couch. We each make up for what the other lacks -- and that's a good thing. -- WROTE THE BOOK ON THAT

DEAR WROTE THE BOOK: I advised the young woman against marriage to her boyfriend because her letter reeked of negativity. Not once did she mention what they have in common or that either of them was willing to work on their relationship, and that does not bode well for a successful future. Readers were divided on the issue. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: The differences between them are crucial, and any one of them is a deal breaker. Fighting for what can only bring heartache is foolish, and I think that young woman should be applauded for her wisdom. I know -- I married an "opposite" and have lived to regret it. -- ALLIE IN PORT HUENEME, CALIF.

DEAR ABBY: Opposites are often the best pairs! Her description of their differences sounds exactly like my husband and me, and we just celebrated the 27th anniversary of our first date. (My romantic husband celebrates everything that has to do with us.)

Many people tell us we have the best marriage in St. Louis -- which may or may not be true -- but what we DO have is mutual love and respect, and the desire to work hard on our marriage. You told her she has a negative mind-set. Let me add that in addition to that, she also seems judgmental and superior. Her boyfriend sounds like a winner to me. Do you have his number? We have four daughters! -- LAUREN IN ST. LOUIS

DEAR ABBY: After 25 years of marriage to my polar opposite, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, especially when it comes to having children. "Do not be yoked to an unbeliever." It's a choice she'll regret for the rest of her life! -- GINA IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR ABBY: Yes, "Polar Opposite" may have a negative attitude, but it's probably because she's analyzing her relationship with her boyfriend rationally. Happy marriages require more than mutual attraction and love. Differences in family, beliefs, likes and dislikes all can make or break a marriage.

I think they could make it work, and I found her rationality refreshing. If more people were that informed about the realities in their relationships, there would be fewer divorces. I suspect she has just outgrown this relationship and will be happy to move on. You were right to give her "permission." -- DIANE IN PROVO, UTAH

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 $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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