Q. Met “TH” in college. We connected, sparks, etc. But as he puts it, “She was too shy and I was too high.”
In 2011, I was set up on a date with “B.” I was at an age when I wanted to start a family, had no other prospects, and thought he was the definition of a great catch. Seven years and two babies later, our marriage crumbled. I ignored early warning signs of a problem with alcohol, but the pandemic highlighted all of it. Multiple DWIs, multiple trips to rehab, and lots of pleading/ultimatums didn’t have an impact. I had left my career for four years and returned in 2021 to gain some stability, anticipating the end of the marriage. In 2022, I rebuilt my life as a single mom in a new city.
In January of 2023, TH reached out to me on Instagram. He lives across the country, but his engagement recently ended and he was considering a move. We started FaceTiming every night. He visited in February and sparks flew like never before. In June, he moved to my city. My divorce is also finally finalized. The big issue: TH wants a child.
I love him and would be willing to give him that but ... I am just rebuilding my career and terrified of making another mistake. I was still legally married three months ago. My older child is 6 and understands more about what life was, and what it is now. She is mostly a happy kid but gets sad about me not taking her dad back. I can’t explain the “why” to her yet. The last thing I want to do is hurt her more.
I also recognize that at 38 I don’t have a lot of time biologically. The question: Am I crazy for considering marriage and a child again so soon? How do I help my child cope? Do I follow her mourning timeline before moving forward? I heard on your show “don’t make any big decisions for one year.” Is that a year from the breakup or a year from it being legally final? :) Talk some sense into me.
A. I did say something about not making “big decisions for a year” on the Love Letters podcast. (I think it was in the breakup episode called “I Need a Toaster” ... it makes sense if you listen.) But I only brought up that idea to disprove it. Sure, it’s great to have 12 months to think before making big moves, but we don’t get to pause life and design our own timelines for change.
I won’t give you advice about your kid; please seek a professional for that. Go to a divorce support group. Maybe find an expert in single parenting.
I will speak to the love stuff, of course. I think it’s great you reconnected with the person you liked so many years ago, and that there’s more substance now. It’s wonderful that it’s working! But do you feel like you’ve had enough time to know whether he’s right for you and your family? How has it felt to have him around a lot? How does he involve himself in your kids’ lives, and does he seem to be good with them? Does he support your independence and other parts of your life?
If he’s fantastic all around — and you really want another child — maybe the two of you can talk to a professional together. You can learn how to make sure you’re sending the right message to your kids, and how to manage a household.
But if you’re not sure about him just yet, give it time. Yes, you’re 38, but you can start family planning while giving yourself more months to get to know this man again. Talk to your doctor about that. Multitask and pay attention.
Sometimes we take leaps; I can’t promise they’ll all feel 100 percent right. But you know how to prioritize yourself and your children because you’ve done it before. Get some real counseling to find out what next steps might be. Please don’t assume, “Oh, when we have our one-year anniversary, I’ll know everything.” It’s going to be confusing, no matter what.
Let the ink dry on your divorce and focus on your daughter before planning your next marriage.
By your own admission you say you aren’t ready for what has come your way, you refer to having a baby now as “the big issue,” and you refer to it also as “giving him what he wants.” Your gut has literally outlined in this letter what your boundaries and desires are, which are sound.
Get your career solidly established. Work on making your new situation firmly rooted, with all your attention on your two kids. TH not having his own baby is his problem.
Send your own relationship and dating questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out this form. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.