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Where do we go from here?

(11 Posts)
Sandie79 Fri 17-May-13 19:53:40

Afraid this will be long, but I'll try to keep it as short as I can.

I met DP when I was 19 and fell completely, head-over-heels in love. He (a couple of years older) was in the process of getting out of his first serious long-term relationship and nowhere near wanting a relationship, but we instantly became close friends (as I continued to gaze adoringly at him, and everyone but him noticed...) After about a year, something shifted and we were both quite actively flirting, and drunkenly kissed, but displaying a backbone I didn't know I had I made it clear that I needed him to not mess me around and to know what he wanted. He said he still felt too messed up by his ex to be sure he was able for a relationship, and that our friendship meant too much to him to give it a try and then mess it up, so we left it. For many years we were each others best friends, I spoke to him every day, but there were still many moments where things nearly happened but one or other of us pulled back. Neither of us had relationships that lasted much more than six months in those years.

Fast-forward seven years and we finally got together, fast forward another three and we are currently living together and extremely happy. He is my favourite person, we have a respectful and equal partnership, we have fun, we share values - all that good stuff... except we're finally at a point where we have to acknowledge the elephant in the room. I want kids and he doesn't think he does.

Obviously I've always known this was something he was unsure about, but he was equally unsure about being good at being in a long term relationship. When we got together, we said we'd park the issue, (obviously he also knew I'd always wanted kids) and come back to it when I turned 30 - which happens next month. I have raised it in discussion a few times in the last few months, and the problem is, I really don't know how we go about exploring this. Is it something he needs to figure out on his own? Should we try counselling?

Also impacting on this is the fact that around the time we got together, he made the decision to leave his highly paid, very long-hours job and retrain for a more rewarding, equally demanding lower-paid job. I am delighted for him, and really proud he was able to make that decision, but he was 30 when he made it, he has another 18 months at least till he finishes the training and he will then have a few years of low-paid entry level positions. His new career track will at its peak after 20 years or so have him earning only slightly more than he was when he quit his previous role. He feels very defined by his work, and I think he feels that to justify leaving his old position and so much money (he was great at the job, it just didn't challenge him) he really needs to excel in the new career, and that that will involve putting in lots of hours. He also genuinely has a really strong work ethic. I think the reduced earning power is something that weighs on his mind - I early on decided to go for the rewarding-not-well-paid job, so while I'm doing quite well, I will never earn big money either.

As far as I can gather, his main objections to children are: 1) they're a serious commitment, and would have to be his main commitment. As such, they would have to take precedent over a career he will have fought really hard for, and he's not sure about making that sacrifice. 2)
He feels its irresponsible to have children unless you're sure you actively want them. The way he describes what he means by this I worry that he thinks he should be experiencing the same kind of hormonal broodiness I do, but I'm not sure that happens to most men. (I know some do experience it, but most men I know have to actually hold their child before they get the flood of emotion, up to that point it just kind of seems like a good idea)

But when I've asked him what he pictures our lives like without children in ten or twenty years, he's also said he can't really picture the future, and pointed out that's kind of how he wound up in a career he hated the first time: he's just not good at thinking of the long-term.

Initially, he was concerned about us living together because of the pressure it would put on him to not work, but its been really positive for both of us: I think his work actually improves when he has an active non-work social life. I also think that he may relax about this when he has actually got a job and this gamble has paid off.

I would like us to start ttc when I'm 33 and he's 35/6 - according to an ideal timeline, he would have an ok job in his new field by then. He himself has admitted he might feel differently at that point. I don't want to have a baby right now anyway - well, I'm massively broody, so on some level I do, but I also love my career: however there are ways to advance in it to make it child-friendly and I hope to have managed that in the next 2 years. My big issue is: he can't commit to feeling differently then, and doesn't want to. And I don't feel like I can risk not having children. I'm an only child, I have always wanted kids. But what do I do now? I don't just want children, I want his children. If we broke up tomorrow, there's no guarantee I'd meet someone else, and even if I did, I still feel I'd think they were inferior to him. I have compared everyone I've ever been with to him - unfavourably. He's just a really good man. But if I stay with him, and we don't have kids, I'll also wind up bitter and that will tear us apart.

So wise mumsnetters, if you have read this far: what do I do? Do I wait this out? Do I decide to give it another year or two? Do I break up with him if he doesn't change - or make up - his mind? Is there any process we could follow?

I don't know if relationship counselling could work. I've asked him to talk to a close friend who has a child, but I don't think he's done that. That's another thing - he's ridiculously good with children, better than I am. I've created quite an artificial deadline by linking it to turning 30, but I feel like I can't let it slide as we need to confront it in some way - and now I'm looking for advice as to how.

LeaveTheBastid Fri 17-May-13 21:04:20

What if you split with him and don't get with someone else for a few years? And then the time it takes for the relationship to get to the point (assuming it lasts) of considering having children... Which there is no guarantee of them even wanting. Then the time it takes for you to fall pregnant. You could be nearer to 40 by that point.

My point is, dumping him because he can't commit to having children right now is no guarantee that you will go on to having children with another. So you have to decide if that's a risk you want to take.

But on another note, he does sound incredibly commitment phobic and indecisive. I think counselling alone for him and as a couple would be a good idea if he is open to it.

SquinkiesRule Sat 18-May-13 04:58:02

Really I think he's just fobbing you off.
He'd not sure, he doesn't want to commit to being a parent.
First he puts you off till 30 and now that is only a month away he's putting you off till 33, then what, 35, 36, till he gets better pay in his new career?
He has already decided what he wants and he tells you what he thinks you want to hear.
I wouldn't waste another day, week or year waiting for him to be honest about it.

DottyboutDots Sat 18-May-13 07:34:42

I'm very sorry to say that none of this sounds good. Objectively: he kept you at arm's length and you've over romanticised it.

Work out why you feel the need to work so hard for someone's love and why you can't see that this man has quite a few issues. Find someone who wants to be with you and wants the same as you.

BTW, i did what you did for years and still think of my ex with massive affection but it wasn't right and he married and had a baby with his next girlfriend in fucking indecent haste, bastard quite quickly.

Ledkr Sat 18-May-13 07:44:44

I don't think he's as committed as you are tbh.
He uses work as an excuse. I'm in a low paid vocational position too but don't use it as an excuse not to do anything.
Has he committed in any other way such as joint mortgage or tenancy?

KatieScarlett2833 Sat 18-May-13 09:53:05

Agree with the rest, sorry. It sounds to me as you being madly in love with him being a bit meh.
Would he ever propose to you?

ImperialBlether Sat 18-May-13 10:06:08

What strikes me is that in those early days, he struggled after his big relationship, so he didn't want a relationship with you.

Then you said, "Neither of us had relationships that lasted much more than six months in those years."

So he actually was having relationships, but not with you?

I like a man to be passionate about his work, but if it stops him doing anything else, it's just ridiculous. You say he was worried that living with you would stop him working as hard? So work is his first passion?

Personally, I wanted children and if I was with someone who didn't when I was 30, I'd leave and start again.

Again, only my opinion, but I think most men will go on to have children, just as most will go on to marry, and if they don't want to do it with you, it doesn't mean they never will.

It's easy to say he's a commitment phobe, but it's you he's not committed to. I'm really sorry, but I'd cut my losses and start again.

TurnipCake Sat 18-May-13 10:11:24

If it was me, I'd walk. Being in love isn't the same as loving someone, and now that haze has cleared, you're not really on the same page with your long term values.

I'd sooner take the risk of being alone and striving to find someone who shares the same values than staying with someone in the hope they'll enter a discussion about something when I reach a certain age hmm

Truth is, he may not want children full stop, or he may not want them with you. But he's in a position where he could father children later on in life whereas your fertility doesn't have the same shelf life. And as you said, the bitterness and resentment alone would kill off any relationship

pictish Sat 18-May-13 10:14:53

Hmmm...seems like you're so desperately in love with him, he gets to call all the shots, and you tag along.

Time to ring the changes and get yourself on a more equal footing...and you can start by recognising that what you want out of life is just as important as his wants.

Tbh...if he doesn't want kids and you do, then it's not a goer is it?

Beatrixpotty Sat 18-May-13 10:48:01

Sorry that you are in this situation.Can you try and move the time limits?What if you wait until you are 33 and then he's still not sure?What if it moves to 35?I have been in a similar situation,in my late 20's I was with someone for 5 years and eventually realised that he never wanted children and would never commit.Hard as it was,I knew I really wanted children and eventually left.I really had to start all over again which might have been fun in my early 20s but not so much at 32.Had a couple of short ones but then met DH and started family age 36,now have 3 DCs.Lots of men do want children,if it is so important to you,find one that wants them with you even if it means a big upheaval now.

Beatrixpotty Sat 18-May-13 12:27:26

Was also going to say,maybe counselling would be a good idea.I know you are hoping he will change his mind re.children but if he doesn't counselling may help you feel like you've done all you can & explored every option which can make it easier to move on if that is what you eventually have to do.

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