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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: A friend recently purchased a mother's ring from a pawn shop. When "Caron" told me about it, I told her she didn't have the right to wear one because she's not a mother. I discussed it with some other friends and they agreed with me, but Caron says I "overreacted" and that everyone is on HER side.

Caron says it's "just a ring" with different colored stones and she has every right to wear it if she wants to. The women who agree with me say a mother's ring is set with varied birthstones to commemorate the birth of a child born in a certain month, and that's why Caron has no right to wear it.

Caron says I'm crazy and need a therapist. She's ending our 10-year friendship because I will not agree with her. Am I right or wrong? -- RING OF TRUTH IN ARKANSAS

DEAR RING OF TRUTH: A ring with multicolored stones is not a military medal. There are no laws or official rules governing who may or may not wear one. Shame on you for trying to take the pleasure out of her purchase, and that you would drag others into your disagreement with Caron is disappointing and puzzling.

DEAR ABBY: I have been married 11 years and have four children. During those years my husband and I struggled with our relationship. I couldn't understand why he wouldn't do the things I asked of him, and I became very resentful.

Last December we agreed to a divorce and, suddenly, it seemed like everything changed between us! We started getting along and treated each other with respect -- I guess because we had the answer to our problems and we were looking forward to change. I began reflecting on our relationship and put myself in his shoes. I realized that if he treated me the way I had treated him, there would be no way I'd want to do anything for him.

I'm still trying to understand the changes I have gone through, but I feel more love now for my husband than I have for a very long time, and I have started treating him that way.

He is struggling with this change and keeps waiting for me to revert to my old ways. We have put talk of divorce on the back burner and are just taking it day-by-day. I want other couples to know that if you want something to change, to look in the mirror. The only one who can change your circumstances is you. -- SECOND CHANCE IN TACOMA, WASH.

DEAR SECOND CHANCE: That's perceptive, and it applies to more situations than marriage. I wish you and your husband a successful reconciliation.

DEAR ABBY: "Maria" and I lived together for two years. She had wanted eyelid surgery but couldn't afford to pay $5,000. I offered to give her $2,000.

A few months ago, Maria told me she didn't love me anymore. (She now has a new boyfriend.) She called me yesterday evening asking for the money I said I'd give her for the surgery.

Do I owe her this money? She's the one who ended it. I told her to ask her new boyfriend to pay for it, but she claims I need to keep my word. -- SEEING THINGS DIFFERENTLY

DEAR SEEING THINGS: Excuse me? YOU need to keep your word? No, MARIA needs you to keep your word. When she replaced you, your generous offer to pay for her cosmetic surgery ended. So tell her she'll have to arrange for replacement financing or work out a time payment plan with her surgeon.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)