Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Fudging of Wedding Date Is Half Baked Deception

DEAR ABBY: Your response to "Nameless Please" was shortsighted. (She was four months' pregnant when she married, and had lied for 39 years about the date of the wedding.) You advised her to say nothing now.

My half-sister, "Stella," gave birth to my niece "Lucy" 13 months before she married "Wayne." Stella never named Lucy's biological father. The marriage lasted until Stella's death 11 years ago.

Stella and Wayne (who was NOT Lucy's biological father) told Lucy they married two years before they actually did -- making it appear that Lucy was conceived AFTER the wedding.

A few years after Stella died, my mother (Stella's stepmother) visited Wayne and essentially browbeat him about the lie he and Stella had told about their wedding date, and how it would affect Lucy when she eventually found out.

After Mother left, Wayne called Lucy in tears. Lucy raced to his home fearful of what was wrong. Wayne began to tell Lucy the truth. When she realized what he was trying to say, she stopped him. She had found her parents' marriage certificate more than 10 years earlier. When she hosted their silver anniversary party, she knew then it had actually been their 23rd. She didn't care!

Mr. and Mrs. Nameless should tell their children the truth, and give them an explanation of what happened and why they lied about it. The climate was very different then. "Nice" boys and girls didn't get pregnant before marriage.

The truth may save one of their grandchildren from falling into the trap the Namelesses fell into. The virtue in their story is that they apparently have been faithful to each other all their lives. They have nothing to be ashamed of -- and a great deal of which to be proud. -- JOHN A., STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.

DEAR JOHN: When I told "Nameless" to let the past stay buried, I hoped to save them embarrassment. Although pregnant brides are common in recent years, 40 years ago it was still something to be concealed. Further, parents are usually uncomfortable discussing their sexual adventures with their children -- clearly that was the case with the couple who wrote to me.

Since I printed that letter, I have received many letters describing the pain caused by parents keeping this secret from their children, stating that it was greater when it was finally uncovered than it would have been had it been dealt with in a forthright manner. Read on for yet another view:

DEAR ABBY: May I offer my thoughts to "Nameless, Please," who was concerned about telling her children the real anniversary date, which had been hidden for 40 years?

Abby, their real anniversary date was the date they made a COMMITMENT to each other.

As I say in the wedding ceremonies I perform, "Marriage is an act of faith and a personal commitment, as well as a moral and physical union between two people." When that commitment is made, married life begins.

I applaud that couple for their faithfulness to each other. -- THE REV. MARILYNNE NEWMAN, LAKE FOREST, CALIF.

DEAR MARILYNNE NEWMAN: I know you are right. Your answer to that question is more profound and comforting than the one I gave. Thank you for writing.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600