DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are contemplating starting a family. When I was younger I wanted children, but over the years my personal experiences have caused trepidation. Because of divorce and the custody battles of my older siblings, I know the amount of blood, sweat and tears that go into children.
I work in the field of social services. Every day I am confronted with families who struggle with more children than they can care for and with behavioral and emotional problems. Frankly, it has turned me off. I am terrified of all the "what ifs."
I can't talk to my family because I don't want to tell them they have created part of my problem. My in-laws can't understand why we don't have children yet.
My husband keeps insisting "everything will be fine." I love him deeply and he would make an amazing father. My heart wants this, but my head isn't sure. I can't picture our future without children, but the fear of actually having them brings me to tears. Can you help me? -- SCARED TO TAKE THE NEXT STEP
DEAR SCARED: Children don't come with 100 percent, money-back guarantees. What they need in order to thrive is parents who love each other and them, and who are willing to put forth the time and energy to raise them. I don't know what went wrong in your siblings' marriages, but it appears their kids have been used as pawns rather than having their own interests put first. If both parents cooperated in the interests of the children there would be no battles.
Please do not allow the dysfunction you have seen in your work to influence your decision. You and your husband will not be having more children than you can afford, and I assume you are approaching the idea of parenthood in a mature fashion. I would caution you about one thing, however. Having a child because of pressure from your in-laws would be a poor reason to embark upon parenthood.Read more in: Marriage & Divorce | Family & Parenting | Mental Health
DEAR ABBY: I'm at a crossroads. I have been married for 15 years and have two children. I love my wife and have been content with this life for a long time. However, for years I have felt like something was missing.
I recently become close friends with a man who is in the same situation. One day he confided that he is gay and has known it for more than 10 years. He told me he, too, had been content with his life but had grown increasingly depressed before we met.
As our friendship has developed I have come to realize that I'm gay as well. It was a struggle to finally admit this to myself, but I accept that it's the truth. My friend and I have been exploring our sexuality together, and he says he is happier than he has been in years.
Both of us love our wives and children; however, we desperately need to fulfill our own needs as well. Do you have any advice on the best way to move forward that will have minimal impact on everyone involved? -- IN A DIFFICULT SITUATION
DEAR IN: You say you have known for years that something was missing. Well, it is possible that your wives have felt the same way, and may have blamed themselves for it. That's why it is important for you and your friend to explain everything to them honestly.
It would be helpful for everyone who will be affected to seek counseling and receive the emotional support they will need through this life-changing transition. You and your lover should go online and find the nearest gay and lesbian community center. (Visit www.lgbtcenters.org for a complete list.) Your wives should contact the Straight Spouse Network, which has been mentioned in my column many times. It can be reached at www.straightspouse.org.Read more in: Marriage & Divorce | Love & Dating | Sex & Gender | Mental Health | Miscellaneous
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)