While I’m away, readers give the advice.
On resisting pressure to go ahead with the wedding even though you have doubts:
When you have cold feet, you are called upon to access your bravery and do something excruciatingly difficult. It’s not breaking up – you clearly want that – or hurting the other person, since you’ve already been doing that.
The task is to accept responsibility for being utterly, cluelessly, head-smackingly wrong.
Most of us HATE to be wrong. It is drilled into us as children that there is no worse fate than wrongness. But we are all, ALL, wrong sometimes. Part of growing up is learning how to be wrong and to make right any damage we may have caused others.
This is a critical moment in your life. You can either prepare for and accept wrongness and set you both free, or you can be afraid of being wrong and marry someone to avoid experiencing wrongness. Doing the latter will cause a world of hurt. Just imagine how much your kids will feel that hurt in 10 years.
You cannot climb out of this hole unscathed. You can only pack a lot of bandages and prepare for it. You can do it, even if you think you can’t. You can. I promise. Both of you deserve to find a person you adore and who adores you.
On being happily married and unhappily pregnant:
These days we seem to work from the assumption that just the thought of a baby is an unmitigated joy to its parents; maybe we ought to get some perspective by recalling when family planning was not so common. I remember mom telling me about a late-stage miscarriage she’d had: “I was of course dismayed to think I was pregnant again, but after a few months I started thinking about how nice it would be to have a baby in the house again. … Note, “of course dismayed.”
The whole point of birth control is that this blessing we have, our fertility, is not always convenient or 100 percent welcome. If the only possible reaction to a pregnancy from a happily married woman could be joy, there would be no happily married women on the pill.
On deciding whether to have children:
When I was a newlywed, my mom gave me this advice: “If you cannot imagine yourself having a happy future without, have a child. If you can in any way see yourself living happily without, do not.”
This has proved a useful guidepost in countless decisions since: divorce, remarriage, career choices, doughnuts, ad infinitum. I did choose to become a mother – three times – of astonishingly wonderful persons. After 36 years of mothering, here’s what I think: If I could have known how wonderful the good is, I would have started 10 years earlier and had twice as many. If I could have known how awful the bad is, I would not have had any.
– Life is Approximate