When you think you’ve found your person, it’s natural to start thinking about the future with them. You know how the old nursery song goes ‘first comes, love then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby’s carriage.’
Your relationship doesn’t have to follow this format but it shows that there are different stages to relationships.
You should be excited about getting to those milestones if that’s something you want. So what happens when your partner doesn’t want to speak about the future? This week’s reader, Sarah, tells us how her partner doesn’t want to speak about the future
Sarah says: “My boyfriend and I are both 36 and have been living together for a year.”
“We both want to get married and have kids - but every time I bring it up or try to have a discussion he always has an excuse. I’m not getting any younger and I don’t know what to do or say!” she adds.
Does Sarah’s partner want to have kids? How can she get him to speak about it? Counselling Directory member David Waite and Margaret Reiser shares their thoughts.
Why do you think her partner could be avoiding the discussion?
There are several reasons why her partner may be avoiding this discussion. Perhaps he’s scared, due to his own childhood experiences. Waite thinks: “It may be that he has some deep-seated reasons stemming from his childhood.
“If his own upbringing was not pleasant, then he may be asking himself whether he wants to be responsible for another generation of unhappiness.”
Or maybe, “he might be asking himself if he is ready in himself. None of us will be perfect at this job and is ‘good enough’ going to be good enough for him?” Waite adds.
It could also highlight something bigger. Maybe he actually doesn’t want to have children.
“If your partner does not want to talk about having children then he is hardly likely to want to actually do it,” Waite says.
Reiser thinks her boyfriend is avoiding a very serious, possibly relationship-ending conversation.
“This leads me to believe he is happy with the status quo of the relationship and does not want change,” she says.
She continues: “Our girlfriend faces a tough issue. She thought she shared a vision for the future with her partner, but his avoidance is causing her anxiety. And rightfully so.”
When do you think couples should discuss marriage and the future of their relationship?
You don’t want to plan the future too early, however you also don’t want to leave it too late. So when is the right time to discuss possible relationship milestones like having children? Waite thinks these conversations should start once a romantic relationship has formed and is well established.
“Lots of people want to wait until they have established themselves in their work lives and careers before embarking on a family. That period is increasing now but can come up against the female time clock,” Waite says.
“Both need to be aware of that. If either party wants to pursue a career or dream which might preclude a family, they need to be open with that and accept that we can’t all have everything in life, so difficult decisions may need to be made,” he explains.
He goes on: “Whilst life should be about enjoying the now, we also need to have some confidence in what the future holds for us.”
“In a relationship, one person’s future is entwined in the other’s, so each has the loving obligation to discover their own vision and impart that to the other. Then the question: Do they match?”
What practical advice would you give this reader?
How should Sarah approach this topic with her partner? Waite suggests going to couples therapy as it can be a useful way to explore topics like this and gauge what your partner is thinking
“You need a partner who is dedicated to the family project from start to finish, and that is actually a lifetime commitment,” Waite explains.
“The fact of the matter is that having children is the most important thing most of us ever do. Life is nothing if it is not good, and as parents we are responsible for the wellbeing of our children,” Waite shares.
Waite shares that “the decision to respond to nature’s drivers and have children carries a risk, but one with enormous rewards too.”
Reiser thinks she needs to set a time to speak with her partner about this.
“If he continues to avoid it after she has stated why this discussion is vital to their future, she may comfortably interpret this as a ‘no’ to marriage and children and move on with her life,” she says.
Love Stuck is for those who’ve hit a romantic wall, whether you’re single or have been coupled up for decades. With the help of trained sex and relationship therapists, HuffPost UK will help answer your dilemmas. Submit a question here.