The beauty of cohabiting is that in the event things don't work, one of you can walk out of the arrangement with little fuss, less damage and it involves just the two of you, mostly. But when a 'come-we-stay' arrangement results in a child, things can be a tad complicated.
As a man, you have to be a total jerk and heartless to walk out. Many in fact stay even if they don't like the woman, damn the consequences. But you can still walk, because there is nothing that is binding.
But when you are formally married, you have involved both of your folks, paid the dowry, and worse, done a wedding, you are bound. You are no longer yourself.
You are now bound together, and no matter what happens, should you separate or divorce, there will always be a blight on your life.
The first days of marriage are quite claustrophobic for the man. You are always wondering if you made the right move. There are always two or three women lurking somewhere, who would have potentially become your wife, and you agonize if you made the right choice.
The second most likely woman you would have married, Rita, sent you a card and wrote you a message on your wedding day, wishing you well. The message was hollow, but you were thankful that she was not altogether bitter or petty.
The third most likely woman, Becky, didn't bother even with a message. She had really high hopes, which you fed at times, but life happens. Ironically, in the traditional understanding of a wife material, she was the most qualified.
Your guilty conscience stems from the sad fact that for Carol, looks overrode any consideration. It is shallow you admit, you can fix the behavior, but you can't fix the looks, you console yourself.
On your flight back from the honeymoon, Carol looks blissful, maybe relieved at last that she got someone to marry. At 30, any woman with a young daughter would panic. And you offered a wedding. The honeymoon, though simple, was a good start to what promises to be a good marriage.
You get home and you notice that Carol has improved her attitude towards household chores greatly. She prefers eating at home to buying dinner. She has no problem scrubbing the floor, even though she doesn't have to.
She is impressive, treats you like a king that you are. All along, you are wondering, what normally happens to couples that they stop talking sooner or later. Why is it impossible to maintain this blissful state?
In the meantime, there are a few issues you have to iron out. From today, her past lover, father of her daughter is going to be out of the picture completely.
If it were up to you, the little girl will never see her father. Your own child from your previous relationship is yet to find a place in the new arrangement.
You never wanted to complicate issues, but, some of these things, the better to straighten them from the outset.
Women are less accepting towards other women's children. You wonder how she will treat your son?
"How do we go about Farah and Ryan?" you ask her, awakening her to the fact that you are both not starting on clean slates.