I am 20, my boyfriend 21, and we have been dating for about a year. We fell in love quickly and have casually discussed marrying once we finish school. We are aware that is not in the immediate future.
We hardly fight and agree on most things, except he is positive he doesn't want children and I am positive I would like to be a mother someday. He is wonderful with children, but says he wants to devote his life to his wife, a career, and travel, without worrying about raising kids.
Should I continue dating him, hoping his view on children will change as he gets older, or should we break up now—leaving us both heartbroken—before we get even more attached to each other?
Nadia, people describe any difficult choice as a dilemma, but the original meaning of the word was quite narrow. Originally a dilemma referred to a choice between two bad options, and people caught in such a plight were said to be on the horns of the dilemma.
Do you want to be gored by the left horn or by the right? That's a dilemma, and that's not much of a choice. Heads I win, tails you lose. In reality, we are seldom faced with a true dilemma. What we are faced with is the choice between a wise course of action and an easy course. The easy course usually involves doing nothing.
There is a simple way to determine whether you are faced with a genuine dilemma. Ask of each alternative, what would happen if I did this? For example, what would happen if you broke up with your boyfriend? You would both be sad, but that is part of the cycle of dating. And if you stay with him? How will that play out?
Let us tell you about a letter we received nearly a decade ago. This writer described her husband as a wonderful companion, then she explained her despair. Her husband was perfect in every way save one. Though he was good with children, he didn't want any. The writer had always known this, but now, after a few years of marriage, she couldn't contain her growing resentment of him.
If you stay with your boyfriend, that is your future. In your mind you will shift the blame to him, or you will become "accidentally" pregnant. You will do this not because you are a bad person, but because that is how our minds work when we are thwarted in our basic desires.
If you wait until you and your boyfriend have intertwined your families, finances, emotions, and careers, you will be on the horns of a genuine dilemma. No matter which way you turn, it will feel like being gored. But if you end things with him now, you will be free to find the man who shares your dream of a life filled with children.
Wayne & Tamara
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