Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: “Waited Too Long”

This week, Jenée Desmond-Harris and Joel Anderson discuss a Prudie letter: “Waited Too Long.”

Jenée Desmond-Harris: So do you agree that this relationship is over?

Joel Anderson: I think it’s hard to see how they can continue. It might not be over. But one thing I worry about with “Waited Too Long”: Let’s say she convinces her husband to be a father. Well, then she has to co-parent with someone who wasn’t really into this in the first place, and I can’t see how that’d be much better.

Jenée: Yeah, that was in the back of my head, and I should have included it in the response. Also, it doesn’t seem ideal to bring a child into the world knowing their father (who they’ll live with) doesn’t want them. That’s not a great start to life.

Joel: It really isn’t. Plus, parenting is hard enough without one of them being only half-engaged. If the relationship was already in danger, this would almost surely push it over the edge. I mean, think about it: How many relationships have you ever known that were made better by adding children?

Jenée: NONE.

Joel: Which isn’t to say that children aren’t wonderful, aren’t blessings, yada yada yada. But they can test all the weak points in your relationship like this. Maybe the problem here goes deeper than a difference in wanting children, maybe it’s about the fact that … this is an ongoing issue with no apparent push for resolution in a decade.

Jenée: Right …
of course part of me thought “Well you can bully or threaten him into having a child and he might end up loving it. Just give an ultimatum. Maybe he’ll feel different when the kid is there.” But even then, in the best possible scenario, where she’s gotten what she wants, she’s still with this guy who didn’t care if he strung her along and deprived her of what she wanted, in like, a pretty cowardly way. It’s one thing to say “No I don’t want kids” and it’s another to “I’m not ready” all the way to the end of your wife’s fertility.

Joel: Right. He waited her out, to the point where it’s possibly going to take an extremely expensive intervention. That’s not dealing fairly or truthfully. And I can get it, he might sincerely have been conflicted about this for 10 years. I totally understand. But … at a certain point, you have to be fair, and this isn’t that.

Jenée: She didn’t give her age but she said she’s been married for 10 years so I’m guessing 30 at best, probably closer to 35, maybe older. I think the elephant in the room is that it could ALREADY be too late. But you know what, I don’t care—I still think she should leave him.

Joel: Sure. And you know, she could still consider fostering or adoption. But I assume it’s all the same thing.

Jenée: There are a lot of different paths to motherhood. She could meet someone next week who gives her wonderful step kids or wants to adopt with her.

Joel: This guy doesn’t want to be a father or is clearly leaning toward not wanting to be one.

It’d be one thing if this was about not liking camping. But this is a fundamental fissure that I don’t know that can be repaired. I ain’t saying to leave him –

Jenée: I am!

Joel: I’m just saying: Sounds like you’ll ultimately be a mother or a wife, but not both. Damn, well of course you are. You always think there’s other fish in the sea.

Jenée: I see it as: You’ll definitely be unhappy if you don’t get to be a mother, so you may as well give yourself the opportunity to try. If it doesn’t happen, you can make peace with it (many people do). If being married was enough, she’d know it by now. But that peace won’t be tainted with resentment toward the person you have to look at every day

Joel: Right. This guy was hoping to wait her out, and well, I’m sure she’ll never forget it going forward. Ok, fine. Think about leaving him!

Jenée: Thank you!