“I (30F) am very happy with my bf (28M); we have been together for 2 years and have lived together for most of our relationship. We both have careers, and we each own a home. We are living in my 2bdr condo while his parents live in his home.
We both love the simplicity of our lives and enjoy spending time together. We don’t have debt other than the mortgages, and both have our own vehicles. Simply put, we are in a better spot than most, and I am very thankful and happy.
And now, I want a family. I’ve always seen myself having 1 child (just one.. i don’t want more than one), and I’ve never hidden this from him. In fact, the first date we went on, I explicitly said that I wanted 2 things: marriage and a child. He agreed and said that he never thought about those things before, but if he were to, it would be with someone like me.
…I have options here:
1. Leave him. If I do leave, I’ll be insanely unhappy. I would never find another relationship or partner like him. It would render me depressed – I would get over it eventually, but I don’t think I could be with someone else. Therefore, if I were to leave him, it would be to have a child on my own. But, would a child be worth losing my soulmate?
2. Stay with him. If I do stay, I know I will continue to be happy with my relationship and partner, but I will be resentful for not having a child. I will see friends and family experience what I’ve always wanted – it would lead to me being depressed, resentful, and in turn probably affect my relationship negatively.
…I guess my question is, how do I express this to my bf so he understands the importance of a child is to me? How do I explain this to him without him feeling pressured? What other options are there?”
– /u/Shana-na-na from /r/relationship_advice
Let’s sit down with some coffee and talk this one through.
I attended a writer’s seminar recently where the host dove deep into the concept of Reader Contract. Reader Contract is defined as the first pages of a book where the author sets the tone for the audience and clue them in on the level of investment this book will involve. Almost as a promise that the first pages is a snapshot of what the rest of the book will be like. If readers aren’t clued in on the overall tone of the story, they will quickly become disconnected and disengage from the story. If they aren’t forewarned about the breadth of the story, the audience will not take kindly to the twist and turns of a natural narrative storytelling.
First dates are a lot like setting up the same kind of agreement and contract, to clue each other in on what the overall trajectory of your relationship will take.
You mentioned on your post that, on your first date, you iterated how important it was for you to have marriage and a child in your long-term future. And he agreed. It was at this point, a mutual implicit agreement was set that both of these were going to be a part of your relationship at some point.
And here you are, two years after that first date, without any plans for marriage or kids. And it is time for you to reiterate how important this is for you and to commit to a reasonable timeline with you. His de-commitment to the implicit agreement that you two made on your first date is an intense breach of trust and should not be taken lightly. You can start by setting your foot down and stating matter-of-factly that this is something that you’ve both agreed to from first date onward. And if he changed his mind at some point, it was on him to communicate with you so, so that you can reevaluate at that point whether you wanted to stay with him even without a kid in the future.
The second option, to forsake your future and to compromise on your ideals of becoming a mother, is an immense sacrifice that will no doubt place an immense burden of resentment not only on you but also your partner as well. He will forever have to consider that he forced you to sacrifice something so dear to you. It is a forever-debt that he has not shown any ability to show responsibility for. How can you withhold personal resentment from building up when you know you had to sacrifice on something so immense for your partner?
That leaves you with only one option available: to leave. You are right. You won’t ever find another person like your current partner. He is a unique person of his own. But your next partner too will be a unique person of his own. Everyone is different and everyone loves differently. And the break up will hurt. But the pain will be much more acceptable and temporary than the one you’ll have to take on otherwise.
I want to leave off this post by adding that it’s easy to get caught up on sunk cost fallacy, that these two years you’ve invested in your relationship with your current partner is too much to uproot. And you might be right. But you aren’t uprooting this relationship because this relationship failed; you’re doing so because your partner has failed you. And you can still choose to take away the good memories from your relationship with your partner, what it was like to live a fulfilling life with a partner, how comfortable it felt to lead a simple life dedicated to your romance and your respective careers. That part is not undone by this broken commitment.