DEAR ABBY: I despise wearing rings, which is a problem because I plan to become engaged. I'm OK with a plain wedding band, but baubles on appendages interfere with useful work and creativity, and they turn me off.




I have an expensive heirloom ring I would gladly give to my lady if she'd keep it in the safe deposit box where it belongs. I don't want to insure it, deal with it if she loses it, or know I caused her to be injured if a thug tried to steal it. If I give it to her, she'll want to wear it. She doesn't need an ornament to prove she's special or loved.




What can I use in lieu of an engagement ring? I'd rather give her an annuity or something useful. The thought of a $10,000 ring on a hand that belongs to a productive and intelligent working woman suggests self-indulgent exhibitionism.




I know I'm fighting an uphill battle, but my feelings are valid to me. I feel the same when I see rings in the workplace and socially. Why not just duct-tape a $1,000 bill to your forehead if you want to call attention to yourself? Any ideas?




"" PRACTICAL IN DENVER




DEAR PRACTICAL: Before you pop the question, be absolutely sure you and your lady have a meeting of the minds on this subject. Candidly, from the tone of your letter you come across as rigid, opinionated and controlling. While you are entitled to your biases, if you marry an "intelligent and productive working woman," she should be able to decide for herself what kind of jewelry is appropriate.




Also, I find it sad that you would rather keep an expensive heirloom ring hidden in a safety deposit box than have your lady enjoy it &

presuming, of course, that it's her taste and she WOULD enjoy wearing it. So if you're looking for ammunition in arguing this with your girlfriend, I'm sorry, but you have asked the wrong columnist.




DEAR ABBY: I'm a divorcee, dating a man I'll call "Jack," who has been separated from his wife for three years. We've known each other two years and have been intimate for 11 months now.




Jack's daughter is being married in Mexico in two months. I have met both his adult children; they seem happy he is finally in a relationship. The problem is, Jack hasn't invited me to the wedding.




Jack attended my son's wedding with me last summer. It was 1,500 miles away. I had no problem taking him there.




Jack says he isn't divorced because he doesn't want to "pay the cost" of one &

although he does have a separation agreement. He's very tight with money. I don't plan to remarry, so the divorce thing isn't really an issue with me. I suspect he wants to avoid the stress of revealing our relationship to his former wife, who left him after 25 years of marriage.




I feel Jack is still living in the past, and I'm considering ending the relationship because of it. He's a wonderful, caring person, but he has a secretive side that I have a hard time dealing with. Help me to see the light.




"" TROUBLED IN TORONTO




DEAR TROUBLED: Allow me to share an insight. Secretive people usually have something to hide. You refer to Jack's wife as his "former" wife, but she's not. They are still married, and whether Jack's reason for maintaining the status quo is financial or emotional, he's not ready or willing to cut the strings.




It's time for a frank talk with your "wonderful, caring" lover because he has set a precedent for what you can expect in the future. And if this spells the end of the romance, I don't think you will have lost much.




Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.