Advice on manners and morals.

Advice on manners and morals.

Advice on manners and morals.

Advice on manners and morals.
Aug. 30 2007 7:21 AM

Baby, It's You

My fiance wants to marry me even though I'm pregnant with another man's child. Should I feel bad?

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Dear Prudie,
I met this great guy and have fallen head over heels for him. He says he loves me and has even proposed, and I said yes. I know we are meant to be together, even though we just met four months ago. There's one big snag. I am eight months pregnant with my first child. I met him when I was four months pregnant, and was up front about that from the start. He said he was OK with it and wants to be there for me and the baby, even though it isn't his baby. (The father left when I first found out I was pregnant and doesn't want anything to do with me or the baby. He has disappeared from my life for good.) I have moved in with him, and he has baby-proofed the house already. He even set up a nursery while I was at work one day. He wants to be part of this baby's life, and even if we break up, he wants to be there for the baby. I feel guilty for sticking him with a baby that isn't his. Should I feel bad about letting this man raise a baby that isn't his, even if he wants to?

—Confused and Feeling Guilty

Dear Confused,
Maybe your new man is the one meant for you. But eight months ago, you were with someone else you thought was meant for you, enough to reproduce with. As a general rule, it's best not to move in with a guy you just met while you are still gestating. Now that you're living together, you have to understand that in a few weeks, your focus is going to be off your new relationship and on to your new baby. No, you don't have to feel guilty that your boyfriend is willing to raise someone else's child, but wait and see what the reality of caring for an infant does to the romance before you make wedding plans. Since your new love has already talked about how decent he plans to be if you break up, you have to think through what happens to you if that occurs. Do you have a supportive family member you could live with? As far as the biological father is concerned, he can say he wants nothing to do with his child, but our legal system sees things differently. He may not be able to contribute a lot, but he is obligated to provide whatever support he can. Look up your local government's child support services, and start making some calls.

—Prudie

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Dear Prudie,
I recently found out from a friend that when we were in college together two years ago, one of our mutual friends circulated a rumor that I had been writing my boyfriend's papers for him. Her grounds for this theory were that my boyfriend wasn't a very good writer and she heard that I regularly edited his papers and helped him when he needed it. I never wrote on his behalf and never violated our university's academic honor code. I was incredibly hurt and offended that one of my closest friends believed me capable of doing such a thing and spread such a slanderous rumor about my (and my boyfriend's) academic honesty. Since this all happened two years ago, it's no longer an issue that I have much control over, but the hurt feels very fresh, since I just found out about it. I would hate to think she still believes this about me and has shared her theories with other people, and I'd like to set her straight. We're still in regular contact, so every time I hear from her, I'll be thinking about this. Is this worth bringing up with her, or should I just let it go?

—Not an Academic Criminal

Dear Academic,
Yes, it happened two years ago, but either this good friend is still blabbing about her theory or it has taken that long to reach your ears. You're perfectly justified in wanting to straighten this out, but your first step should be considered a fact-finding mission. Next time you're together, tell her you heard something from a mutual friend (don't say whom), and that you wanted to clarify it because it was very upsetting to you. Tell her what you were told, explain that it is not the case, and ask her to give her version of events. Maybe she's been slandering you, or maybe an off-hand remark has been misinterpreted, or maybe the third party who told you got it wrong. You may never get a completely straight version. But at the least you have put your friend on notice—or cleared the air—about a charge that deserves to be answered.

—Prudie

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Dear Prudie,
I have been with my boyfriend for almost a year. We have a caring, warm, solid, trusting, and calm relationship. We share intimate conversation and have a passionate sex life. We rarely argue, are attracted to each other, share common interests, and listen well to and support each other. In all, this is the best, healthiest relationship either of us has ever had. But. We have never felt that "head over heels" thing, no real fireworks. We're both over 30, so we both know those feelings aren't lasting, anyway. I've been through that fireworks thing, and in the end, it hasn't been real. I've told him I love him, but he can't bring himself to tell me that he loves me. He says the absence of fireworks isn't a big deal, it's just different enough that he can't identify it as love. He says we're evolving, and that he wants us to stay together. It's bothering me that this man I feel so committed to doesn't feel that way about me, and I wonder if this dream relationship has somehow become a dead-end relationship. So, is there a deadline on love? How long should I calmly wait for him to be able to say the L word?

—No Fireworks

Dear Fireworks,
It sounds like you've got daily sparklers going off, but you two are hung up that there should have been some Zambelli-level pyrotechnics when you met. There are many ways to fall in (and out of) love. Having trust, calmness, intimacy, and a really great sex life makes for an enviable relationship. It would be a shame to destroy this because of a silly notion that you have bypassed the head-over-heels phase you both acknowledge is not lasting, anyway. Since you do have all these good things with your boyfriend, and have been able to express your feelings—and he his—just enjoy things as they unfold for now. You two have been together less than a year, which is still a fairly short time for deciding whether you want to spend your life with someone. In several months, if he hasn't revisited the subject, then have a serious discussion with him about where you both see this relationship going. If he still wants to leave you in emotional limbo, you do have to consider whether his indecision has smothered the spark for you.

—Prudie

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Dear Prudie,
I'm 38 years old and happily married for 13 years. My wife and I are the biggest wage earners in our extended families, and are often looked upon for assistance, which we sometimes give (and frequently don't). Periodically, my wife and I argue about all these familial entanglements, but it's mostly a way to let off steam. Recently, my mother left her husband of many years after discovering a series of his bisexual affairs. This is in the middle of Oklahoma! We moved my mother to the large Southern city where we live. We set her up in her own apartment because my wife (rightfully) didn't want another human in our already crowded house. These additional expenses really put a pinch on our savings plans. Money that should be going into a 401K and IRA are going into her rent and utilities. Not to mention that trip to Europe we always wanted. My wife is upset about the money. I'm not happy about it, either, but this is my mother we're talking about.

—Dutiful Son & Husband

Dear Dutiful,
Your mother needs a divorce lawyer, pronto. I assume she and her longtime husband accumulated many joint assets, probably including a house. Dividing these up, and finding out what she's entitled to, should go a long way toward easing your economic burden. It is wonderful you want to help your mother, but you have to do so in a way that doesn't rob you of your future security or your pleasure in middle age. And by the way, being from Oklahoma is no guarantee of heterosexuality. As Ado Annie says in Oklahoma, "Sometimes there seems like times that men ain't got no need for women."

—Prudie