Dr. Buckingham: I hope you and your family are doing well. My boyfriend has three kids with three different women. The first two he had when he was 20 and the kids are 7 months apart. He said he did not know the other woman was pregnant until the first baby was one year old. He lived with the mother of his second child for 5 years and they broke up because she wanted him to work and forget about his basketball career attempt. His third child he had with his wife. He asked her to marry him two weeks after meeting her. The marriage lasted one month and ended over a financial disagreement.
He has a good relationship with his first child but is absent from the other two. He pays child support but that’s it. Also, he has a pattern of dating older women and I feel that he wants to be taken care of. He tells me all the plans that he has for us and mentioned marriage after one month of dating. I’m a single mom with a nice house, car and rental income. Also, I’m going back to school to get a degree. Sometimes I feel that he wants what I have not who I am. He is sweet, smart, kind, but if he is not in his children’s lives, I don’t know if he will be in mine. My Boyfriend Is a Deadbeat Father, Should I Marry Him?
Dear Single Mom,
I will try to be unbiased in my response because I struggle with respecting men who are womanizers and are irresponsible when it comes to their children. Nevertheless, I believe that certain behavior should not be ignored or minimized, especially behavior that can be devastating to others.
Your boyfriend has demonstrated a pattern of being in unsuccessful short-term relationships and absent from his children’s lives. Given this, I do not recommend that you marry him without seeing some changes in his behavior. If you have concerns before you say “I do,” you will definitely have additional concerns after you say “I do.” You are entitled to ask him to work through his commitment issues with his children before he attempts to establish a commitment to you. While he may be “sweet, smart, and kind,” he does not appear to be responsible, focused, or driven. Based on your report, it appears that he is looking for a woman to take care of him and carry his load.
If your gut instinct is telling you to be cautious, do not ignore what you are feeling. Some people believe in love at first sight and others believe that love takes time. I am not sure what you believe, but I would encourage you to give this relationship some time. Anyone can get married, but staying married is a different thing. Unfortunately, your boyfriend’s track record of staying married is not good. Walk with caution and make sure that he brings something to the table besides being sweet, smart and kind. Do not allow your heart to get you into a relationship that your mind cannot comprehend.
Develop a list of qualities that you desire in a husband and cross-reference them with your boyfriend. This simple exercise can help you gain clarity and identify what is important to you. Hopefully, being in a relationship filled with commitment, reliability, and dedication is what you desire. Share your concerns with your boyfriend and seek professional counseling if he is willing to talk about his issues. I pray that you make the best decision for you.
If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions, and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.