[Two Pronged] My baby’s father doesn’t want to marry me

Alex Evangelista
[Two Pronged] My baby’s father doesn’t want to marry me
'I reached out to PAO and was told that I cannot force the baby daddy to marry me. I honestly don't know what to do.'

Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.

Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives

Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.

Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer,

I am in my late 20s. I have a 2-month-old daughter and am unwed.

The baby daddy is in his early 30s. We were barely two months into the relationship when we started sleeping together. I instantly got pregnant. My pregnancy was even longer than the time we knew each other before I got “knocked up.” Partly, that is the reason the baby daddy did not want to get married. After giving birth, I have brought up marriage/living together but he says we should prioritize the baby. Is he evading the issue of marriage/live in?

The baby daddy is staying with his parents. I don’t understand why he lives with his parents when he is financially stable. He has a high salary grade and can afford to live separately. I don’t know why he doesn’t want us to rent an apartment near the office. I live and have a small business in Bulacan and find it difficult to go to Quezon City where we work. Anyway, the baby daddy monitors, supports, and visits my daughter.

I received news that the baby daddy is seeing someone else. I don’t have the courage to verify the details from other people. So I confronted the baby daddy and he denied it. He shuts the topic and says he doesn’t want us fighting. Is he evading the issue of cheating?

Our conversations are only about my daughter and the office. He is distant and never discusses what will happen to us, saying he is tired with work. It takes him time to reply or call back. He doesn’t answer my calls, returning them whenever. I don’t want to entertain the thought that it might be something or someone else. There are times when I don’t know where he is, receiving news that he is seen with someone else. Some tell me the baby daddy is only waiting for me to be the one to breakup. 

My family wants me to fight for him since I have a daughter. However, the baby daddy’s side has been insinuating that we co-parent, pointing out that we will eventually break up, being different people from different backgrounds.

I grew up raised by an uncle. My older sister is an unwed mother of two. The baby daddy grew up with a complete family. I want my daughter to also have a complete family. I hate it when people tell me that my daughter can still have a complete family with co-parenting. I prefer having the traditional complete family.

I would appreciate any insight and advice you will give. 


Dear Pia,

Thank you for your email.

It seems as though by traditional values you have got your milestones in the wrong order. Dating, engagement, marriage, children was considered the ideal though of course it was much honored in the breach, as was the notion that sexual intercourse would only take place upon marriage.

In the modern era, sexual and marital rituals no longer come in a “one size fits all” package and the advent of birth control has had much to do with this. While unplanned pregnancies are not exactly uncommon even now, the existence of contraception is not a secret nor is practicing it rocket science, even if it is not 100% safe all the time either.

Getting pregnant at the very beginning of a relationship is, however, guaranteed to require a couple to face up to some important issues rather earlier than they may have planned, as you have found to your cost.

There are various schools of thought about this type of situation. One could be categorized as the shotgun approach, most often adopted by the father of the pregnant girl, who demands marriage as a face-saver for the family’s (loss of) honor, or his daughter’s lost purity or the like. This approach has little or no consideration for the long term happiness of the two people most involved and indeed can even be punitive, as in “you’ve made your bed, now you can lie on it.” It is also similar to the hard line religious approach which equates pregnancy with marriage.

Then there are approaches which are designed to avoid any marriage. These can be based on a wide range of seemingly discriminatory reasons – different races, different religions, different colors, different backgrounds etc. – but at least the reasons put forward can claim, however in sincerely, to be related to the two people involved and their (in)compatibility for a future together.

Your case seems to fall between the two camps. The paternal side wants to prevent marriage while the maternal wants to encourage it.

Despite the birth of his daughter, the baby daddy (let’s call him Jay) has not rushed to set up home with you and his daughter, even if he could easily afford to do so. Instead he is comfortably installed at his parents’ house and is making efforts to distance himself from you, with communications both more infrequent and also limited to the practicalities and responsibilities of parenthood. These are not encouraging signs of a desire for even a relationship, much less marriage.

To be fair, however, he is involved and supportive of his daughter so it seems that being a father is as far as he is prepared to go.

Your position seems to be the quintessentially traditional one – marriage. This is an admirable aim in general but is surely unrealistic in this case. You and Jay had scarcely begun your relationship when you became pregnant, he shows no interest in marriage and frankly if you were to marry, the chances of success in these circumstances would not be high so in short order you would no longer be a complete family anyway.

In the near future, surely you should foster the best relationship you can with Jay as your daughter’s father, not as a future husband. If a romantic relationship is rekindled, that will be fine. If not, your daughter will have a loving father and you can cast your net elsewhere.

All the best,

JAF Baer

Dear Pia,

Thank you very much for your letter. Mr Baer suggests you “you should foster the best relationship you can with Jay as your daughter’s father, not as a future husband” but not discount that the relationship could possibly be rekindled towards romance.

I agree with part 1 of his advice which is to prioritize your being co parents, rather than your being a couple but not with part 2, which is being open to rekindling your romance.

Part 2 encourages you to be unduly optimistic about the future of your relationship, because everything you tell us about his behavior clearly suggests that he is not interested in being anything else but a co-parent with you.

You write: “After giving birth, I have bought up marriage or living together but he (he) say(s) we should prioritize the baby. Is he evading the issue of marriage or live in?”

In my opinion (because who can say for sure, right?) he is avoiding the issue. Some men melt when they see their own child and thus want to be a family. This has not happened in your case. In my clinical experience, if a father’s love does not magically transform into love for the mother once he establishes a relationship with his child, he is unlikely to want to get married as the child gets older.

We are at our most optimistic and bravest, willing to fight the odds, at the start of any enterprise, before reality bites us in the face. I feel reality has already bitten him, and he is only hoping it bites you soon.

Jim is staying with his parents even if a ) he can afford to live separately, b) it will be easier being with his child, and c) will make life for you so much easier.

Jim does not strike me as a deliberately cruel man. But his refusal/inability to be honest with you is giving you false hopes.

False hopes are the last thing you need because you are so prone to them to begin with. No matter how much you want something, wishing it will not make it so. No matter how clear it is that marriage/living together is the best solution for you, you cannot insist he think it the best solution for him.

And you know this already, Pia, or you would not have gone to PAO.

Oh, Pia, I know it is difficult to give up your dream of a “traditional family,” with the father of your baby as your husband. But give it up you must, at least, with this guy.

With any luck, you will find a guy – non traditional this time – who is willing and able to have that family with you.

With even more luck, you will find you need no one else but yourself to have the home in which love, trust, respect, and reality-based hope can thrive for you and your baby.

All the best,

MG Holmes

– Rappler.com


Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email twopronged@rappler.com with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately, the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.

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