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Does this sound reasonable as the basis for discussions about future marriage and children?

(72 Posts)
Anna1976 Mon 01-Oct-12 00:47:26

It probably sounds a bit "clinical" but I'm trying to be clear-headed and I am a bit clinical anyway... and I have got to the "let's get married or I'm leaving" stage.

To me, these are non-negotiable:

-Either parallel careers with no children involved; or complete partnership with children, including legal committment, wills openly agreed upon, etc. Under the parallel careers option I would be pretty hurt if we didn't openly agree on finances and wills, but autonomy could be possible.

-Full economic partnership, pooling resources, unless there's a strong reason to do otherwise (eg one has debt or gambling issues).

-A declared partnership (in our case, marriage) means backing each other up, supporting each other first, presenting a united front in the face of criticism, be it from my mad family or from his family who dislike me. I have no problem with discussing things in private together, and no problem with being told I need to change my behaviour; however, I'm also capable of recognising when someone else is behaving inappropriately.

-If we have kids, this entails agreeing in advance how to do the important bits of parenting (such as what messages we send by what we praise, what behaviours we model and what behaviours we try to adjust in ourselves, what the ground rules and consequences are for behaviour, basic health and nutrition); backing each other up openly; and being consistent and transparent with boundaries, both with children, and with "participating and enthusiastic" grin grandparents.

Background -

We have been friends since undergraduate uni, together nearly 7 years, living together for 6. We are both 36, so if we are going to have kids we need to get on with it. We have recently moved from stressful, high-powered jobs in London, to sabbattical in [nameless laidback forrin country a long way from London], and for the first time in years, we have had enough sleep and can think straight enough to actually begin to discuss the future. I had a pregnancy "scare" a few weeks back and it didn't seem too scary, it actually seemed like quite a good idea (to me, before I tried to talk it through with DP). We are thinking of staying here and not returning to the UK, since we have the right to live and work here, and family are in the neighbouring laidback forrin country.

DP is a bit of a mummy and daddy's boy. This is good, in that his parents are lovely, very sensible, very high-achieving. However, it is totally clear that if he had to choose between me and his family, he would choose his family every time. His parents think I am a waste of space, partly because I don't get on well with my own narcissitic, screeching, grabby and abusive family, and partly because they don't like the fact I've "failed" at my career. They were perfectly happy with "our son's girlfriend the surgeon" but now it's out in the open I'm thinking of not going back to medicine, it's "oh our son has lots of women friends". And all DP has to say about that is "my parents aren't comfortable with your decisions and don't want to be drawn in and forced to take sides in your problems with your parents".

Our discussion of the future yesterday did not go brilliantly. He basically said that his attraction to me is either as a high-powered autonomous career person (in a career that i want to give up because I hate it - and have currently dropped out of), or as the mother of his children. He is not interested in marrying me or economically supporting me, as anything other than the mother of his children. He doesn't want to marry my "issues" with depression, my abhorrent family, my career midlife crisis, and all that's apparently what has stopped him from proposing in the past.

I said I wasn't totally averse to having kids - he said he would absolutely love to have kids. I asked what he thought having children would involve, tried to make it clear the right answer is "support each other through thick and thin, total partnership, backing each other up in adversity". I asked how he would respond if I got postnatal depression, we had financial problems, if the hypothetical baby had problems. He didn't answer.

So basically, he wants the good bits - my economic independence, my autonomy via my career, and my ability to carry and bring up his children, on my own. But he doesn't want to support me, only his own hypothetical children. And from what I've seen with our extended families and kids of friends, at every turn, he wants to be able to choose whether to play with the kids, or do his own work - he backs out of anything other than playing. At the moment, he is not bad re housework - he doesn't show initiative but does it if told what to do. He is fine with being told what to do. However, he would need initiative if there were children involved, and I've never seen him display initiative with respect to anything outside his work.

I don't think this is a good start to marriage and children, and am considering trying to set ground rules - which will be the basis for me leaving the relationship, within the next 6 months, if they are not adopted.

Is this too harsh? (sorry it's so long)

BexFactor Mon 01-Oct-12 00:53:23

Crikey, I don't have any answers for you but I'm interested in hearing what others have to say smile

Anna1976 Mon 01-Oct-12 00:57:53

Thanks Bex. I saw your thread and decided to write down what I was thinking. Hope things work out for you. smile

Tryharder Mon 01-Oct-12 01:19:20

I would struggle with him not wanting to marry you or support you. Do you think he loves you?

SomeoneThatYouUsedToKnow Mon 01-Oct-12 01:26:10

Gosh, that all sounds very complicated. Have you thought about seeing a relationship councillor.

I think you may be over thinking some things such as discussing how to raise DC's, my DH and I made it up as we went along.

I hope you get some better advice. Good luck.

Anna1976 Mon 01-Oct-12 01:41:08

Tryharder - yes, that's what I'm struggling with. He hasn't responded in years when I've told him I love him. He is affectionate and kind, but it's difficult not to notice, when someone stops saying "I love you" and stops reciprocating it out loud and just responds with silence and a pat on the head or something. I was in tears before I had the courage to raise that yesterday, so I"ve never had the guts to tell him I've noticed. sad

Dryjuice25 Mon 01-Oct-12 01:41:44

It really does sound clinical but I admire the fact that you have laid your stall.

He does sound very self centred and scared to commit. My predictions is since he lacks initiative to such extent, you will find yourself doing the lions share of bringing up the dcs if you go on to have them. Also I don't get the feeling that you really love each other's coming across more like a business transaction tbh. Good luck though

solidgoldbrass Mon 01-Oct-12 01:42:37

It sounds to me like he thinks you are a Will Do For Now partner and he might dawdle into marrying you if you push it, but then feel entitled to dump you or shag around because you've 'changed' and it was you who wanted to get married and have kids...

ChaoticismyLife Mon 01-Oct-12 01:56:19

I'm trying to work out why you want to marry him.

You are not his partner.

You are just a woman. A woman who may or may not give him children. You fill his lonely existence. You are replaceable.

Any man who said he would never support me and didnt want to have to deal with my health issues would be out of my life yesterday, nevermind in 6 months.

Please dont put yourself through this anymore.

MiniMonty Mon 01-Oct-12 02:01:32

Answer 1:
Sounds like he needs breast feeding and will drown when you vanish. See the light, get back to Blighty, marry a Fireman, have loads of sex, a job you like and some kids. Life's too short. smile

When you started I though "clinical weirdo" but having read through to the end I think you are right to think seriously about 'what next' given the circumstances. The story you don't give us is your "failed career". Did you kill someone during an angiogram? Are you just bored with the NHS? Could a spell with Medicine Sans Frontieres rekindle your passion for medicine? Or have you discovered you were born to be a lady who lunches? Seriously, do tell... And what happened between "friends at uni" and together 7 years (now 36)? Ten years of other stuff right? So neither of you are amateurs or beginners.

Blokey sounds a bit two dimensional and shallow the way you describe him and a bit addicted to his parents but, as you're living abroad together, surely you know the highs and lows of him by now to know whether he can be trusted to come through in a crisis, stand by you in a conflict or carry you home if you lose it in a bar one night? You also make him sound very self centered and almost emotionally brutal but if that's so why are you still there after seven years? He must have some redeeming features...

At 36 you know already that you can't "crystal ball" anyone or anything and you know (having seen a few friends I'm sure) that marriage is a leap of faith that once entered into must be worked at by both parties to succeed. If you think he can love and adore you as a yummy mummy and you are happy with the role it sounds like you could pull it off - but I don't hear much passion in any of this... At 36 I wouldn't expect you to be a goggle eyed teenage dreamer - but a bit of "and actually I love him" would reassure me that you have a future with the possibility of at least some fireworks in it.

Having said that, if he doesn't want to marry your "issues" does he expect you to magically leave them at the door of the church?
Are his family really that big a deal - does he feel under pressure from them to deliver a trophy wife?

You could try a few googlies (that's English for curved ball) and see how they go down... i.e. create some semi-fake scenarios and see how he reacts:
1) I want to go to Guatemala for a couple of years to work with the Red Cross - are you coming?
2) I want to throw it all in, sell everything we own and buy a tiny vineyard in the South of France and make a go of it - are you coming?
3) I'll become anything you really and honestly want me to - what is it?
4) [ you can easily make up ten more of these on your own, you get the idea]

On balance it sounds like he enjoyed your box ticking abilities when you were a surgeon, a "high-powered autonomous career person" and would consider you as a suitable baby machine but I can't help but feel that after sprog number one actually arrives you'll be spending long nights alone and then finding receipts you don't like the look of in his wallet. Because you'll be looking in his wallet after long nights alone... [This is based on YOUR description of him by the way so if there is anything else we ought to know then say it quick...]

By the way, planning on how you're going to bring up your kids is a bit like planning how you'll behave in a shit storm emergency you've never heard of AND predicting the end of a Korean art film. i.e. total waste of time and impossible to do. Don't plan on having that in your plan.

cheesestrung Mon 01-Oct-12 02:03:08

i dont think you'd feel as you do if you really loved him..
you would feel loved back.. do you feel loved at all?
Having a child would be recipe for disaster, with him being unsupportive and you prone to depression i think it could result in PND.
go with your gut, you don't think it is a good basis.. it isn't

Anna1976 Mon 01-Oct-12 02:04:16

SGB: yes - completely - that's why I was trying to have this discussion and get things clear before we got much further.

blackcurrants Mon 01-Oct-12 02:05:10

rrrrriiiight so he wants kids but doesn't want to do the shit bits?


Or, at the very least, don't have kids with him. Have a laugh with him, and then find a real partner (in the sense of 'real partners are always, always, always on your side when it's You Vs World') to have kids with.

Trust me, there are a lot of shits bits with young children (don't know about older yet). Love having DS but god he's 2 and he's good at it. It's 9pm here and DH is still trying to wrestle him to bed/sleep, while DS screams for mummy (I can't go in, pregnant, knackered back - plus when I go in he screams for daddy...) it's shit sometimes. And a sense of humour and supportive partner are sometimes all that keeps you sane. Don't do this with him. You need someone willing to love you with SPD, PND, no sex life, no sleep, looking minging, no conversation, always complaining ... you need someone to love you because of that/ despite it.

And frankly, it doesn't sound much like he loves you now. The stuff about chosing/backing his family over you and colluding with their poor treatment of you?

He's not supportive. He's basically auditioning to be some kid's fun uncle. Don't do that to your kids -they deserve a real dad, not a disney dad.

ChasedByBees Mon 01-Oct-12 02:07:06

Marriage is meant to be 'for better or worse' and you should go into that willingly. For example, I would support my DH if he wanted to change careers because I love him and want him to be happy. I put him first above all others (before DD came along anyway). He would do the same for me too.

Children will hugely alter a relationship dynamic and you need to be fairly solid before this (and not resent the interdepency that comes with being a family). I wouldn't trust that your DP could do that based on what you've said.

I don't think this sounds that positive OP.

justbogoffnow Mon 01-Oct-12 02:08:04

I'm with Chaotic here. I think your sabbatical should include a sabbatical from this relationship, leave, see how you feel in 6 months (during that time, if there's a point where you feel like going on a date, then go for it). TBH, that's a roundabout way of me saying get out of what doesn't sound like a particularly relaxed, generally happy relationship.

ChasedByBees Mon 01-Oct-12 02:10:34

Interdependence even

Anna1976 Mon 01-Oct-12 02:16:42

Minimonty: the baby discussion was the first big googly I've thrown. I'd always been fairly adamant that I wanted a career instead.

The failed career is not a spectacular Dr-Death scenario, just realising I can't take the pressure any more. I have worked myself into the ground since the beginning of uni to pass exams, supervise students, lecture, get research grants, do research, publish, AND have a clinical career as well - but for the last few years I was hating every second of all of it, and permanently on edge in a clinical setting, going off to cry in the toilets at the end of a shift because I couldn't handle all the death and destruction and unhappy people. I wasn't finding any of it interesting any more, I didn't like telling my students stuff any more, I was too bored to keep up with the literature or write up my own research and didn't care when I failed ot get a research grant... i recognised that I was completely burnt out.

DP seems to think the appropriate response is "you've changed, I liked you better before". Well, no sh*t, I liked me better before too...

i like the Korean art film analogy. I do realise it's impossible to predict anything, but agreeing in advance that you think XYZ, is perhaps better than flailing wildly after the shitstorm has hit... it gives you the illusion you're still acting responsibly...

Cheesestrung: I can no longer tell, and I think that is significant.

MiniMonty Mon 01-Oct-12 02:17:17

I wrote an essay in response to that essay - and you all just bash in with double fast three liners. I geddit now. Read it, bang off a quick knee jerker and move on to the next bit of well thought through advice... In three lines.

solidgoldbrass Mon 01-Oct-12 02:19:22

Look, I know that you are 36 because you said so, and you are probably feeling that panicky desperation of wanting kids before your ovaries shut down. But I think that you have probably been feeling that way for a year or so and the only reason you haven't dumped this man is because you can't face 'starting again'. So what you are doing is trying everything you can think of to turn what sounds like a fairly selfish, useless bellend into the perfect husband and father.

It can't be done. Stop wearing yourself out trying. You don't have to have a couple-relationship to have kids, if kids is what you want more than anything else. There are sperm donors and/or fostering/adoption - or getting impregnated by someone who also wants kids and has no suitable partner - or just getting impregnated by some random.

Or, by leaving this bloke you give yourself more of a chance of meeting one who is both good partner material for you and who wants kids as well. BTW, while a woman's fertility declines as she gets older, it doesn't stop dead on your 37th birthday. I had my DS at 39 and he was an unplanned big surprise.

Anna1976 Mon 01-Oct-12 02:20:41

Blackcurrants, Chasedbybees & justbogoffnow - I think I agree here.

I am quite frightened of chucking away what could be so utterly brilliant if we could just get some stuff straightened out. I don't really have any model for successful happy relationships. From spending far too much time on Mumsnet i am beginning to realise that this is unlikely to change and isn't good enough.

justbogoffnow Mon 01-Oct-12 02:21:20

Can't do essays anymore - arthritic fingers = ouch!

Anna1976 Mon 01-Oct-12 02:23:32

SGB - crosspost - your assessment is astute.

Minimonty - thanks for your essay - I loved it.

cheesestrung Mon 01-Oct-12 02:26:04

would you consider some relate sessions together to make things clearer? there is a relate book "before you say you do" which might help you clarify how you feel about this man

cheesestrung Mon 01-Oct-12 02:26:55

sorry its late... "before you say I do"

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