Your advice to “Shell-Shocked,” the guy with the “baby crazy” wife, ignored how he obviously hasn’t read much about pregnancy at 40-plus. At 42, this woman’s lucky if she gets pregnant at all, and she’s stuck with a guy who wants to “wait.” If they want kids, they can’t wait a single day. A female friend, faced with similar a situation with her husband, independently went out and had IVF with a sperm donor — while staying married. The husband dealt with it.
When people talk about marriage as a partnership, they mean two people making decisions together, not one person announcing to the other, “I’m going out for a cup of some other guy’s sperm. Deal with it.”
You signed yourself “Well-Read,” apparently because you caught the bit about this woman wanting a baby and, well, read no further. If you had, you’d know the problem isn’t that Mr. Shell-Shocked hasn’t done his homework on the joys of spawning with older eggs, but that he’s married to a shrieking psycho who’s always been about two loose screws away from holding him down and strangling him with her fallopian tubes.
Raising kids — “the toughest job you’ll ever say you love” — tests the emotionally healthy, let alone the obviously unhinged. Like me, Mr. and Mrs. Shell-Shocked’s therapist believes you don’t have kids first and resolve Mommy’s mental health issues later. I told Mr. S to have no part of enabling his whack-job wife to become a mom, which means getting out before she gets her paws on his sperm. Sadly, once you’ve got that, all you need to give birth are working ovaries and such. (Only when you try to adopt do they do background checks and a psych evaluation.)
But, hey, what about her biological clock? Sorry, that’s just the breaks. A guy doesn’t say, “Gee, I think I’ll become a cage fighter at 58.” Sometimes life passes you by, and you need to admit that. I’m guessing she bought into the feminist propaganda that you can “have it all,” then spent a couple of decades trying to do that. I am of the mind that women who want kids should establish themselves in careers first, in case they get left or widowed, but you also don’t wait to start a family until you hear your ovaries yelling, “Last call!”
As for your friend who trotted off to commit turkey-baster adultery, it’s dicey enough for a relationship when a guy comes home to some cutesy couch the wife blew his bonus money on. But, a blanket or throw-thingie will cover up a country-kitsch sofa. And yeah, it’s sure to be a continuing money drain — but 11 cents here, 36 cents there, between the crevices, not $208,000 for four years at Brown.
So, what if your girlfriend’s kid has some birth defect (more likely in pregnancies of women older than 40), or is autistic? Lifetime care for somebody with autism can cost $3.2 million, according to Harvard School of Public Health’s Michael Ganz. If a husband is included in the decision to have a kid, and the kid turns out to be autistic, well, that’s rough, but … if you wouldn’t mind having supper ready, Daddy’ll be home from the office when he’s 190. A husband like your friend’s, on the other hand, might find himself somewhat less motivated in the face of “Awwww, the baby looks just like his … well, some kid who put himself through college by going into a room with a dirty magazine and a Dixie cup.”
I’m writing about “Shell-Shocked’s” horribly abusive wife, who’s sometimes “amazingly sweet and giving.” Methinks she has borderline personality disorder. You were spot-on to tell him to leave, but missed the diagnosis.
— Dated a Borderline
I hate to diminish your opinion of me, but on my wall, where the framed med school diploma and psychiatric license should be, there’s a picture of a monkey in a bowtie eating a plate of stewed prunes. Interestingly, lack of a diploma and therapist’s license didn’t stop you and about 10 other readers from writing to “diagnose” this woman by e-mail.
(In case you’re wondering, we’re running 10-to-1 for bipolar over borderline.) Never mind that actual therapists are supposed to put in face-to-face time before diagnosing somebody. Everyone who wrote me knew exactly what was wrong after reading secondhand information about this woman, e-mailed by her husband, and edited down from a several-thousand-word exchange into a 175-word question.
Of course, even a professional’s diagnosis is just informed speculation. (It’s not like they count your white cells.) In my early 20s, I went to a Manhattan shrink. After 30 minutes of hearing me whine that I wasn’t making enough money and couldn’t find a boyfriend, he scribbled me a prescription — for lithium. Apparently, it’s a serious psychiatric disorder, being poor and lonely.
Amy Alkon’s just-published book: “I See Rude People: One Woman’s Battle to Beat Some Manners Into Impolite Society” (McGraw-Hill, $16.95).