Help! My Husband Is Slowly Dying, and I’m Pregnant With Another Man’s Child.

Dear Prudence

In my family’s eyes, this is inappropriate.

A person puts a hand on their pregnant belly with an illustrated hourglass behind them.

<span>Photo illustration by Slate. Images by Prostock-Studio/iStock/Getty Images Plus and Vdant/iStock/Getty Images Plus.</span><br />

Our advice columnists have heard it all over the years. Each Sunday, we dive into the Dear Prudie archives and share a selection of classic letters with our readers. Join Slate Plus for even more advice columns.

Dear Prudence,

Four years ago, my sweet and loving husband, the awesome father of our three children, was struck down by brain cancer and suffered brain trauma following emergency surgery. I’ve cared for him at home, dealing with the hassles of hospitals, insurance, family drama (his parents blame me for his health issues). He will never recover and he is declining. It is like being married to a 41-year-old Alzheimer’s patient. He does not remember me, our long marriage, or our kids. I’m trying to place him in a nursing home, but there are waiting lists. About a year ago, I met a man who was genuine and kind. As the friendship grew, he began helping with my kids, even helping my husband by playing music and visiting with him. My boyfriend knows I am committed to giving my husband the care he deserves and respects that this is a package deal. Once my husband can be placed in a good facility, I will pursue divorce, while making sure he is properly cared for until he passes on. My boyfriend and I recently found out that, despite using protection, I’m pregnant. We are excited, as once I am legally able, we want to marry. My family is not happy, as in their eyes this is not appropriate, and they have been icing me out. They adored my husband, and have had little chance to get to know my boyfriend, since I live in another state. How can I smooth over my relationship with my family?

So your in-laws blame you for your husband’s brain cancer, and your own family disapproves of your finding love again while continuing to be the sole caregiver to your desperately ill and disabled husband. You’re wondering how you can smooth relations with your family, while I’m wondering what their appropriate karmic reward should be. It’s a miracle you’ve been able to keep it together, and you deserve all the joy you can wrest out of life. What an amazing man you have found, one who embraces you and your children, and who has stepped up to help you care for your husband. It’s wonderful you are happy about your new addition, but since marriage is a ways off, I think it would make sense for you and your boyfriend to visit a lawyer and clarify your complicated legal situation. You want to make sure your husband is properly cared for even after he is your ex-husband, and you want to make sure your boyfriend is prepared to care for your new child even in the absence of a prompt marriage. As for your family, they deserve nothing but scorn for their attitude, and for apparently not being there to help you provide care for your husband and your suffering children, but I understand you don’t want to create a breach that would be even worse for the kids. I suggest you try to arrange for them to visit the grandparents. Your children need their extended family, and they also need a break from their dying father. Maybe that visit will provide a bridge to better communication. But you do not have time to spend energy on those who aren’t worthy of it. I hope your husband’s end is peaceful, and that your life moving forward is filled with happiness. —Emily Yoffe

From: “Help! My Husband Is Slowly Dying, and I’m Pregnant by Another Man.” (Nov. 5, 2015)

Dear Prudence,

My partner and I, who are in a gay relationship, are close friends with a lesbian couple. “Mary” and “Jean” desperately want a baby, and after some discussion my partner decided to donate his sperm. We have no interest in being parents but are happy to be uncles. Unfortunately Mary experienced a significant illness and Jane got laid off from work, and now they are worried they can’t afford in vitro fertilization. Mary is infertile, and Jane is already 38, so waiting until their financial situation improves might not be an option. Mary and Jane have now asked whether Jane can conceive a baby with my partner the old-fashioned way. My partner and Jane used to date in their 20s so it won’t be anything new. I totally trust my partner, but this is just too much for me. Am I being too old-fashioned? Should I let this happen so my two wonderful friends can become parents without spending tens of thousands of dollars?

I don’t think you’re being too old-fashioned! This is not an especially old-fashioned problem. Their problem is a sad one, certainly, but you shouldn’t let guilt over your friends’ situation affect the decision you and your partner make. There’s no guarantee that your partner will be able to impregnate Jane on the first try; how many times would you be willing to let the two of them sleep together? Five tries? Ten? As many as it takes? It’s wonderful that you trust your partner and want to help your friends have children—and in this case, I think, perfectly appropriate—but that doesn’t mean you have to feel great about the two of them sleeping together. You two should have a serious conversation as a couple about the pros and cons and figure out whether this is something you are comfortable doing before discussing your decision with Mary and Jean. —Danny M. Lavery

From: “Help! A Lesbian Friend Wants My Partner to Impregnate Her the Old-Fashioned Way.” (Dec. 21, 2015)

Dear Prudence,

My daughter’s fourth-grade teacher is unmarried and pregnant. Although she is a fantastic educator, kids at that age are bound to ask questions and are old enough that you cannot placate them with a simple answer. I asked her teacher what she told the children about her condition. She told me that she informed them she was pregnant (she is due in June, so this was obvious) and that was it. I asked her if she planned to keep the baby. She told me that was her business alone and she is not obligated to explain her marital status or plans with her child to me or anybody else. I feel that this woman has significant exposure and influence over my child and my questions were perfectly acceptable. Should I take this to the principal or switch classrooms? My husband thinks we should drop it, but I don’t want my daughter to get the impression that single motherhood is acceptable.

As long as you were asking, I’m surprised you didn’t inquire as to her favorite sexual position. Your comments were so far over the line that the teacher’s proper and measured response to you indicates just how good she must be at handling unruly children. The lesson you want to teach your daughter is that you treat everyone with respect, so you should take your husband’s advice and drop this completely. —E.Y.

From: “Help! My Daughter’s Teacher Is Knocked Up and Single.” (Feb. 27, 2012)

Dear Prudence,

I’m a bisexual man in a happy, monogamous relationship. My wife is fine with my sexuality but does not want me to talk about it with other people. She especially does not want me talking about it around her friends, many of whom are gay men, for fear that they would start hitting on me. (I think maybe she also worries that they would make fun of me—although we all get along great.) She also does not want me to contact an ex-lover, who was also my best friend for a long time (although admittedly this was years ago). I’m not particularly bothered by these “conditions,” but I would like to speak to this guy at least once again in my life, and it might be nice to have people with whom I could openly discuss my sexuality.

I disagree that your wife is “fine” with your sexuality. If she wants you to keep your sexuality a secret and thinks any gay man who learned of it would be unable to keep from either mocking or trying to seduce you, I think she is in fact deeply uncomfortable with and resentful of your sexuality, which is a shame. It’s one thing for her not to want you to get in touch with an ex, which is understandable if high-handed; it’s quite another for her to forbid you from even talking about the fact that you’re bisexual. If she thinks the only thing keeping your friends from trying to destroy your marriage is a mistaken belief in your heterosexuality, then she has insufficient faith in both your marriage and the character of your friends. Tell your wife that you’re not going to hide who you are from those close to you simply to keep her comfortable. Her version of protection and support looks an awful lot like a closet to me. —D.L.

From: “Help! My Wife Is Trying to Keep Me in the Closet.” (April 21, 2016)

More Advice From Dear Prudence

My boyfriend and I have been together for two years and just moved in together. We’re both 30 years old and have no plans to marry. My boyfriend’s parents won’t take no for an answer, and after we moved in together they asked us when we wanted the wedding. We told them we weren’t getting married, but they complained that we were being ridiculous. This crazy argument went on for a few weeks, then his parents upped the crazy by a notch.

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