Rachel Greenwald, dating coach and author of Why He Didn’t Call You Back: 1,000 Guys Reveal What They Really Thought About You After Your Date, has helped 712 couples find love. Now, she’s ready to take on the MORE community. Have a dating question for Rachel? Submit it here.
I am 41 years old, never been married, and have been dating a wonderful man for six months. His name is Sam, he is 49, divorced, and has two kids (ages 10 and 12). He is a great dad to his children, and a great boyfriend to me. We are in love, and have discussed the possibility of marriage, but there is one major issue. He says he doesn’t think he wants any more kids. But he also said that perhaps if the right person came along, and it meant a lot to her to have a child, he might change his mind. I very much want to try to have my own child. So as you can imagine, I am deeply concerned about this issue. Although it is too soon to know whether we will get married, I don’t want to waste my time (my biological clock is certainly ticking loudly). How do I resolve this issue? I desperately need an objective opinion here.
Tamara in San Diego
This is indeed a big issue! Too many women rationalize or downplay a big issue during the puppy love phase of a new relationship. While everything is still rosy, women might ignore the elephant in the room and end up wasting their precious time, or they pay later by being with a man who doesn’t fulfill their needs.
Have you discussed why he doesn’t want more children? There could be many reasons, and the answer is vital to your decision to stay with him or not. Perhaps he doesn’t want to start over again at the “baby stage” (sleepless nights, diapers, car seats, etc.). Perhaps he has financial issues (worries about fertility treatments if necessary, day care fees if you both work, saving for college, etc.). Perhaps he feels he doesn’t have enough time now to focus on his other two children, let alone a new baby. Or perhaps he is enjoying the freedom to travel and pursue other interests now that his kids are older. There a dozen reasons, and you need to find out which one is the driving force behind his reluctance.
I hate to bring this up, but deep down you’ve probably thought about this anyway. What if the real reason is that he doesn’t plan to marry you, even though you’ve discussed “the possibility” of marriage? This could be the coward’s way out: knowing you want a baby, he has an easy excuse for not committing to you. I am especially concerned that he phrased his thoughts as “if the right person came along… if it meant a lot to her” in the third person, rather than phrase his thoughts as “if it’s important to you.”
There’s only one thing to do now. You must initiate a frank discussion with him to understand his reasoning for not wanting more children. Neither you nor I are clairvoyant. Asking him directly is the only way to know what’s really going on. After six months of dating, this conversation is already past due. You need to manage your time efficiently!
If he focuses on reasons such as financial issues, you might be able to put his mind at ease by explaining how you plan to contribute to the costs. There are too many permutations to discuss here that could arise when you probe his reluctance, but be honest with your comments. You don’t want to convince him to do something he genuinely doesn’t want, but you may be able to change his mind, depending what his concerns are.
If he gives you vague reasons and seems non-committal about your future together, he is sending you a very clear signal that he is not sure you’re the right woman for him. After six months, “not sure” equals “no” in my book. Please listen for these cues carefully, and have the strength to walk away. You said you really want to have a child, and I would hate to see that dream fade for you as the years go by. Too many women waste their prime years waiting for a non-committal man giving them bogus excuses, and end up without the man or the baby down the road.