Advice from the Trenches: Deb’s Dilemma

Dear C;

My girlfriend Stacy is getting married in about three weeks. I’ve known her since we were in high school and I was thrilled for her when she got engaged. She has a good handle on her career, but she has always wanted kids and was afraid it would never happen – she’s in her mid-30s and her biological clock was starting to tick really loud. And I always liked David, her fiance. That is, until two weeks ago.

I was out on a Friday night and on my way to the ladies I noticed two people in a clinch in the corner. It was David and his ex, the girl he dated before Stacy. They didn’t see me, and I turned and ran out of the bar before they could. I sat for three days, wondering what to do. I didn’t want to jump to conclusions. Sometimes things aren’t what they seem. Maybe his ex heard he was getting married and was making a last ditch effort to get him back and I stumbled on them right before he pushed her away. I didn’t want to say anything to Stacy because this isn’t some guy she’s dating — it’s the guy she plans on having babies with. So I thought I’d try to find out more about what was going on. I asked David’s buddy Jeff out for a drink.

I didn’t want to give away what I was up to, so I didn’t dump the question on him point blank. I started a conversation about the pros and cons of monogamy and pondered the different types of relationships people get into with each other. I asked Jeff what he thought. Jeff just looked at me. “You caught him, didn’t you? he said. I think my heart stopped.

It turns out that David has been seeing this ex since the engagement. His rationalization was that if he’s going to “tie himself down” he needs to get it out of his system. He also wanted to make sure he was really over the ex. Jeff says he’s over the ex but he still wants to “f___ her a few more times while he still can,” according to Jeff. Jeff says that David still has every intention of marrying Stacy.

Now I don’t know what to do. If I tell Stacy, it will break her heart. I know that David isn’t going to leave her at the altar. Maybe he’s just, like he said, getting it out of his system. And is it even my business?

Debra Dilemma

Dear Deb;

This may not be your business, but it most certainly is Stacy’s; and I doubt very much is anyone else is going to fill her in.

While it may be a long-held male belief that prenuptial self indulgence is the best way to prepare for a lifetime of monogamy, the best advice I ever heard from a marriage counselor was: “Don’t ever marry someone expecting them to change.” Self indulgence seldom disappears at the alter. Let’s assume that David is going to remain as is, and take a look at his current moral code.

First, it’s OK to lie, as long as David wants something and he can come up with a good explanation that allows him to lie with a clear conscience. The way he sees it, he is not married yet, so he’s doing his future wife a favor by getting it out of his system. Thanks, David! Next, let’s look at his handling of the ex girlfriend. Few women would sleep with a guy who admits he’s going to dump her in three weeks, so while David may have told to Jeff that he just wants to “f___ her a few more times while he still can,” I suspect that the ex got a different story. David seems to be a very creative guy, I would LOVE to hear what he’s been telling Stacy.

David is not ready to get married. He’s not even ready to be engaged. When you ask for a woman’s hand in marriage, you make a commitment right there. The marriage is what is pending. The commitment is not.

I know you don’t want to break Stacy’s heart, but if you keep silent, a crash is probably imminent anyway. David wasn’t very careful in covering his tracks. That was a pretty public encounter, and if it’s been going on since the engagement, you weren’t the only one who saw. Think of this as giving Stacy fair warning before she steps through an elevator door and into an empty shaft. It is far less expensive and demoralizing to stop a disaster before it happens than to clean up the mess afterward. Stacy is making a decision that she believes will bring her a happy home and a family that will last the rest of her life. She’s ready to make an adult commitment; David is still treating women like they’re disposable. Your friend deserves to know what she’s walking into before she walks down the aisle.

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