Um, yes you CAN ask your Boyfriend or Best Friend to wait longer in response to marriage, and you should because agreeing to marriage with all of your insecurities would not be doing him any favors.
I’m only going to address the wife and kids part and really only because I was in academia (although humanities–are you in sciences?). You really need to figure out what having kids and taking care of them mean to the both of you. It doesn’t sound like you are committed to being CFBC, but that you are just unsure of how kids will integrate into your life (and perhaps whether you want to integrate them at all). That’s a normal (and healthy) consideration. I can’t tell you where to land on having the kids in general; I CAN tell you that the two of you must, must, must be on the same page in terms of what you envision as your family set-up. That means that if he intends that YOU be the one to take over childcare in a more traditional set-up, I would be concerned. I would STILL be concerned even if he said that he’s okay with you not being a Stay-At-Home Mom, if it’s still his underlying expectation that you would be responsible for managing the household outside of your career. Multiply my concern by 10 if he himself grew up in a more traditional home with a mother who did all the childcare and housework–not becuase he can’t change or think differently, but becuase at the end of the day, that’s would be his template and the one he’d be more likely to want to replicate for himself. Believe me when I tell you that as an academic myself, I’ve encountered couples in which the man never truly expected his own career aspirations to be secondary–to his wife’s, to his homelife, etc. purely becuase that kind of balance/sacrifice was not something he understood. Do not sign up for a situation in which you suspect that your man will continually expect YOU to accommodate the homelife at the expense of your career, but not do the same himself.
As a woman in academia, I honestly did find the ivory tower more boys’ club than is often realized, even in my more female-dominated field. I ended up having a child and doing so affected my publication output and there wasn’t exactly a whole lot of support for taking leave. It left me at a disadvantage when competing for jobs, one I see reflected in other female academic mothers. Just within my graduate school cohort, out of the women who became mothers and stayed in academia, only two have made tenure–and both of them, perhaps not coincidentally, are married to spouses, one of whom is a Stay-At-Home Dad and the other is some sort of stockbroker who is in private practice and works from home. There are two who are sort of languishing in junior faculty/adjuncting (although I can’t say that’s a direct result of the kids per se), and two who left after having kids (again, that may have been happily, though). It’s definitely NOT impossible to have children and be in academia, but we are talking about a field that for a very long time was occupied by a bunch of straight, white men whose sole purpose was the pursuit of knowledge and didn’t have to worry about laundry and cooking and toilet training, and in a lot of ways, those biases are still a carryover, fyi.
Now, I grew up with two working, high-powered career parents (attorneys, and one eventually a judge). They simply outsourced–we went to daycare and had babysitters; they had a housekeeper, gardener, etc. My mom did most of the cooking and household management (ie, she was the one who signed us up for t-ball and stuff), but she was not about to scrub tubs and mop floors, and they both did their fair share of soccer games and scouting on weekends. I had a great childhood, and it was a wonderful role model to have a working, career-oriented mother (and father too). But bear in mind, for one, this kind of set-up requires a lot of financial investment–way easier for two attorneys riding out of the economic surplus of the boomer era than two attorneys even in today’s economic climate, let alone two academics. Furthermore, I mention this because it’s sort of how things had to function in order for my mother to be happy nurturing her career. If my dad had been the type to reject spending money on a housekeeper because “the wife” should do it, or balked at the idea of “strangers” raising his kids or something like that, it wouldn’t have worked. My mother traveled a lot for her work and my dad accepted that was how their life was going to be–he didn’t make her feel like she was less of a mom and/or that the household suffered because she did so; they simply called in the babysitters and we got a week of eating pizza and ramen. But again, my dad is the kind of guy who loved my mother FOR her go-getter personality and both of them understood that frankly, being a mom and a wife weren’t her primary roles (they may have been emotionally but not in terms of where she put most of her time). That’s why I cautioned you as I did above. Make sure it’s not just about the kids, but you have that discussion in terms of how you envision setting up your LIFE.