I’ve been in a relationship for nearly five years, and my partner and I recently became engaged.
Although we’ve spoken about children at times during our relationship, I didn’t know how important it was to my partner to have children.
We’ve decided that before making any plans for upcoming nuptials, we’ll iron out any kinks or unresolved issues in our relationship.
So now it appears that children are a deal-breaker for my partner. I feel stuck. I love my partner but at this moment I don’t want any children and cannot promise that I’ll ever change my mind.
I feel I should walk away because we want very different things and children can’t necessarily be negotiated.
What’s your advice when one partner wants kids and the other doesn’t? Is there any hope for a future?
Forgive my instinct, but you sound scared to me.
Partly, it’s because I find it odd that after five years’ dating and also agreeing to marry, you never realized your differences on this topic.
So I wonder, is it just because your partner’s so adamant that you feel you’d be emotionally compelled to give in?
And is it that you dislike/resent/fear being put in that position, more than you’re sure you’ll never want to have children?
Take a break, not a final walk away. Use the time to talk to a counsellor about many things, not just the question about having kids.
Discuss other differences with the person you love, how to communicate your position, how to negotiate something acceptable to both.
It may not be possible on the subject of raising children, but it may be important on other points of difference, with this partner or another.
At some point in the break you’ll know whether you still want to marry this person.
My daughter married 25 years ago, and soon discovered he had alcohol issues. They divorced, but remained amicable for the sake of their son, now 22.
The three remained close, as have we. However, in recent years his periods of sobriety keep decreasing. He’s also terribly depressed.
My grandson uses cannabis “to control anxiety.” I feel he also has a dependency problem. His relationship with his dad isn’t good anymore, they’re constantly at loggerheads.
Now, his father keeps attempting suicide! The last time his son found him in time, and he survived. I fear he’ll eventually succeed. Last night I hope I convinced him not to, but I feel his pain...
We don't know what to say or do. He’s been in rehab several times, his doctor’s treating him for depression.
It’s destroying my daughter and grandson. What do I say to them?
Stay as close and supportive as possible to all of them.
I also urge you and your daughter to attend Al-Anon for families of alcoholics and encourage your grandson to attend a support group, too (if he’s uncomfortable being “taken” there, suggest he attend separately).
He’ll benefit from hearing from others whose family members and/or friends are also dealing with addictions, accompanying depressions, suicidal tendencies, etc.
It may also serve as a wake-up call about his own cannabis use, if it’s increasing.
Use your compassion for your former son-in-law to assure he has access to helplines when he’s very low, and that he stays on treatment from his doctor.
But know you cannot feel responsible for his actions. Stay strong, positive, and encouraging.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman’s partner whose brother enables him to go on drunken binges (Dec. 2):
Reader – “I’m wondering if you might also suggest to the partner that she try attending Al-Anon.
“She might benefit from listening to others who are also learning, or have already realized that the only person whose actions she can change, are her own.
“She didn't cause, can't control, and can't cure her partner’s alcoholism.
“Also, Alateen is a good resource for support groups and understanding more about a relative’s alcoholism, when children are involved.”
Ellie – I added this reader’s extra boost for Al-Anon and Alateen for friends and families of problem drinkers, because this problem pervades so many families and can be so destructive as in the case above.
Meetings can be found locally across North America. Members share personal stories to help others realize they’re not alone, that alcoholism is complex, and no one else can be responsible for the drinker’s choices.
Tip of the day:
When big issues are at odds, take a break to probe your own feelings and how to handle them.