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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)

Anna1976 Mon 08-Oct-12 05:21:07

Thanks blackcurrants smile. Have been having lots of discussions here. It is all a bit tough, and very very emotionally and metally draining, but if the worst case scenario is moving on, then life can't be that bad.

blackcurrants Thu 04-Oct-12 17:45:56

Anna (not stalking you!) I saw this today (watching the 'half the sky' documentary) and thought of you. Stuff like this always makes me wish I had medical training smile

hope you're doing okay. It's tough working out where to start when you've made big decisions, sometimes. Take care of yourself.

blackcurrants Tue 02-Oct-12 00:44:43

The Himalaya are very, very beautiful, Anna - I think you should go take a look at 'em smile

bugslife Tue 02-Oct-12 00:07:12

It shouldn't be this hard, surely? What does your gut say, think about the future with him not in it, how does that make you feel? A man should be a benefit to your life, not a endless list of complications. He's just too much hard work.

Anna1976 Mon 01-Oct-12 23:51:30

Ok - thanks everyone.

I failed on discussing it or even drinking wine last night.

Will try to have further discussion tonight and work out where to go from here.

OrangeImperialGoldBlether - I wouldn't stay with someone who doesn't feel it. With someone who can't say it, I'd want to work out (with them) why not.
Here I am not sure I will get the chance.

Alibaba - no I think you may have conflated me with someone else? but your main point is the relevant one.

Blackcurrants (and others): next stop the Himalaya, I think. Once i sort things out a bit.

OrangeImperialGoldBlether Mon 01-Oct-12 23:00:11

I wouldn't stay with any man who, when I said I loved him, didn't say it back. Either he doesn't feel it or he can't say it - either way I wouldn't be interested.

I'd love to see you go off and have an adventure. You know those savings he wants you to spend on bills while you look after his baby? Why not take a year off and do something really exciting? Leave medicine for a year. You've spent all of your life slogging away, you haven't had the chance to make friends and have fun.

Oh and tell him before you go that he hasn't lived up to your expectations, so you're afraid you'll have to end it.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Mon 01-Oct-12 22:48:06

Anna - forgive me if I have you mixed up with someone else, but isn't this guy your 'if we get to XX age and we aren't married then we'll marry each other' bloke?

Don't do it, really don't.

Do something that will make you happy. You are right that if you want to be a mother then time is somewhat pressing, but you don't need a man to have a baby.

AbigailAdams Mon 01-Oct-12 22:36:50

Anna I agree with blackcurrants and charlearose. You sound like you have so much potential. This is man is wasting your time for his own selfish needs. How dare he! And how dare he want everything on his terms or not at all. He sounds incredibly selfish and incredibly selfish people do not make good partners or parents.

olgaga Mon 01-Oct-12 22:19:22

Anna, don't waste your life on something which "could be so utterly brilliant".

After 6 years of living together, if it isn't brilliant by now, it's not going to be - and no amount of trying will make it so.

I hate to say this, but he doesn't sound remotely committed to you. It doesn't even sound as though he loves you. It sounds as though he's waiting for something better to come along.

itsaruddygame Mon 01-Oct-12 20:39:06

He sounds like a spoilt, selfish brat. You deserve somebody that loves you for who you are not what you do and having children with somebody so unsupportive would be a recipe for a miserable life IMO.

PebblePots Mon 01-Oct-12 15:38:49

Crikey, sounds dreadful, I think you should not persue this relationship in any way. I can't see it ending well.

JollyJumper Mon 01-Oct-12 14:00:00

My DP had no clue what type of father he was going to be before DS arrived, all he knew is that he didn't want to be a dad and look at him now, he gets excited just by seeing the new playground!
I'm sure the opposite is true and some well meaning DH promised to be hands on and flaked at the first opportunity .
Those things are difficult to predict imho. Just as you won't know what type of mother you'll be , it's very difficult to predict what type of father your OH will be.
I saw on an american website a "parenting test" which I thought was brilliant.

naturalbaby Mon 01-Oct-12 13:54:14

It all seems very complicated, with a lot of conditions attached on both sides.

For me (luckily) it was the simple fact that me and DH want(ed) to spend the rest of our lives together.
My only condition was to support each other and stick together (assuming we were still in love) no matter what the circumstances. We have done so far through many unexpected things including redundency, depression and unplanned pregnancy which were all major threats to our marriage.

You can't plan your futures with such precision - I would never in a million years have preticted the emotional lows we have been through in the first few years of our marriage. I was aware they happen but was pretty sure they would never happen to us and they were fairly mild events compared to what other couples go through.

Apocalypto Mon 01-Oct-12 13:50:56

It took you to the middle of page 2 to say you loved him.

That seems a long way down in the mix.

charlearose Mon 01-Oct-12 13:42:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

charlearose Mon 01-Oct-12 13:36:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

blackcurrants Mon 01-Oct-12 12:36:04

I wanted to come back to this Anna and say I'm sorry if I was a bit brusque last night (toddler bedtime misery for all! Waheey!).
We're about the same ages and I've just done a massive career switch (8 year PhD + training, moved to America to accomplish it, realise I don't want to continue in academia for most of the 'no life' reasons you mention - or, at least, 'no life that *I want*) - and having a supportive partner (financially yes, but mainly emotionally) has been vital to me. So Kudos and brava! for doing that kind of thing with someone who sounds very disengaged.

You've got some really sound advice on this thread, I think the need to (1) get a life and (2) do something you love - is starting to shine through. There's so much you could do (and love!) in medicine that isn't surgery (bucolic GP, de-worming orphans in Haiti, saving legs in Afghanistan, the sky really is the limit) with a period of training/adjustment, and actually be happy.

I think you need a gap year. Move out, put your things in UK storage, and go somewhere amazing and be their locum GP. Go de-worm orphans in Bangladesh. Go and save abandoned girl babies in India. Go and delivery babies in Malawi. Go and feel like part of a community, a valued part of a community, for a bit, and see if you re-kindle your love/liking for practicing (a different kind of) medicine.

Go and do something just because you want to.

Also second what SGB said: your fertility may start to decline after 35 but it doesn't flip off like a switch. After being sure I'd be infertile (undetected std for years, late starting) I've found conceiving as easy as sneezing, both times. Not saying that's the case for everyone, but some couples do NOT struggle at any time. Cousin just had surprise twins at 45! Give yourself a year to go somewhere interesting, do something different, and get your head together. Come back to Blighty from the jungles of darkest Peru, and start a job you like. Then sit down and think: alright, do I want to have a baby on my own (hard but entirely possible) or am I ready to do the dating thing? A change of scene, a bit of time, and possibly a bit of therapy about your horrible family and how you ended up in a one-sided relationship with quite a cold person ... might be the making of you!

Can you tell I love mini's postcards idea? Good luck to you, Anna, you sound like a fab person and I suspect someone who's going to get her groove on and be very happy, perhaps sooner than you imagine.

margerykemp Mon 01-Oct-12 11:18:18

Your 'relationship' is in this state and you are actually considering continuing with it?

You know you need to leave him. Don't waste another 6 months.

Dahlen Mon 01-Oct-12 11:08:35

Honestly? I'd call it off. Read your last two paragraphs again. That says everything you need to know. He doesn't love you - he loves the idea of the 'perfect' you that he's created in his own little fantasy world in which everyone is a perfect foil to his own perfect life. Rather like his parents by the sounds of it. How could you ever feel secure with a man who only loves you when you are on top of your game?

birdofthenorth Mon 01-Oct-12 09:47:04

Some random thoughts:

His parents seem like vile snobs.

He seems honest but frankly, odd. What if you get married on the basis of him supporting you as a mother but children are not forthcoming? Will he then require you to return to surgery and live seperate financial lives? I have to say, DH and I merged our finances the second we moved in together and it has always worked well for us (I supported him through retraining, he supports me now we havedc and I am part-time in a less well-paid but rewarding job). Conversely my friend's marriage just fell apart due to a lot of issues one of which was her refusal to merge funds fully (she has inherited wealth and a low income, he had no capital but a higher income but occasional debts due to aspirant tastes in cars etc) -it caused a lot of resentment and stress. I cannot imagine talking to DC about Mummy's money and Daddy's money. It is our money, and we make much sounder decisions together.

Equally your DP's evident lack of support for any depression you have experienced is really pretty shitty. I do understand living with a depressed person is far from easy. But if you love that person unconditionally, you would not use it a reason not to marry them. DP has supported me through a period of depression. I have supported him through periods of stress when he was not great to live with (though not suffering mental ill-health as such). It can happen to any of us at any time, and your partner's loving support is vital to a quick recovery.

Finally, I would not wait 6 months hoping for his attitude to change. If you want to marry him as he is and under the terms he has indicated, do it. If you love him, and he loves you, some of the issues you have identified my work themselves out to both your satisfactions during the course of a marriage. If you don't want to marry him given his current expectations of what that would entail, don't waste your life. I hate to stress the tick tock body clock case, but trust me, the more straight forward your attempts to start a family, the less emotional trauma you will experience. You will know the stats from your medical background. You may not know the emotional/ marital impact so fully.

Good luck.

plantsitter Mon 01-Oct-12 09:29:42

I'm going to throw in a word of caution from a different perspective.

All the above is brilliant advice. What you haven't said much about is your own 'narcissitic, screeching, grabby and abusive family'.

As the survivor of a pretty chaotic and turbulent family (whom I must say I love dearly), make sure you are not ruling yourself out of a marriage and family because you are 1) not the kind of person who HAS a marriage and family and 2) you are undeserving of it. You're not projecting your own feelings on to him, are you?

I would examine my feelings and his actual behaviour and actual words and make sure that he really is being the cock-end you describe. It is possible you are sabotaging yourself. A big change of career etc is bound to affect your self esteem. I think it's sometimes easy for people from chaotic backgrounds to project the behaviour of their own feckless relatives onto other people.

If, on reflection, he really is the cock-end you're describing, take all the advice above (I'm writing postcards to myself as I type). And good luck.

Corygal Mon 01-Oct-12 09:17:40

I'm not surprised you've taken a break from being a surgeon. It's knackering, terrifying, and a relentless adrenalin-athon - well done on slipping away and taking control. I'm impressed.

I don't like the sound of your DP's using your troubles, which are neither uncommon nor embarrassing, against you. He sounds like a spoilt boy toddler, and he could well be, by the sounds of his parents. He wants a Barbie. You may want him but you don't need him at all.

marshmallowpies Mon 01-Oct-12 09:13:41

Anna the thing that kept me going at the time was thinking 'well at least one of us is following our dream' and I was so proud of him for giving up his previously well-paid career to do something he really wanted to do (and also that might benefit humanity in the long run, as he might find a cure for a disease or something). But in all that pie-in-the-sky business there was nothing there for me, other than being his loyal partner and supporter.

Someone said to me, not long after we broke up, 'you ought to be in a relationship with someone where you aren't the junior partner, always the person in the background' and that turned out to be a very wise & accurate epitaph for that relationship.

Corygal Mon 01-Oct-12 09:09:53

You want something that isn't going to happen if you stay with him.

It can only happen if you leave.

Anna1976 Mon 01-Oct-12 08:58:43

marshmallowpies- that's sad, and sadly very, very common in academia. Yes - there is a strong danger of that happening here.

He's out tonight. I was feeling too ill and unhappy to go with him - it will probably be taken as further evidence of my social inadequacy.

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