I would like to respond to "Kelly in Austin," who wondered if there were more than two men who excel at romance.
Abby, my husband has given me a total of four pieces of jewelry throughout our 13-year relationship. However, he has given me many intangibles that mean far more.
I have a best friend I can talk to and trust. I have a lover who cares for me and my needs. I have a husband who believes in and abides by the vows we took on our wedding day. I have a provider who works hard to assure my financial stability, not just for today, but also for the future.
My children have a father who loves them and makes sure they know it through his words and actions. And I have a partner for life who does "romantic" things like changing diapers, rocking babies, washing dishes and holding my hand.
In generations past, men were expected to be strong, gentle and responsible. I thank God that my husband has chosen to be that kind of man.
DEAR BELOVED: You are a lucky woman who married a real gem. A life partner with attributes like your husband's is a jewel more precious than any stone that nature could create. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married 15 years, and my heart still skips a beat when I see him. We have a little piece of paper with I LOVE YOU written on it, and we take turns hiding it somewhere for each other to find. It shows up in my wallet, in the book I'm reading, in the laundry. It never fails to brighten my day, and it costs us not one cent.
He brings me coffee in the morning and a cup of tea at night. He'll surprise me with a candy bar or a cookie when I'm feeling down. Expensive jewelry isn't what makes a romance - it's my darling taking a moment to let me know he's thinking of me.
- Tina in Chincoteague, Va.
DEAR ABBY: When my fiance and I first got together, he told me that he didn't celebrate Valentine's Day. He claimed that he "did his thing" all year - and it's true. He leaves cards in my book bag scented with his cologne and sings to me on my voicemail at work on dreary Monday mornings. He writes me poems and buys me spontaneous gifts. No jewelry commercials can compete with a gift from the heart.
- Swept Off My Feet in Memphis
DEAR ABBY: I have been happily married for more than 10 years, and it hasn't been because of diamonds, flowers or trips to bed-and-breakfasts. We're happy because we laugh together, because we like each other, and because he was considerate enough to buy me a hands-free cell phone device to use while driving back and forth between our home and my father's. It's because he knows what scent of candle to buy me from a kid's fund-raiser and because he thought I needed a new lunch box for work and got me one.
This is real life. Diamond commercials on the television are not.
- Rita in Dubois, Pa.
DEAR ABBY: My parents have been married 45 years, and the most romantic gesture I ever saw took place about 10 years ago. One day, while she was digging in the garden, I saw my dad standing there, hovering over her with a can of wasp spray, ready to blast any potential threat into eternity if it got near Mom. Now that's better than a diamond any day. *
- Sam in Palatine, Ill.
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.)