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Dear Richard Madeley: 'My fiancée wants us to ‘wait’ until our wedding night – but I’m 80!'

Richard Madeley
Dear Richard Madeley: 'My fiancée wants us to ‘wait’ until our wedding night – but I’m 80!' Credit: Rii Schroer/Getty Images

Dear Richard

I am 80, active and mentally very alert, with many interests. I have colon cancer, which luckily is stable and I take no medication or chemotherapy for it. I pay it little mind – I just have a scan each year.

I am a widower, but I have a fiancée in her mid-50s. She knows about my cancer, of course. We intend to marry at the end of this year – no sooner, as she wants her daughter to be back from her overseas job.

This may sound odd for these days, but my fiancée, being a devout Christian, doesn’t believe in sex outside marriage. I respect this, of course, but due to my age and medical condition, I worry I’ll be dead or incapacitated before we are finally “united”!

I don’t want to subject her to emotional blackmail, and I definitely don’t want to lose her – she makes me so happy. But I wonder if there is any way I could persuade her to set her principles aside?

Mike, via email

'If you were a younger man, I’d counsel patience', says Richard Credit: Rii Schroer

Dear Mike

Well, I suppose we can agree on one thing – this is, on the whole, rather a nice problem to have! You’re 80, in love, and looking at a Christmas wedding. You’re on top of your health issues and despite entering your ninth decade, you still have – how can I put this? – lead in your pencil. So far, so pretty good!

If you were a younger man, I’d counsel patience. You have less than six months to go before the prospect of conjugal bliss and, given your fiancée’s strong views about sex before marriage, that’s hardly an eternity. But, of course, things look rather different from the perspective of advanced years.

I’ve had a chat with a doctor friend and he says that if things are working, ahem, normally, “down there”, that’s unlikely to change in a few months. But I appreciate that’s not the only thing that concerns you.

Personally I have always believed that Our Lord is a flexible and pragmatic man. I honestly cannot see Him casting your fiancée into outer darkness if she should reach an accommodation between your needs (hers too) and her beliefs. I’d be surprised if her priest or vicar wouldn’t sanction a “special arrangement” under the circumstances, unless she belongs to an unusually doctrinaire church.

You can but ask, Mike, and you should. But if she remains unwilling, uncomfortable, or unhappy, you’re just going to have to respect that and start marking off the days on the calendar.

Alternatively, bring the date forward – could her daughter fly back home for the weekend? Fingers crossed for a September song.

Richard Madeley's column is published on telegraph.co.uk every Saturday, Sunday and Monday at 11am