Since I started dating my girlfriend six months ago, I’ve had this feeling that something just fits, in a way I’ve never felt before. In past relationships I’ve had periods of insecurity and mismatches in energy or expectations. Here, so far, there has been none of that. The few misunderstandings we’ve had have been worked out in a way that left us feeling better than before. There’s a lot of warmth and affection; we trust and respect each other, and the sex is very good. I don’t feel like anything is missing. Sometimes, I suppose a bit more passion or excitement could be nice, but I attribute some of this to the stress of pandemic times. Given our healthy sex life, I’m not hung up on it.
Here’s the issue: I’ve always imagined dating someone for at least two years before considering next steps (marriage, children). Both of us are on the same page about wanting these things one day. When I first met my girlfriend, she had come to terms with the possibility of not having children biologically, as she is nearing 40. I should mention that I am 30, also a woman, and would like to have children biologically if I can, though presumably I have more time. However, as we have become closer, she has made a few comments suggesting she would like the experience of having a child biologically, if possible. I am sure she would never pressure me about it. Of course, I can’t make this decision entirely on my own, but my question is: if the gut feeling is good, if the relationship feels right, is it worth jumping in? Should we take the steps to have a child together this early on in our relationship? Or at least, propose the option?
It seems you have a really good feeling about this relationship, but it’s great you are being so thoughtful, because this is about having children and that deserves contemplation.
I consulted relationship psychotherapist Jo Coker (cosrt.org). She thought your relationship sounded “really refreshing, really attuned” and there were lots of good signs, not least being able to work on things together, and finding a positive solution for both of you when things have gone wrong. But we both wondered where the idea of waiting for two years comes from, and whether you could challenge this? “Is it,” asked Coker, “something you’ve seen in peer groups, or in your parental history? What have you seen magically happen after two years?”
“Sometimes, when we are younger,” explains Coker, “it can take longer to reach the established stage.” As we grow older, and know ourselves better, we can often reach this stage sooner. “A relationship,” says Coker, who has sat in with many couples over her 20 years as a therapist, “doesn’t have to be long term to be good… relationships tend to be as good as the day they’re on.”
Perhaps your girlfriend had shelved the idea of motherhood until you came along, and something about the solidity and promise of your relationship has allowed her to look at the prospect anew. You also say you’d like a child, so these are all things you need to talk about.
“Your relationship,” says Coker, “is functioning well and is solid in terms of your communication skills. The bit that needs consideration is whether you agree about how the pregnancy would happen. Who has the baby, and what impact would it have on your relationship at this stage?”
To my mind, this is where your energies need to go next: the logistics and practicalities of having a baby. It’s often only when we talk about how we feel and what we want, and see other’s reactions, that we acknowledge those feelings ourselves. And of course, it’s the only way to find out whether you’re on the same page in terms of outcome and timing. You both seem able to talk very well, which is a very big plus point. Can you talk to others who have gone through a similar journey? Which bits did they find challenging?
What many new parents find tricky is working out not only how physical tasks are shared, but also who carries the emotional load. You talk about jumping in, which sounds reckless, but you don’t seem reckless. Jumping in with a bit of thought and knowledge sounds sensible. Keep me posted.
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