Practicality Versus Love
Dear Margo: I’m in my early 20s, a university student and mother to a lovely little boy. I had a boyfriend some years ago, and although things didn’t work out, we kept in touch and remained good friends. He went on a world tour recently and made the effort to visit me in another country, and told me he’d never forgotten me and still loved me. We got engaged, and our families were thrilled. But I can’t shake the feeling I’m doing the wrong thing.
He’s a lovely, kind man, generous to a fault, highly educated, intelligent — and he thinks the world of my little boy. He wants to move halfway across the world to marry me and be a father to my son. But I’m not in love with him. I appreciate all his qualities and know many women would think I’m nuts — but there are problems. He’s extremely sentimental, for example, and effeminate in his mannerisms. I know it sounds terrible to say, but I find him so unattractive that I can’t bear the thought of intimacy with him. I feel that there has to be some sort of attraction for a marriage to work, no?
He tells me it doesn’t matter that I’m not ‘in love’ with him, that he wouldn’t even mind my ‘settling’ for him! I don’t know what to do. Part of me wants to marry him and give my son a traditional family and a father figure. (I live with my parents, and I’m acutely aware of being a burden to them.) But I don’t think I’d be happy. Am I just being silly and shallow? Should I look at the bigger picture and appreciate what I have and try to be a good wife to him? –Wavering
Dear Wave: If you marry this man, it will be a business transaction. Because you are in your 20s, I would not recommend either “settling” or pushing yourself into a marriage for the sake of unburdening your parents and providing a father figure for your son. The fact that you find him effeminate and he has said being in love with him is not important suggest that he might be homosexual. You might want to discuss this with him, which would certainly put things in a different light. (When you were boyfriend and girlfriend, did these issues not come up?) Although the man you describe has admirable qualities, you would in no way be going into this marriage with a full heart, and I recommend not “settling.” –Margo, realistically
Crystal Balls R (Not) Us
Dear Margo: Almost everything about my relationship is perfect. There is one thing, however, that’s not. And I can’t decide whether or not it’s a big deal. My fella’s older and already has a child — who has kids of her own. I’ve never had baby fever, but I think about it more lately than I ever have. How do I know if I’ll regret not having a child of my own? –Stumped
Dear Stump: Unfortunately, I dropped my crystal ball last week so I’m unable to predict whether you will have regrets about not being a mother. You don’t mention this man’s preferences. Some older men know that fathering “new” children comes with younger-woman territory. Others do not wish to be thought to be the grandfather at the playground.
Assuming the decision is yours, I would suggest making a mental balance sheet with pros and cons. I would give this careful thought because, biologically, prime time does not last forever. In your particular situation, the grandchildren already in the picture might offer you the experience — without the hassle. Good luck doping this out. –Margo, pensively
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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
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