Post # 1
I need help. I’ve been dating my amazing boyfriend for 1.5 years, one day in May I looked at him and realized I want to marry him. Since then it’s been on my mind nearly constantly. I brought it up months ago to gauge how he felt about it – initially he told me he didn’t see the point of marriage and wasn’t sure he wanted to have kids. Ouch. So I waited awhile and asked him again what his thoughts were about 2 months ago. At that point he said he had changed his mind, did see us being married someday, and DID want to have kids…in 4 years.
The timeline for kids is fine with me. But I’m 32 and he’s 26. Which means that if I wait 4 years for kids, I can’t start over at that point if he changes his mind. I explained to him that I feel like he’s asking me for this huge commitment of my last fertile years without giving me any sort of commitment in return (engagement). He answered that while he understood where I was coming from, he isn’t ready to get engaged yet and wants us to be together for three years before we do that, he thinks a lot of people make the decision too soon and end up in bad marriages. He said he wants to be sure because once we get married, divorce is “not an option”.
Since all of this sounds really reasonable, I can’t understand why I feel so impatient, so rejected and so confused. He remarked that I seem to be drawing the conclusion that since I’m ready to get engaged and he’s not, I’m assuming that he loves me less than I love him. That’s pretty spot on, even though he assures me it’s not the case.
I’m not sure what to do. I love him a lot but I’m about to be 33 and I’m just not sure I can wait another year and a half. Who knows if he’ll even be ready by then either? I guess I always dreamed that the guy I would marry would be EXCITED about getting engaged, not cautious and hesitant.
At this point we have talked about it enough times that he says he feels pressured and like I’m ruining things. Which I know makes him LESS likely to want to do it at all.
Has anyone been able to calm themselves down and stop thinking about it in a situation like this? At this point I am contemplating breaking up and I hate that I’m even thinking about it.
Post # 2
I think the age difference you have has a lot to do with this. Guys don’t realize that us women unfortunately are on a timeline if we want to have kids naturally, especially guys in their mid 20’s. Sure it might work for him, but I definitely understand why you would want to have kids earlier than that. I think he needs to meet you somewhere in the middle…say get engaged in the next 6 months, then have kids a year or two after getting married. 4 years is quite a long time. Again, for him at 26 he doesn’t realize that, but for you that could be a genuine concern.
I would be upfront and honest with him about this. If he’s not willing to meet you in the middle, I honestly would consider moving on. I get it that you love him and all of that but it sounds like you’re on two verrrrry different pages. Like you said too, what if he changes his mind in a couple years and doesn’t want kids? Is that a risk you’re willing to take?
Post # 3
Thanks for the reply 🙂
Surprisingly we are on the exact same page regarding kids, it’s engagement we disagree about. We are both big on adventure and traveling and I’m nowhere near ready for that to end. I’d like to push getting pregnant as late as I possibly can, so 4 years is perfect for me. It’s just that I’d like to be certain that that’s where we agree we are going, since once I hit that event horizon there’s no going back or starting over. Does that make sense?
Post # 4
This is a tough situation. I can see the situation from both perspectives. He’s probably making a wise decision by giving himself a bit more time to make sure he’s really ready for the commitment of marriage and children; especially at 26, I have seen a lot of men at this age go through a “quarter life crisis” of sorts, so it seems fair to say he may not be ready for those things just yet. However, I completely understand that if you want children, you won’t be able to wait for him to feel 100% comfortable with settling down if that’s going to take him another few years. I think you’re just going to have to trust your instincts on this one; has he had a chance to live and grow up in the years preceding your relationship? Is he on his way to becoming more stable and settled (good permanent living situaiton, settled into a career, friends are getting married and settling down as well), or is he still figuring stuff out?
It does concern me that you say a mere few months ago, he was not interested in kids or marriage; if this was something he wanted from the get-go, I’d be more inclined to believe that he won’t flip-flop and change his mind a year from now. It sounds like you’ll need to have some very honest conversations in the next few months and try to figure out if he really truly wants these things both independent from his relationship with you, as well as within that context, or if he is simply trying to make you happy and is afraid of losing you.
For what it’s worth, plenty of women are able to have children in their late 30’s and into their 40’s; my mom had me at 37 and this was nearly 30 years ago. I’m certainly not the expert on fertility, but I wonder if talking to your doctor about your chances of conceiving in the next 5 years vs the next 10 might help you put the decision into perspective and feel like you’re making a more logical choice. If nothing else, it may help your boyfriend understand the urgency you are feeling.
Post # 5
Thanks for yet another thoughtful reply 🙂
When we first discussed it, I only told him that marriage was important to me and that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to have kids (which was true), so I know he didn’t come up with the kids idea to appease me. In fact, he was the one who decided that first, and I didn’t realize until he told me that I would be okay with having them too. In the beginning of our relationship, he did say he was looking for someone to be with forever, just that he wasn’t keen on the legal institution of marriage. So I think he does feel like he’s gotten to do the single thing, and that he’s looking for the next stage at this point. Career-wise, he is outrageously successful to the point where he is already set for life. Recently he has been looking at houses and says when he buys one he wants me to move in. Throughout our relationship, he has grown up a LOT and in pretty much every way been solid and steady. He isn’t a flip-flopper. I am often amazed at how much more mature he is than I was at 26. Still…it makes me nervous to give him all this time without having a ring on my finger.
It sucks because we both have valid points and feelings that just happen not to mesh.
If I could press a button that would make me just relax about all this and trust that it’s going to happen…I would. My gut says that if I stay, everything will happen pretty much the way he says it will. I just wish I knew how to get rid of this horrible antsy, rushing feeling of needing assurance NOW. 🙁
Post # 6
PS – I did do some extensive research on fertility and it seems that if we wait until I’m 37 we will still have a 90%+ chance of having 2 kids, which is what we agreed we both want. Given that, waiting 4 years for kids seems to be ideal for both of us. It’s the engagement that I want sooner.
Post # 7
Aah, got it… Well, it sounds like you guys are in a good position, and being on the same page about kids is probably the most important part. Sometimes relationships are about trust and compromise, and if you trust that he wants to have children on the same timeline as you, then you may just have to compromise on the timing of the engagement… I know it’s frustrating to wait and to not be in control of these major life decisions, but as long as you know he’s got your best interests at heart, then sometimes you just have to let things happen.
Post # 8
I’m only 2.5 years older than my husband and getting to the point of being engaged was very hard for him. He frequently said “if only our ages were reversed, everything would be fine.” He knows I’m on a severe timeline – 34 already, so we’re not waiting much longer for kids, but he wants some time to process that one as well. The age difference might not seem like a lot, but apparently it’s pretty huge for guys. Maybe he can compromise on the kids timeline – 2 years instead of 4. There’s got to be give and take.
Post # 9
How long did you two date before you got engaged?
Post # 10
Your SO sounds so much like my ex. We didn’t have the age gap, but he told me the exact same things:
(1) Originally said he wanted to marry me “someday”
(2) Later set an arbitrary timeline for being engaged, that involved 5 years of living together first
(3) Insisted this was because marriage was so important to him because it’s “forever” and he never wanted to get divorced, so basically had to test me out for 5 years
Guess what – I stuck around, and he never proposed. I left him.
It’s all fine when you first start bringing it up, but give him a few years when he starts stuffing around the timelines and extending things out further and further – it can get very frustrating and disappointing…
Now I have never met your SO and you know him much better than anyone here, including me, but I am seeing red flags. After the experience I had with my ex, there is no *way* I would stand for this crap again.
In your case you say you are having thoughts (albiet unwelcome ones) about breaking up. Don’t silence your gut. Think very seriously about what you’re feeling. Don’t put down and belittle your feelings – they are there for a reason.
Whatever decision you make I hope you continue to advocate for yourself and want you want, don’t just go along with things. Good luck and all the best.
FYI – I left my ex and 1 year later met the love of my life. We got engaged after 6 months. I have zero regrets over leaving my ex.
Post # 11
If it were me I’d break up with him and try to find someone my age whose goals were more in tune with my own. Your choices are give in and bend to his agenda or get out. Trying to get him on the same page is often a futile, frustrating dance and still leads to the same place. Singleville.
Post # 12
i know you already know this, but i don’t think you can expect him to propose this soon, especially since he’s already unsure of marriage.
i don’t know why you feel so strongly that YOU are feeling as though you are making a big commitment right now. It’s not really going to pan out that way, seeing as between now and every year up to 4 years, a lot can change. if he starts to waver and not give you solid anwers in the next year/year and a half, then you have your answer – he probably isn’t going to commit in the timefreame you want him to. That isn’t meant to sound negative, my point is that you dont have to decide right now – you can wait a bit of time to see how the relationship is going and how he is acting.
Like other PPs I also find it worrying that he just decided in a matter of months that he does after all want marriage and kids – if it was that quick to come, it can be just as quick to go back the other way. Hence my feeling that you’ll just have to see how it goes.
You haev to decide what’s more important to you – this particular guy or immediate stability.
Post # 13
You know him better than we do. With that said, I don’t think he has marriage on the horizon any time soon. It might be the age difference. It might be that you are good for now and just a place holder until he gets to 30. After 1.5 years together, it should be pretty obvious where you are headed and when. You have to decide if you can live with the way things are today for the next 3-4 years. Is that enough for you, or do you have different goals for yourself? I wouldn’t necessarily bend to his timeframe, unless you also can live with possiblity of it either not working out at some point in several years or being a new mom in your very late 30’s. Most 26 year old guys are not thinking about marriage, much less kids. I think guys who do want kids consider them in their mid 30s, so that would put you at over 40. 🙁
Post # 14
I was in that situation, except I was 32/33 and he was 35. We were together for 3 years. He didn’t see the point of marriage, it was just a piece of paper, if you don’t marry you can’t divorce etc etc. he got the whole fertility thing, but he was scared of having a child and then being a single parent etc etc He’d give some arbitrary time in the future that we’d marry and always have an excuse as to why it wasnt the right time.
2.5 years later and I’m married and expecting a baby in February. . .The secret to turning things around is that I broke up with the marriage-phobic, stringing-along dope and met a good man. I left that BS behind and met a man with goals and a desire for commitment and family. Being married to me is really important to my husband. Having a child with me is a dream come true for him. Thank God I didn’t wait around for my marriage-phobic ex.
Post # 15
I guess I’m the only one who thinks this, but I’m also 26 and I think 1.5 years is too early to get engaged at this age. I wouldn’t assume at this point that his timeline is to string you along- it takes a while to really decide whether you’re ready for a lifetime commitment. That being said, if you don’t trust that he will stick to that timeline or it’s not a timeline that you are ok with, you have every right to leave and find someone who is on a more favorable timeline. I will throw out the disclaimer that my Fiance and I were together 7.5 years before we got engaged, so there is going to be some bias from my own personal experience (he said early on that he thought 27 would be a good age to get married- we are getting married at 27 just before our 9 year dating anniversary). However, I do have friends that are in the 1-2 year anniversary range and they are still learning SO much about each other and getting through hard conversations that I would be concerned if any of them got engaged right now. Your relationship could be different OP, and you know your SO better than we do, so if you feel like he is stringing you along, I would have another talk with him and push him to be honest about his feelings.