Advice columnist

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Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: I'm not even sure how to start this because I feel like a terrible person getting myself into this situation. I recently got engaged to a great guy — kind, responsible, outstanding human being. Because we are both 40, we immediately tried for a child, and, joy and surprise, I immediately got pregnant.

I'm overjoyed about the baby. However, despite the fact our relationship is going smoothly, I'm not feeling any desire to actually . . . get married. In fact, I've been waking up dreaming about a former boyfriend and wishing I were marrying him, and I am feeling painfully aware that although I definitely love my fiance, I don't love love love him the way I know I'm capable of.

He, I'm pretty sure, does love love love me. I'm feeling trapped. I'm missing laughter. I'm feeling terrible. I'm not sure how to proceed or even what questions to ask myself.

What's best for the baby is probably to throw myself 110 percent into making this relationship as good as can be, but I'm also scared we'll settle into a mediocre marriage, where he'll sense that I feel trapped, and that might be worse than blowing up our lives now. How do I untangle this?

— Not Sure I Want to Get Married


(Nick Galifianakis/for The Washington Post)

Not Sure I Want to Get Married: This may turn out to be only 10 percent useful, but I’m going to suggest it for its potential to be 100 percent effective.

Be honest about not wanting to go ahead with the wedding. Don’t “blow up our lives,” but instead just say you’re feeling overwhelmed (since it’s true!) and stressed (since it’s true, that’s what the dreams and inability to laugh are telling you) — and what you’d like most is to be free to give yourself over completely to your pregnancy, to sharing with him this overjoyed moment.

The 10 percent is that you will alleviate the pressure of impending nuptials you’re not 100 percent behind. The (possible) 100 percent is that giving yourself room to breathe will (possibly) relax you, and a relaxed you will be open to the love you have for and from your fiance. He might not be the reason for your lack of intimate feelings, in other words, but instead the victim of it. At least buy yourself the time and space to find out.

By the way, regardless of how this all turns out: To do something in bad faith is terrible, and a terrible person is someone who routinely acts in bad faith. It’s possible — and normal and human and not the mark of a terrible person — to act in good faith and still sometimes make a mistake.

Re: Not Sure: I'll also plug here that pregnancy is existentially demanding. Your whole life shifts. You have to keep this other person in your life permanently, barring any extreme events. You should follow Hax's advice, take the time to examine your feelings carefully and work your way through all that upheaval and what it means for your life. Pregnancy is also weird, all your hormones shift around, and I didn't like how my husband smelled for nine months. Honest.

— Anonymous

Anonymous: Ha. Thanks.

Write to Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com. Get her column delivered to your inbox each morning at wapo.st/haxpost.