I am currently expecting my first child with a man I absolutely adore. I got pregnant unexpectedly; we weren't married, but were very much in love. When we found out, my now-husband whisked me away for a wonderful, perfect weekend wedding. We are very happy and look forward to the birth of our child. When we told his family that we had gotten married, they immediately asked, "Are you pregnant?" When I responded yes, they all gave disapproving looks and knowing glances and said, "Oh, that explains it." I have experienced this from a few other acquaintances as well, with some insinuating that the marriage can't possibly last! Is it possible to convey that, while we are expecting our first child together a bit fewer than nine months after the wedding, this does not doom our relationship to failure, and that we got married because we love each other very much and wanted to become a family, not because, "Whoops! I got pregnant!"
—Excited To Be Expecting
Congratulations on your nuptials and your impending bundle of joy. Have we really come to the point that someone has to defend her decision that it's best if marriage precedes motherhood? You have nothing to explain to anyone. If people make snide remarks, try resting your hands on your tummy, smiling beatifically in that way only pregnant women can, and saying, "Thank you for your good wishes." Soon you'll be a happy family of three, and people will forget the timing of your wedding.
My fiance and I were engaged 18 months before our wedding and have been putting a lot of thought into the event in that time. We had the deposits paid, venues chosen, etc., when we discovered that we're pregnant. Once the initial shock wore off, we pulled ourselves together and realized that this is certainly something we want, just a little (years) earlier than expected. We've decided to continue with our wedding plans, even though I will be nearing the end of my pregnancy, because we really want to have a memorable day, aren't spending a fortune in the first place, and our families and friends have encouraged us to do so. My dilemma is that my mother wants to hold a baby shower. Since this is our first child, we have absolutely nothing in the way of baby "supplies" or furniture, and if the timing were better, I'd be thrilled about a shower. But my bridesmaids are holding a bridal shower before the wedding, right before the baby is due. Is it too much to ask of the guests? The people who'd be invited would be invited to all three; I believe that it looks like I'm asking for gifts from them for three months and events in a row. My mother and sister-in-law think that a baby shower is all part of the package of having a baby, despite the wedding in the middle. Is there a way to handle this?
—Bride With a Bump
Think how memorable the day will be if you go into early labor and your water breaks as you're taking your vows! Of course, many a pregnant bride has walked down the aisle, but having a deposit on a venue doesn't seem reason enough to risk having your wedding and delivery date possibly be simultaneous. You want the weeks before you give birth to be as low-stress as possible; ideally, that means the wedding planning is long behind you. Now that you're about to become a mother, the ability to be flexible when circumstances change will be a valuable one. Please read the letter above and consider a change of plans. You can just go off and get married, or have a low-key wedding now (perhaps you can negotiate with the place where you were going to have the wedding and change the date). Then ask the bridesmaids to convert the bridal shower into a baby shower. Certainly your family and friends will be happy for you and most will want to contribute both a wedding and baby gift, but you're right to be concerned that three major gift-giving events in a row are going to tax the good wishes of even the most generous. And there's something distasteful about the way your family members consider marriage and motherhood as "packages" that others are obligated to buy into. In any case, in just a few months you will realize there are a lot more pressing issues in your life (sleep, having enough diapers) than whether you had a whirlwind of parties.
I have been living with my fiance for almost one year, and we are getting married this fall. He and I care for his mother, who lives in the home with us. She is mentally handicapped, severely diabetic, and epileptic. Taking care of her is a very difficult task. I knew when I got involved with him that this was something I was going to have to accept and endure in order to be with the man I love. However, her condition is worsening, and her daily care is wearing on me. It's evident to all except my fiance that she needs to be put into a care facility. We both work full time, so she is left at home by herself the majority of the time. More than once we have come home to find her in the middle of an insulin-shock episode. His sisters and I have tried to encourage him to make the move, but he doesn't want to budge. When I ask why he is against it, he says that he thinks his mother will be angry with him and blame him for sending her away. He isn't a mamma's boy, he's actually not very close to her at all emotionally, but feels he is obligated to care for her. He's also afraid of abuse within the facility. Should I just let it go and continue to help care for her the best I can, or continue to subtly encourage him to send her someplace where she can receive round-the-clock care?
—Tired of His Mom
Under your fiance's care, his mentally and physically ill mother is left unattended all day to have seizures and fall into a diabetic coma, and he's worried that conditions at a nursing home won't meet his standards? Your letter makes me worry that after she dies, he will sit her in a rocking chair and place a wig on her head, RIP Alfred Hitchcock. Let's give your boyfriend the benefit of the doubt and say he's in a psychological meltdown over his mother's care, the result of which is an abusive situation for her and for you. You posit your choices as continuing with this insanity, or hinting that things need to change. But do you really want to be the night nurse for the foreseeable future? So, here's a subtle approach you can try: Tell him either his mother goes, or you do.
I hate my first name. Or rather, I love my name the way it was intended to be pronounced, but I have never been comfortable with the American pronunciation it devolved to when I was a kid. It's just not me; it's a bad nickname that stuck. How, at age 40, do I go about having people call me by the name using the Danish pronunciation that was intended? Do you think it would be easier if I changed the spelling to the American phonetic version to produce the correct pronunciation? Where do I begin to introduce this change?
—Awnyes, Not Agnes
If Curtis Jackson can become 50 Cent, you can become Awnyes. I contacted a French Agnes of my acquaintance who in high school went from ag-nis to on-YES. She too loved her name but couldn't stand the American pronunciation. This Agnes said there's really no way to get rid of the hard "g" pronunciation except doing it the hard way. That is, you'll probably have to instruct your friends at least 10 times that ag-nis is dead, long live awn-yes. And for the rest of your life, correcting mispronunciation will be a daily occurrence (which on-YES says is still worth it). Changing the spelling of your name will probably only complicate matters (can't you just hear people saying, "What's your name—Awn-E-es?") Perhaps at work you could send an e-mail to your colleagues and explain for your 40th birthday you're reclaiming your Danish heritage and invite them to celebrate the rebirth of Awnyes with a lunch time smorrebord.