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Senior Kinkster

November 6, 2013

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I am a kinky, youthful 72-year-old guy. I grew up in the Pleistocene era, when there was virtually no way to meet a kinky woman. I've had two vanilla marriages, and three months ago I ended a four-year vanilla relationship with the best woman I've ever met. I just couldn't take not being a BDSM person anymore, and I broke up with this wonderful woman so I could do BDSM. I've had some fun, but no candidate for a possible LTR has come along. In the meantime, my most recent ex (I'll call her "Mel") and I have both been bereft over our split. It is like a death, and we grieve it every day. But I need the BDSM lifestyle, and I figured that sooner or later I would meet someone else and get over Mel.

Two days ago, Mel called me and said she wants me back. She says she's willing to do what I need if it will make it possible for us to be together. Since I am a switch, it would be perfectly acceptable to me to have her abuse and torture me. I am functioning as a Dom in the BDSM world at the moment, since there are so few female switches around and virtually all female subs turn green at the idea of being with a switch. Also, the competition for female dominants is fierce, and it's too much for me—especially at age 72. However, if I had to choose to be one or the other, I would choose to be a sub to a dominant woman. Can Mel be that woman? Is it possible for a vanilla person to adapt to BDSM? Also, she does have a few weirdo fantasies of her own, such as making it with a chimp. But she stresses these are not very intensely compelling, as mine are. If it is possible for her to make this change, are there any good books on this?

Wants Helpful Insight, Please!

P.S. My son turned me on to your column recently!

"Good for you for being honest about the importance of kink in your life," says Joan Price, author of Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud About Senior Sex. "At our age, we often realize that life is too short for bad sex. Sometimes it takes a series of unfulfilling relationships to make sexy, silver-haired folks like us say, 'If not now, when?'"

And if not Mel, who?

You're a new reader, WHIP, so you missed this insight the first ten thousand times it appeared in my column: You'll meet two kinds of people at leather/fetish/BDSM contests, play parties, and street festivals: people who were always kinky—men and women who've been jacking/jilling off about their kinks since they hit puberty—and formerly vanilla people who fell in love with someone who was kinky, gave their partners' kinks a try (sometimes to save the relationship), and grew to love their partners' kinks.

So Mel may be able to "adapt" to BDSM. Price agrees: "Yes, it's absolutely possible for your vanilla lady to shift into kinky sex, especially since she's in love with you. Whether she's doing it just to please you or she's open to kinks herself, give her a chance."

But you're going to need to take it slow, WHIP, and you'll need to use your words.

"Tell her what turns you on," says Price. "Whisper your fantasies into her ear, share erotica or porn featuring your favorite activities. Solicit her fantasies about dominating you, if she has them, or suggest some scenes to her and see what she responds to. Once she's ready and willing, start with small steps rather than full-blown scenes, so she can ease into this new world."

And if all goes well—if Mel isn't traumatized or disgusted by BDSM sex, if she enjoys dominating you or is GGG enough to go there for you on a regular basis—don't be a stupid, selfish kinkster, WHIP. By which I mean to say: Don't neglect Mel's desire for vanilla sex. If it helps to think of vanilla sex as a horrible ordeal that you have to submit to—vanilla is a service you provide to Mel, your Dom, because you're a good slave—then ask Mel to order you to have vanilla sex.

As for books, WHIP, both Price and I recommend The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and the Erotic Edge (Cleis Press, 2012), an informative collection of essays by a diverse group of writers that was edited by the indispensable Tristan Taormino. And if you're hoping Mel will join you at public fetish events—parties and contests and street festivals—get her a copy of Mollena Williams and Lee Harrington's Playing Well with Others: Your Field Guide to Discovering, Exploring and Navigating the Kink, Leather and BDSM Communities.

Joan Price blogs about sex and aging at Follow her on Twitter @JoanPrice.

I'm a bisexual or pansexual or omnisexual—or whatever the kids are calling us these days—woman in a monogamish marriage to a great, GGG straight man. Both of us are in our early 30s. Since getting married, we've traveled around the world and done whatever the hell we wanted. It was a crazy exciting life, but we decided it was time to stop living paycheck to paycheck, so we came back to the States.

We recently bought a house, and we were planning to have a kid next year. But now my husband says that he's not ready. He says there are things he wants to do that he will never ever get to do if we have kids now. I asked him for a time frame, and he said that he couldn't answer that. What he has said to me is: "We've always said we'd never be one of those couples that stop adventuring because we have a nest and kids and stuff." This might be a deal breaker for me. I want to be a mom. I'm ready. I don't want my husband to feel resentment that he never got to live the life he wanted—more travel? More crazy sexual adventures?—because I stuck him with a kid, but at the same time, he can't even give me a time frame. I love him dearly. He's my best friend, he's hot, he's a wonderful person and funny as hell. They don't make many men like him. What should I do?

Childless H

First, get to a couples counselor.

Second, relay this message to your husband from me: Travel and adventure—sexual and otherwise—don't have to stop after you become parents. They do become more difficult, logistically speaking, and you won't be able to go adventuring on impulse anymore. But you can have adventures, dude, as a couple and as individuals. (It's good for married people, including parents, to spend time apart.) It's true, however, that most parents do stop adventuring—but that's usually because they were ready to stop adventuring or they weren't that adventurous in the first place. You can do it differently. Pro tip: It's easier to make time for adventuring if you have one kid. And traveling with a small child—even taking off to live in a foreign country for a year or two—is a lot easier than Parentlandia propaganda would have you believe. You're an adventurous person—you and your wife are adventurous people—and adventurous people can choose to be adventurous parents.

DEAR READERS: You were probably expecting me to comment on that "making it with a chimp" detail in WHIP's letter. But I had nothing to say except "Really? Holy crap. Chimp fantasies? Damn."

This week on the Savage Lovecast: Do bi- sexuals need a new label?

@fakedansavage on Twitter

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GoodOmens 2
Dear Childless H. My parents dragged my brother and I to live in Africa when we were kids. Argentina too. We went north of the Arctic Circle... The travelling didn't stop because my parents had kids. I'm grateful for it. It made for an excellent childhood.
Also, my mum still says that travelling with kids opened doors that my parents couldn't otherwise have opened on their own. People are more receptive to small kids and less likely to be suspicious of families.
Posted by GoodOmens on November 5, 2013 at 4:52 PM · Report this
To WHIP - Why not work making out with a chimp into your BSDM fantasy? You're the chimp. She's the dom, and she's going to have to tame you if she wants to make it with you.
Posted by Hfx reader since 1996 on November 5, 2013 at 5:10 PM · Report this
Jeez, does this stop the italics?
Posted by Gamebird on November 5, 2013 at 5:19 PM · Report this
Nope. :(
Posted by Gamebird on November 5, 2013 at 5:20 PM · Report this
See… for what one adventurous family has managed to do. Walking all over Alaska through the wilderness with their two young kids (a toddler and a newborn baby)! There's an excerpt at… .
Posted by anon alaskan on November 5, 2013 at 5:26 PM · Report this
CH - dan seems to take this problem more literally than i think it warrants - men mature after women. you're the same age as your man... it's likely that he'll be where you're at now in a few years. if you're not willing to wait, end it, but who are you going to find to parent with you (who is also as great as he is) in the same amount of time? you could get lucky, but i wouldn't count on it.
Posted by archly on November 5, 2013 at 5:37 PM · Report this
lolorhone 8
So the theme this week is the refusal to compromise what one really wants- not for advanced age, not for encroaching "maturity". It's heartwarming to know one can change it up that late in the game. And it's reassuring to know domesticity and adventure aren't mutually exclusive.
Posted by lolorhone on November 5, 2013 at 5:55 PM · Report this
Childless H-- You write that you and your husband decided together that it was time to come back to the states and settle down, but was it really something you both decided, or did it just seem like that to you at the time? He could have been leading you on, or you could have been hearing what you wanted to hear, or he could have thought he was telling the truth, but he's changed his mind now.

He says he wants to keep adventuring, but he's vague as to time frame and exactly what he wants to do next. I hope I'm wrong, but when I peer into my crystal bowl, what I'm seeing is a man who is going to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it. I think he's telling you that if you do have kids, don't count on him to be around to do what's best for those children. He's going to spend money on his own adventures, never mind what's good for them.

That's not to say that children can't have wonderful lives traveling with their parents. You can point this out to him. Definitely have that conversation. Talk to him about money and how you'll support yourselves and your children. Bring up every practical consideration you can think of. Listen to what he has to say, and answer his questions about how this would work.

Then talk with a family counselor to help you decide if this is a dealbreaker for you or not.
Posted by Crinoline on November 5, 2013 at 5:56 PM · Report this
lolorhone 10
I have defeated the italics!
Posted by lolorhone on November 5, 2013 at 5:58 PM · Report this
@7 "A few years" might make all the difference, but not necessarily in a good way. If Childless H is already in her thirties, then her window is closing. If men decide they want kids when they're over forty, they can do it. Even at fifty or sixty, it's still possible. Women can't. Just because something isn't fair doesn't mean it's not true.

Guys, read what @6 has to say. It's almost as considerable a contribution as @2's.
Posted by DRF on November 5, 2013 at 6:23 PM · Report this
Sea Otter 12
WHIP sounds funny and intelligent and sweet. I hope things work out for him.
Posted by Sea Otter on November 5, 2013 at 6:43 PM · Report this
Dear WHIP,
Don't overthink it. I'm surprised you felt the need to ask for advice about whether to try again with Mel. Surely, it's worth trying.
The advice about how to do it, what to read, and going slowly is good, but for the first step, it's a no brainer. Go for it.

Oh, just ask my dom whether a vanilla guy can learn to enjoy kink. He took to it right away.
Posted by vab251 on November 5, 2013 at 7:31 PM · Report this
@11 There was an excellent article in Salon this summer debunking the myth that women can't safely and healthily have children into their 40s and even 50s. The study (yes, singular) supporting the idea that egg health declines in women's 40s is from the *late 19th century*. No joke. Life expectancies were much shorter, nutrition was worse, etc., etc. More recent research is still in the preliminary stages, but it suggests that the risk increase from the 30s to the 40s for women is so minute as to be incidental, and pretty small even into the 50s.

IMHO, the perpetuation of this idea is pushed less by allegiance to science and more by a societal prejudice against women who want to choose careers (or adventure, or anything really) and put off children. NOT individual prejudice, social prejudice, but it's pernicious.
Posted by mpbd on November 5, 2013 at 7:53 PM · Report this
Dear CH,

I can assure you: child rearing is nothing but an adventure! I had a high school classmate pester me about how "my life was over" after having our 1st. And he was absolutely correct: the life as we knew it was over. BUT, that didn't mean it was worse, just different. Like any adventure, you need to prepare before you start, but be open to what you experience on the journey.

One day, far down the road, your children stop being your charge(s) and become your companion(s). It is a long, long distance to travel, and filled with stuff you wouldn't encounter if you hadn't taken up the challenge. Without bias of good or bad, there are experiences you receive only from being a parent. Or don't...

Posted by Married in MA on November 5, 2013 at 8:13 PM · Report this
Ms. Erica,

I wanted to thank you for an elegant explanation of what a trans woman goes through to get to her body.



PS: From last weeks column.
Posted by Married in MA on November 5, 2013 at 8:21 PM · Report this
mydriasis 17

Men physically can have children at those ages but not really the greatest idea. Advanced paternal age is associated with negative outcomes and is a contender for why we're seeing such a large spike in ASD.


Oh word, you get all your info from excellent peer-reviewed publications like Salon?
Posted by mydriasis on November 5, 2013 at 8:22 PM · Report this
Posted by alguna_rubia on November 5, 2013 at 8:31 PM · Report this
Seeing as much as I do of seniors on a regular basis, I think the first woman is doing this under possibly extreme duress. Yes, she's grown up and can make her own decisions, and good for him for being honest, but it takes a lot more to make a relationship in which an honest but not-good-way selfish partner gets to be dictator than just for the conceding partner to discover the conditions are bearable or even enjoyable. Doing something out of sheer desperation that one would never try when on equal terms is not the sign of someone with the natural character and temperament of a good dictatee. Mr Savage is on the right track, but if it turns out that she has to order him to perform vanilla, it's already over.

The second LW does seem to have genuine affection for her husband, but in other respects seems to want to have all cakes and eat them. She's played out and wants to wear the mom jeans and drive the SUV while being the envy of everyone in the dowdy crowd for having had a wild past. A little greedy, but that's all. He might have expected to find something in himself or wear something out of himself, and it hasn't happened. Not only haven't they grown at the same pace, he might not be going to grow in a compatible direction at all. Divorce now before they hate each other. A good ex is worth a lot more than people realize before the fact.
Posted by vennominon on November 5, 2013 at 8:45 PM · Report this
I agree with Alguna.
Posted by LateBloomer on November 5, 2013 at 8:58 PM · Report this
Actually the phrase "making it" stood out to me more than the chimp part. Dan Savage has ruined my brain.
Posted by Minerva on November 5, 2013 at 9:47 PM · Report this
seandr 22
For every @2 and @6, there are a 100 thousand couples who retreat into domesticity once the kids arrive. LW isn't going to trek with her infant all over Africa, Argentina, and Alaska. She isn't going to be exploring her pansexuality while baby naps. She, like many women her age, is ready to hunker down and answer her biological calling. She's had her fun, now it's time to fulfill her purpose. If there's any more adventure in her future, it's not going to happen until the kid(s) start approaching adolescence.

She should find a like-minded guy. And dude should hook up with a woman who has aspirations other than motherhood.
Posted by seandr on November 5, 2013 at 10:51 PM · Report this
lolorhone 23
Mr. Ven @19: She wants to make it with a chimp. Vanilla has left the building.
Late Bloomer @20: Who doesn't?
Minerva @21: I too kind of glossed over the chimp part at first. "Making it" is such 60's slang which, if the LW is 72, makes sense.
Posted by lolorhone on November 5, 2013 at 10:55 PM · Report this
lolorhone 24
seandr @22: Arguments for biological determinism are some truly outdated shit- and not a little sexist. Her purpose?. Holy shit, man.
Posted by lolorhone on November 5, 2013 at 11:19 PM · Report this
Dollars to donuts that if she's as vanilla as you claim, "making it with a chimp" is a sly reference to old codgers like you (think George Burns). Not sure whether she is teasing you or complimenting you, but I seriously doubt it should be taken literally.
Posted by avast2006 on November 5, 2013 at 11:55 PM · Report this
@22 I like you, so I'm just going to say it now; you totally just jumped into society's verbal equivalent of dog shit.

Side stepping said accident and roughly paraphrasing ; different life goals plus lack of ability/desire to compromise equals incompatibility? I'm assuming that's the point. Nothing wrong with that, besides being depressing.

And actually there have been studies suggesting that men starting to have children at later ages may also be contributing to some of the increases in certain conditions like autism. At this point it's not exactly certain. (And I know four links is a bit much, but I don't want to be accused of shooting my mouth off.)…………
Posted by Really Now... on November 5, 2013 at 11:56 PM · Report this
Another way to frame Childless's question--

Let's say you had that house, that domesticity, and that kid. Let's say you and your husband had some ordinary plans, maybe to go to a great adventurous concert with hard-to-get and expensive tickets while your child stays with a responsible babysitter. Now let's say that your child gets sick, or something else comes up child-wise that gets in the way of your plans. Is your husband going to put your child's needs first and do what's best for that child? Because if he's going to run off to that concert anyway, it doesn't really matter if you're in New Jersey or Timbuktu.
Posted by Crinoline on November 6, 2013 at 3:10 AM · Report this
hey Dan, Aussie fan here, I just LOVED you on Oz TV Q & A this week. So great to see you in person, in action, and telling it like it is! You go Dan!
Posted by Libya on November 6, 2013 at 3:38 AM · Report this
Mr Rhone - Hearsay evidence of a suspicious kind. Could be valid, could be an idle dream rounded WAY up to a fantasy - by either of them. Extensive cross-examination (preferably of the sort that would increase the daily refreshers) could be required.

In the end, though, are you asserting that strawberry is more compatible with chocolate than vanilla is? I spare you a vision of you and Mr Ophian finding out that your square kink doesn't link with his triangular one.

Given that many of the people with whom I interact on a regular basis are at least the age of the LW, I am on fairly firm ground in suggesting the possibility of desperation on her part. I'm not saying don't try, but she may need a LOT of extra coddling. I picked up faint traces in him of those LWs who get all crabby because their partners who indulge them don't do it well enough.

My "if she has to order him to perform vanilla" was in response to Mr Savage's "don't neglect her need for vanilla". Mr Savage was saying, "Don't be dictator all the time," but his suggested compromise scenario wasn't sufficiently removed from the dictator sphere.

And even then, that does not really address the dictator issue. It reminds me of the LW who claimed his partner was too big, and tons of posters jumped on the Fitness Uber Alles Bandwagon, ignoring the main point that, even if Cooks With Real Butter became Totally Gym-Ripped Stud, they would still have established the relationship dynamic of V saying Jump and W asking How High by way of response. It's not that such a relationship can't work, but one needs people with the right sets of mind for such framing.
Posted by vennominon on November 6, 2013 at 4:13 AM · Report this
@14 you're right, a 50 year old woman can still have a healthy natural pregnancy.

However, you (or maybe Salon) ignored the reality -- very small % of women can get pregnant by age 50 unless lots of high tech, expensive, and potentially unpleasant feeling fertility technology is used, and even then the chances of an embryo implanting and being carried to term drop off dramatically during the 40s to very low success rates by age 50. Higher success if the older woman's eggs are implanted into a surrogate, but that's expensive and not everyone wants that route.
Posted by delta35 on November 6, 2013 at 5:44 AM · Report this
Literary chimp sex:…
Posted by Regarding Monkeys on November 6, 2013 at 6:09 AM · Report this
The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, by Benjamin Hale
Posted by Regarding Monkeys on November 6, 2013 at 6:11 AM · Report this
@14: Oh for fuck's sake. I got pregnant effortlessly in my 20s and with great difficulty in my 30s. (Plan A was 4 kids. I have 2.) My best friend from college, who was doing her post doc work on public health, noticed the curve for difficulty getting pregnant started dipping down at 30, though it really steepened at 35, the official "better get cracking" number. She opted to get pregnant at 29--quick and easy, and she also had a lot of trouble getting pregnant the second time, in her thirties.

If you DON'T want a kid, then "I'm over 35/40/45" is not a reliable form of birth control. If you DO want a kid, the exact same fertility rates that mean 40 year olds need to think about birth control mean that those who want a kid can expect a harder time getting there. The fact that the rare woman aged 50 manages to conceive and carry to term in no way suggests that everyone can just wait til they're 50 and have basically the same odds of a successful pregnancy that they had at 25.
Posted by IPJ on November 6, 2013 at 6:12 AM · Report this
If it helps to think of vanilla sex as a horrible ordeal that you have to submit to—vanilla is a service you provide to Mel, your Dom, because you're a good slave—then ask Mel to order you to have vanilla sex.

Admittedly not at all my thing, but I could see this being a sharp turn-off for some, not a one-size fits all panacea. If the vanilla sex can only happen in a master-slave scenario, does it feel like vanilla sex to the person who has to keep getting into their non-vanilla role to keep the vanilla sex going?
Posted by IPJ on November 6, 2013 at 6:21 AM · Report this
He says there are things he wants to do that he will never ever get to do if we have kids now.

I'm guessing the thing he wants to do is think about himself and what he wants, which doesn't get to be your sole focus once you have kids. I have no patience with this: if he won't get seriously on board with a concrete plan--if you just have to wait around for his feelings to mysteriously morph into different feelings--I strongly suggest you not put much time into waiting. If children are important to you, something you want more than a childless future with this guy, then putting in an indeterminate number of years hoping he just comes around is... it's a category of advice columnist letter I always find so depressing, the "I've sunk X years in, so surely if I wait 2X years (s)he'll finally be ready for that thing they say they think they want with me, someday, but they aren't sure after a mere 12 years and need more time."

A small kid will not keep you guys from traveling. It does depend on the temperament of the kid: some need a strong routine and others will roll with disruption. I did big trips with my daughter at age 1 and 3--first just us, second with dad--and they were great. I built in quiet time every afternoon because she really needed that to function. And 1 and 3 were better ages than 2 and 4 would have been, just with her own particular development. The way kids eventually affect travel is more that you have the sort of stable well-paying job that does not easily allow big chunks of time off, while you also have the sort of relatives who want to see the grandkids on those times off. These are hardly insurmountable.
Posted by IPJ on November 6, 2013 at 6:33 AM · Report this
Eudaemonic 36
@19: I think the first woman is doing this under possibly extreme duress. Yes, she's grown up and can make her own decisions, and good for him for being honest, but it takes a lot more to make a relationship in which an honest but not-good-way selfish partner gets to be dictator than just for the conceding partner to discover the conditions are bearable or even enjoyable. Doing something out of sheer desperation that one would never try when on equal terms is not the sign of someone with the natural character and temperament of a good dictatee.

Yes. Someone who's miserable without you is not someone who can rationally determine whether your price of entry is acceptable; if they're miserable without you, that doesn't entitle you to make them miserable as a price of being with you. When negotiating a sale price for your bucket of water, it's in poor taste to charge an arm, a leg, a lung, lifetime net worth and a firstborn child, when the negotiations began with setting the other person on fire.

And I must say, it's nice to not be the only one who notices it, this time.
Posted by Eudaemonic on November 6, 2013 at 6:37 AM · Report this
The advice for WHIP was good for generic senior kinksters, but it wasn't good advice for his particular situation.

WHIP should get the book Uniquely Rika. He will need to be patient, and I know at his age time is short, but better to have a genuine female dominant than a woman going through the motions to please her man.

This is assuming he is genuinely submissive, rather than a bottom who gets off on pain. I am assuming he is genuinely submissive, as he prefers acting as a Dom and having an emotional interaction rather than hiring a pro domme.
Posted by Marrena on November 6, 2013 at 6:46 AM · Report this
RE: the "adventurous" couple--Dan's totally right (he should know). My partner and I adopted a toddler many years ago and, thanks to generous grandparents, we continued to make room for travel and occasional weekends away where we could still get our grooves on. Two more kids did make it so much more of a challenge, but it still happens now and then. Lots of our "parenting friends" are amazed that we're able to travel like we do (once a year, which is enough), but if it's important enough, you can make it work.
Posted by Jett-setter on November 6, 2013 at 6:47 AM · Report this
nocutename 39
I have no idea what Mel meant by saying she wants to make it with a chimp. The fact that this bizarre revelation was immediately followed by "But she stresses these [fantasies] are not very intensely compelling," suggests that she doesn't really want to have sex with a chimp. Who knows? Either she was joking, or once in conversation about chimps or bonobos, she threw something out, or she was being sarcastic, or she felt compelled to come up with some kinky fantasy after being relentlessly questioned by her boyfriend. I think the real issues here are that WHIP is hopeful that Mel can adapt her sexuality to his desires, and I don't see him making any attempt to try and accommodate hers.

I agree with Mr. vennominon: I think Mel is feeling pressured and coerced; she's acting out of desperation. And I see WHIP as having established a long pattern of selfishness. He has left two marriages because they were too vanilla (I understand the first one, but I would have hoped he'd established more sexual compatibility before marrying the second time, although I can see that perhaps he didn't know how important BDSM was to him, if the second marriage followed closely on the heels of the first and he was much younger then.) He just broke off a 4-year long relationship 3 months ago and, at 72, venturing into the kink world, seems disappointed and surprised that he hasn't found a potential life-long partner there yet. So now he's willing to exploit his ex-girlfriend's desperation, but unwilling to accommodate her desires for anything he knows her to actually want, like the vanilla sex they were having and she was presumably enjoying before he dumped her. But hey, if she really wants to find a chimp to bring into the bedroom, that's fine with him. Frankly, I think the letter is a fake. But if it's real, I think Mel can do better.

As far as the second letter goes, without getting into whether or not is is advantageous for a woman to have a baby in her 50s, or whether females experience a sense of biological purpose, it seems pretty clear that there is a serious incompatibility here. She knows she wants kids; he is at best, deeply ambivalent. She is ready now, and he isn't, and can't even tell her when he might get his childless "adventuring" out of his system enough to have them. It is possible to travel with children or to continue having an adventuring life, but it is not easy. Furthermore, it doesn't sound like this is what the lw necessarily wants. Having a child is the most permanent life-changing act people can commit, and I don't think it is responsible to have one in order to try the grand experiment of can a man who doesn't want to have a child learn to be a father. I'm aware that I sound like I'm on the woman's "side," but I'm not; both people's have legitimate desires and drives. But they aren't the same desires and drives, and it's not as if this "child" already exists. The couple is in the position of having to make a conscious decision to create a child. This is sad, because this couple clearly loves each other and have been compatible in many ways. But this is a major incompatibility and too big a gamble with three lives (or potential lives). They should move on.
Posted by nocutename on November 6, 2013 at 7:00 AM · Report this
So I'm in a similar position as the husband of the last lady - she previously said no babies, now her clock is ticking and she's pushing me to make babies. I always said no babies and the older I get, the less I want babies. I've spent a long time thinking about it and asking around and I simply cannot think of a single positive reason to have a child. A child would simply ruin my life.

Posted by Tickles on November 6, 2013 at 7:08 AM · Report this
'she' as in my wife, i'm not married to the letter-writer.
Posted by Tickles on November 6, 2013 at 7:17 AM · Report this
nocutename 42
@40: Then you and your wife should split up. Having a child and forcing you to be a father isn't fair to you; preventing her from having a child when she wants one isn't fair to her.
If you stay together, whichever choice you make appears to guarantee that at least one of you will feel resentment. This will lead to attitude and behavior that will foster resentment in the other.

As you have noted, the more time that passes, the stronger each of your feelings and convictions become.
Posted by nocutename on November 6, 2013 at 7:23 AM · Report this
My gay great uncle, who wasn't a "young" looking person in his 70's but a very geriatric looking type, found his niche in the world in the BDSM leather scene and wound up spending his 70's getting more ass than a toilet seat. I wish this upon everyone in their 70's, but hope they don't have to wait that long to experience it for the first time.
Posted by sweet g on November 6, 2013 at 7:31 AM · Report this
Eudaemonic 44
@40, 42: While I think you should probably split up, you should first think very, very hard about which you like more: having her, or not having kids.

And get her to answer which is more important to her: being with you, or trying to find someone else who wants kids and wants her.

Then you should probably split up.
Posted by Eudaemonic on November 6, 2013 at 7:39 AM · Report this
Tim Horton 45
Childless H - you should give your husband an ultimatum. I wouldn't give more than six months. It would probably be worth counseling to figure out if his reluctance to having children is solvable.

For what it's worth, I know lots of wonderful women in their mid-late 30s who lament missing out on the traditional family/children route. They are all good catches. The problem is they wasted their 20s and early 30s in dead end relationships with men who didn't want children. The availability of good husbands/fathers dwindles from the dating pool dramatically throughout your 30s.

And while Savage is right that children don't have to end all the adventures, you either need to have family who will take your offspring while you vacation or be rich enough to afford a nanny. Of course, if you are totally ok with your husband leading the adventures while you are home with the little ones that can work too. Absent that, hauling a baby around on exotic trips will certainly be an adventure, but not the kind your husband is looking for.
Posted by Tim Horton on November 6, 2013 at 7:49 AM · Report this
Hey WHIP -- I was Mel once. If she loves you and you don't ask too much at first, it might work out. My guy is a secret sub and I was horrified at first ... but now I enjoy the power. The key is to KEEP TALKING about EVERYTHING. what works, what doesn't, all of it. We met in our 50s, which I think helps because we both had earlier relationships that didn't have enough communication so we were committed to working at it this time. Good luck.
Posted by Nina17 on November 6, 2013 at 7:52 AM · Report this
nocutename 47
@44: I know of one couple in which the husband didn't want to have kids and the wife did, and this hadn't been thoroughly agreed on before the marriage. They both had vague thoughts of "someday, kids, sure" when they married. He was adamant, so they didn't have kids because their marriage was more important to her than becoming a mother. So in their case it worked.

I know of several others which started with lukewarm kid-desires on the parts of both participants, and then the woman really wanted to have children, while the man, not really desiring children himself, was willing to accommodate the woman, and things worked out all right.

I also know of a few in which the man wasn't really enthusiastic, because he'd already had children from a previous marriage and felt "done" with child-rearing, and the woman kind of wanted kids, but was somewhat ambivalent herself, and then wasn't able to conceive without using extraordinary fertility measures, and chose to not make that effort, kind of believing that fate had settled the question for them. These people travel more extensively than others I know, and spend a lot of money on wine and gadgets. They seem happy.

And then I know a lot of people who had that child, because the wife really wanted to, and the husband either swallowed down his antipathy, or tried to do it for her sake and resented not being able to continue to live his single life. Or, as in the warnings/examples crinoline gave, he simply continued to live as if he were childless, while his wife wanted a partner who would help her parent their child. In each of these cases, the couples divorced. The men pay child support for children they may love but don't want to have to raise. The situation is less than ideal.

It is possible that a person can have a child and be totally unprepared for how much he or she will take to parenthood, and it is possible that a couple can decide that the love each feels for the other trumps their feelings about parenthood (whether positive or negative). I am not always of the DTMFA school of thought, and am in fact, deeply questioning my own decision to have divorced my ex and the father of my children over sexual incompatibility, so I don't want to seem glib when I suggest that #40 or the second lw divorce. But the division over whether or not one wants to have a child has such long-lasting consequences for so many people, I think it might be better to split when the one who wants children is still biologically able to do so relatively easily (assuming normal fertility) and both parties are still young enough to try and find new partners.
Posted by nocutename on November 6, 2013 at 8:01 AM · Report this
pastanaut 48
I strongly believe that children who get to experience other countries and other cultures make better adults. They are more likely to understand the complexities of poverty. They are more likely to be open to hiring, befriending, and marrying people of other colors, cultures, and backgrounds. Keep adventuring, with or without your kids.
Posted by pastanaut on November 6, 2013 at 8:03 AM · Report this
Eudaemonic 49
@ 47: I agree completely (thus the last line of 44 being what it was), but the nit I want to pick is that most people don't easily know whether a given opinion of theirs is lukewarm or absolute. It's very easy to assume you have an adamant desire, when you actually have a lukewarm one. It's worth thinking about (and then breaking up about, in all likelihood).

And for what it's worth, I really hope things work out for you. It sounds like you've been through a hell I wouldn't wish on almost anybody.
Posted by Eudaemonic on November 6, 2013 at 8:19 AM · Report this
nocutename 50
I also know a fair amount of straight childless couples together for many years (now in their 50s or 60s) who seem quite happy. Whether their decision to remain childless or not was consensual or deliberate or the result of things just not leading naturally to the births of kids is something I am not privy to, but considering what I know of a lot of them, I assume this was a considered decision. Not all of them are particularly adventurous.

Like Married in MA, I consider parenthood to be an adventure unto itself, and even if it temporarily suspends international travel or wild sexual hookups or orgies (or at least means one has to plan carefully for these experiences), it doesn't mean that these activities will never be resumed. As kids get older, it is far easier to travel with them (though I wouldn't recommend including them in the orgies, at any age), although then you have issues such as their lives and their school schedules to consider when making plans.

While I think that travel is a broadening experience, I don't think the lack of a lot of adventure travel necessarily makes for dull adults.

@49 (Eudaemonic): Thank you for your hopes for me. I'm not sure what I've said that sounds like my life is so dire, but it's true that the last 6 or years have been rough.
Posted by nocutename on November 6, 2013 at 9:16 AM · Report this
Re children, I think this is an appropriate moment for an ultimatum.

It starts: "I feel compelled to have a child. I would very much like to have your child; I think he or she would thereby have a good chance of being a good friend, a wonderful person, and funny as hell. In any case, I want to meet that kid. And I love being married to you; I love our sex life and I think we make a great team."

But the rest of the conversation could proceed in different ways:

1) But I also want a reliable co-parent. If that's not you, then I need to go look for that person and we need to start thinking about putting our house on the market.


2) I don't mind doing most of the work when the kid is young (and more of a charge than a companion -- thanks, Married in MA), and I don't mind parenting with limited resources. I'm prepared to see you go adventuring without me if I know you'll be recharged when you come back to us. Can you co-parent under those circumstances?

Then listen to what he says. If he really doesn't want to reproduce, the LW should walk away now.
Posted by EricaP on November 6, 2013 at 9:18 AM · Report this
@nocutename, are you questioning your decision to get divorced because getting back together with your ex is an option? If that's not on the table, I hope you can find peace with your past decisions. None of us get to know what would have happened if we had taken different paths in life...
Posted by EricaP on November 6, 2013 at 9:22 AM · Report this
Re WHIP and Mel, I'm with those who aren't hopeful about them getting back together. But, that said, there's no harm in having fun and seeing where it leads. Just keep your separate living situations and non-exclusive dating status until you figure out how compatible you are.

I would advise WHIP to be more flexible and less demanding. Instead of telling Mel she has to be his dream domme or he'll walk, just suggest exploring over the course of the next few months.

Have some scenes with him in charge, some with her in charge, some where it's just about sensation (topping & bottoming) and no one is in charge. Read books, go to some classes together, treat it like a fun adventure. Maybe you'll each meet other people along the way who are more compatible, or maybe you'll find that the adventures inspire you to commit more fully to each other.

For now, why rush into a decision about whether you are right for each other, and what your roles should be?
Posted by EricaP on November 6, 2013 at 9:29 AM · Report this
nocutename 54
@EricaP: Getting back together with my ex is not an option. You are right that is is an exercise in futility to re-think past decisions, but sometimes I find myself wondering if what I did was justified, and I feel that when I advise others to leave their marriages I may be bit of a hypocrite. Or at the very least, I wanted to make it clear that I don't dole out "leave your marriage" suggestions lightly. I used myself as an example that one can never know how one will view one's actions in hindsight.

I was quite ambivalent about whether or not I wanted to have children (as was my ex-husband) when I was in my twenties. I drew up endless "pro" and "con" lists and there was always a ton of items on the "con" side and almost nothing on the "pro," except that people always said it was a great thing to do and I'd have to take it on faith. As an atheist and empiricist, I'm not good at taking things on faith.

I felt like thanks to reliable birth control, I had too much choice over my whether I'd have a family and that choice made me vacillate and debate and weigh and set the hamster in my head spinning, trying to anticipate the future. More than once I wished I'd lived in a time where if you were married and fertile you simply had children. I hated having that kind of responsibility for it all.

Finally we decided to just stop using birth control and let nature take its course. I was pregnant 2 weeks later. Although for some reasons, this was not the best possible timing, I look at my children as the best things in my life and the experience of motherhood as the best I've ever had. It was definitely the right thing for me. But I understand that ambivalence all too well.
Posted by nocutename on November 6, 2013 at 9:36 AM · Report this
nocutename 55
Apologies for all the typos (the double "is" instead of "it is" in the first paragraph; the "my" preceding "whether" in the third paragraph) in the comment I made @54.
Posted by nocutename on November 6, 2013 at 9:55 AM · Report this
Letters like Childless H's are unsettling because they bring to the forefront something that we all know and don't like to admit: We don't know how things might have turned out differently.

Chi H might leave her husband in that quest for the right co-parent, meet him on the first date she goes on once she's single, and live happily ever after. (What are the chances?)

She might leave her husband in that quest, never find that co-parent, and live the rest of her life bitter that she left such a great friend in search of an adventure that never panned out.

For his part, her husband might tearfully watch her go, confident that children were never for him, then come to regret it as the years go by.

Or he might agree to have those children and, as ChiH predicts, feel that resentment that he never got to live that life he wanted.

Or he might fall in love with his kids the first time they squeeze his finger and give that toothless smile.

We can name people we've known who have made various choices, note the outcomes, and attempt predictions based on their experience, but it doesn't do much good to help predict how things will go for this particular couple. We can cite broad statistics on choices and outcomes and not get much better at the prediction game.

Then add a host of other unknowns:

The economy. Think of the couple who had a bunch of kids, then saw their lives thrown in disarray when a job was lost.

Or health. The primary caretaker could find herself (or himself, I suppose, but I'm being realistic) disabled or with cancer.

Or family responsibilities. Taking care of children looks different when one is also taking care of elderly parents.

Or those children themselves. In my case, the children I regret not having are healthy, brilliant, well-behaved, and with no learning disabilities. They're not constantly hospitalized, in need of special schools, on drugs, autistic, or retarded.
Posted by Crinoline on November 6, 2013 at 9:55 AM · Report this
nocutename 57
@Crinoline (#56): Well said. Yes.
Posted by nocutename on November 6, 2013 at 9:58 AM · Report this
With regards to CH:

Lots of interesting info for you to ponder. I'd like to add the "even if you want to, you might not be able to" caveat. And the "if you want children, there are lots waiting for you" caveat.

We were in the process of adopting (after trying for quite a while) twice, when we got children of the body. We also went through 2 midterm miscarriages. Waiting isn't going to help when you get to... some age, and failure, frankly, is always an option. However, we are grateful for the blessings we have received.

Orgies are way past my pay grade, but children can easily be accommodated in a date night. I want to stress that: after children, go on lots of dates. Make as much fun time together as possible, keeping in mind that children don't have to be somewhere else for you to have couple time. Just be prepared if your children end up being artistically inclined because of all the exposure they've gotten, or have very sophisticated palates that require far flung travels to sate. Parenthood is expensive, in money and time, BUT if you want to place the bet...

Posted by Married in MA on November 6, 2013 at 10:04 AM · Report this
Crinoline @56, you're not really being fair to the odds of the different circumstances you predict.

Yes, the LW might leave and never find a suitable person to co-parent with. But most people do, so her odds are high, especially since she has already been able to find one person she'd like to parent with (so she herself isn't too much of a perfectionist).

Her husband's ambivalence may come from not wanting kids at all, or not wanting kids with her, or not being ready. She doesn't know enough for us to predict the odds of him regretting a decision about child-bearing. But in any case that's not her decision to make.

I found this odd in your post: "the children I regret not having are healthy, brilliant, well-behaved, and with no learning disabilities. They're not constantly hospitalized, in need of special schools, on drugs, autistic, or retarded."

When you look at your friends, do they fall into those two categories? Most people's children are in between: decent people with some charm and some challenges, just like you and me. They aren't going to provide meaning to their parents' lives, nor will they ruin their parents' lives.

Some children fall at the extremes, of course, but if you're going to talk about making predictions, it's weird to look at the outliers rather than the most likely outcomes.
Posted by EricaP on November 6, 2013 at 10:39 AM · Report this
59-Erica P-- Good point about the outliers. In my effort to make my point, I gave examples at the extremes.

To answer your question about my own friends and their children, you're right about everyone falling somewhere in the middle. It's just that it's something I've noticed about my moments of regret. I'll attend the graduations and celebrations and think I should have had children. I never think that when the same friend is worried about the kids' drug use or just impatient and exasperated with staying up all night as the child is sick with something ordinary.
Posted by Crinoline on November 6, 2013 at 10:56 AM · Report this
@56: Chi H might leave her husband in that quest for the right co-parent, meet him on the first date she goes on once she's single, and live happily ever after. (What are the chances?)

Add in "and have time to build that relationship, and get pregnant/have an easier time adopting as a younger prospective parent" and the odds are significantly greater than they are of having that happen if five or ten years from now her husband is still pulling "I don't want kids NOW, but I feel sure that if you just wait another five or ten years I will come around to wanting them."

(I do believe in trying to save a marriage that's been good--one where there's something to save. But either she decides that she can be happy without kids or he decides that he can be happy with them--there is no middle ground where they sort of have kids but sort of don't, or have kids 6 months of the year, or something.

And in the future husband options, you left out "Get divorced because he absolutely does not want children, one year later he calls to ecstatically announce that Celia is pregnant, and it's a surprise but they're both so thrilled..." Sometimes, the truth is just that your SO doesn't want that dreamed of future with you.
Posted by IPJ on November 6, 2013 at 10:57 AM · Report this
@61 IPJ,


Posted by Married in MA on November 6, 2013 at 11:04 AM · Report this
@58: True, it's a choice between definitely no children and a chance of children. But if the chance of children is deeply important to her, so much better to be in a life where she can actively pursue that, even with no promise of success, rather than one in which she passively waits on her partner to finally have a change of heart and grant permission.

Worth noting, as you do, that adoption can be long and difficult. And that the same problems that make getting pregnant difficult (age, health conditions, limited means for fertility treatments) can make adopting difficult.
Posted by IPJ on November 6, 2013 at 11:06 AM · Report this
nocutename 64
IPJ, You're absolutely on target in all your comments. Childless H says she's in her early 30s. So if she and her husband decide to divorce (and sell the house), and she has to meet someone and spend time developing a relationship before they can even find out if having biological children is possible, she's already going to be in her mid-30s, bare minimum. Then, if it takes her a while to meet Mr. or Ms. Right and then to discover that they're struggling with fertility issues . . . well, she doesn't have infinite amounts of time.
Posted by nocutename on November 6, 2013 at 11:29 AM · Report this
Close the italics tag!
Posted by DC270 on November 6, 2013 at 11:54 AM · Report this
Childless, I sort of want to echo what Dan says. Adventure doesn't have to end. Parenthood itself is an awesome adventure and I look forward to all the things that I get to show, teach, and do with my son. My wife and I are having better sex than ever. The thing about kids, though, is that you never know what's going to happen. At nearly a year and a half my son was diagnosed with a very rare disorder that has led to twice weekly therapies as well as the need for tons of medical supplies. Needless to say we can't have as many adventures as we would without this disorder. Still, we get to have tons of fun together.
Posted by CallezCal on November 6, 2013 at 11:54 AM · Report this
AFinch 67
@14 - Late to the party (others have already said this) but I still want to pile on: it's not egg health, it's egg production and there are gobs of studies - real, modern 21st century studies - that show it really goes off a cliff just before age 40.

The false hope being held out for women who are 35+ that they can still just get knocked up like that is cruel.
Posted by AFinch on November 6, 2013 at 11:55 AM · Report this
@35: "I'm guessing the thing he wants to do is think about himself and what he wants, which doesn't get to be your sole focus once you have kids." THIS.

I don't think it's about items X, Y, and Z on his bucket list. I think it's about not wanting to be a responsible grownup day-in-day-out. Which is legit, I guess. It's just more petty than the narrative he's telling about himself.
Posted by Margaret L. on November 6, 2013 at 12:04 PM · Report this
161-IPJ-- Right! I call that the Harry and Sally scenario. (Though in the movie, it's Sally's ex who does that. I don't remember the character's name.) I believe that what happens isn't a plan on the guy's part. He's not thinking "I don't want children with HER." He's probably telling the truth when he says he doesn't want children. That's when he's still at that point of thinking that he can stay young forever. Then they divorce, and he looks around for another carefree adventurous relationship. He doesn't find it. The rest of his life starts to come into closer focus. And THAT'S when the unplanned pregnancy with Celia starts to look pretty good. (Wait, I can't find the dialogue online. Sally's ex's new girlfriend isn't Celia, is it?)
Posted by Crinoline on November 6, 2013 at 12:33 PM · Report this
Eudaemonic 70
@ 50 (Eudaemonic): Thank you for your hopes for me. I'm not sure what I've said that sounds like my life is so dire, but it's true that the last 6 or years have been rough.

Having to decide to end a marriage due to mismatched libidos is basically one of my worst-nightmare scenarios. Maybe it's just because I'm the kind of person who would torture himself about it forever with counterfactuals, but that kind of person isn't exactly rare...

And you seem like good people. Stuff like that shouldn't happen to anyone, especially not good people.
Posted by Eudaemonic on November 6, 2013 at 12:42 PM · Report this
Dan's advice to Childless H assumes that their children will be normal. I suppose that isn't an unreasonable assumption, but I know too many people stuck with disabled children who were not able to have any freedom for over a decade. Personally I wouldn't want to have children with somebody who doesn't seem to want children, no matter how great they are.
Posted by TheLastComment on November 6, 2013 at 1:09 PM · Report this
I feel like a cad for pointing this out, but one advantage of adopting is having a child of known physical status.

Posted by Married in MA on November 6, 2013 at 1:31 PM · Report this
Childless H, your hubby keeps focusing on things he'll never do if he has kids, what about the things he'll never get to do if he DOESN'T have kids?

Like have sex with a pregnant woman? Unless he's already done that, then damn, my hat is off.
Posted by Texans on November 6, 2013 at 1:48 PM · Report this
The age thing is not just about the gametes. It’s about the energy and flexibility to deal with lack of sleep and financial precarity.

I had always expected to have a family but I didn’t want to be a single parent and didn’t have a reliable co-parent. When I decided that train had left the station and got dogs instead I was 33.

I hadn’t been spending the time up until then developing a high-powered career, saving money and buying a house. All I had was an ok job but nothing else.

Even if I were able to locate that reliable co-parent within the following twelve months, it would still be a while before a child actually came into the family. I didn’t want to:
1) spend my late 30s/early 40s not sleeping through the night;
2) take years out of the career I had barely started to watch short incontinent people ride tricycles in circles;
3) go back to the financial insecurity I had just left;
4) put an infant in daycare full time so I could earn a living.

I also knew that I (like anyone) might have a child with a disability who might need me for more than the first 18 years. If I am 40 years older than my child I’m not going to be moving furniture for them when they’re 30. That’s a problem.

So I got dogs. If you want to have a baby when you’re 50 you’d better have money.
Posted by Alison Cummins on November 6, 2013 at 1:50 PM · Report this
Poor Mel. Kinksters are SO. MUCH. WORK.
Posted by cockyballsup on November 6, 2013 at 1:50 PM · Report this
Married in MA, I said that to my mother once. She came back with another perspective: if it turns out that your adoptive child’s disability is too much for you to cope with, it’s your own damn fault and the guilt would be crushing.

Also, anyone — including an adoptive child — can become disabled. In fact, almost all of us will at some point.
Posted by Alison Cummins on November 6, 2013 at 1:55 PM · Report this
seandr 77
@Really Now..., @lolorhone

My post was careless. I wrote a reply with the hope of wiping some of the shit off my shoe, but it ended up being too embarrassingly long. So, I think I'm just going to trudge around the house leaving a trail of shit footprints until it finally wears off.
Posted by seandr on November 6, 2013 at 2:28 PM · Report this
nocutename 78
@Married in MA (72): I know a whole mess o' people who adopted babies that were seemingly physically perfect at birth and who later manifested a host of possibly hereditarily-influenced extreme learning disabilities, mental health issues, or some combination. Many of these kids have demonstrated really disturbing behavior, and have cost their adoptive parents no end of emotional grief, worry, and money--special schools and programs, good rehab facilities, really effective psych treatment costs a bucketload. One couple--two of the most caring, supportive, intelligent, highly-educated people I know--I know have had nothing but struggle with both their adopted children since those children were in late elementary school (they are now 20 and 17, respectively, living on the streets). It's been heartbreaking to witness. I realize that having your own kids is no guarantee against having kids who struggle with extreme difficulties, but I know of so many of these kids (now aged between 12-26, including some in my family) that I really had to re-think my attitudes about adoption. I think genetics plays a very large role in mental/psychological conditions and you can't spot those in a newborn.
Posted by nocutename on November 6, 2013 at 2:36 PM · Report this
nocutename 79
@Seandr: You could let your wife out of the dungeon to wash the floor . . .
Posted by nocutename on November 6, 2013 at 2:37 PM · Report this
nocutename 80
@Eudaemonic: You seem like good people. Well, thank you. You're right, it was an agonizing decision, and one that I'm not altogether sure was the correct one, 5+ years down the line. But there's no going back.
Posted by nocutename on November 6, 2013 at 2:47 PM · Report this
lolorhone 81
Mr. Ven @29: I was joking. I thought the other two comments would provide the appropriately humorous context. You're probably right; she seems desperate to please him specifically and he seems determined to be pleased by any means necessary. Which is not a guaranteed disaster, but it definitely leaves something to be desired in terms of balance/equity on her part. It seems his need for kink outweighs his need for her and her need for him outweighs her need for a sexually compatible partner. Tl;dr= not looking good.


You did not spare me "a vision of [me] and Mr. Ophian finding out that [my] square kink doesn't link with his triangular one". You pretty much single-handedly forced me to consider it. Just sayin'.
Posted by lolorhone on November 6, 2013 at 2:47 PM · Report this
lolorhone 82
seandr @77: No woman here is going to hold it against you long least not now that you've admitted that this was not your finest hour. And if they do, you could always tell them to get back in the kitchen and make you a sandwich.

(sorry, I kind of had to...)
Posted by lolorhone on November 6, 2013 at 3:01 PM · Report this
WHIP's girl should order him to give her hot monkey sex
Posted by EdgarECayce on November 6, 2013 at 3:29 PM · Report this
Medina 84
One's hypothetical reaction to having a child may be much different than the reality.

She could have a child and find out that she was not ready. He may discover that a child was exactly what he wanted but didn't know it!

Weird how life turns the tables.

Posted by Medina on November 6, 2013 at 3:37 PM · Report this
Mr Rhone - We could all guess what various women here would hold against Dr Sean, but I shall spare everyone a catalogue.

As far as square/triangular kinks, I almost gave any of three concrete examples that sprang to mind, but feared I might be having a psychic flash and accordingly refrained from being specific. I'm sure you two have the wherewithal to round off the edges and make all your kinks circular should necessity require.
Posted by vennominon on November 6, 2013 at 3:37 PM · Report this
Ms Cummins - Although I get along better with young people than with adults, I have always been firmly convinced that I should never have children (far too assimilationist). I had cats instead, and accordingly got used to waking between 2:00 and 4:00 to feed the diva (probably an appropriate consequence of naming him after an opera singer).
Posted by vennominon on November 6, 2013 at 3:45 PM · Report this
Ms Cute - I can certainly see the appeal of freedom from voluntary choice. I'm not sure whether to be reminded of *Mario and the Magician* or *Lord Arthur Savile's Crime*.
Posted by vennominon on November 6, 2013 at 3:49 PM · Report this
@86 venn,

Kneading with claws or having your eyelids licked?

Posted by Married in MA on November 6, 2013 at 3:51 PM · Report this
Having personally witnessed a number of women friends of mine have their biological alarm clocks go off HARD, despite their professed ideologies to the contrary, I think y'all are being a bit hard on seandr for the whole "biological calling" thing.

I.e., in her mid-twenties she would affectionately (according to her, anyway), if condescendingly (to us on the receiving end), refer to my mid-thirties wife and me as "breeders"; fast-forward a decade, there she is admitting over tea to wanting nothing so desperately as to settle down and have babies. It may not be a "calling" as in a vocation, but it sure as hell can be a "calling" as in "hollering up a storm."
Posted by avast2006 on November 6, 2013 at 5:30 PM · Report this
some days in some places I look at cartoons and the day played out like one of them, and sometimes, I get a wild irresponsible testicle that makes me wanna see CENTRAL FLORIDA reaffirming the CATCH and RELEASE depend on Humidity and a.c plus its PROVO yo, need heat, GEE? whatever up, some cunt, some stuff, nutty cheeseball, 40 something 3rd marriage, naagh, fast ...all the time and lots of church, and, hey yay, when they did, and he did and she did, its around that time to get back to, gave blood ...boogeyman sluts want you to think that either your the one they want, or their tactics of using a.m radio channels, hyperventilating looking for ATTENTION, down syndrome, figuring military men are their best other arguments...silence all the time HEN HEN HOUSE, friend, treadmills, pen pals...not now, fuck you with never will be, take your buddy ugly, all the racism that he will always know, so composed, so awful, lots of alcohol...listen to her, needles, she feels doomed like you, a salute to whom, the other dead dude? oh no, back onto as promised, watch this, like how I type, yeah right, are you frightened, because all the LIFETIME channels and SCwarzeneggar movies were made to HELP assist you...but isn't she just really the badguy? freaky?with or without me.
Posted by dann on November 6, 2013 at 5:31 PM · Report this
lolorhone 91
avast2006 @89: It wasn't "biological calling". It was "fulfill her purpose". Two very different implications.
Posted by lolorhone on November 6, 2013 at 5:38 PM · Report this
A woman who has been on the pill and then stops in order to become pregnant may find out that the pill has upset her reproductive system. It might take six months to a year for her to become pregnant. Every woman will react differently to the withdrawal of the pill hormones. Consult a M.D. for more information.
Posted by Amos101 on November 6, 2013 at 5:55 PM · Report this
Corylea 93
I'm a woman who's a switch, and I actually prefer playing with other switches whenever possible.

I remember one scene that my then-lover and I did at a party where we were switching every minute or two during a single scene. I've never felt the power between us so tangibly, as if it were almost a live thing, as in that scene, since we were passing it back and forth between us so frequently.

This scene confused onlookers enough that one actually said, "Who's topping this scene, anyway?" Without stopping or consulting with each other, my lover and I simultaneously replied, "We are!" Being THAT in tune with someone was a wonderful experience.

Best of luck with Mel -- I hope that works out for both of you -- but female switches DO exist!

Posted by Corylea on November 6, 2013 at 5:57 PM · Report this
@69: I agree that in most cases, when one person says "I just don't ever want to (get married / have a child/ move to the Yukon)" and then a year later is excited to do that with the new-model partner, they were not intentionally malicious. They had a gut feel that that decision would be wrong for them, but the gut didn't spell out "because it would be with X, and you don't want that with X." So poor X is left like Sally, realizing that it really wasn't his deep-felt philosophical position but just her. (In the movie the breakup and subsequent phone call is over ex's realization that he never wants to get married or have a family. I think the phone call is just that he is getting married to the very next person he dated.)
Posted by IPJ on November 6, 2013 at 6:43 PM · Report this
Regarding WHIP; I'm usually the first to admit that love isn't enough to make a relationship work. But dude, if you're lucky enough to be madly in love at seventy, that's worth fighting for. That's a treasure.

Regarding Childless, I'm a woman who does not want but enjoys the company of children. Bet if she looked among her free spirited friends, she might find similarly minded souls to borrow her potential child from time to time. That ought to make adventuring easier. That said, I wish I had had the childhood any child of hers stands to have!

And Corylea? That sounds fun as hell. Hope I get to try it sometime.
Posted by KDru on November 6, 2013 at 7:05 PM · Report this
Mr Married - He was much more clever. His favourite method was to knock the cylinder attached to the vertical blinds against the wall. The other cat was more direct, content with a head butt.
Posted by vennominon on November 6, 2013 at 7:51 PM · Report this
re: the LW whose husband doesn't want kids: yes, it's true that people can choose to have adventures/travel/etc with kids, but if travel/adventures/etc are a deal-breaker, then they should NOT have children.

Here are some things that they need to think and talk about:

What if the child is of the temperament who really can't handle constant travel and change? What if the child can't adjust to re-forming friends and connections and really would be better off staying in one place?

What if the child has a learning or a medical need that requires specialized care -- requiring the family to stay in one place to provide those things?

What if the family just can't afford the constant travel and adventures and one or both of them have to take a job that doesn't allow for those things?

What about the fact that travel/adventures usually mean that you *don't* get to carry along with you your support network? Are you really prepared for the amount of work it takes to bop around the world with a kid and no reliable babysitters/family members/neighbors to help out?

Dan's blithe advice, "Sure, you can go off and have adventures; just have 'em with the kid," is not very realistic and isn't taking into account that when you choose to have children, you're choosing to first and foremost give that child what he or she needs best, not what you want most. If that isn't an acceptable bargain, then don't make it.
Posted by gatoverde on November 6, 2013 at 10:18 PM · Report this
I was giving seandr the benefit of the doubt, and assumed he meant *her* purpose, in that she really wants kids and feels that this is part of her raison d'etre. Not that birthing a child is the purpose of all women.
Posted by clashfan on November 6, 2013 at 10:27 PM · Report this
seandr 99
@avast2006: My comment was based on having observed exactly the same sort of change in tune among my female friends that you describe.

@clashfan: Yes, thanks, I meant LW's chosen purpose.
Posted by seandr on November 7, 2013 at 12:43 AM · Report this
Still Thinking 100
Childless - a cautionary tale: I (female) had cold feet about having children until I was "ready" for 5,000 different very good reasons, one of which was that I love to travel in the way that a single or partnered person travels, and not in the way a person with kids travels. I enjoyed living abroad, and did it several times during my own childhood and once as an adult. I don't think being bi/pan-whatever sexual figured into my thinking about being a parent.

Then, in my very late 30's when I decided I might be ready, my body said no. I went a short and expensive way down the fertility treatment path into my very early 40's, and then decided my chances were too slim to justify starting off a family with tens of thousands of dollars of debt. And oh, during that time, the large-enough-for-a-family home my husband and I bought went underwater to the tune of being worth half what we borrowed. I'm not hung up on money, but when you've been self-sufficient for two decades, and you realize you may not live long enough to pay off your debt, it blows.

So my husband, who really wanted biological children (cultural, family and personal thing) and I were miserable together for a while. Then we decided that was not why we got together in the first place, and called it quits after 14 years. Unrelenting pain and festering resentment are a cancer upon a healthy relationship.

I received a toddler from foster care the day before my 45th birthday, and adopted that child 18 months later. The chances of adopting a child without a "compromised" history when you are a single woman "of a certain age" are about the same as being able to conceive at that age, I think. My kid is amazing, and parenting is a total adventure, but not of the swinging with cool people in Phuket type. I just had an emergency parent-teacher meeting because kindergarten is turning out to be as much of a challenge for my kid's haywire socialization skills as I feared.

Meanwhile, my ex and his younger partner are 14 weeks pregnant.

So I am looking at working very hard to raise a child who will probably be a significant challenge all the way. But flip side, the life of my child will probably be, for at least some part of it, higher quality than it would otherwise have been. And my life is already way better than it was, in spite of the incredibly hard work I've been doing.

I am looking at a very steep hill in terms of finding another partner, of any gender. Flip side - if I do find someone, I'll know they are as good a catch as I am.

I am looking at being in debt for the rest of my life. Flip side - I get to be a statistic illustrating the disappearance of the middle class. Oh wait. Wrong flip side. Umm, it's a really decent house. Actually, it's the first stable home my kid has known. That's a different kind of value.

The sooner you become attuned to whatever your place in the universe is, and whatever your "purpose" is (sorry, seandr, couldn't resist) the sooner you'll move through the pain of loss that's coming your way.

Thanks to nocutename, IPJ, Married in MA, etc. for some thoughtful posts, to seandr and lolo for leavening with humour, and to mr. ven for his usual dry observations.

Posted by Still Thinking on November 7, 2013 at 2:54 AM · Report this
Ms Thinking - I applaud you for being able to stop instead of doubling down as so many do (and very sorry about the house). This is actually a major Ideal World snag; theoretically I'd have been delighted to allocate you whatever it took out of public funds, but how to construct a system allowing everyone enough discretionary electives without neglecting necessities eludes me.

I shall not attempt to guess whether you were or weren't "ready enough". If you really weren't ready, the right thing at the wrong time might have proved just as calamitous to the relationship and with the bonus of co-parenting for the aftermath.

Good for you at least that you have come through to regarding your life as overall improved. I could offer any of a number of comments about the former husband, but, not being able to divine what fate you'd enjoy seeing predicted for him, I shall refrain from comparing him to any well-known characters for the moment.
Posted by vennominon on November 7, 2013 at 4:38 AM · Report this
Childless H here. Thank you Dan for answering my letter. I'm going to show your response to my husband as soon as we get some downtime. Thanks to everyone for the thoughtful comments, especially CallazCal, IPJ, and Married in MA. Just wanted to clarify that I'm still on board with a life outside the States but I sure as hell don't want to be trekking around Nepal( or wherever) while 7 months pregnant. My ideal timeframe includes at least a couple of years to get through the sleepless nights and temper tantrums. My spouse says he does want kids but he doesn't know when, and therein lies the problem.
Posted by Childless H on November 7, 2013 at 6:02 AM · Report this
@96, @97, @100,

They are your messes, or disturbances, or distractions, and make life interesting. They are your beloved.

The easiest test of "engagement" is something like: "Yes I'm covered in puke, but it's my child's/pet's/SO's..."*. At some point a change occurred, usually unbidden, and yet you don't want to change back.


PS: * I use a negative because a positive like "...and we fucked till dawn" or "she/he/it is sooo beautiful and has such soft hair" is just too easy an example of change.
Posted by Married in MA on November 7, 2013 at 6:12 AM · Report this
@102, my wife told me when I was 28 that she was ready, and I said I wasn't. But we did, and I'm glad we had them that young. And there is plenty of adventure to be had with kids, btw.
Posted by Texans on November 7, 2013 at 6:24 AM · Report this
102-Childless H-- So another way to frame the question is:

How do I know if my husband really wants kids or if he's just stringing me along? How do I know if he wants children so late in his life that it will be too late for me?

Perhaps the person to talk this over with is your gynecologist/fertility specialist. That's after you talk to a family counselor.
Posted by Crinoline on November 7, 2013 at 6:43 AM · Report this
nocutename 106
@102 (Childless H):
Maybe you and your husband should plan for one big, grand adventure, and then he can try to see the different kind of adventure that having a child is, and go into that with all the curiosity and gusto of traveling to a foreign country and learning new customs and a new language. It's not dissimilar: travel can be challenging and exhausting, and sometimes, frustrating, but so very rewarding. It's just that the specific natures of the challenges, frustrations, and rewards are different. Then you two can plan to travel with the kid, but maybe not adventure travel. Perhaps he can take a short adventure trip by himself or with a friend, while you stay home with a young child, or the two of you can leave the kid with a grandparent or aunt/uncle/good friend and go on a brief adventure trip together. And when the child is old enough . . .

Maybe the planning for these trips, the premise that the birth of a child doesn't mean the total death of adventure travel will help assuage your husband's fears that he will have to give up completely something he loves so much. Just keeping the upcoming trips on the mental horizon may reassure him.

Meanwhile, you might be surprised, as I was, how thrilling a trip to the park can be with a toddler. There are rewards satisfactions of parenthood far beyond what you can imagine. It's a different kind of thrill, but parenthood is not merely sleepless nights and wailing babies, shitty diapers, and tantrum-throwing toddlers. It's easy to forget that and to focus only on the things you'll lose and the crappy aspects. And all those baby things, which seem to be an everlasting, always-existing state when you're in them, really don't last that long. Suddenly you realize that it's been months since you were last awakened in the night, or had to deal with a tantrum, or schedule your day around a nap schedule. Suddenly, you live with a cool little person and you get to show that little person the world (and see it through new, enthusiastic eyes). That's as exciting an adventure as it gets, if you look at it that way.

Lastly, if you do have children, I'll echo what others have said: continue to make regular time for yourselves, individually, and as a couple. Find some reliable babysitters and start a regular date night, cultivate a babysitting exchange when the kid is young and have the occasional sleepover so you can have your house to yourself for a night, sneak away for a lunch together when the kid is at preschool. Keep your identity as a couple.

Good luck. I hope you two work something out that makes you both happy.
Posted by nocutename on November 7, 2013 at 7:00 AM · Report this
nocutename 107
@Seandr: I understood your comment about fulfilling her purpose in the way in which it was intended. For many women, there is a strong, biological pull that kicks in in late 20s/early 30s.

@Still Thinking: It sounds like you have gone through some rough times and made some hard decisions, and I applaud your looking at things from both sides. Good luck in parenthood.

@Alison Cummins: I'm glad you made the right decision for you.

@KDru: I don't know how old you are, but it is always irritating to me when someone looks at an older couple and says, condescendingly, "how cute! Look at the old people in love!" Why do you assume that being able to feel love in one's early 70s is any different than being able to feel love in your 20s?
Posted by nocutename on November 7, 2013 at 7:27 AM · Report this
elmsyrup 108
I am a 33 year old woman and have never wanted children. There have been some difficulties in my relationship because of this- my partner always vaguely thought he wanted to be a father. But he was 41 when we met and I am his first serious relationship. So I had to ask him, in all honesty, what are the realistic chances of finding another woman with whom he has such a strong connection, and her being younger than him, and also wanting kids. After a while he saw my point. While there is a possibility that in having kids I would be surprised by how much I came to love the experience, that's just a hypothetical. Whereas I know for sure I enjoy NOT being a parent.
Posted by elmsyrup on November 7, 2013 at 8:03 AM · Report this
John Horstman 109
Hang on, why are so many people saying it's a logistical nightmare to travel with children, or that a kid needs to be left behind with a caretaker? My parents took me on one or two trips a year, often internationally, as a baby (actually, a fetus - my parents went to London when my mom was half way through her pregnancy) through high school (note: we had enough money to be able to afford to travel one or two times a year for a couple weeks at a time - I would hesitate to generalize my family's experience beyond households in the top income quintile).

@Childless H: Have you considered adoption? I understand that a lot of people really want a kid that looks like them/shares genetic information and/or that a lot of women actually WANT to go through pregnancy, even with all of the downsides, but if that doesn't necessarily describe you, adopting a child would be a way to have a kid while not having to worry about trekking around Nepal while pregnant. If your husband is on the fence about having a kid per se and you really want a kid, you should split up now, immediately, to give both of you the best shot at finding a partner whose life goals match your own. I am strongly of the opinion that only people who really want kids (and want to be responsible for taking care of them until they can take care of themselves) should have kids, as anything else is seriously unfair to the children.
Posted by John Horstman on November 7, 2013 at 9:10 AM · Report this
Ms Cute - I imagine one could nominate having or not having children as the biggest FTWL... of all. I suspect you have more capacity to make the best of your own lot than some others possess, and congratulate you on success in this area.
Posted by vennominon on November 7, 2013 at 9:49 AM · Report this
If you don't embrace your partners part of the journey, it's not partnership. Isn't it possible Childless H is being used? My sense is she is more committed than he is. He was using her to support HIS adventures and loves her for her utility in that regard. The specific "adventures" he wants are not detailed. Are they sexual or travel oriented? Is he too hung up on Parental guilt to be who he was if he is a parent.. The guy doesn't sound legit.

I hate to say it, but sounds to me like he doesn't want a kid with you as you are H. That's the only thing that ever made me say or feel that in my own life.

Isn't the question "what would make you comfortable having a child with me?" And not "when".. When creates dependency and waiting games etc.
Posted by funfunfun on November 7, 2013 at 10:24 AM · Report this
Childless H @102 - thanks for writing in! Have you considered if it's more important to you to have this particular guy's kid, or to have a reliable, involved co-parent?

Maybe you can have both, but I wouldn't count on it.
Posted by EricaP on November 7, 2013 at 10:53 AM · Report this
The husband who doesn't want kids right now made me think of this question to Dear Sugar (one of my favorite books of 2013). She covers the pros and cons so well.…
Posted by farmerjen on November 7, 2013 at 11:11 AM · Report this
@112 This particular guy is pretty amazing. I haven't even considered the possibility of being a single mom yet, or finding another partner to co-parent with. The heartbreak alone of divorcing this guy would probably put me off the market for a good long time. Time that I really don't feel like I have.
I like what you said in an earlier post about my spouse wanting kids: "In any case that's not her decision to make." You are entirely correct.
Posted by Childless H on November 7, 2013 at 11:20 AM · Report this
@114, but if you can let him have his freedom while you do most of the parenting grunt work in those hard early years, then you don't have to face the heartbreak of divorcing this particular amazing guy.
Posted by EricaP on November 7, 2013 at 11:29 AM · Report this
I'm just saying, try thinking outside the box, about what is an absolute necessity and where each of you can compromise. Don't assume things have to look like a stereotypical marriage with white picket fence etc.
Posted by EricaP on November 7, 2013 at 11:30 AM · Report this
nocutename 117
@Mr. Ven: I think that there are some people who know just how they feel about having children from an early age and that doesn't change, and some who think they know (one way or the other) and then it changes, and some who never had a certainty about it right up until the moment when they have one or find out definitively that they can't, or reach the end of life.

I also think that for out gay men, especially, until recently, having children may have just been one of those things that wasn't going to happen (I'm assuming no marriages to women), so there may have been little point to thinking about whether one really wanted to become a father or not. For gay men now in their early 40s or younger, I think it might be different. There are more options; there are more models. So now they have to face the same question that straight men--or closeted gay men married to women--have (although I would bet that if one was the kind of closeted gay man who married a woman, then having children was such a strong "proof" of one's heterosexuality that such men gladly welcomed the role of father).

There is an old Devo song called "Freedom of Choice," in which the lyric is "freedom of choice is what you've got; freedom from choice is what you want." I think that sums up my situation well.

But let me clarify: I'm not merely "mak[ing] the best of [my] own lot" in regards to having had children. My children can be major pains in the neck, but having them and raising them, and knowing them has been the most gratifying aspect of my life.
Posted by nocutename on November 7, 2013 at 11:30 AM · Report this
@117 nocute,

Devo and children, in the same thread: Gotta love it!

While my background is more "Mr. DNA", more often than not I feel like I'm living "Once In A Lifetime". I just watched an episode of House with my daughter (I ended up running out of the room; something about circumcision and boxcutters). It is important to remember in every endeavor, "Luck is the residue of design". If you're not in the ballpark, it makes it much more difficult to hit a home run (but you can be "out" anywhere). My daughter puked on me a few times, I got over it.

Posted by Married in MA on November 7, 2013 at 12:28 PM · Report this
@118 continued:

And, sadly, all Devo songs are old ones. Great band, but it's a little difficult explaining the lyrics to "Penetration In The Centerfold" to your wife's college friends*!


PS: * Sample exchange: "What was that?! Her finger's up her nose?!". Response:........
Posted by Married in MA on November 7, 2013 at 12:38 PM · Report this
I just wanted to add another parent of experience voice to Childless H. I have two kids and we travel internationally every year. Both of my kids were on airplanes before a year old and loved it. They have climbed pyramids, swam in three oceans, and hunted for howler monkeys in rain forests. I am very lucky that my kids are great travelers but we as a family, value travel more than a new car or a perfect lawn. You cannot pick a good time to have a kid because there isn't one. Becoming a parent is a gamble. Now I have two preteens and they are amazing people. They understand how lucky we are to live in America and can discuss global politics as well as Minecraft worlds. Just because you have children, an alien doesn't suck out your personality and replace it with a suburban soccer mom. Oh, I do recommend soccer though. Go to any city around the world and a kid with a soccer ball makes friends.
Posted by sexymnmom on November 7, 2013 at 12:49 PM · Report this
@113, I figure this is the link you wanted?…
Posted by EricaP on November 7, 2013 at 1:41 PM · Report this
@2: Yes, sure, travelling all over the place is great for kids too. But FYI, you probably don't remember doing anything like that before you were 5. You wouldn't, for example, remember what it might have been like for everyone *else* in the campground when the 3 year old woke up at 3am, screaming his head off unconsoleably for an hour. Or what happens to little kids who have trouble with bedwetting when "potty" is a big hole in the ground, and there's no lights. You also wouldn't remember that it cost considerably *more* than two times your old expenses when travelling with kids.

Of course, once you're over that (giant) hump of the first five years, it's considerably easier, notwithstanding fistfights in the back seat or a certain someone not listening when you insist that you really *do* need to go to the bathroom before going back in the car.

Then, I can discuss what it means to find babysitting so that mommy and daddy can get out of the house to get their freak on, only to have the babysitter override everything. Let's just say that you don't exactly get to party on a regular basis, and when you do, "relaxing" is something that almost happens.
Posted by gromm on November 7, 2013 at 2:08 PM · Report this
@102: The sleepless nights and temper tantrums don't stop at two, by the way. It depends a lot on the temperament and personality of the kid, and at what age you have a second, or a third, which can extend the horror show of the first three years well beyond three years. Just as an example, our first son is now almost 7, and we're finally sleeping all the way through the night most of the time. Baby number two came right when baby number one was lulling us into a false sense of complacency at the age of three and a half.

We're not having any more.
Posted by gromm on November 7, 2013 at 2:20 PM · Report this
@123 - first one was ten and second one was 7 when it got better for us... Hang in there! (Oh, and put a lock on your bedroom door or enforce household rules about knocking & waiting rather than barging in.)
Posted by EricaP on November 7, 2013 at 2:34 PM · Report this
@102: Several members of my husband's family lived abroad for a year or two with small children of various sizes. It is very doable. As with life in the US, children do focus you much more on stability--no one wants to hitchhike through rebel-controlled backcountry with a toddler.

You can certainly travel, travel twice a year if that's financially doable for you. The right sort of trip will depend very much on your child's temperament, which is unpredictable. (Even between children: the rules you learn with the first don't necessarily apply to the next.) Some kids will happily wait through long lines or long plane rides if you tell stories and help march the Fisher Price Little People around. Other kids are very high energy and need a trip where they can constantly hurtle around. (On one trip to the Grand Canyon the three older people traded around being sick for a few days, so whoever was healthiest would take the youngest out to tear around climbing things. Literally running in circles in the rain at one point. It is that never-off thing that is the most hard-hitting part of having children.)

If you'd been together six months your husband's hesitation on children would make sense. You've been together years, and you are over thirty. You don't know where you fall on the fertility dice roll until you are trying to have kids. "I'm going to want them, but not right now. Maybe in a year, maybe two, maybe fifteen..." is not an okay answer for him to give you.

I'll toss this back at him: Have that kid or kids NOW, while you have more energy reserves than you will in five or ten years. And in ten years, you will have this easy-to-travel-with, not-in-diapers, able-to-read-his-own-book-on-the-plane kid or kids.
Posted by IPJ on November 7, 2013 at 2:35 PM · Report this
Why are 10 yos necessary travel companions?
Posted by Hunter78 on November 7, 2013 at 2:58 PM · Report this
Just to add a non-travel adventure:

Explain the meaning of the word chance in language a first grader can understand. No using the word itself in the definition now... (I used coin flips as an example)

Reading books aloud, making food that the kids would eat, getting to all the events on time, dealing with your favorite T-shirts going MIA. Boredom is usually someone else's problem, sudden fits of astonishment and even contentment more being the order of the day.

Posted by Married in MA on November 7, 2013 at 3:36 PM · Report this
Ms Cute - I should have said "any particular" instead of your, as it was not a comment on your actual circumstances but rather that you seem the sort of person who, especially given the period of pregnancy, could put yourself into the right frame of mind for a given circumstance, where other people would need the stars to line up right for them.

I'll grant the extremely high likelihood of fluctuation in people's attitudes. I was mainly considering the way advocates on both sides have trouble stopping themselves from lapsing into LMB territory. It trumps the Christianist-Atheist dialogue, no mean feat.

I am more or less with your second paragraph until:

"So now they have to face the same question that straight men--or closeted gay men married to women--have"

While there are more options and more models, "have to" seems first of all to presume a lot more accessibility than exists for everyone. Not all gay under-40s who can take on parenting have to be in the 1% occupied by Mr Savage, but it's still, if not exclusively an A-gay question, then it has spread no farther than a clear B. It's still very much the gay equivalent of a First-World Problem. Certainly poverty is much more effective birth control.

I trust I am safe in assuming that you didn't mean "have to" as carrying an assumption that considering the question is character-building. To some extent it's reminiscent of The Time of the Angels when Muriel Fisher finds that her father has taken her suicide pills and started the Nutcracker Suite playing, only to prove incapable of deciding to save him in time before the record finishes. But just because declining to take the extraordinary methods required constitutes an indirect answer does not mean that consideration of the question is necessary or even always advisable. I hope it never reaches the point of "having to" - which would be an indication of excessive assimilation. While it is a good thing that some of us who can parent do so, it seems equally equally that some decline to decide.
Posted by vennominon on November 7, 2013 at 5:44 PM · Report this
nocutename 129
Mr. Ven: Oh, I absolutely didn't mean that all gay men must now have to make that decision, and I agree that the decision to have a child requires a lot of effort and (usually) money for gay men. It's not like the baby just happens by "accident."

I just meant that while this was once a decision making process that out gay men were largely exempt from, that is no longer necessarily the case.

For any/everyone who has the means and ability to control his/her family size, whether by the simplest method of using or stopping contraception, to IVF, to surrogacy, to adoption, these are first world issues.
Posted by nocutename on November 7, 2013 at 8:54 PM · Report this
To nocutename;

Love is precious at any age, and the fact of the matter is that as we get older, we lose people. Its wonderful to know that new ones can also be found. Its not cute, its comforting and also awesome.

To me, falling in love isn't actually that easy. I found my first love at age thirty-four. So maybe I take a bit of solace in knowing that it can always happen.

Anyway, I've tied up a lot more people than I've loved. From my perspective, both experiences are worth fighting to keep, but the latter is scarcer and the guy has been given a "sure, I'll try it" on the former. Why shouldn't I be happy for the guy?

Posted by KDru on November 7, 2013 at 8:59 PM · Report this
Isn't Childless H a man!? Why did you say, "you and your wife..." ?? I know it doesn't really matter, but, well, maybe it does.

totally confused.
Posted by redandyellow on November 7, 2013 at 9:43 PM · Report this
@131 red,

"I'm a bisexual or pansexual or omnisexual—or whatever the kids are calling us these days—woman in a monogamish marriage to a great, GGG straight man."

That is the first sentence of Childless H's letter. But, would it really make difference if she was a he?

Posted by Married in MA on November 8, 2013 at 4:40 AM · Report this
Hey WHIP my suggestion re your gf's chimp fantasy is a role play where she's Jane Goodall thinking she can 'tame' you but discovers it's not what u have in mind. Then she can enjoy the guilt-free 'this horrible thing is happening to me & there's NOTHING I can do about it' fantasy.
Posted by Comus on November 8, 2013 at 9:43 AM · Report this
Tim Horton 134
@113 and EricaP @121 - thanks for linking the Dear Sugar article. One of the most profound and thought provoking pieces I have read. This, particularly: "Would the temporary loss of a considerable portion your personal freedom in middle age be significantly neutralized by the experience of loving someone more powerfully than you ever have?"

Childless H - go read it.
Posted by Tim Horton on November 8, 2013 at 11:14 AM · Report this
Re: making it with chimps. Through the years I have given a lot of thought to bestiality fantasies of women largely because I have them. And I have least for me... It is a way to have sex without dealing with people's personalities. A way to have sex without worrying if they are happy, comfortable, satisfied. A way to have selfish self centered sex. And it really has nothing to do with real animals
Posted by tantragal on November 8, 2013 at 1:34 PM · Report this
"2) take years out of the career I had barely started to watch short incontinent people ride tricycles in circles;"

Posted by jay5 on November 8, 2013 at 10:51 PM · Report this
Tim @134, agreed.
Posted by EricaP on November 8, 2013 at 11:01 PM · Report this
mydriasis 138
I was dragged on a lot of trips when I was a kid. Sure, travelling has been like breathing for me ever since I can remember which is a handy skill but I hated every last one of them.

Although that was more about the company than travelling itself. To this day I've never travelled for fun but it's something I hope to do one day.

Which is to say I agree with the posters that it's wrong to assume that you can just bring your children on all your "adventures" with you.
Posted by mydriasis on November 9, 2013 at 5:02 AM · Report this
@136: There's nothing wrong with not wanting children. There's plenty wrong with tying down a partner who wants children with vague assurances of "Of course I want children. In the future. At a vague undetermined point in the future which depends completely on me and not you."

Posted by IPJ on November 9, 2013 at 8:18 AM · Report this
@138 mydriasis,

I hope you aren't completely adverse to traveling. Not that there's anything bad about staying home, but getting away to a different perspective can feel great. Even tackiness (you can miss Route 66) and bad (American) beer don't have to ruin a trip, given the right companion(s).

I'm lucky, my children wanted to be with us and enjoyed our adventures. We've just gotten to the age(s) of the teen hairy eyeball, and so far no missed steps. It seems even artists can tolerate geology and cultural study expeditions.

Posted by Married in MA on November 9, 2013 at 8:49 AM · Report this
@136 jay,

Instead we get to watch tall incoherent people commute in circles.

Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.

Posted by Married in MA on November 9, 2013 at 8:52 AM · Report this
mydriasis 142

No not completely. I have some mental notes on places I'd like to travel when I finally do go for my own benefit. But it's definitely safe to say that I don't have the travel bug.

I'm lucky, my children wanted to be with us and enjoyed our adventures.

Sounds to me like they're lucky too.
Posted by mydriasis on November 9, 2013 at 1:21 PM · Report this
I follow these discussions a lot more often than I comment, but I must say that this thread has been one of the most insightful ones that I have come across. Thanks slog community.

Wrt kids, when I was in my early twenties, I had visions of myself pushing a stroller around at age 27, now at 31 I don't want (and don't have) kids. I would be lying if I said that some of my failed relationships didn't play a role in this change of heart. Life is messy. Beautiful but messy.
Posted by Pate on November 9, 2013 at 2:33 PM · Report this
Still Thinking 144
Mr. Ven - I spent my 20's certain that if I became a parent, I would replicate all the miserable mistakes of my own parents, a fate almost worse than death in my eyes at the time. Also, I spent my 20's working hard for peanuts (couldn't afford a kid), and then living in Japan, working 6 day weeks and going to grad school, and where it was very clear to me that I did not want to settle. So even if I'd had a likely partner - and I had a number, but no likely ones - I wasn't ready to parent. I imagined if I ever felt ready, I would adopt.

It wasn't until several years after I got married (at 32) that it occurred to me one day, gosh - I could have a biological child. As a teacher in elementary and high school, I had seen enough bad parenting to feel like I could be an average parent. I'd been through enough positive experiences with therapy to balance out the negative ones and to think I had a decent shot at not replicating all my parents' mistakes. But I was not in any big hurry. Oops.

Ultimately, I believe that somehow the universe was guiding me and my kid to each other, and that parenting with my ex would perhaps have been an even greater challenge than single parenting a traumatized toddler.

And as for my ex - he developed a close bond with my kid during the period of time I was a foster mom, by doing a bunch of babysitting for me when I was called to awful interminable DSHS meetings and the like. He now cooks us dinner once a week, and plays the favorite uncle role for a half day on Sundays, so I can have a break. Although that may be going away as soon as his own kid arrives. So I don't wish any particular fate upon him - I think he's already got it with a new partner he doesn't quite trust the way he trusted me. And who knows how his own kid will turn out? It will be as it should.

Thanks for your kind words, though. If you know anyone who wants to buy an overpriced house in the Seattle area, I would sell just to break even. I no longer aim for anything more.
Posted by Still Thinking on November 9, 2013 at 7:38 PM · Report this
Still Thinking 145
@ Married in MA #103 - one of the heartwrenching challenges of parenting an adopted child, who bonded with and pines for their biological parent, is that my child is not yet "mine."
Posted by Still Thinking on November 9, 2013 at 7:43 PM · Report this
Still Thinking 146
@ nocutename #107 - I would not wish my journey on anyone, but it is my journey; since it didn't kill me, it did end up making me stronger.
Posted by Still Thinking on November 9, 2013 at 7:48 PM · Report this
Still Thinking 147
And Childless H - I'm sorry, but you likely have some pain coming your way. Chances are good that you will either lose your dream of becoming a mom (in the having a baby with the partner you love kind of way) or lose the guy.
Posted by Still Thinking on November 9, 2013 at 7:51 PM · Report this
Mel's friend,

Yes. We get kinkier as we get older, or we give up.
Posted by Hunter78 on November 10, 2013 at 12:08 AM · Report this
Childless - Savage strangely tries to reason 'travel doesn't have to stop you from being parents'. Convince away, but if you really want children, move on. If you want to convince and negotiate, realize the risk that he may never be ready and he could move on from a life with you are very real, despite the picture that you paint. They don't make many men like him? Apparently they don't make sons or daughters like him either. Weight what you truly want and make a decision for yourself like he is doing.
Posted by noella00 on November 10, 2013 at 5:34 AM · Report this

Lay it out-- you want children and your clock is ticking. If he is negative (informationless), and is still sending hot mail, you can get pregnant and check his reaction again.

If he still bolts, I'd suggest aborting and finding a new semen source. He's not daddy material for you.

Posted by Hunter78 on November 10, 2013 at 6:29 AM · Report this
Everyone commenting on Childless' letter seems to overlook that she said they were planning on having a child (bought house, etc), then her husband dialed back. In my interpretation, HE changed the expectations in their marriage & life plans, changed his mind about children, not her. That needs to be examined, and Dan's advice in seeking a couples counselor is spot on. To me, it seems kinda a dick move once she's committed so much of her life with his in what was once a mutual understanding how their lives would evolve.

Also, I would like to respond to a few people talking about whether having a child, especially a special needs child, affects your personal freedom.

My life started when I had my daughter, who has had significant health issues & has special needs. I realized that I didn't want to be tied down in a boring, conventional life & teach her that's what she should expect in hers. Soon after I had her, I left an unsatisfying relationship & dated fabulous men, women & those in between, finding real companionship & love. Enrolled in college in a double major hard sciences (mathematics & computer science). Took a break & traveled through the entire USA for a year in a RV. Attended concerts, jousts, festivals, camped with my beautiful child - in other words, found myself & had adventures I would never had done if I hadn't had her & gotten that wake up call.

Yes being a parent can make some things a little more complicated, take more planning, and even having a child with health issues adds to difficulties. But that doesn't stop you being who you really are, the only thing that does that is yourself.
Posted by Jinxie on November 10, 2013 at 1:14 PM · Report this
Ms Jinxie - Your opening was part of why I suggested divorce; I just didn't specify. I think the problem with the way you describe his conduct is that maybe you're spot on, he actually is as ready as he needs to be and just doesn't want to honour his end of the bargain, or maybe he planned to evolve in all good faith and his evolution just isn't up to the timetable. In the latter case, he's to be commended for honesty (it's the people who decide they'd better go through with it even when they know know KNOW it's the wrong course who cause bigger problems) and they should part with regret over incompatibility. In the former case, he deserves a DTMFA, but perhaps she'd rather keep him if she can get him to give in.

I commend you on your interesting life, but not everyone is meant to be Wonder Woman.
Posted by vennominon on November 10, 2013 at 3:05 PM · Report this
"Really? Holy crap. Chimp fantasies? Damn."
I love it!!!!

Posted by seroser on November 10, 2013 at 3:12 PM · Report this
If you haven't seen the link to Mr. Savage's column

The Closet

Please do.

I very much want to thank Ms. Ash Beckham, and Mr. Savage, for pointing out what should be obvious, we ALL have hard conversations (also known as closets) that involve the people we most likely will (or would like to) face over Thanksgiving/the Holidays. Not surprisingly, this applies to every letter this week.

I'm seriously considering sending this link to everyone we know, because I can.

Posted by Married in MA on November 10, 2013 at 4:05 PM · Report this
Childless - listen to him, he's not on board. Just for the love of god don't 'oops' him and assume he'll get there eventually.
Posted by Ange on November 11, 2013 at 1:08 AM · Report this
While you're at it, here's some 7th Day Advent lit.
Posted by Hunter78 on November 11, 2013 at 11:55 AM · Report this
Not to be the turd in the punchbowl,but does it strike anyone else as grossly selfish to force this woman into BDSM as a condition of a having an otherwise emotionally rewarding relationship?

"I love you, but if you don't let me whip you, I'm going to sleep around with people who will"
Posted by Riley DeWiley on November 11, 2013 at 4:40 PM · Report this
Childless H - This week's Carolyn Hax column is about someone who already has children and who isn't willing to put his family first:…

My sister was married to a guy who wouldn't step up in any way after they had children. He wouldn't do any child care, he also wouldn't hold a steady job. Think very hard about whether you want to be carrying the whole burden yourself.
Posted by citrine on November 11, 2013 at 6:46 PM · Report this
WOW----!?!?! I must still be in vacation mode to be THIS late in the game--twice! Must be the seasonal switch to PST.

Excellent advice to Childless H, Dan!

I guess I'm more on the opposite side of the "Childless H" coin.
My decision to remain childless was by choice (and I stuck to my guns about it, believe me!), and not the other way around. Although the subject of our having kids was rarely, if ever, brought up at the start of our marriage (maybe it should have been), my then-spouse became increasingly adamant over the following years about having kids---and all for the wrong reasons (i.e.: "All my friends have kids!"; "I want to leave a legacy", and my own personal favorite: an impatient and lame promise of "I'll hold your hand (presuming that he meant while I agonized through labor and childbirth in the delivery room)!!"

@158 citrine: OMG!! Your unfortunate sister has my heartfelt sympathy. Did she marry my ex? He was a rude, loud, obnoxious and abusive slob who kept militantly pushing to have kids but wouldn't step up to the responsibility of parenthood himself. His parents treated me like I "owed" them grandchildren. Yet they lived two states away, and otherwise "didn't want to get involved". I think Stephen King would have a fun time featuring my ex and his family in a future horror novel (think "The Shining", "Delores Claiborne", and maybe "Gerald's Game").
Luckily, I held my ground, got a divorce while still childless, and walked away.

I hope everything works out for your sister and her kids.
Posted by auntie grizelda on November 11, 2013 at 10:01 PM · Report this
@159: p.s. Oh, yeah. For those of you keeping score on my previous posts, Stephen King, world renowned literary horror-master, once again has me feverishly gripped in his "REDRUM" power with the publishing of his new book, "Doctor Sleep", the long-awaited update on the now-an-adult-but-still-troubled-alcoholic Dan Torrance.
It is humbling but true: although "Carrie" will forever remain a depressing read for me personally (and while the current remake in theaters is getting great reviews and said to be better than the 1976 Brian DePalma original), I am a renewed SK fan.
Posted by auntie grizelda on November 11, 2013 at 10:14 PM · Report this
lolorhone 161
Hi, Auntie Griz! It's been too long!
Posted by lolorhone on November 11, 2013 at 11:33 PM · Report this
I was heartbroken that my wife moved in with another man so I had a spell to bring her back home and stop the affair she had with him. In just 4 days she left him and went to live at the motel. She called to say so and get news of the kids. The discussion was pleasant, as if she was changing to become the woman I knew when we got married. It was exactly as you said…. Now she’s back home and is absolutely crazy about me. I am so thrilled by this spell that I cant find the right words to say how I feel right now. All I can decently say is that you changed my life and saved the most important thing in my life: my family, way to contact my savior is
Posted by cvbnc on November 12, 2013 at 1:29 AM · Report this
@157: "I love you, but if you don't let me whip you, I'm going to sleep around with people who will"

Are you sure about that? From the letter: "However, if I had to choose to be one or the other, I would choose to be a sub to a dominant woman. Can Mel be that woman?"

Feel better now?
Posted by avast2006 on November 12, 2013 at 7:58 AM · Report this

You have a right to renegotiate your contract at any time. Mel sounds like she's willing to come across. I wish them well.
Posted by Hunter78 on November 12, 2013 at 9:05 AM · Report this

The concerns this man raises about having kids are definitely valid. It is not easy and it is not cheap to have kids.
I applaud this man for actually considering these factors, instead of jumping into parenthood, regretting it, being a bad father and creating another miserable human being.
Also, I shouldn't have to point this out, but the world is overpopulated--and the more people we have the fewer natural resources we have. One guy doesn't want to have kids, we should be actively encouraging that.
Posted by BG2PDX on November 12, 2013 at 1:37 PM · Report this
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Posted by amalisia on November 12, 2013 at 3:48 PM · Report this
@157 I admit I can see where negotiating something this sensitive under emotional duress can seem kind of underhanded, but they're adults in a give or take relationship. There's never going to be a time where this type of exchange isn't going to induce some uneasiness at best. She's choosing to try to change of her own free will. And just as the other posters pointed out aspects of a relationship can be changed at anytime (openly and with both partners agreement). Mel can do the same thing the LW did if things go south. At least the second time they break up (if there is a second time) she can walk away knowing she tried all her options. Breaking up is hard, but that isn't a good reason to stay in a relationship that makes you unhappy or to give into other people's expectations without the opportunity to meet your own needs and desires. Not to say people should expect to get everything they want from a relationship, but only the participants know what's on the wish list and what's a necessity/deal-breaker. It's up to them to communicate that to their partner, even if it sometimes comes across as insensitive.
Posted by Really Now... on November 12, 2013 at 7:39 PM · Report this
@150 That would only work out on a television drama. And even if he came around, the way she went about accomplishing this feat would totally undermine his trust. And trust isn't something that's given back quickly or even completely once it's gone.
Posted by Really Now... on November 12, 2013 at 7:45 PM · Report this
@seandr I'm sorry if I came off as judgmental/preachy. I was aiming for teasing more than lecturing. And if it makes you feel any better I say ridiculously stupid and unintentionally stupid things on a daily basis. I wish I had replied sooner, but this week's letters were either "meh" or depressing so I didn't follow as diligently as I'm accustomed to.
Posted by Really Now... on November 12, 2013 at 7:52 PM · Report this
I'm kind of shocked at some of the incomplete advice many people are giving Childless H's husband. Natalism ( the disproportionate favoring of kids and all things kid-related ) is rampant in our society, and I think in a case like this one, more should be heard from the other side.

My wife and I are child-free by choice. We aren't close to wealthy, but we travel out of the country frequently, and have great nightlife and sex. I'm guessing that the 'H' couple is in the same economic boat, or maybe a little more strapped, as she describes recently living "paycheck to paycheck", and that her and her husband recently purchased a house, bearing in mind the current economy. Few people have mentioned that currently, the average total expense for raising a child in America to adulthood ( if you factor in college tuition and contributing to a wedding ) is a whopping $346,000! Now, few kids today are permanently moving out of the nest anywhere close to age 21, so then allow for thousands more. As we can confirm from both friends' experience and research, that leaves most people with not even enough post-bills-and-mortgage money for an 'adventure' at Applebee's, let alone in Paris or Rio. And yeah, if your kid isn't in school yet, you technically CAN drag him onto a plane and through the streets of cities like New York, Marrakesh, or Beijing ( along with the stroller, diapers, toys that might stop him from screaming, etc. ) - how rewarding is that for the couple OR the kid ( or anyone nearby )?! And what's the sex going to be like ( if there ever IS any )?!

And probably the most important fact, if only for the child's sake: If hubby has actually decided he doesn't want a child, what kind of family life can they expect over time, with the likely resentment growing until it's palpable and crippling to everyone? Also, FYI: 'H' hinted at her "biological clock", but there is actually NO scientific evidence that that exists in female biology - it's all peer and social pressure!

Our corporate-and-narcissism-centric culture wants us to believe that anyone can, and deserves to, "have it all". The reality is almost never spoken of. An excellent and highly-rated source for facts, advice, testimonials of regretful parents, etc. is
Posted by Dharmadistillery on November 14, 2013 at 10:39 AM · Report this
@161 lolorhone: Hi, lolo! I am back after hitting the beach!
Griz and pals were out celebrating a week-long party with the glorious ocean surf! The Washington and Oregon coast just plain ROCKS!
My beloved turned 40, and we ventured out in style.

@170 Dharmdistillery: Bravo! I could NOT have expressed why I chose to remain childless any better. Additionally, I agree: the so-called "biological clock" label unfairly targeted primarily at women is really a crock of societal bullshit that only serves to push the revolting corporate-profit-lusting overemphasis of motherhood.
I consider myself a much better social fit---physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially---as an aunt, anyway, and am comforted to know that I'm not alone.
Posted by auntie grizelda on November 14, 2013 at 9:18 PM · Report this
I love this message board. I'm amazed at the intelligence and respect. There are rarely trolls (that I see) and even when there's a differing opnion, it's very respectfully put forth. I've been reading for a long time, never commenting. Just saying...
Posted by Smartchic1965 on November 15, 2013 at 8:01 AM · Report this
I have a hunch that CHILDLESS has a hubby who doesn't actually want kids but doesn't want to lose the relationship. Even in my 40s I'm having trouble meeting someone who is also childless by choice. I like kids but I don't want them in my life. Some women think that's a warning sign so maybe this is why some guys fudge the facts when discussing children.
Posted by Toronto_jazzer on November 20, 2013 at 2:00 PM · Report this
" Travel and adventure—sexual and otherwise—don't have to stop after you become parents."

Not necessarily. Even if you face, and defy, all of the peer pressure from people who were just as adventurous as you but decide, now that they've hung up their spurs, that you have to do the same.

There is one good exception. Suppose you have a child with multiple disabilities, as my ex-wife and I did. He is an awesome, splendid young man now in his mid-20s, the world is a better place for him in it, and I'm glad he's in my life.

But the practical side -- time, money, energy, brainspace, and so on -- meant that adventure flew right out. True, I don't know and will never know if we would have kept it up anyway. This is though something to keep in mind.

Posted by Token Straight Old dude on December 8, 2013 at 12:28 PM · Report this
Posted by mark bill on March 31, 2014 at 10:31 AM · Report this

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