I lied to my fiancé about my age

Dear Counsellor,

I am 40 years old and a single mother of a pre-teen. I am engaged to be married next month. My fiancé tried everything to get with me for years, and I finally said OK, and meant for it to be a short-term fling. Because I meant for it to be temporary, I lied about my age, and told him I was five years older than him. But he was serious, and he’s a really great guy. The problem is, he’s 23 years old. I didn’t expect things to reach this far, but he proposed and now I’m pregnant. I’ve been hiding my true age, and I filled out all the paperwork for our wedding, and managed to do everything without him seeing the papers (he’s not really a reader anyway, and he just signs what I tell him to sign). I feel guilty as hell, but I can’t be a single mother of two, and I need the emotional support. How can I fix this? I’m afraid that when he realises I’m literally old enough to be his mother, he will blow a fuse.

Getting advice is a great step when pursuing happily ever after. The Bible says in Proverbs 11:14, “Where no counsel is the people fall; but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” And safety and security is an imperative, especially for women. I do also perceive that safety and security is a concern of yours. There are some questions you should answer though. Like, are you genuinely in love with him, or is this about convenience? How is he with your pre-teen? What’s your family’s position on the relationship?

You mentioned that he tried everything to get with you “for years”. The fact that he is 23 means that he started pursuing you when he was maybe 20 or 21? It should then mean he might guess that you weren’t five years older, especially since you have a pre-teen child. Informing him of your true age shouldn’t cause him to blow a fuse. And regarding age difference, I assure you, there are many successful marriages where husbands are several years younger than their wives.

However, I believe this understanding must be had, especially when a woman is marrying a younger man — he must be respected as her equal partner. A healthy marriage will only be possible if you can honour each other. He must not be a convenient prop-up for emotional support or a parenting aide. He has to be respected as your husband, with equal sway and equal say.

Here’s my advice:

Tell him the truth. You can’t start a healthy marriage with a lie. You do also owe him an apology. Sit with him and let him know you weren’t initially honest about your age. He deserves the truth and the opportunity to make a choice based on that truth. A marriage contract must only be signed when there’s truth provided by both parties.

Be clear and confident. Make sure you aren’t marrying him out of a fear of being alone. Leaving what some feel is the “frying pan” of singleness for the “fire” of a challenged marriage can be really regrettable. And raising your children as a single parent is better than being in a disastrous marriage. Also, protecting your pre-teen from any confusion and hurt is important.

Get proper premarital counselling. If you both go forward, premarital counselling will be imperative. Marriage still is a sacred institution and you both deserve the best shot at making it an amazing lifelong experience. Being open and honest with each other and with the counsellor is critical to getting great results. Your pre-teen should also be in one or more sessions.

I pray you’ll have all the necessary clarity and confidence needed as you both pursue your best lives, and your happily ever after.

Get on The Counsellor’s Couch with Rev Christopher Brodber, who is a counsellor and minister of religion. E-mail questions to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com.

Christopher Brodber

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