#Love & Sex

Starting a Family

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Starting a Family

Long distance relationships are hard as it is; so, is it even possible to start a family long distance? Or is it time to pack your bags? One reader writes The 4-Way to talk about starting a family and settling down.

Dear 4-Way,
I am in my early thirties, have a great job and life, and I’m ready to fulfill my lifelong dream of having kids and starting a family—and I’ve finally found the person I want to share my dream with. She’s actually my first love; we’ve known each other for fourteen years. I’ve never been surer of anything or wanted anything more in my whole life.

The problem—we live on opposite sides of the continent. She lives in our hometown, which is very conservative and repressive, and I’ve really grown accustomed to living on the West Coast, where things are much more progressive. We’re each connected to where we live—she has career plans and individual goals, and so do I. When she’s pregnant, I want her to be close to her family because I think that’s important, but that place is somewhere I can’t ever imagine living again. We will be a gay couple with kids—I don’t want to put up with the bullshit and I don’t want my kids to be raised in the environment I was raised in.

We both know that we need to find a compromise, especially since the priority now is family. I want this so badly, but I also don’t want either of us to completely give up all we have worked for, nor do I want either of us to be unhappy. My income is larger, but I could also potentially work from home. Her goals are very tied to where she is and involve promotions and coaching sports in her area. I am lost. Is this impossible? Please help! —AR in San Francisco, California

The gay woman’s perspective: Jody Fischer
Congratulations on entering into a loving partnership! You have a lot on your plate to look at. And thankfully, you do have options. I encourage you to remember that the world is not just black and white, but rather shades of gray. There are alternatives beyond staying in SF or starting your life together in your conservative hometown. Here’s one “gray” option to try on: when my sister and her husband were planning to have their first child, they knew that living close to (but not on top of) family was very important to them. Both sets of grandparents live within one hour. One set is an hour north and the other an hour south. This works well for everyone.

Also, I know that you are excited about starting a family and I hope that she is as thrilled as you are. It seems as though you have decided that she will become pregnant. Just keeping it “gray” here, any chance in you doing that? You working at home seems like an easier set-up than having your partner’s sports teams come over for practices. Put your loving heads together and come up with as many options as you can. How the two of you approach these decisions will lay the groundwork for your future. On one level, perhaps it’s not so much a problem to be solved as an adventure to explore.

The straight man’s perspective: Chris Kennedy
First off, congrats on finding “the one” and for recognizing it. Second, pack your things.

You didn’t like your past in your hometown so you left. I commend you for finding happiness and creating a successful life elsewhere. But things change and now, you say you don’t want your life to be about what’s best for you anymore. Now, it’s about what’s best for your mate, your future kids, and your future family as a whole. Your mate wants to stay put in that town you fled, so I surmise it won’t be as impossible to live there as you’re assuming it will be. If for some reason you move back east and start your family and find the place IS worse than you imagined, then U-haul yourself away again. But this time, you’ll have company. As for your personal goals, yes, some of them will be sacrificed and others will have to be adjusted. But even if you do give up everything you’ve worked for, you’ll be gaining everything you want to work for—your lifelong dream of having a family.

Bon Voyage, AR. You can leave everything—except your heart—in San Francisco. Your hometown is where the heart is.

The straight woman’s perspective: Rebecca Brown
I don’t even know you, yet I can still feel you beaming at the world just from reading your Times New Roman font. Congratulations! You are in the enviable and incredibly difficult position of sorting all this happiness out.

First of all, is this impossible? Hell no! Where’s there’s a will (and lots of love and happiness) there’s absolutely a way. But this is tough. You both have so many good things happening in each of the places you live. One thing you said really struck me: the emphasis now is on your family. Maybe it would help your decision-making process if you think of what’s best for your family as a whole versus the individual desires that each of you have. Where will your lives be the easiest as a family? San Francisco is one of the best places in the world to be a gay couple with a child. But do you have a support system of friends and family in SF that can help you when you need it? Likewise, will you become resentful after a few years of living in your old hometown—and will that potential resentment affect your relationship with your partner and child? Which city has the most long-term job opportunities for both of you?

Have a long talk (or a bunch of long talks, for that matter) and then make separate lists of the things you each envision for your future family, then see where you have duplication on your goals and start from there. Maybe you’ll discover that it’s important to both of you to have someone stay home with your child, for example. In which city will that be a bigger reality? Once you get a full list of family goals on paper, it will take the burden off the things that each of you want separately and paint a clearer picture on how to move forward together as one “we” instead of two “I”s.

The gay man’s perspective: Darren Maddox
AR, growing up in a very conservative place myself, I think I can relate to your quandary. Although I’m not at the same point in my life as you, I too cannot imagine getting married to another man and trying to raise a child in an environment I was happy to leave behind. But let’s throw on the breaks for a minute. Before you even consider where you are going to raise a child, shouldn’t you as a couple agree what city you want to live in together? <Insert cart before horse here>

With the kid question removed from the mix, it doesn’t sound like you would ever feel like living your life in a conservative town again. Would you be able to be yourself and comfortably live your life as an openly gay couple there? Only when you are comfortable with yourself will you feel comfortable attending the local PTA meetings or soccer games. I mean, let’s face it, it’s a small town and it’s not like everyone there won’t know little Johnny has two mommies. I know there are a lot of open-minded communities on the map, but unfortunately the one in question does not seem to be one of them.

Remember it takes a strong person to live an openly gay lifestyle in any town, but it takes an exceptionally strong person to be openly gay in a small town. Don’t be frightened to consider it, just be happy you have the luxury of providing a lifestyle to a child that you yourself did not experience.