Monday, December 11, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

Accept baby's father for the cautious man he is

Accept baby's father for cautious man he is

Q: "Mike" and I met online in December 2010. He is a 40-something, divorced, childless physician and educator. I am a 30-something project manager. We are both independent and love our jobs. I also share custody of a 6-year-old son with my ex-husband.

My relationship with Mike was great, although sometimes I wanted more time together. We took a few short trips together to his conferences.

This fall I got pregnant. We were both in shock.

We had already agreed we both want kids one day. However, Mike said his wife divorced him because he was not ready to have children and she thought he never would be. (He felt she was wrong and had other motives.)

I have come to rejoice in my new reality. He is still not quite comfortable with the prospect of a child, and he said last night that he was not even ready to move in together — not even when the baby is born. He is not saying he won't be ready later.

Maybe I should add that my son can be a handful. But Mike is so good with him. Very attentive, thoughtful, affectionate and sweet. He says he is happy with how things are going but feels that moving in together would be confining to his life.

I am struggling to understand this. I feel like he should take responsibility, step up and plan to help with the baby. He says he is not going anywhere but could picture us raising the baby in separate households. I feel that if he truly loved me he would find a way to accept this inconvenience. I feel humiliated, as if I am not worthy of his commitment.

How can I make a decision that I won't regret later? I am afraid waiting will only make an eventual separation and disappointment more painful.

K.

A: The more you make this about you, the less you'll understand that this is about him.

It's tempting to make the whole answer about his "confining to his life" issues in part because his treating conferences as dates supports a self-absorption diagnosis.

But. He's attentive and thoughtful with your son, he's honest with you, he's planning to raise his child, he shows signs of aversion to change. Meanwhile, you've known each other a year, and making a baby doesn't convey instant readiness to head a happy family together.

The combination points to a cautious man, one who barely managed to wedge you into his independent ways, facing a baby. It has temporarily flooded his system.

This would be a huge indictment if he fled, but he hasn't. He's staying, and trying. Of course you'd prefer rejoicing, house-hunting and declarations of love, but he's not that guy. He can only adjust his way, and at his speed — which is to baby-step (sorry) into it and to narrate each step for you, to make sure you know where he stands.

I can't picture it as a Harlequin cover, but as long as he keeps up the transparency and dedication to doing what's right, please accept who he is and give him room to move at his pace. It's not as if the alternatives — dumping him pre-emptively or forcing his hand — hold the promise of anything great.

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