Marry a Father?

Q: My boyfriend and I have been dating each other off and on since we were in high school together, though after high school we lost touch for about two years. During those two years he had a child with another woman. A year ago we got back together, and now he wants to marry me. Is it a good idea to marry a guy with a child? -- Nekeya, 23

Dr. Susan: You may be focusing on the wrong thing here. If he didn't have a child, would he be the man you can picture yourself spending your life with? Do you see the two of you in rocking chairs on a porch watching countless sunsets as you both grow old and decrepit together? Do you figure you can tolerate him when he leaves the toothpaste cap lying in the sink, or when he makes funny noises while eating? Can you imagine lovingly standing by him even if he loses his job? Gets sick? Goes bald? If the answer is yes to all these, then the fact that he created a baby with another woman shouldn't be a critical sticking point.

But let's get to the heart of your question: Do you resent him for having this child with someone else instead of with you? Will you be able to handle his ongoing parenting relationship with this other woman?

Something else to think about is how comfortable you are with his current arrangement for caring for this child. Is he a good father? Does he visit, help out, pay child support, and so on? Because if you plan to have kids with him also, you'd want to know he was a dependable person in that arena.

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