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BEL MOONEY: My fiance doesn't want the baby I'm expecting

Dear Bel,  

I’m 36, happily engaged (due to be married but lockdown changed our wedding plans), and have two beautiful boys, aged two and four. My fiance works hard full-time and I work part-time.

Thought of the day 

Those that can pity, here

May, if they think it well, let fall a tear;

The subject will deserve it.

From the Prologue to Henry VIII by William Shakespeare

We’ve always wanted two children; he says how complete the family is. He talks about when the youngest is out of nappies and dreams of when both boys are at school and I can go back to work full-time without the financial stresses of childcare.

He likes to travel and just feels our lives have been put on hold while we raise our boys. He struggled with the baby stage, the lack of sleep and constant crying. Now they’re getting older, he is much happier and enjoys them more.

However, yesterday I found out I was pregnant and told him. He can’t accept it. It’s an accident, I was taking the Pill. I did tell him to get a vasectomy after our last baby was born but he didn’t want to and wanted me to take the Pill.

I never liked the idea, but I did it to please him as he wouldn’t use condoms. When I told him about this pregnancy, he said he could see his life flash before his eyes.

He wants me to ‘sort it’ as soon as possible. He is feeling so stressed.

I guess lots of women are in this position but I know he won’t come round. I can’t abort my baby and I can’t bring myself to tell him this. I don’t know what to do.

ZOE 

This week Bel advises a reader whose fiance doesn’t want the baby she's expecting

This week Bel advises a reader whose fiance doesn’t want the baby she’s expecting

What would I have said had your partner written, ‘I can’t bear this?’

Exactly the same as my message to you: ‘I totally understand how you feel, but this is a life-changing issue which cannot be “sorted” without serious, mature conversation.’

This does not hinge on the fears and wishes of one man or one woman.

Five lives are involved here and the good of all five must be considered.

Let nobody doubt the stresses of family life — or the blunt truth that every additional baby’s adorably pudgy paws can seem like fierce fists when times are hard.

Some men and women cope beautifully and relish the demands of toys, meals, bedtimes. Others yearn quietly to be free. It’s how we are: some more robust than others. I completely understand your fiance’s panic and wish to limit the family to two children.

But no relationship can thrive if one half compels the other to act against his/her deepest wishes.

You state categorically, ‘I can’t abort my baby and I can’t bring myself to tell him this’ — yet you must know you have no choice. The discussion must be had.

There’s no avoiding the choices each of you have to make — bearing in mind that you carry a life within you and your decisions will also affect the life chances of your two boys.

The worst-case scenario is surely that your partner breaks — and leaves. That possibility must terrify you.

If you were to take the ‘easy’ path and have a termination to please him, there is a risk of a fatal wound to your relationship. Guilt (if you feel it — and you may not) could breed resentment.

On the other hand (and I must say this), you might feel profound relief at a decision taken for the good of the whole family — and here I will include the unborn, who does not deserve to be unwanted.

How you continue will depend on the strength of your moral/emotional objection to abortion — but you cannot delay. No woman should be afraid of real conversation with the man she is about to marry. No man should enter a sacred bond having (in effect) browbeaten his wife.

It must be obvious that you and he need some time alone to talk this through.

Do you have family members/close friends who could help with the children — now and also in the future, when you will need help with childcare?

Lockdown must have made family life feel pretty claustrophobic, so you and your fiance need to stretch your legs and your minds and talk, talk, talk.

Me, I’d love to tell him that our lives are like stepping stones before us, and the hops between stones come quickly enough. Too quickly.

The other day my son (who once swore he wanted no children) looked at his eight-year-old and bewailed the speed of time: ‘It’ll be a blink before they grow up.’

Empty-nest time hurtles towards you, it really does — and then you can do what you wish.

With luck, you will be sustained by the love of the children you raised in a happy home.

So I pray you and he can clasp hands and say, ‘We can do this’ — and give each other love and strength.

 

I’m consumed by grief for my husband  

Dear Bel

Please help. My lovely husband of almost 30 years died suddenly recently and I just cannot cope.

I know people say that their relationship was perfect but ours truly was. I’m broken and don’t want to go on without him. I have children and grandchildren, but without him I feel totally alone.

Both in unhappy marriages, we began an affair, then moved in together — and he treated my kids as his kids. Their own dad didn’t bother with them. We had a child together.

Then we discovered that he had a debilitating illness and I knew he wouldn’t live as long as other people.

During lockdown we were so careful due to his health; he didn’t die from Covid. He had a heart attack — nothing would have saved him. Our youngest and I were with him and he didn’t suffer.

Despite his disability he was the happiest man I’ve ever known. No moaning, always smiling. Now he is gone.

I don’t think people realised how much I depended on him for support. I could talk to him about anything. We told each other ‘I love you’ several times a day and had no arguments.

We were truly meant to be together and now, without him, I am physically hurting. Crying so much every day. I have lost half of me.

I don’t have friends. You see, when someone is disabled, in a wheelchair, friends fall away.

I have children but they should be able to grieve for their dad and not have to cope with me. I really don’t know what to do.

ALEX

Last Sunday, I headed to church, just in case it was open. It wasn’t. So on an impulse I wandered in the churchyard, in search of a neighbour’s son’s grave, which I have never seen.

I found it, and stood there a while, hearing birdsong, thinking what it must be like to lose an 18-year-old to cancer.

   

More from Bel Mooney for the Daily Mail…

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  •   BEL MOONEY: For once in her life, why can’t my mum say sorry? 05/06/20
  •   BEL MOONEY:  Why was I so cold and unloving to my dying husband? 22/05/20
  •   BEL MOONEY: Am I selfish for dating a much younger woman? 15/05/20
  •   BEL MOONEY: Should I walk away from my lazy, toxic brother?  08/05/20
  •   BEL MOONEY: Is my son unfaithful because of his dad’s cheating? 01/05/20
  •   VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

As I read the sad, touching poem on the stone it was hard not to cry. Nearby, a woman (probably in her 60s) was carefully tending another resting place. A son? A husband?

I spoke, told her that the grave was beautiful, and saw her face suddenly illuminated by all the light of love inside her, as she smiled and said, ‘Thank you.’ What else can we do, but extend a hand of sympathy and (yes) love to our fellow suffering human beings?

What else can I say to you, but that I am sorry for your pain? No two griefs are the same, even though we are all subject to decline and fall, like the trees and everything in the natural world.

Walking in a graveyard can be melancholy, yet reminds you of what’s sad, true and permanent. What can be set against that sadness? Why, the love you describe: the perfect relationship you created from the shards of two broken marriages, building a glorious edifice together, even though you knew (because of his illness) that the sands beneath were shifting.

Did you ever talk about which of you would die first? It’s the most agonising conversation a couple can have — but many of us do. And it can help somebody grieving to reflect that you would not wish your beloved to suffer what you are enduring right now.

You have taken the burden of grief from him and that bestows an even deeper meaning on your love. You are the one left — carrying the flame.

I understand why you feel you cannot live without him. But your family can (and will) help you keep his memory alive and be a devoted proof that true love does not die. Grief is like a fresh tattoo — bruised, bleeding and ugly at first, but then settling to become part of the body, a permanent mark.

Many others are similarly branded — and in time you might talk to them and make new friends. Don’t rule that out. Don’t deprive your children of the chance to hold you and help you. 

This terrible grief will ease. And you can live on your husband’s behalf, as he would surely wish, spending time with your family and continuing to tell him your message of love every day.  

 

And finally… I weep for all those who suffer

We’re deafened by shouting about ‘privilege’ these days —especially ‘white privilege’.

The word implies disgraceful, unfair, innate advantage, doesn’t it? But from where I sit contemplating the human condition through letters and emails from all over the place, such assumptions are fatuous.

Contact Bel 

Bel answers readers’ questions on emotional and relationship problems each week.

Write to Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT, or email [email protected]

A pseudonym will be used if you wish.

Bel reads all letters but regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

What makes anybody ‘privileged’ — that is, apart from talent, wealth and beauty? What about the downtrodden ones, wherever they come from? What about all the unfortunates who have no one to scream that their lives matter?

The letter in my hand arrived by old-fashioned mail, two small, lined pages covered in the careful, looped handwriting of the older generation.

Such letters always make me sad in advance. I know the kind of sorrows they will contain.

The writer, Mrs V, is not asking me advice or help, just telling me about her life. ‘My husband is a nasty, violent, controlling bully. I live in fear each day, too frightened to leave.

‘He puts me down in front of other people. He comes over all nice to others but a monster in the house with me.’

She explains that she married at 17 and is now 71 and hard of hearing, so cannot use the phone. ‘I feel stressed and trapped in a living hell — and have been for decades.

‘I would leave if I could find somewhere safe.’

She has two sons but longs for a friend ‘in a similar situation, so we could comfort each other’.

What can I do? Nowhere does she say she has experienced actual domestic violence. I have her address, but would writing to her risk more wrath on her head? Where are her sons? Into what category (of social work?) can we place such misery?

There are many marriages like hers — and I’ve learned the limits of suggesting answers. No glib advice about counselling could reach the beaten soul of Mrs V. It just wouldn’t happen.

I see no solution — but to weep for those, whatever the colour of their skin, who have no privilege at all.

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