Saturday 21 July 2018

Dear Mary: I care for my girlfriend but my mother would disown me if she knew of abortion

The reader's college studies will run until 2020. Stock photo: Depositphotos
The reader's college studies will run until 2020. Stock photo: Depositphotos

Mary O’Conor

My girlfriend's husband died very tragically four years ago. One year later in her mid-20s, she had a liaison with her then boss, resulting in her becoming pregnant. She terminated the pregnancy after 15 weeks because of religious and cultural differences. She said it was the correct decision and has absolutely no regrets.

She moved from a rural location to Dublin for personal security reasons and also because of complex problems regarding her late husband's estate and trouble with her parish because of the termination.

We met as we were working in the same company and over time, we became very friendly. We officially became boyfriend/girlfriend about 15 months ago and we care about each other deeply.

I brought her home to meet my mother and siblings. My mother is a devout Catholic and would disown me if she knew my girlfriend had had a termination.

Our work situations have now changed - nothing to do with our relationship - and we realise that we will not be able to meet as regularly as we do now. My girlfriend feels insecure and lacking in confidence. She has suggested that we live together from next February. She also said she would like to start a family and have children over the next 10 years and then we will get married.

This came as a bit of a shock to me, but I understand where she is coming from because of the traumatic experiences she has had over the last four years. However, I cannot leave my apartment as I share it with other mature students who, like me, are working full-time by day. We have an environment of study in the apartment and I have a few years before my studies are completed so 2020 is the earliest that I can seriously contemplate cohabiting with her.

I will do anything I can to help her. But I am concerned about our future relationship.

Mary replies: I have shortened your very detailed letter considerably for reasons of anonymity. It seems to me that you are battling with two problems. Firstly, what to do if your mother ever found out that your girlfriend had a termination, and secondly, you don't want to move in with your girlfriend for another two years.

Parents pass on to their children their moral and religious beliefs and hope that they will be guided by them. It would be very wrong of any mother to expect a future daughter-in-law to share her beliefs and it would also be wrong of her to judge her if she did not do so.

It should be of no concern to your mother what your girlfriend did before meeting you. Instead, she should be hoping your girlfriend will make you happy in the future. So if it doesn't bother you that she terminated a pregnancy, then stop thinking about it and get on with enjoying each other's company.

Which brings me to your second problem. I don't get any sense of lightness or fun in the relationship from your email other than your assurance that you care deeply for each other.

If you can't live together until 2020, so be it, but there is nothing to stop you enjoying each other's company on an ongoing basis until that time.

There will still be plenty of time for your girlfriend to have babies and who knows, she may have lost some of her aversion to being married by that time.

Tell her your plan for study and work advancement and explain how you see her place in all of this. Because of her insecurities, be sure to tell her how much you care.

Nobody should be pressured into moving in together before they feel that the time is right. You will find that compromise plays a big part in any couple's story.

But you can't be studying all the time, particularly at weekends, and so it should be possible for both of you to enjoy time together as well.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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