Columns Nov 6, 2013 at 4:00 am

Senior Kinkster


@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.
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.
@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.
@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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.…
@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.
@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.
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.
@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.
@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.

@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:........
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.
@113, I figure this is the link you wanted?…
@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.
@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.
@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.)
@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.
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.

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.
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.
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?

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.
@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?

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.
@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.
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
"2) take years out of the career I had barely started to watch short incontinent people ride tricycles in circles;"

Tim @134, agreed.
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.
@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."

@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.

@136 jay,

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

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


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.
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.
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.
@ 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."
@ 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"Really? Holy crap. Chimp fantasies? Damn."
I love it!!!!

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.

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.
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"
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.
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.
@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.
Hi, Auntie Griz! It's been too long!
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
@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?

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.
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@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.
@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.
@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.
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
@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.
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...
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.
" 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.


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