Single Parenting/divorce with unborn baby?
QUESTION: Dear Bruce
I am a 34 y old male. 12 years ago I married for the first time, got divorced after 5 years with a little girl who is now 8. My first wife was and still is a manipulative person who used my daughter against me many times to get at me, even though it was she who wanted a divorce to be with her ex-boyfriend (which proved to be a false hope anyway).
I was single for 4 years, then I married again, this time to a girl suggested by my family (my first choice was against their wish). She is 31, engaged to be married once, and has a history of problems within her family which I did not know about at the time, namely her father who was a dominating and irresponsible person in her life. Her fiance turned out to be no better, leaving her stranded for four years before finally calling the marriage off.
As it has turned out, apparently she married me because her father and family kind of forced her to and she accepted also due to my insistence. I have to say I fell in love with her very soon and was very reluctant to let go of her, she seemed such a decent and kind soul. Anyway my ex-wife proved to be a problem in this marriage, taunting her and planning schemes through my daughter to irritate her at every turn. Unfortunately my family augmented this problem by stupidily trying to dominate her by saying my ex-wife was better than her and focusing a lot on my daughter.
So in spite of all the support I did offer her, she has been asking for a divorce for a long time. At first I resisted but when I saw her anxieties were slowly eating her from inside, I agreed. Problem was I could not afford to give her sufficient financial support after the divorce so it was delayed several times and every time I thought she had refrained and come to her senses but I was wrong. In the middle of all this crisis she got pregnant. Now she insists that I let her keep the child but let her go at the same time, so that she could give birth and raise the child alone without him/her ever knowing about the father. I am worried about this child's future in this way, I would prefer an abortion and divorce but I am afraid of the terrible emotional strain and scar this act would have on her, as she loves to have a child (even to the point of wanting to be a single parent in a strange city with no suitable means of income). I dont know what to do. Is an abortion is the way to go? Or should I let her go with the child as she wishes? Please help me as I am at my wits' end...
ANSWER: Hi, Mehdi, this is difficult, perhaps impossible for me to answer, because I do not know your country's laws or customs. I can only answer from my country's, as well as from my personal ethics.
I don't think you can force her to have an abortion or not - ultimately, it is her choice. You also cannot force her to stay married or divorce - that also is her choice (just as it is your choice if you stay married).
In fact, the more you try to force other people to do what you want, the more they try to resist you and do the opposite. When it comes to love, sometimes the ultimate expression of love is letting the other person go - letting them do what makes sense for them, at that time, even if it means hurting you. You never know what the future holds - it is possible for things to turn around, someday.
The consequences of trying to force someone to do something can be very severe.
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QUESTION: Hi Bruce,
I don't want to force her but I have to think about the child's future in a country when children of divorce and single parents are not yet that common, without ever knowing a father. And I can make her have an abortion, as divorce is my right and not hers and I can make it conditional. So what do you advise?
Hi Mehdi, as I said, this kind of question is almost impossible to answer well, due to the differences in culture and law.
"I have to think about the child's future"
---I have no way of knowing what your, the mother's, or the child's options are, but I do know that often we are short-sighted when it comes to thinking about others and their rights.
"I can make her have an abortion"
--- perhaps this is true. I would also consider that, many times, the law is not consistent with ethics or morals.
I cannot advise you on a course of action, in terms of the choices you face. I might suggest that you consider speaking with several female elders in your community. I had first thought of speaking to male elders, but I'm not sure that they would be as open to understanding all the issues. Perhaps there is someone who is very wise and/or open minded, though. Sometimes the best advice you can get is not advice, but someone who can ask a lot of questions, questions you had not yet considered, to help you think about all the issues.
In the U.S., we have two 'camps' of thinking about the issue of abortion. One side would make it a criminal offense to have an abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. Some of these people equate it to murder, and a few have even resorted to murdering the 'murderers' - a contradiction in ethics, for sure. The people seem to blame the people who obtain abortions, and think of them in 'bad / evil' terms.
The other camp would make abortions completely the decision of the mother - any time, any place.
We don't really have a camp where 'it should be up to the father'.
Perhaps you might consider the 'golden rule' - all religions and cultures have a version of it. It states that one should 'do unto others what you would have them do to you'.
Also, if you give the mother this ultimatum, she might choose to stay married and keep the child - then you would be stuck in an unhappy marriage for the rest of your life! Another alternative is that she could have the child, and then keep asking for the divorce every day following the birth...