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by Abigail Van Buren

Couple Defines Their Marriage Long Before Wedding Date

DEAR ABBY: My partner, "Rob," and I are delighted we can finally marry in our home state of California. When we do, how do you suggest we answer the question that straight married couples often get, "How long have you two been married?"

Rob and I have been together for 17 years, and it's not our fault that we didn't get married many years ago. Without having to make a political statement each time we're asked, should we simply tack on the number of years we've been together without the benefit of marriage? I'm proud of the time we've been a couple, and even prouder that I love Rob as much today as when we first fell for each other.

What should the answer be after we tie the knot? -- KEN IN THE GOLDEN STATE

DEAR KEN: Congratulations on your forthcoming nuptials. The answer you should give is the most accurate one: "Rob and I have been married for (insert the number) years and together for 17 years before that." To say that is not making a political statement; it's the unvarnished truth.

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