Ask FHM is a corner of the Internet where we fan the flames of your burning questions. Here, we dish out some tough love and an honest take on whatever potentially life-changing situation you find yourself in (while silently thanking God we aren’t you right now). Ask us anything. Except for money, and if open-minded ba kami.
Vol. 5: 'Nabuntis Ko GF Ko, But I Don’t Want To Marry Her'
Dear FHM, my girlfriend of two years just told me that she’s pregnant. After the initial shock, I’m feeling pretty positive about fatherhood, except for one thing: I don’t want to marry her, at least right now. I’m at that point where I already know I’ll stand by my kid and do anything for her (yes, it’s a girl—on a side note, can you direct me to the nearest gun shop?), well, except make an honest woman out of her mother. Am I evil? Is this just cold feet, and should I marry her anyway?
Please accept our sincerest congratulations and a cyber fist-bump—fatherhood is an awesome roller-coaster ride, regardless if you willingly lined up for it or were unceremoniously pushed into an empty seat. From the sounds of it, you have no qualms about this bit, so major props to you.
To compound this touchy-feely real talk, we say this: Given your honesty about being unsure about marrying your baby mama, perhaps not marrying her right now is one of the best early decisions you’ll be making for your unborn spawn. Unpopular opinion, so hear us out.
Babies are hard work, man. From the moment they’re born, they pretty much demand to be the center of your universe, and you’ll willingly let them be—often at the expense of other things in your life. Your job becomes a means to buy those damn-expensive diapers. Your weekends become 48 hours of baby-related errands. Your friends become a bemused group of near-strangers you spam with video clips of your adorable, drooling child. All facets of your life will take on different (some even diminished) dimensions. And you want to throw in making a new marriage work into this maelstrom?
Fact is, speedily marrying a girlfriend you knocked up only serves to please conditions imposed upon you. Conservative extended family eager for a wedding to offset the “disgrace” to your own traditional upbringing are only convincing you that you have to right the illusion of a wrong—it's a knee-jerk reaction to regain some control over the conventional timeline of fall in love-get married-have a baby. Come on, kids, it’s 2018. Go get your panties untwisted and focus on what’s truly important: The little one, and the soundness of mind of both you and your girlfriend. You already have enough on your plate, so politely decline the steaming pile of righteousness well-meaning relatives are trying to serve up. Let your first act as newly-minted padre de familia be one of standing up for what you feel is right for you.
Let’s take it down to brass tacks. Legally speaking, you are not required to be married to have a child together. Your name will still be on the birth certificate, and your baby will still carry your last name. Don’t believe horror stories about being asked to present marriage licenses at the hospital, or churches that only allow legitimate babies to be baptized. If staying unmarried (even for the time being) feels right for both of you, have no qualms about it.
Logistically speaking, babies cost a pretty penny. What kind of masochist throws a wedding on top of hospital expenses, potential loss of income when your girlfriend needs to go on maternity leave, and all the other gray-hair forming expenditures that are part and parcel of fatherhood? Your baby’s vaccines in the first year of life alone can cost as much as a set of wedding bands. A month’s worth of formula milk and diapers can rack up a bill akin to kitting out your wedding reception’s open bar. Mamili ka.
TL; DR: There are many, many different ways to be the head of your family and do right by your girlfriend and new baby—solemnizing your union doesn’t even make the short list, especially if you’re a little more liberal-minded. Take out insurance policies for them. Build them a house. Make sure your daughter has the best gear you can afford. Make sure your girlfriend has all the emotional support she needs, not just financial, because God knows women have it tougher in this scenario. Tick all the decent-guy, practical-guy boxes and no one should ever doubt your commitment to your girlfriend and your child. There are a lot of dickheads out there who think that putting a ring on it is all they have to do—dude, it’s actually the easiest, and the buck doesn’t stop there.
As long as you and your girlfriend are on the same page about getting married sometime in the far future, soon you’ll be able to drown out the noise and train your razor-sharp focus on what’s paramount: Getting your baby here safely and soundly, and keeping her cute little butt in those aforementioned expensive diapers as well as you can. But if it’s your ladylove hankering for a sparkler to make it all seem right again, well, that’s a discussion reserved just for the two of you. Out na kami dyan, bro. Kaya mo na yan.
Here’s your official line to those who keep sticking their noses into your situation: By holding off on the pressures and stress of making a young marriage work, you and your girlfriend have room to grow into your new roles as mom and dad. Enjoy it, learn from it, fall in love with each other even more (or at least have renewed respect for each other, which is impossible not to have after you see her birth your slimy, screaming child). Give yourselves the chance to adult properly—build some savings, regain friendships you’ve put on the back burner, appreciate the support of family, realign priorities that may shift after the introduction of a tiny human. Trust us, it will make that belated walk down the aisle that much sweeter.
Or, you know, if things don’t work out and you realize you’re just better off co-parenting separately, you’d have just saved yourselves hundreds of thousands and years of legal bullshit. There’s that.
Illustration Borg Sinaban