“He Doesn’t Want Kids, but Maybe I do”

I am 26 and am living with my 29-year-old boyfriend of almost two years. We have a pretty healthy relationship — we respect each other, have fun together, and do okay with communicating. We even co-habitate pretty easily. Here’s the problem, though: we differ in our religious beliefs (I’m Christian, he’s an atheist) and he for sure doesn’t want children, while I’m still on the fence. I don’t want children now, and even have a hard time imagining when I will want them, but I also have a hard time envisioning a future without them. I enjoy our day to day life together — we laugh, have good sex, and share chores — but how do I know if that is more important than the ‘big issues’? — Maybe One Day Mom

Here’s the thing about the Big Issues: they trump all other issues. Nothing else matters as much as the Big Issues, and if you and your partner aren’t on the same page in regards to the Big Issues, your relationship is doomed. There are some issues that you get to decide for yourself as to whether they’re Big or not. If you’re allergic to cats, for example, maybe a Big Issue for you is that your mate not own a cat. Obviously, that’s not going to be an issue that is of equal importance for everyone.

But then there are issues that are universally Big — religion and potential parenthood top among them. It doesn’t matter how much you laugh, how great your sex is, or how equally you split your chores; if you are not on the same page about whether you want kids and in what religion you’d raise them, you’re only setting yourself up for future heartache by investing more time in a relationship with a short shelf life.

If you want to give yourself the option of choosing to have children one day with a partner who wants to be a dad, don’t stay in your current relationship. The longer you stay with your boyfriend, the harder it will be to leave him for someone whose life goals better match your own.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.


  1. bittergaymark says:

    Walk away. Just walk away. You want kids. He doesn’t. I am a firm believe that those that Don’t want kids Shouldn’t have them. So walk away if you want kids. Seriously. Just. Walk. Away. Politely. Gracefully. As friends even. Walk away..,

    1. Completely agree – if someone doesn’t want to have kids then they definitely shouldn’t have them.

      1. bittergaymark says:

        I remain convince that it s the number one cause of child abuse…

      2. That would be true, if that didn’t happen to foster or adopted kids…

      3. bittergaymark says:

        Well, most foster kids AREN’T wanted and are taken in for the money… Sad but true… And I would hazard a guess that the percentage of adopted kids that are abused is NOT as high as those living with their real fucked up parents….

      4. Iwannatalktosampson says:

        My mom was a foster parent for 4 years and had a total of 17 kids – mostly because she couldn’t have any more kids after me but loved kids. Trust me – they don’t do it for the money. If you think it’s a business deal then it is a dumb one – because she definitely didn’t come out above. (Financially at least – she thinks she came out above spiritually).

      5. bittergaymark says:

        My three friends who WERE foster kids and who were all horribly abused might be inclined to disagree… Also, they were all in an endless series of homes in numerous states so it was not exactly an isolated incident.

        Sure, some foster parents are amazing. But watch the news, fosterparents are constantly getting brought up on charges. There is probably at least as many bad as there are good.

      6. Honey, you’re bangin’ a guy you’re not married to, and have been doing so for years, with no apparent plans to marry him. If you’re a Christian, you’re a fairly lousy one.

        That may sound needlessly rude, but there is a point to it. If you don’t take your faith seriously why make it a dichotomy in your relationship? Admit you’re an agnostic and you’re both suddenly on pretty much the same page.

        But as for the issue at hand: what you need to do is sit down with your partner and say, “I know you don’t want children, but I’m not sure what I want. I don’t want them now, but I may want them in the future. I just don’t know yet. My question for you is, IF I do decide to have children, will you support me in that decision?”

        If he says yes, then he’s obviously willing to be flexible and to honour your happiness at the expense of his own. He’s a keeper.

        If he says no, or whines about you emotionally manipulating him, then he is unable to see beyond his own desires and wants… and would thus make a lousy dad even if he DID want kids! Thus we enter MOAsville.

      7. Ok, so going all holier-than-thou on her ass is apparently acceptable christian behaviour, but her not subscribing to YOUR view on christianity effectively excludes her from the community of Good Christians™ ? Way to treat your neighbour.

      8. Not all Christians believe premarital sex or living with someone is wrong or sinful. I don’t recall Jesus speaking out against it. I think he might have said something about judging other people though. “Christians” like you are one reason I no longer consider myself one.

      9. Oh my….

        GTR, as a Christian, yeah I get your point. But there was a point in my life, I was much like LW. A ‘lousy’ Christian, well that’s me too. LW knows the situation, she is asking how to deal with it.

      10. I think it’s important to note that even those Christians who they they are perfect, are in fact not. Being able to admit that you’re not perfect and have shortcomings, makes you steps ahead of people who can’t do the same.

      11. GTR… the dictionary defines agnostic as:
        a. One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.
        b. One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism.
        2. One who is doubtful or noncommittal about something.

        This doesn’t sound like the LW. So, I am not sure why you are asking her to “admit she is agnostic”. The LW’s “sins” have nothing to do with her beliefs. They are two very separate things. She could fully acknowledge that out of wedlock sex is not ideal behavior. But, that doesn’t change what she believes. A true Christian acknowledges their sins, but believes that God forgives and loves unconditionally.

        I am at such a loss for words that you would label someone a “lousy Christian”…

      12. You make an excellent point, SweetPea, and I stand corrected. One can be a theist without being a Christian – suggesting the label of agnostic was wrong.

        I labeled her a “lousy Christian” mainly for shock value. She’s drfited into this relationship, and continues to drift into the baby issue. I thought that a scathing suggestion might heat her blood and actually encourage her to take a step back, reappraise her life, and work out exactly who she is and who she wants to be.

        It’s good to know that the Dear Wendy community has reacted the way it usually does – completely ignored the meat of my advice and picked up on a procative throwaway line to get itself in a state of high dudgeon.

      13. Let’s be honest here, GTR: You totally did mean it. You even explained why.
        But let’s entertain the possibility that your statement was, as you say, mainly added for shock value. How, then, is the community at fault for being shocked, when the very intent behind your statement was to shock? You don’t get to throw torches into a debate, and at the same time expect that no-one will be pissed when you inevitabely set something on fire. If you would like to be taken seriously, you might want to reconsider how you preface the meat of your advice.

      14. ALSO…
        “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

        Just sayin’.

      15. “And sin no more” Jesus told the woman.

        People always forget that part.

        Don’t want to get into a Bible study here, but we can and should speak up when we see sin, it just doesn’t mean we cause more harm.

      16. lets_be_honest says:

        You must have to speak up a lot. Good thing the world has you to point out everyone who is sinning. Thank you.

      17. Renee, you are right that if people feel they are doing something wrong, they should try to make that change (we can debate if premarital sex is “wrong” until we are all blue in the face… not the point). In this case, I don’t think GTR calling her a “lousy Christian” is helpful in the least. I don’t think she is stupid she knows that premarital sex is frowned upon in her religion. And it is probably something she has thought often enough about.

        GTR makes it seem that to sin is to not be Christian. And that is idiotic. There would be zero Christians in the world.

      18. Addie Pray says:

        I have no idea what anyone is talking about. I flunked Sunday school. Really, my Sunday school teacher said I knew nothing, absolutely nothing. I knew one thing – that CCD stood for church, coffee, and donuts, and I was there for the D’s. She was a bitch anyway. I could sense it at 7, I just wasn’t articulate enough to know “bitch” was the right word.

      19. When I saw this first line I thought you were going to say something bad about BGM and I was going to punch you in the eye.

      20. bittergaymark says:

        Hah, bagge72. Glad you got my back. Especially since, you know, thanks to America I shall more or less be doomed to forever banging guys I am NOT married to… That said, it’s not like they are lining up around the block lately. Sigh… Enjoy your youth, kids. Trust me, it’s all down hill post the big 35.

      21. That’s what I’m here for haha. I think a lot of people here missed you while you were gone… lets see how long that last haha just kidding. Hope you had a nice trip though.

      22. bittergaymark says:

        Bali was great. Really, there is only one huge problem with running off to Bali. You have to come back. And damn, it seriously sucks big time being back…

      23. Purple thumb for this comment.

      24. Every Christian sins. I don’t think that means that there’s no such thing as a good Christian who takes their faith seriously.

      25. Sue Jones says:

        Oh dear, where is the thumbs down? Marriage originally for property and money transfer only. Do you think that the early Christians weren’t having sex without marriage? Stop using your so-called religion to control people’s bodies and their sexuality. God doesn’t care! Really she doesn’t!

      26. I do agree that people who outright say that they do not want children should not have them. However, I personally think the bigger problem is that even people who think that they do want kids have no idea what that entails. Add to that fluctuating hormones following pregnancy, and sheer exhaustion, that becomes a dangerous situation. On top of that, I do not know if you ever held a newborn baby, but they are EXTREMELY fragile. As in, you may not have the intent to injure a baby, but if you squeeze a bit too hard, you may break something. I have a friend who was accused of shaking his baby. What he actually did was take his 12 week old son and throw him in the air (his wife was there at the time, they were around 23 years old). When he caught him and saw his head snap back and forth, they ran to emergency themselves. Thankfully, nothing happened to the boy, he only had a blood vessel burst in his eye, and now he is a healthy happy 9-year old, but the guy still beats himself up over that nanosecond lapse in judgement.

        Basically, what I think the problem is, it’s not that people who do not want kids have them, it’s that the kids become unwanted once they are already born.

      27. I was a foster parent briefly and not only was my foster daughter abused in previous homes (she’d had nine placements in nine years), most of those parents were doing it for the money. It pays pretty well (at least in California) considering some of folks who are signing up aren’t terribly well-educated and don’t have a lot of options. I’m sure a lot of people do it for the best reasons, but certainly not all of them are good samaritans.

      28. lets_be_honest says:

        There is always going to be a good story for every bad story. I’m glad you shared your good one. Its seems like so many people on here think no one should ever have kids, adopt or foster because they KNEW someone who was abused or had bad parents. Its kind of mindboggling to me. I know someone who robbed a bank once. Does that mean I’ll never go to the bank again? If you told me banks were safe, would I argue ‘well I bet the guy who got shot at my bank would disagree’? Just seems silly to me.
        Of course there are bad parents and abusive parents out there. That doesn’t mean the majority are or will. I’d say the majority of parents out there love their kids and try their best. And I’d like to think that the majority of kids who are fostered or adopted are in a better place than they were.

      29. Well I don’t want kids but if for some reason I ended up with one I wouldn’t abuse them. I do agree though, that a lot of ppl who don’t want kids and have them all the same treat them like shit.

        My mom used to be firends with this couple (they were catholics) and they had 2 adopted kids and they would hit them and basically treated them like crap, even in front of my mom. Years after adopting she somehow got pregant (she was suppsodely infertile) and they treat their biological kid like a princess and the other 2 like crap.

      30. lets_be_honest says:

        Really getting sick of this recurring theme on here.
        WTF difference does it make that these people held themselves out to be Catholic?
        What if I had told your exact same story but wrote (they were Asians/Jewish/Gay, etc.)? Would you really find that acceptable?

      31. Agree. Who cares what religion the person is! One person may want kids and the other does not at all. Doesn’t mean he’s going to be abusive or not abusive. But it could mean she is wasting a whole lot of time if he is adamant about never having children

    2. I agree – and I’m so happy you’ve been commenting again, bittergaymark! Your snark and smarts make me smie.

      1. smile* – typo!

  2. ReginaRey says:

    I may be way off base here, but I’m sensing from the tone of this letter (and perhaps this is because you somewhat hesitantly expected the kind of reaction you’re going to get) that you’re somewhat underwhelmed as it is — “We have a *pretty* healthy relationship,” “We do *okay* with communicating,”We even cohabitate pretty easily.”

    The vibe I’m getting from that is: “I didn’t realistically expect much different or more from a romantic relationship, so I’ve decided I’m satisfied with it.” I get the feeling that you’re trying to buy into it yourself; not that you’re trying to make US buy into it.

    And honestly, if that’s the case, I can see why. Differing religious beliefs and views on children are huge, huge issues. The fact that you two don’t agree on those fronts has probably given you a fair amount of doubt (thus your writing in to DW in the first place) and even unsettled you a bit. You may even be thinking, “Okay, if we disagree about these Big Issues, what else might come up in the future?” And you’d be 100% right to wonder that.

    I see you attempting to second-guess yourself a bit here. You’re maybe trying to grasp a bit at the less-critical (but still important) things that are going okay, in order to convince yourself that the Big Issues aren’t as weighty as they seem. But Wendy is completely right — You can’t ignore the Big Issues, because they won’t ever, ever go away.

    My advice to you is very similar to Wendy’s. Don’t stay in a relationship with someone who doesn’t want kids, if you haven’t closed your mind to the possibility yet. You can’t convince him to change his mind about that, or his religious beliefs — Trying to change someone’s solid stance on the Big Issues is the same as trying to change your compatibility. You don’t get to change your compatibility with someone; you find someone else who you’re more compatible with in the first place.

    Honestly, I think these issues are probably just two that are rearing their heads right *now.* Chances are, if you differ about two huge things like that already, there are other differences waiting to come out of the woodwork. Which means bottom line, you two probably just aren’t compatible enough for a long-term relationship.

    1. kerrycontrary says:

      I agree on the “pretty healthy relationship” comment. Maybe its just her writing style, but I would be concerned if I said to a friend “Oh how are things with Doug”… “we have a pretty healthy relationship”…. “so you are only unhappy SOME of the time?”

      1. To be fair, I think everybody has ups and downs, good times and fights. The good is just supposed to outweigh the bad.

      2. kerrycontrary says:

        I totally agree with that. I have fights with my boyfriends, we have off days/weeks/whatever but I would never describe our relationship as “pretty happy” or say we “communicate OK”

      3. kerrycontrary says:

        oops, Boyfriend not Boyfriends

      4. It could be her writing style? I tend to speak this way, and I know that a lot of “pretty”s “probably” “kinda”s slip into my writing style as well, if it’s a casual forum.

    2. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      Just 15 like as of 10:20 central time? That’s some weak sauce. Is Regina Rey losing her game? Let’s find out tomorrow.

      (This might be my new favorite game — I’m getting all new hobbies, mind you, after I quit my job and get a life. Isn’t it funny how I’ve been “quitting” for like 4 months now?)

      1. bittergaymark says:

        What? No comment that I have 53 likes? 😉

      2. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        55 as of 4:27 am – well done, well done.

  3. I am in complete agreement with Wendy. LW, there is no future with your boyfriend if you don’t agree on whether you both want children or not. I know a woman who wanted children that got married to a man whom she knew didn’t want children. Guess what happened? Bitter divorce a few years later. You simply cannot change someone’s mind about this issue. If you truly have a hard time envisioning a future without children, it’s better to end your relationship now. I’m sorry; I know it will be hard. Good luck to you

  4. Yeah…. this is a huge deal! What happens if you DO want children, and you end up resenting him for not wanting them, and regretting that you didn’t have any?

    Or what happens if you have an accidental pregnancy and you want to keep the baby but he wants you to have an abortion? Or what happens if you keep the baby but he resents you for getting pregnant or even worse, resents his innocent child?

    I know this has got to be a really hard decision to make, but if there is even the slightest chance that you want to be a mother, you need to rethink this relationship.

  5. Temperance says:

    Religion and to have/not have children are probably the biggest relationship issues. I think if you want to have children, and want to raise them Christian, you’ll need a new man.

  6. I agree that the kids thing is a BIG issue and Wendy was spot on about how staying with this partner isn’t a good idea if you for sure want kids. I totally get the appeal in staying with him until you decide you want kids soon, and think by then you let the relationship run its course. But isn’t it much better to be in a secure relationship NOW that doesn’t need to come with a expiration date so to speak?

    About religion and kids, well i’m not religious but I’m not opposed to letting a more religiously inclined partner take our kids to church etc. My only request is that it not be a church that advocates an us vs them mentality-and lets face it, sometimes atheists can be the same way. I think if you and your partner agree to compromise I see no problem in making the relationship work when you are of different beliefs. I also think that its best to adopt an approach of letting the kids decide what religion they want to follow once they are older. By all means share your values and religion with them as they grow up, but ultimately it should be their choice.

  7. As someone with children and religious, no way I could do it as well I do UNLESS I had a supportive husband.

  8. Here are my two cents…

    People have ended relationships for far less of a reason than you. This issue is a good reason to break up. And maybe it’s just me, but you seem a bit apologetic when you say that you may want kids. It may not be “fashionable” right now, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting kids, as there’s nothing wrong in choosing to stay childless.

    1. 6napkinburger says:

      I was going to say something on that too. While I know there are many women who know they don’t want kids from a young age and it is one opinion that sticks, lots of other people are unsure/ambivalent when they are young and become more sure when the “baby gene” kicks in around a more socially acceptable babymaking age (in my world, this is 28-38) (a joke – but people do report changing their mind/making up their mind when they get more stable, find a life partner, etc). Others know from the get-go that they do want kids. I agree it is unpopular to say, but if you currently, at 26, are ambivalent about having kids, I would guess that you will probably trend more towards wanting them than not wanting them. (This has nothing to do with women who adamently know they don’t want kids. And I will get flamed for this but I think its still fair to say that a “majority” of women in america want to have kids at some point in their life — though i haven’t seen the stats, I would think that more than 50% of women have had at least one child (and hopefully, at least eventually – it was wanted) or else our population would be plummeting much faster than it is).

      29 is an age where its not crazy to start realizing whether or not he finds himself saying “someday, I’m going to teach my son X” and “I’m not going to do that to my kid” or “Ok, vasectemy it is.” still, I’m not convinced that a 29 year old man who doesn’t want kids will never want kids, but that only works in the abstract. You can never assume that your partner will change on something as fundemental as that and you have to act accordingly.

      Thus, LW, I think you want kids, at least in the abstract futuristic way that everyone who wants kids wants kids until they make the decision to have kids. I want kids, but i just got a piece of plastic guaranteed to make sure I don’t have one for a while. And I kind of think kids are the most annoying things in the world right now, and can’t understand why anyone chooses to have one of “those things.” But I know I want kids. This particular desire doesn’t have to make sense or be fully realized now in order to recognize that it will exist, as any dreams of my future do include them. So if you imagine your future with kids, do not settle. You are way too young to sign away this aspect of your life in return for a fairly decent companion.

      1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        I swore up and down I was not going to have children for years. Then one day, when I was 25, I woke up with an amazing BF and realized I wanted a family with him. You’re totally right that sometimes you change your mind.

        And LW, wanting (or not wanting) to have kids is up to you. There is no right answer- but make sure you listen to yourself and are in a relationship that allows you to explore which ever option is right for you.

  9. Religion and children are both giant issues in a relationship. Neither my husband or I want children. However, I am much more religious than him. Without kids this is a much easier issue to handle. It also helps that he is supportive of me going to church, attending bible studies with my friends, etc. Do you think your boyfriend would do the same? If not could you live with that? And if you imagine your life without kids and you have even a twinge of regret, you need to say something now. It is far easier to fix that situation now than it will be 10 years from now.

  10. Sorry, LW. 🙁 I think you already knew the aswer you’d get from us, though.

    Have you talked to your boyfriend specifically about these concerns you’re having? I mean, your letter indicates that you’ve talked about whether or not each one of you will want children in the future. But have you talked to him specifically about *your* future as a *couple*?

    The only reason I’m asking is because I was like your boyfriend – I always said NEVER NEVER NEVER (or at best was ambivalent) when it came to kids. But I started to see it more as a possibility with my last boyfriend because I thought he’d be a good dad, and I thought we’d do well as parents together. Him telling me that he would feel “unfulfilled” in life without having a kid made me realize that I’d be OK with it, with him, in the futre. I have no idea if your boyfriend will feel the same way, but you could at least bring it up and let him know just how big of a concern it is for you. Just don’t let him BS you into staying with him. If he says he’s not sure, or doesn’t want to make a definite decision NOW, and “Why can’t we just live in the moment” type stuff, then you should probably MOA.

    1. Very good point… I was like that too before I met my SO.. Maybe he didn’t consider that point yet.

    2. silver_dragon_girl says:

      I’m kind of with you…I’m so “on the fence” about it that my wants kind of change depending on what my partner wants. Current bf doesn’t want kids, and I’m ok with that. I’d be ok with having them too. I’m one of those who thinks about it hypothetically, and thinks “aww, a baby!” and then I think about the reality of raising a child and sort of panic and clench my thighs together.

      But if you’re leaning towards “yes” and he’s a definite “no,” then you probably have a problem. 🙁

      However (and I’m not trying to give you false hope here, just stating what I know), I do know couples who have changed their minds on this. Like, they both expect to have kids and then one decides they absolutely don’t after all and the other is ok with that decision.

      1. I’m like you, sdg – if my next boyfriend says “no way no how” I’ll be cool with that too. I honestly think I can go either way, unless my biological clock starts going crazy or something.

      2. My boyfriend and I are similar. We’re both on the fence and it varies depending on when we’re talking about it. Bottom line is that if we never have kids, I’m ok with that. We talk about what we’d do if he accidentally knocked me up (see what I did there?! That way I can yell at him that it’s all HIS fault when I’m in labor! 😉 jk). And the answer is: move to Brooklyn. After the birth of the accidental offspring we tie tubes+vasectomy. Lol.

        We do have a fun time making up awesome middle names for our hypothetical children like “Rainmaker” and “The Punisher.” And we will, of course, call our child by this name just like Wheels in the United States of Tara. And now you can see why we’re probably not fit to be parents!

      3. Another one here who’s like you guys. I spent my whole life up until last year (I’m 31 FWIW) pretty much adamant that I don’t want kids. But now I’m thinking it can be a game-time decision and if whoever I decide I’d like to marry wants them then I will do some soul-searching.

        That being said, I’ve never dated anyone who I’d want to coparent with. My online dating profile is pretty clear that you shouldn’t date me if you 100% want biological kids. They have to be OK, forever, with the possibility of never having them.

        Adopting or fostering is an attractive option to me, and even if it’s not something I/we end up pursuing, it’s hugely attractive when a guy can be that open and loving enough to be willing to take in a stray kid or two.

        So, I’ll either spend my married life traveling and dining and being all ‘selfish,’ or I’ll be the kind of mom that constantly has 10 kids in the house most times, with varying degrees of family bonds and the kid down the street who’s parent’s suck.

      4. As someone who works in the foster care field, try not to romanticized in any way the idea that foster/adoptive kids are somehow easier then biological children.

        Foster care parents in my state require a good amount of training, social workers and other service providers in your homes, meetings with therapists and school teachers. The needs of these children are pretty intense, and if the goal is to return the child back to their parents, as a foster parent you can not undermine that relationship. Even if it is no longer safe for the child to return home, and parent shaming is a big no-no. It helps no one.

      5. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Just wanted to say that I really like this comment.

      6. Foster parenting can be very rewarding, but if interested in the slightest I strongely suggest researching now what the requirements are and what child in need would fit your home best.

        Some individuals do only younger children, as the state looks for a relative for the child to be placed. While others have older teens, who can’t be tradionally placed and stay with foster care until 22 voluntarily so they can finish college/learn independent skills.

    3. I’m kind of like you – I never, ever, ever wanted kids (I didn’t even think I would get married), then I met my husband. And his kids. And I saw
      a) how amazing of a dad he can be
      b) how much I loved watching the kids grow up
      and I changed my mind. I want kids. When we got together, I told him that I most likely didn’t want kids unless it was to adopt at a later date. He told me that he was open to having more kids by whatever means, but it wasn’t a dealbreaker if we never did. We had this discussion about 6-9 months into the relationship because we knew it was a big issue and there was no point in continuing if we weren’t on the same page.

    4. Very good point. It’s not talked about as much, but a lot of guys do go through the sort of change of heart that women often describe. That’s not to say that the LW should expect that she’ll be able to change his mind, just that it may not be set in stone.

      I’ve got friends who used to talk about kids like they were feral little martians, and not they’re so dopey about their kids that it’s embarrassing.

      1. ..now they’re so! someone messing with my posts 😉

  11. AndreaMarie says:

    Im sorry LW but if you have even an inclination that you may want children, you have to MOA. He has made it very clear he does not want them. So if you chose to stay with him for the long haul you have to be 100% in the fact that you will not be a mother. And don’t think he will change his mind. A close family friend got married a few years back. He was adamant about NOT wanting children. She wanted them but thought he would eventually change his mind as they got older. Well he didn’t, and they are now divorced. Another story, a female friend of mind absolutley does not want children. Before moving in with her boyfriend she sat him down and said “before we take our relationship to the next level you have to understand that I will not waiver on having children. If you want to get married to me one day you have to accept that has your friends are throwing around the football with their sons that that will not be a possibility for you, if you are with me.” He accepted that and they are getting married in July.

    1. I disagree with this. If she wanted children or thought she was going to want children, then she shouldn’t stay with this man. That doesn’t seem to be where she is, however. She says “I don’t want children now, and even have a hard time imagining when I will want them.” So odds are she isn’t going to want children either.

      Let’s say she dumps this guy to marry some Christian dude who definitely wants children. I think that just increases the odds of a Big Issue conflict, since she seems less than 50/50 to decide she ever wants kids. Odds seem better that she is consistent on this big issue with current bf.

      If she marries a guy who’s as ambivalent leaning negative about kids as she is, then she has a current match, but good chance they break differently going forward.

      A bf who says he doesn’t want kids doesn’t seem like a Big Issue conflict, if you think you likely won’t want kids either, but aren’t as sure as he is. Your current thinking on kids could be identical, only expressed differently. Maybe he even said exactly what you wrote about yourself “I don’t want children now, and even have a hard time imagining when I will want them” and you interpretted his same words as more of a definite rejection than when you said them.

      1. bittergaymark says:

        Eh, she sounds exactly like how my sister sounded at 26. 28. 30. 32. And even 34. Funny thing though, at 35, she suddenly very much wanted to have a chile. Fortunately, her husband had been like her and always a bit on the fence about having kids. (Actually, he was always even more open to it than she was…) Long story short, I now have a super amazing little nephew…

        Look, saying that you are not sure if you want kids is a huge, huge difference than KNOWING for sure you don’t want them…

      2. Is it really a huge, huge difference. I think primarily this can be a case of how two people who are each 10% likely to change their mind think about the finality of their current conclusions and how they express themselves when they feel 90% sure of something. The dogmatic will talk about the 90% as if it were 110% and carved in stone with a Harry Potter Unbreakable Vow. The more cautious will heavily couch the view, as the LW has. Actually, the LW writes as a person who is at least 90% certain she doesn’t ever want kids, but has so many people telling that she should and that she’ll change her view as time goes by. Hence the phrase “I have a hard time imagining when I will want them.” To me, this speaks of being told that a change like your sister’s will occur, but not at all believing it or being able to imagine how such a change in thinking would occur.

        I still think she’s a greater mismatch with a guy who definitely wants kids. The one example of your sister doesn’t prove a rule.

      3. bittergaymark says:

        No, she doesn’t. True. But she is also VERY typical of my incredibly wide and diverse cross sections of friends…

  12. kerrycontrary says:

    This letter is such weird timing for me. My BF and I had a huge religion talk this weekend. While they may not be talked about a lot, as in the case with me and my BF, when religions/beliefs are talked about people’s opinions get serious. We settled on trying out some churches when he moves to my city and agreed our kids could go to church if we end up married, but that conversation was HEAVY. I’m glad we settled on something for now because I hate discussing religion/politics (although I do believe you can marry someone with differing political beliefs).

  13. I wanted to make a point about the fact that you are a Christian and your boyfriend is an athiest, because it’s the same situation in my relationship and has not been a “dealbreaker” for us. Although I am a Christian, I intend to expose my future children to many different viewpoints and want them to adopt their own beliefs when they are old enough to understand. (For example, I don’t plan on baptizing my future children because I view it as a violation of conscience. Religious belief should be a choice, IMO). And so even though my boyfriend and I have divergent beliefs, we are okay with it because we respect each individual’s choice and I don’t hold a hard and fast belief that my child should go to Sunday school each morning. Since the Christian letter writer is in fact dating an atheist, I would venture to guess her views on this are somewhat flexible like mine are.
    However, there is a second (perhaps) more important issue, where the letter writer says she is on the fence about having a child. It seems like she sees it as more of an abstract thought for the future rather than a definite, “I want to have a child in the next three years.” However, if it’s pulling at your heart strings now, those abstract thoughts will probably turn more realistic with time. If I were you I would sit your boyfriend down and explain that although you don’t want a child now, you do want one in the future, and ask if this is something he would think about. I know many guys who are kind of immature about marriage/kids in their twenties. (My brother said he would NEVER get married, and lo and behold, he’s getting married next fall.) If he’s willing to let you go over this, it’s just a sign he’s not the right partner for you.

    1. “If he’s willing to let you go over this, it’s just a sign he’s not the right partner for you.”

      I wouldn’t want him to lead her on though…

  14. You may not know if you want kids – but it sounds like you want the OPTION of kids. If that is true then this isn’t the man for you. You can roll the dice and stay with him and hope you don’t want kids ultimately either – but doesn’t that already colour the choice -choosing to be with someone who you know doesn’t want kids? won’t resentment build? You don’t want the same things – He doesn’t want kids and you can’t say the same. it’s sad when that happens – it is just one of those love isn’t enough type of deals. Do as Mark says – leave as friends – but leave so that your future doesn’t have any limits on it that you didn’t absolutely choose for yourself.

    1. And a Republican’s worst nightmare.

      1. I’m conservative. Not convinced I want kids and not particularly religious…although I wouldn’t consider myself aetheist…more agnostic.

      2. I’m also not particularly political though 😛

      3. Good thing you’re cute, otherwise I’d worry about our newfound facebook friendship 😉 HAHA just kidding! Actually I’m more of a moderate. I’m socially liberal, but IF I had money/when I have money I can totally see myself as fiscally conservative. But it is hard to find the balance of supporting the right socially progressive and vital programs vs whats not.

      4. I am socially moderate and fiscally conservative.

    2. vizslalvr says:

      Statistics certainly don’t bear that out …

      1. I was being facetious, but care to elaborate?

      2. vizslalvr says:

        The studies I’ve seen have showed that happiness and religiosity are only significantly correlated where a society is poor, struggling, or particularly religious overall. In less struggling, secular societies, happiness appears not to be correlated to religion – and religiosity is associated with more negative feelings. Some of the data cuts both ways, admittedly. As for having children, at the least, children don’t make you more happy, and generally, parents are more depressed than non-parents. The data varies somewhat across differing parenting circumstances (wealth, single parents, etc.). And, in fairness, both parents and religious people do report a higher sense of purpose than non-religious individuals and non-parents.

      3. thanks for the explanation. I find this kind of thing interesting. I can see that making sense….I think I would be happier without kids, but I do feel as though it is a “selfish” decision, haha.

      4. lets_be_honest says:

        children don’t make you more happy, and generally, parents are more depressed than non-parents.

        What study shows that? For me and every parent I am close with, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. FWIW, I’m a single parent and not wealthy.

    3. No God to guilt you, no child to tie you to one place and cost you money? Sounds like easy living with a boat load of disposable income to me!

    4. Why is that? I’m a childless atheist and happy as a clam. I have lots of love in my life from my SO, parents, friends, siblings and nieces. I love my job and my life, and give back to my community by volunteering for an awesome organization.

      1. I just had a funny image in my head of a very vocal aethiest that hates children.

      2. And when I think of Christians with kids I imagine bible-quoting bigots with a gaggle of brats running around them. But I guess people can be wrong sometimes. ; )

      3. haha – hey – I’m an equal opportunity stereotyper…I think the same thing sometimes. Unfortunately there actually are people that make them true.

      4. Iwannatalktosampson says:

        “I’m an equal opportunity stereotyper” – If I was single and had a dating profile this quote would be on it. Because then I would only ever be matched with people that “got me”.

      1. haha – if I had known it was going to create such a controversy I never would have said it. I would delete the comment if I could. I have no ill-will towards aetheism and those who choose to believe in it. To me it doesn’t matter what people believe if they are happy and not hurting anyone in the process…I’m not threatened by the opinions/beliefs of others…especially those that are more personal such as religion and sexuality.

        I’m fairly apathetic with things unless someone is trying to control how I live my life or tell others how to live theirs and I like to make jests about “serious” topics to lighten the mood about it…sometimes I strike a nerve with people (my guess and hope is because there is no voice inflection in written words and the reader is left to make an assumption on how it was meant) and for that I apologize.

        P.s. Foreveryoung left me hanging here 😛

      2. Iwannatalktosampson says:

        I kind of love that you said ForeverYoung. It’s flattering that y’all haven’t forgotten about her.

      3. Iwannatalktosampson says:

        To the rescue!! I like to make fun of my own life as much as possible. Therefore when people like Budj (and me) make fun of your life to lighten the situation, we’re not really judging you.

        If you want we can talk about my unemployment – that’s always a hoot to talk about.

      4. lets_be_honest says:

        Speak for yourself. I’m judging the crap out of all of you!

      5. Iwannatalktosampson says:

        Wait – I just realized that wasn’t a very good argument in your defense. Pretty much what we’re getting at is that Budj isn’t hating or atheist or childless individuals. Just making a joke about how that sounds depressing. Atheists don’t believe you’re going to heaven when you die, just that you become nothing – like part of the earth. Which is kinda depressing no? And childless individuals will never hear the pitter patter of little feet in the morning. Depressing right? Well I’m probably going to be childless and I like to make jokes about how I’m going green. People get legitimately pissed about it like I’m selfish (Budj I’m talking to you – I saw that comment up there – we’ll privately sort that out later – but just know that I’m watching you). So I joke about it and turn it around on them by saying that they’re wasting the worlds resources by unnecessarily creating human beings. But in a funny way. Then we’re all laughing. And everyone likes laughing.

      6. vizslalvr says:

        I don’t find that depressing. I find believing in a fairy tale because you are so afraid of your own mortality a lot more depressing. I don’t find not hearing the pitter patter of little feet in the morning depressing. I find the idea that our overpopulated society needs to make judgment calls about from where I derive happiness and satisfaction depressing.

        Whether or not YOU have ill will toward atheists, budj, a lot of people do. A lot. A majority of the country does, based on steady statistics. If I made a similar joke about being a black person or a gay person or a Muslim person or any other discrete and insular minority, I wouldn’t be stupid enough to say, “Oh, I was just kidding. Haha.”

        So, I guess unlike Monica M, you did offend me because I don’t think it’s fair that atheists should have to be “used” to being mocked and marginalized. But I’m silly and thought I lived in a secular country.

      7. “I don’t believe in FAAIRY TALES, I don’t believe in Fairy TALES, I believe in you and ME, take me to, take me to wonderland.”

        Had to do a shout out to my MOA Guru Natalia Kills 🙂

      8. lets_be_honest says:

        So calling any religion ‘a fairy tale’ is cool, but making a joke about atheists is not. Sounds fair.

      9. vizslalvr says:

        Oh, don’t worry, I was just being facetious.

      10. lets_be_honest says:

        Huh? That’s basically what Bugj said to you, and you took major issue with it.

      11. I find believing in a fairy tale because you are so afraid of your own mortality a lot more depressing.. vizslalvr

        If I made a similar joke about being a black person or a gay person or a Muslim person or any other discrete and insular minority, I wouldn’t be stupid enough to say, “Oh, I was just kidding. Haha.” vizslalvr

        Noted. Making patronizing (dare I say, insulting) remarks about a non-minority okay. Jokes about discrete and insular minorities not okay.

      12. vizslalvr says:

        Wow, you guys really don’t get irony today, huh? That’s my point. It’s not okay to make fun of other people’s beliefs, or lack thereof. It offends people for damn good reason. Regardless of whether you truly believe it’s depressing not to believe in heaven, or I truly think it’s a silly fairy tale, you shouldn’t spout off about that stuff for no apparent reason. I should not have gotten angry about it and been snarky, because clearly it would have been wiser to just explain calmly why I felt it’s not okay to make snarky/facetious/backhanded/joking/tongue-in-cheek comments about other people’s world views in a non-constructive way.

        But maybe now you see that it kinda sucks when someone mocks you?

      13. Gonna be honest, I totally did not pick up on the intentional irony. I’m not usually that dense. Really.

        And I don’t know if your last comment was directed at me but I never was blind to the fact that it sucks to be mocked.

      14. vizslalvr says:

        Sorry, I was kind of haphazard about whom I was applying to. It was more directed at lets_be_honest.

        Again, I do apologize for turning up the snark factor. It was unnecessary. But that knee-jerk reaction to someone saying something negative about a part of who you are (for example, religion) is the same exact reaction I (and a lot of atheists I know) feel when we get negative comments from religious people, so I went down the rabbit hole of being an ironical jerkface. My apologies.

      15. And I apologize for my snarky, sarcastic reply to your snark. I wasn’t necessarily offended by what you wrote but since I missed the intentional irony I couldn’t resist replying.

        (As a rather snarky, sarcastic person myself I’m embarrassed that I didn’t get that)

      16. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        I dunno, I think atheism is per se depressing, don’t you? The idea that when you die you are dead forever and ever. The idea that, after a lifetime of feelings and deep thoughts and relationships and experiences, you become nothing and you stay nothing forever and ever and ever, just like the nothing you were for the eternity of time leading up to the moment you were born. That’s downright depressing, no? Before you shit on me, note that I am an atheist too. God, now I’ve depressed myself. Is it happy hour yet? (Tangent thought: I wonder what came first, the alcoholic or the atheist?)

      17. An alcoholic atheist. Now THAT’s depressing amirite?!

        Oh and about being dead forever, eh, that’s why I believe in ghosts. Atheist ghosts who felt deeply when alive and are now able to roam the earth forever and ever creating havoc as they see fit.

      18. OH and because I feel a bit feisty today I’m gonna make a bold statement. Feel free to argue about it..

        I think its better for alcoholics to be childless.
        BOOM. there. I said it. Now lets all argue (can anyone tell i’m bored at work today)

      19. vizslalvr says:

        I find it much more depressing to imagine living infinitely. I love being alive and all, but after a certain point of anything enough is enough. All the more so if one of the options were being subjected to awful tortures for all eternity.

      20. britannia says:

        I don’t think atheism has to be depressing. It can be quite liberating to believe in neither heaven or hell, because then you don’t have to worry about your soul or how it’s going to spend eternity.

      21. Addie Pray says:

        That’s a good point. But that’s also a big myth that some religious folks believe – that if your’e an atheist, you think nothing matters – your actions don’t have consequences. I guess people need to believe what they need to believe. But for me, even being an atheist, I worry about my conduct and how I treat people. Not because I think it will get me a fancy house in heaven but because I believe we are all equal on earth and our time is finite and I’m not better than anyone else and so I need to treat people fairly….

        Wait, what are we talking about? I honestly can’t remember. Sometimes I just like to see my fingers type words. Oh yes, we’re talking about depression. I was “mildly” depressed last year. Yoga has helped a lot! Really, what are we talking about?

      22. You didn’t strike a nerve or offend me, mostly because I am just too used to this kind of comment. I just wanted to present a different perspective. I used to keep my beliefs to myself, actually to outright hide them.

      23. good – because I hate it when people are mad at me, haha.

  15. There are many issues upon which a couple can compromise but children is not one of them. As a childless-by-choice person, I would not even consider a long-term relationship with someone who wanted kids. It would be unfair to both of us and I would never want it flung in my face that I “kept” someone from being a father. MOA now while it’s less complicated.

  16. “I enjoy our day to day life together — we laugh, have good sex, and share chores — but how do I know if that is more important than the ‘big issues’? ”

    How do you know if those things are more important than the big issues of incompatible religious beliefs and wanting children? I’ll tell you. They aren’t. That’s why they’re the “big” issues. They trump smaller things. Like good sex and chore sharing, and laughter, which you could feasibly have with a lot of people.

    And look, different religions does not equal incompatible religions. It all comes down to the reasoning behind your beliefs, and the context of each individual’s beliefs. Some people can compromise on their partner’s religion, and others can’t, and there’s no real right or wrong to that.

    Kids though, well, you can’t split the baby. That’s not really a compromise-able issue. If one partner wants kids, there is no real compromise that will fulfill this desire. And it’s ok to not know, or not be sure. But by staying with him, you are deciding that it is a no. Do not stay with someone with even the slight hope they will change their mind either way on this issue. It isn’t fair to anyone involved.

    1. painted_lady says:

      Took the words out of my mouth. It’s totally possible for one partner to be Christian and the other atheist – doesn’t always work, not everyone’s willing, but it can happen – and a million other things. But kids or no kids is an issue you can’t do halfway. The boyfriend was a little on the fence about having kids when we got together, but I definitely don’t want kids. I even attempted to convince myself about being on the fence like he was, and it led to a rather teary breakdown a few months ago. Nothing like a good pregnancy scare to show you your real feelings about procreating. And finally, he realized on his own that he was having some late-blooming quarterlies mortality panic rather than wanting actual flesh-and-blood children. And he also decided I was worth not having kids…I’m still worried he may change his mind someday, but all I can really do is trust that he means what he says!

      1. painted_lady says:

        *quarterlife, not quarterlies.

  17. If you want kids and he doesn’t, then yeah, that’s probably a dealbreaker. You don’t want to regret it later on, and if you do, you’ll be the only one to blame because you had warning. As for the religion thing, you didn’t specify what sort of problems that causes, or if it does. Being of separate religions (or one religious and one not) is not inherently a problem, but it’s all about how important it is for you to have a partner who shares your beliefs (will go to church with you, etc.) and whether you two respect each other. However, the kid thing sort of overrides that, so…

  18. I can never decide if the rush women are in to settle the future of a relationship waaaay in advance of its current status is a method of testing the guy or a function of insecurity…
    What’s the rush, LW? You don’t want kids now (you say you’re still on the fence about having them at all) and you don’t sound amazed by the wonderfulness of your relationship, so why are these phantom future children figuring so largely in your musings at this moment? You don’t need a “good” excuse to get out of an OK but not spectacular relationship, you can just go, right? And until you know in your bones that it’s kids or nothing, it doesn’t make sense to predicate the future of any relationship on maybe-someday thinking.

  19. I have to agree with most people here – kids are 100% a dealbreaker. You can work with religion, but one partner is just going to end up resenting the other if you compromise on the kid issue and there’s no way that will turn out well for your relationship or the potential child you might bring into it.

  20. Just look what is happening to Yang, and Owen on Grey’s! You don’t want that do you? He’s cheating on her, because he resents the fact that she wont have kids with him!

    1. Addie Pray says:

      Dude, did you mean to out yourself as a Grey’s watcher?

      1. I can’t hold it in any more Addie! I don’t want to lead a double life.

      2. Addie Pray says:

        Well, this isn’t a confession board that will go POOF by tomorrow. But here’s one for you: I watch 19 Kids and Counting. I find the looney Duggars spellbinding.

      3. Addie Pray says:

        And I should also confess that sometimes when I get home the DVR will have new episodes of New Girl, The Good Wife, Southland, or some other show for me to watch, but the first thing I’ll watch is 19 Kids and Counting. What does that say about me?

      4. Really 19 kids and counting over New Girl! Jess is the funniest cutest person I have ever seen in my life! I hope Nick gets on that pretty soon! Oh, and I am watching last nights to night so be quiet about that! I also love Ice Loves Coco, and Ellen, but I don’t know anyone beside the Million Mom people who does not love Ellen, she is a riot. I think she gives to many things away to Sophia Grace though.

      5. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Oh I watch New Girl too, don’t worry. And I saw last night’s episode where they cut Jess’s hair (gasp!) and killed off Nick. (Oh, did I ruin it for you?!)

      6. Hah, I watched it before I read all of your atheist lies.

      7. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Bhwahahahah – I don’t know what but this made me laugh a lot.

        Bagge: can I tell you about this gym that I found in Gloucester when I was exploring the Massachusetts coast a few weeks ago? Best. Fried. Everything. You’ve ever had. And the chowder! Oh. Em. Gee.

      8. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Um, not “gym” – meant to say GEM.

      9. Awesome! What is it called? I can I tell you something? Try not to hate me for this, but I’m the pickiest eater in the world, and absolutely hate seafood! Sorry 🙁 I’m a meat, potatoes, and buffalo wings kind of guy. I just recently found a new vegetable to add to my rotation of carrots, and corn, I’m on the edamame bandwagon now! I love chicken, beef, pork, and any other bird or normal land animal to eat. I think sometimes people are embarrassed to go out to eat with me, because I order everything plain, it probably is the worst at Mexican joints, because I love there food so much, but I just want seasoned meat, cheese, wrapped in something with a side of seasoned rice! That’s all I’m asking for!
        So please don’t hate me, and I will still try this Gym…Gem, because I love fried food.. if it walked at some point. I did hear the best way to see if your chowder is good, is to stick you spoon in the middle, and see if the it will stand up on it’s own without you touching it.

      10. Addie Pray says:

        Causeways. It’s on a boring stretch of road right before you hit the water in Gloucester. It’s next to a liquor store, which is nice because the restaurant is byob. I’m sure you can order fried meat of sorts too. They serve hugeass portions (my favorite size), the food is delicious, and it’s not too pricy – score! I ordered a salad with pan-seared scallops (among other entrees – we shared a bunch), and it came on a plate that could have doubled as a sled and had like 40+ scallops on it *and* was only like $14. We would have never known there was a restaurant on this particular stretch of road – let alone an amazing one – had we not asked a local in town where she goes for clams. Will you go there and tell me what you think?

      11. Oh I will defnitely go there, I’m always going to new places to eat! It sounds awesome, and I will bring my father, because he loves scallops. It is the one thing he has requested to have at my wedding haha.

      12. Addie Pray says:

        Let’s have a DW meet up there the next time I’m in Boston! That would be fun.

      13. Sorry been stuck at RMV since about 12:15, and I’m still here!

      14. lets_be_honest says:

        I find you spellbinding.

      15. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        You can’t see me but I’m totally blushing. 😉

  21. I feel like I’m sort of on a different page than everyone else with this letter…

    To me, it doesn’t sound like the LW or her boyfriend are at all adamantly one way or the other. She doesn’t see kids in the near-future, and he’s saying right now he doesn’t want kids at all. What are his reasons for not wanting kids? Do his reasons seem subject to change? What about yours, LW? You don’t go into very much detail about why you’d “maybe” want children one day– is it just something you never considered NOT doing, or do you actually think you might want to experience it?

    When I first starting dating my boyfriend, we were both like “No kids, right? RIGHT!” But a few months later, he mentioned something (in a half-joking way) about wanting to continue his bloodline (which sounds totally douche-y when I write it out, but anyway…). I was like, “ugh, well, hopefully they’ll have petri-dish babies soon, because I don’t want a human in my belly!” (ooppss, that sounds douche-y also?) Now, more recently, I’ve been open to the possibility of pregnancy/children in my future. But… I’m still not sure. I don’t know! Jackson is so cute. But babies are scary!

    I’m willing to go back-and-forth on the issue for a few more years. And my boyfriend seems willing to accept that any day I might crack & be like “Babies, babies, babies!!” So yeah, my point is that two people can have completely mixed feelings about it. At ages 26 and 29, only 2 years into the relationship, I think it’s fine if the LW and her boyfriend are at different places (as long as they are not VASTLY different). Hope all of that makes sense!

    In regard to the religion thing…I feel sort of similarly. As long as she’s not a staunch Catholic or born-again, and HE’S not one of those super-vocal atheists (“Religion is the opiate of the masses!! you’re all being conned!!!!”), there shouldn’t be too much clashing.

  22. I know this could be way off, but what I read between the lines of your letter is that you’re in a comfortable relationship, an okay one but nothing special. Kind of like, “Day to day there isn’t anything bad so it must be good, right?”

    If that’s the case and you aren’t hoping to spend the rest of your life with this guy then the big stuff doesn’t matter. Enjoy what you have now and move on when “not bad” isn’t cutting it anymore.

    If you are pinning your hopes on you and your bf marrying then it’s probably best to MOA now. Your differences regarding becoming parents just aren’t compatible. It’s true that you can only truly state where you each stand today regarding having kids but you can’t know for sure if either of you will feel differently in the future and you shouldn’t marry anyone hoping they’ll change.

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