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How to talk to Dp about the future? Long!

(38 Posts)
FrustratedNovelist Mon 10-Dec-12 11:37:07

Hi all, I'm a long time lurker, I've never posted on relationships before.

My issue is really minor compared with some of the stories on here, so apologies for triviality! Having said that, this is really making me quite anxious.

Some background so as not to drip feed: I'm 30, so is my DP. We've been together for 3 and a half years, and living together for 2 and a half. My DP is not from the UK. He relocated here to be with me, leaving his mother, a single parent to him, back in his home country, to much guilt on his part and much sadness on hers. He is an only child. (Not sure how much the mother stuff is relevant here but might have some bearing on the problem? Not sure.)

My DP tells me he loves me, treats me well and makes me very happy. But we never really talk about the future. Except occasionally when we argue/have issues, and then it is in very vague terms.

For example, he always flies home for his birthday. He insists it is impossible not to. I would have loved to have spent his 30th with him, but we couldn't afford the flights for both of us, so just he went. I asked him, what about when we have a family, won't you want to spend significant days with them? And he got really stressed out, said how much pressure he is under being "split between" me and his mother, and we got onto Christmas, and he said maybe if we had children some years I would stay in the UK with them and he'd go to his Mum's. (This really upset me, perhaps unreasonably?) Anyway we only discuss marriage and children in these terms, in a VERY vague "maybe if, one day, waaaaaay in the future" kind of way. And his solutions to the issues of how to be a good son and have a family too are always ones which make me worried, it's hard to articulate but its as though he'd always think of us as not his "real" family because his real family is his mother.

I am getting to the point where I really want to get married and have a family. People around us who have been together much less time than us are getting engaged. I am really anxious that it is never going to happen. I have been happy to live together and coast along these last couple of years without really talking about it, but now I am 30 I feel like I need to know that he wants what I want. I know marriage isn't necessary, and I always thought it didn't matter, but have realised it is important to me.

My question is: how do I begin this conversation, and should I even say anything? I spoke to my DSIL, and she just said that it is sad and unromantic, and if he asks me to marry him after I've brought it up it will only be because I put pressure on him. I feel that is silly really, and it is only fair to be honest with him that my feelings are changing, ie I am no longer comfortable with living together and being boyfriend and girlfriend, and want more commitment. I also want to have a real conversation about how our family life will work in balance with his obligations to his mother. What should I say? Or am I wrong to bring it up at all?

Any advice? Thanks if you made it to the end- sorry for the epic!

squeakytoy Mon 10-Dec-12 11:48:39

How old is his mother? Is it not a possibility that she could come over to visit rather than him always go there?

janelikesjam Mon 10-Dec-12 11:53:09

If he's squirming around on these subjects, it doesn't sound promising anyways.

It also sounds like you are walking around on eggshells now.

IMO the best thing to do is to take the bull by the horns and have a full and frank discussion with him about where he sees the future with you. Don't get railroaded by him saying he's "stressed out" talking about it, or fob you off with vague generalities and 'maybes.

Maintain eye contact and keep going! Then you will have your answer.

FrustratedNovelist Mon 10-Dec-12 11:58:05

Hi squeaky, thanks for your response.

She's in her 50s. She doesn't have a passport and has never left her home country. I do think that in the future she might be persuaded to, though (I met her and we talked about for eg her coming to the UK for Christmas one year, again in a very vague "one day way in the future" way.) I really like his Mum, and do feel sorry that she is lonely. I want to be fair to her but at the same time I do feel sad that I never spent Christmas or birthdays with my DP, ever.

FrustratedNovelist Mon 10-Dec-12 11:58:33

*for example!

FrustratedNovelist Mon 10-Dec-12 12:01:42

Sorry janelikesjam missed your post! Thanks for your reply.

That's pretty much how I feel, yes, that I have to be brave and just have a really honest conversation. It is really out of the comfort zone of our relationship. But I want that to change, I want to be with someone I can discuss the future with.

Rooble Mon 10-Dec-12 12:15:35

As Jane said, you need to take the bull by the horns. My aunt was in similar situation (actually far simpler), and when they were 30 she sat her DP down and explained to him: I want to have a family, I want to be married to the father of my children. I'm 30 years old and realistically only have 10 years left in which to achieve these two goals. If you don't want to have children or to be married you need to tell me so now - it really wouldn't be reasonable of me to "surprise" you with a baby; equally it would be unfair of you to string me along if we do not have shared goals.
I think she gave him a bit of thinking time (this is all 25 years ago).
At the time I couldn't believe how courageous she was, but in hindsight (and thinking of others I've known who've chosen instead to go with flow and ended up childless and disappointed aged 40-odd), it really was the most sensible thing to do.
However: please don't marry him just because you're 30 and everyone else is doing it. People are still marriageable well beyond 30. You need to be sure you are right for each other. Him being away every birthday and Christmas would be a deal breaker for some, and something to work around for others. It's individual. The thing I would be concerned about is, if he feels this degree of responsibility when she is in her fifties, how will he/would you as a couple manage her care in old age?
One other thing: would it be out of the question to move to his home country?
Good luck with it all!

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Mon 10-Dec-12 12:42:38

I don't think it's unreasonable to initiate the conversation about marraige. It's 2012 and women aren't expected to sit about waiting for a proposal any more.... But, as others have said, don't just think that because you've hit 30, the music has stopped and he's the one sitting in the chair, you have to marry him. Make sure he's someone you can see yourself spending your life with first... then ask him to marry you.

FrustratedNovelist Mon 10-Dec-12 12:56:36

Thanks Roobie and Cogito <lurker starstruck at getting a Cogito post!>

I do really want to marry my DP in particular, and spend my life with him, rather than just "get married." I feel like our relationship status doesn't reflect what we are to one another, IYSWIM. I feel like we are family, not just boyfriend and girlfriend. But, it's true if he doesn't want to marry me,or have children with me, I don't think loving him will be enough and I would want to try to find those things with another person. sad

Having said that, I suppose my concerns about the future like, as Roobie says, how we will manage our responsibility for his mother as a couple, are really things I need to sort out, as I don't want to not have all cards on the table before we get married. If, for example, for him eventually it's a no-compromise on eventually moving back to his home country, then I need to know so that I can decide whether that's something I can do. (I'd be happy to live there for a couple of years, but just don't know about emigrating permanently- bringing up children there, too.)

Sorry, blathering on just trying to get things straight in my head. I'm glad you all think I should say something- I didn't really think my DSIL had the right idea!

Off to put in a shift at work now, so not ignoring anyone. Thank you so much for all your replies. I will talk to my DP tonight and try not to be wimp.

FrustratedNovelist Mon 10-Dec-12 12:57:48

a wimp, sorry for typos!

SleighbellsRingInYourLife Mon 10-Dec-12 13:00:40

"It's 2012 and women aren't expected to sit about waiting for a proposal any more..."

You'd think, wouldn't you?

And yet a surprising number of women seem to believe that if you raise the subject with a man you are "pressuring" him and that even if he agrees to marry you it won't be done willingly.

FrustratedNovelist Mon 10-Dec-12 21:15:41

I tried to talk to him about all of this tonight. It seems like it is IMPOSSIBLE for us to talk about the future without it turning into a tearful anguished mess.

It started really calmly with me (borrowing from Roobie's aunt) saying that I really wanted to have a baby and get married, and asking if we wanted the same things. I said we had been together for over three years, we live together, we should be able to talk about the future, I wanted to know where I stood.

He replied he loves me and wants a family too, but we have to wait, because we are poor (this is true) and he doesn't want my parents to pay for the wedding, and wants to support a child. Although this wasn't what I wanted to hear, I get that it is sensible and responsible. I asked if not now, then when, and he said at least another three years, maybe longer. In three years he will have his PHD.

As I was absorbing this, he went on to say:

-he is worried I will "change the goalposts" once we get married (for example, say I will move country and then go back on it)
-he is worried I will never want to live in his home country and he will be trapped here
-he is worried I will insist on always seeing my family more than his Mum
-he is worried we will get divorced and he will be stuck here away from his Mum because we might have a child.

I pointed out that except for finances they all sound like reasons he doesn't want to marry me full stop. None of these issues will magically be resolved just through time. He got upset, said "whatever I say is wrong, it will never be enough" blah blah.

This is always the point I backtrack, say sorry and we go back to normal. This time I cried, said I supposed I had my answer, and that if he was honest, we didn't want the same things.

He then said:

-he is pissed off I always threaten to dump him if things don't go my way
-he was going to propose last year but after he lost his job he couldn't
-he wants me to be his wife and the mother of his children
-he will not consider proposing until after his phd finishes (another three years)
-he apologised for everything he'd said that had made me cry, and said he loves me and DOES want to marry me.

I am EXHAUSTED. I am upset, he is upset, and I am no closer to knowing which is the real answer. Why are we so bad at communicating?!

He's asking me to wait for three years, but what if at the end of that I'm left with nothing? Did I just panic him and put him on the spot? Or is he just being sensible and being honest about the problems we might have? (I tried to tell him I wanted to talk about where we would live, compromise, etc. That I am not planning to change goalposts or be cruel to his mum.)

Oh god this is soooooooo long, sorry blush

sarahseashell Mon 10-Dec-12 21:29:25

sorry to be extremely cynical but is he just staying in the UK to do his phd? are you supporting him financially through this?

I think you are wise to decide at this stage whether or not it's likely to work out long term, and not just drift along. If not, you're giving yourself time to meet someone else, get married and have kids, which it sounds like is what you want?

I suppose one question is, in the long term does he want to return to his home country and if so do you want to go and live there

mummytime Mon 10-Dec-12 21:32:03

I think you had your answer, but he doesn't want to let you go yet. Don't threaten just work out the practicalities and part, anything else doesn't seem fair on either of you.

Do you want to live in his country?
Do you want to see more of his mother than your own?
If you divorced would you want to be "trapped" in his country?

dequoisagitil Mon 10-Dec-12 21:42:42

So basically he wants to do his PhD and then move back to his home country? This is what I get from the first set of points that he made to you. I don't think, from what he said there, that long-term he wants to live in the UK.

Think about life in another country, knowing just him & his mother. You being trapped there - what would be the ramifications legally if you had children, you were homesick & miserable and wanted to come back? Would you be allowed to bring the dc back with you if it came to a split? Are there big cultural differences in how women are treated in his country? Would you be able to have a career? What are your opportunities for yourself, other than wife/mother, in his country?

Sometimes love isn't enough. You do need to be on the same page, and if there are vast differences in what you want, it can't work.

ErikNorseman Mon 10-Dec-12 22:19:08

he is worried I will never want to live in his home country and he will be trapped here

Do you want to live in his country ever? This was one of the things that did for my H and me. I had vaguely agreed to maybe considering it in the future, then we had DS and I realised I couldn't. Now we are separated but he's still 'trapped' due to DS - He doesn't resent that but it's definitely not what he would have chosen for himself. My advice is that you need to talk, talk and talk more about your expectations, and if they don't match, give it up. Different expectations can kill a relationship.

ISayHolmes Mon 10-Dec-12 22:29:19

I don't know OP, he's making it sound like it'll you'll be 33 minimum before he'll even consider starting a family. What if it's longer? 34, 35, what if he then changes his mind at that point?

I'd be worried about hanging around and wasting years of fertility (and geez, I never say things like that) hoping for a life that might not ever come.

FrustratedNovelist Mon 10-Dec-12 22:29:56

Thanks for your replies.

I'm not funding his phd, no- he has funding from the university. He says he doesn't know if we will live in the UK or in his country, but he assumed I would want to live here. I said I just didn't know if I could emigrate permanently, but that we could live there for a few years, and maybe forever if I could afford to come back to visit my own parents. So we are both guilty of vagueness/selfishness in that way- wanting to be in our own country and not really making a decision.

My work is something I can do from home and anywhere. His country is English speaking and there are no issues about how women are treated etc. I know I would be happier in the UK, but I also know we will both have to make sacrifices to be together and mine may have to be not living here, which I love despite the horrible weather and everything!

I'm slowly realising that yes, love isn't really enough. I keep imagining watching everyone around us move on to the next stage of their lives and us being stuck in this limbo. I don't want to be stupid. But I also really don't want to lose him. Perhaps I just need to accept that my life won't look how I thought it would? I've always said the "compromise" mantra without really living it. Maybe my DP's concerns are fair- since we live here already I guess I had assumed we might stay (since he has a life here, and I don't have one over there) and find a way for regular visits to his Mum or for her to come and live with us. It seems like he would resent this though.

Thanks to all of you who have posted, I really appreciate it.

FrustratedNovelist Mon 10-Dec-12 22:36:56

That's my fear too ISayHolmes sad

I also fear the situation you've described Erik.

Shit. I can't believe I thought I had it all figured out, been such a smug loved up dick for ages, since I met him really. I've just been head over heels and thought it would all magically work out. hmm

dequoisagitil Mon 10-Dec-12 22:45:03

Tbh, I don't think you have trouble communicating as a couple, I think you just don't want to hear each other's answers - because they don't meet and that likely means an ending.

SleighbellsRingInYourLife Mon 10-Dec-12 22:45:41

I agree with ISay.

What he's asking in terms of waiting 3 years before considering starting a family is not fair.

You are 30 now.

Geography isn't your only problem here, time is.

GoldQuintessenceAndMyhrr Mon 10-Dec-12 22:51:03

I feel for you.

I met my husband in Britain. He is Polish, I am Norwegian. In the beginning we said it is fair to live in the country where we met, as anything else would be difficult for the other.

Nationality, culture and homeland did not mean so much then.

We married, we had children, my parents became old and disabled, my mum who was my dads carer developed alzheimers, and we moved to Norway.

My husband was not really happy. Life was tough. He did not quite understand the culture, neither the language, so he embarked on courses. He found it hard to adapt to life there. I was happy, but very aware of is unhappiness. For a million reasons we returned to London.

Now neither of us are happy, and to be honest, it has got to affect the kids one way or the other.

Love is not enough to make life happy. If I could turn the clock back, I dont even know how far? To before met him? To before we uprooted and went to Norway? To before we returned to Britain? When did happiness end? But more importantly, what can we do to return to happiness?

For you, it is relatively easy. You are young. You dont have children. You live in the country you love and want to be in. This is important too. Much as you love him, this man upsets your balance. This man, with all his uncertainties are not making you happy.

My husband and I were happy before we upset the status quo by moving to my home country, and then back again. You guys, you are not even happy now, so what is there to build upon?

ISayHolmes Mon 10-Dec-12 22:54:34

That's got to be one of the best pieces of advice I've ever seen on here, Gold. Nail on the head.

BranchingOut Mon 10-Dec-12 22:55:50

I think the only way this is going to work, and I speak from experience, is if you incorporate his mum into your shared life in a meaningful way, but in a way that you feel comfortable with.

My DH used to speak the same way (only child of a single mum). It was all about the angst and trekking back home to see her without me. Guess who now sleeps in our spare room every week, adores her grandchild, is hugely supportive of us and spends much more time talking to me than to her own son when she visits! grin

I think that you need to speak seriously to her about getting a passport and coming over. If she isn't willing or able to come over and he feels constantly constrained to go over there, then family life just isn't going to be workable. For one thing, you might not be able to afford the flights.

ZenNudist Mon 10-Dec-12 23:27:54

It's horrible facing up to something like this. It's easy to say 'separate' when it's not you. It's nigh impossible to split when you love each other and want to be together, but you don't want the sand things. I think you managed a proper honest chat. Well done for being so brave. 3 years is too long to wait. What are you supposed to hit 33 and magically get married and pregnant immediately? He is using finances as an excuse. Ifs not money it's loyalty to his 'real' home and family. A friend of mine lived in the US for 10 years and despite being a sweet lad could never commit to any girl in case he 'got stuck'. It's a reasonable thing to feel. For you it sounds as if you might be willing to compromise on where to live but there is more at stake about thoughts on timing of children. I'd give it up and move on. Like you say, friends of yours have known each other less time than 3 years and got together and engaged. The same can happen for you. Break up now. You can still walk away with respect and love for each other. Rather than bring you both bitterness and resentment. sad

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