“How Should I Ask My Daughter and Her Boyfriend About Their Marriage Plans?”

My daughter is 34 years old, and she’s been in a relationship with her boyfriend, “Keith” for four years, living with him for two. He’s a brilliant and practical engineer with a strong analytical mindset. My daughter hasn’t indicated any immediate plans for marriage, and I know that time is passing quickly for her to start a family. Initially, it was his idea that they live together as a trial.

Recently, he mentioned that he thinks I should work on managing my temper. As her father, I’m contemplating whether I should talk with them about their plans for marriage and potential timing. I’m considering discussing this soon, but I’m worried it might strain their relationship further. How should I talk to them in a candid but non-threatening manner? — Non-threatening Dad

Whoa, wait, hold up. You’re just going to casually mention how your daughter’s brilliant boyfriend mentioned you should better manage your temper and then glide into the conundrum of your daughter not being married to him yet? Listen, the idea that you think your opinion would be in any way welcome or helpful, especially considering at least one person in this couple thinks you have an anger management problem, is a misjudgment at best. I cannot underscore this enough: Your daughter and her boyfriend’s timeline is not your business and if YOU would like a future with them, you’d be wise to keep your concerns and opinions to yourself.

I understand that you are worried that your daughter’s window for having a family is quickly closing, but that’s not really true. First, she has a family, right? She has you and, likely, other family members who love and care for her. And she has a boyfriend of four years whom she lives with and who, hopefully, enriches her life and provides emotional support in the way that loving family members do.

If you’re concerned about her chances of having kids, you shouldn’t be. For one, she may not want children. For two, I’m sure she is well-aware of the biological considerations in that regard and doesn’t need her dad pointing them out. For three, lots of women – like me – don’t start having babies until they’re 35 or older. There are also ways to have kids that don’t require a young, viable egg from the mother. I’m sure, if your daughter hopes to be a mother one day, she has thought of all her options and has discussed potential paths with her partner. Your service is not required here.

Finally, consider your daughter’s boyfriend’s comment about your temper a warning. If he’s saying something about it, there’s a good chance your daughter agrees with him. If you want a role in their lives going forward, you’d be better positioned shifting your focus inward, from your daughter’s marital status and biological clock to your emotional state and the temper that threatens the relationships you’d like to maintain with loved ones.

I got with this man, “Toby,” when I was 27, and it started off as fun and games, with no intentions to get into a serious relationship. I knew he had just ended things with the mother of all five of his kids, but I slowly fell in love with him. The first two years I shrugged off the pain of his flirting with other women and stayed in the relationship because I had fallen in love. Throughout my supporting him through his custody and my helping him with soo many things, Toby fell in love with me as well, and after our second year together, he became the perfect man and loved me and only me.

He’s always wanted to marry me and have children with me. Now I’m pregnant and he has no idea, but I am torn between keeping the baby and termination. With his 50% custody arrangement, I now have the concern of instantly having five kids every other week, on top of the $1200 monthly child support Toby has to pay. The kids’ mother is all about money and, now that Toby is joining the police academy, she will take him back to court to increase child support when she finds out his salary has increased.

What will my life look like with his child? I will be forced to pick up the slack each and every time, my kid won’t get half of the things from his father that I got from mine as a single child, and I will have to deal with this woman taking all this money from my household every month, plus I have to take care of her kids on top of that. I want my own kids and my own family; none of this seems fair, but should I be selfish and think of myself or think of this precious life growing inside of me??? — It’s all Fun & Games Until…

Should you be selfish when considering your own life and what the next 20+ years of it might look like? Yeah, that’s exactly when you should be selfish. Fortunately, it sounds like you have pretty clear eyes about what life with your man long-term would look like, not just as a stepmother to his five children, but also as a co-parent to the potential baby you could give birth to. You also have clarity about what your child’s life would look like in this family, and if it isn’t one you would want for your child, you have time to change course.

I recently matched with a man who separated from his wife a few months earlier. We got along well, but I felt like he was not all there when I stayed a couple nights at his place. The next day when he went to work, I texted him and asked if we were ok. Next thing I know, I get a text saying he was not ready to play “house” so soon and he thought it best we end it. I was furious! I felt used. Should a person not date someone who is recently separated?? — Feeling Used

I think the lesson here isn’t so much that you shouldn’t date someone recently separated so much as you shouldn’t stay a couple nights at the home of someone whom you’ve just started dating if you haven’t been enthusiastically invited to do so. Staying in someone’s space that long, so early in a relationship, is a big step, and he clearly wasn’t ready yet. If I’m mistaken, and he actually gave you the impression that this WAS what he wanted and he changed his mind during the course of your stay, then better to have learned quickly that you aren’t a match.

If you’re feeling used because you slept with him, then maybe the other lesson here is you’re someone who needs a certain level of commitment before you get very intimate with a partner. If I’m mistaken and this guy actually did lead you to believe he was committed to you, then maybe the third lesson is one you’ll discover shortly: Sometimes people let you down, but if you keep your heart open despite disappointment, you give yourself the opportunity to find true love and happiness again eventually.


  1. #1 — your daughter has been an adult for almost half her life. She knows what she wants. This is none of your business. Butt out! You are not entitled to be a grandparent. The mention of the anger issue suggests that your daughter and her bf don’t think you would be a trustworthy grandparent. You need to recognized an adult child’s boundaries. Getting up into her reproductive life is a severe intrusion.

    My in-laws were convinced they would be excellent grandparents and felt totally betrayed that none of their children had kids. We all had our different reasons and health issues, but all agreed that they would be poor grandparents. All of the siblings felt they had been poor, self-centered parents. Parents who wanted clones rather than children. Parents who, vicariously wanted their children to follow their life path with a few key changes to make their lives wonderful. They didn’t stint on giving detailed life goals and advice. Problem was, the advice was 25-years out of date — what might have worked for them in the way back, but not today.

    #2 — he dropped the mother of his 5 kids and caused you pain by flirting with other women for the first half of your relationship. Now, as far as you can tell, he’s behaving. How likely is that to last. You give many reasons not to have a child with this guy or to stick with him. You should MOA. The future with him is grim.

    #3 — Separated is not divorced; there is often the pull of possible reconciliation which often lasts far longer than this guy has been separated. Don’t beat yourself up over this. It’s a learning experience. His separation was too new for him to be dating. He recognized his error.

  2. LW1 – MYOB! The best way to have this non-threatening conversation is to not have it at all! Your desire to have a say in when your fully grown daughter marries and starts a family with her boyfriend makes you sound beyond controlling. I can give you the benefit of the doubt and assume it comes from a good place. It’s possible she’s indifferent to the institution of marriage and, like many people around her age (which also happens to be about my age), is either waiting to have kids or plans to opt out altogether. Let her live her life.

    LW3 – In my 20s I dated a guy for a year who was separated/divorcing, and whose divorce was finalized maybe 4-5 months into our relationship. He did a fantastic job of convincing me that he was healed and emotionally available. He was neither and it did not end well (for me). After that experience, I was still open to divorced men, however, I avoided anyone recently separated and advise others to do the same. A lot of people who are divorcing will be going through it emotionally even if they know that ending their marriage is the right thing. They’re dating for the first time in years and trying to make sense of modern dating while they figure out what they want next. Even if the men you go out with moving forward aren’t divorced, you will hopefully be better at spotting the signs of a man who isn’t available or on the same page. Sorry you’re hurting. This might be an obnoxious thing to say but I am happy for your sake he was transparent early on instead of wasting your time.

  3. LW #2: I man that has to support FIVE KIDS is never going to be good material to support more. Also $1500 to support FIVE KIDS doesn’t make his ex wife a money hungry jerk. It is a woman who needs an adequate amount of money to support the kids he made with her. You need to move on and make better decisions going forward.

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