I recently gave birth to a beautiful little girl. While her father is in my life, he’s not my husband. He’s a wonderfully supportive person and the kind of man anyone would probably want to marry; in fact, he’s asked me three times already to marry him. I’ve told him repeatedly that I’m not going to get married just because we had a baby. I want to get married when it feels like it’s time. Things are great as they are and I don’t want to complicate it by trying to make a marriage work. It seems old fashioned to get married just for the sake of having a baby, but am I making the right choice for my daughter? I would love to hear what you guys think about this situation.—BB, Orlando, Florida
The Straight Woman’s Perspective: Rebecca Brown
In my opinion, the right choice for your daughter is the one that makes you happy and doesn’t feel forced. I’m not a parent, but I am a card carrying member of the not-so-elite Children of Divorce Club. My parents split when I was four, but I remember hearing the fights and feeling the tension well before then and knowing that something was wrong, even if I didn’t understand exactly what it was. I believe that kids are more perceptive than most adults think they are—all the more reason for your daughter to be in an environment where everyone genuinely lives in harmony and is reasonably happy most of the time.
No pressure, but I think one of your (many) jobs as a mom is to set a good example for your daughter. Marrying someone you don’t love just because it’s the “right” thing to do isn’t the best example to set in my opinion (would you want her to do that later in life?), but I’m sure someone from The Waltons/Little House on the Prairie era is prepared to pounce on me and tell me how wrong I am.
I’m curious about your reluctance to marry this so-called wonderful, supportive man, though. You’ve said some really nice things about him, you’ve rolled around in bed naked with him, and now you have a daughter with him. Is this just a casual relationship that resulted in some offspring? Or do you love him? Because it definitely sounds like he loves you. I guess I’m just wondering if perhaps you’ve got some commitment issues to work out. Was there a divorce in your family? Someone who hurt you so badly that you’re afraid to love again? Or maybe you really just aren’t that into him. If there ever was a “time” to get married, it would probably be now that you have a daughter—provided you love him of course. Something to think about. I’m just sayin’.
The Gay Man’s Perspective: Darren Maddox
Your question is an interesting one, and not one gay men have to deal with often. I firmly believe that two people should get married because they’re in love and for no other reason. I know there are many people out there who will read this and secretly disagree. I also know there are many people out there who got divorced because that was not the only reason they got married.
When it’s time to get married and you pledge to spend the rest of your life with someone, I think you have to know deep down in your soul that it’s right. When you give in to the expectations of others and go against your own beliefs, I think you pay for it. You get one life. Be happy with where you are right now. Be selfish and realize what you want. If you’re in love with your daughter’s father and the timing is right, only then should you have a wedding. If that never happens, realize what you all share together and celebrate that. Don’t worry what your daughter thinks about the situation; she has to master walking first. You probably have a little time to figure this one out.
The Straight Man’s Perspective: Chris Kennedy
If the fact you had a baby with this man didn’t make you feel like it was the “right” time, I doubt much else will. You just think you’ll “feel” like it on some random day?
I’ve played the advice game long enough to know that when someone puts out a qualifier like you did—“he’s wonderfully supportive and the kind of man any woman would want to marry”—it means you’re not completely buying into it, or rather him. You’re just trying to sell the idea of him to someone else.
Sorry, BB, but things are not as “great” as you say they are. There’s something important missing in your feelings for him—so much so that you’re risking putting your daughter’s happiness at stake. It’s at stake because she has parents that have a relatively weak commitment to each other and your future is more uncertain, more unstable, and more “complicated” than if you two were married.
When you’re not married, it’s easier to walk away than if you were. I know plenty of people out there with kids still get divorced, but there’s even less incentive to stay together when you’re not even married.
I respect your feeling on not wanting to get married just because you have a kid together. However, I side for the innocent party here. The one who had no choice in this arrangement: your daughter.
It’s better for a child’s parents to be married. Ideally, a kid is from a happy home with two dedicated, married parents for life and you still have a shot at this. Otherwise, what’s your plan? You want to be free to date others? A single mom with a little girl doesn’t have much room to develop a romantic relationship.
Marriage may not be ideal for you, but it is for your daughter. The time for it to feel right is right now.
The Gay Woman’s Perspective: Jody Fischer
First of all, congratulations on giving birth to a wonderful baby girl! I’m so glad you wrote to us.
I wish I knew a bit more about your situation, like did this great guy, the father, ask you to marry him before he knew about the pregnancy or only after? And how long have you been dating? Is he a stable and kind person with solid finances?
One thing I hope you understand is that the best choice that you can make for your newborn daughter is the one that fits best for you, because if you’re continuously unhappy, your daughter will pick up on that.
I’m not here to judge your situation, but I wonder why you think marriage will complicate things any more than raising a child on your own? Either way, it seems like the child’s dad wants in the picture. If you appreciate his values and think he would make a great dad and husband, it seems like a good time to consider it.
Not marrying him just because it seems to follow some idea that you think is old-fashioned seems pretty shortsighted to me. And I have to say, the old-fashioned way would be to marry before getting pregnant.
All that aside, do you love the guy? Do you share similar values and outlooks on life? Is getting married part of your personal plan? Because from where I’m sitting, I certainly wouldn’t want to raise a child on my own when there’s a loving partner who’s willing to do it with me.
The 4-Way is published monthly. If you have a question for our 4-Way panel, please send it to them in care of the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. To make sure you never miss a 4-Way column again, just click on the author’s name at the top of the story, then select ‘Be notified when writer publishes’ at the top of the page. We’ll send you an email as soon as a new column is published.