The One Subject You Can't Compromise On
It wasn't as if Lizzie and Ryan didn't really know each other that well. They had dated for eight years before they married. And Lizzie says they discussed the issue of having children "quite often" early in their relationship and then again shortly before they married. They both wanted children, but not just then. Even though she was 31 when they married and Ryan was 30, they weren't ready.
"I wanted to go back to school to complete my degree, and he wanted to be further along in his career before we had a child. When we got married, we were still struggling with bills and jobs. We were trying to build a foundation, so we agreed to wait until I finished school."
That was the plan. At least, Lizzie thought that was the plan.
Five years later, Lizzie was still in school, with one year left. The marriage wasn't exactly thriving. They were having problems.
"No infidelity, no physical or emotional abuse, but like many couples, we had started to grow apart. Ryan would come home from work and go straight to his art room. He'd drink six to eight beers a night, every night. I'd retreat to the bedroom or living room. On the weekends, I'd hang out with my girlfriends."
Lizzie suggested marriage counseling. "Ryan had all kinds of excuses. 'I gotta work.' 'I don't know if I can take off.' Yada, yada, yada."
The fights accelerated. And then one night, after an especially explosive argument, Ryan finally came clean.
"He calmly admitted that he didn't see himself as a family man. He said he didn't want to be an old father. Mind you, he was 35! He said, 'We can't afford medical insurance,' and 'We argue too much.' After he finally confessed to what he'd felt all along, I was done."
She told Ryan she wanted out. "He begged and pleaded with me to change my mind. He said he was willing to do whatever it took to make things right. He even said he'd go along with counseling and having children, but the relationship had run its course, and I was ready to move forward with my life."
Lizzie filed for divorce a few months later and then started therapy.
"There were four months of counseling filled with anger, bitterness and resentment toward him. I had to come to the realization that it just wasn't meant to be and we just wanted different things. It's unfortunate that it took 13 years to finally figure it out. It was a very difficult reality to face, but I'm OK with it now.
"And I can't place all the blame on him. I knew we weren't compatible. He's the laid-back type, and I'm goal-driven. Given that, I have to accept some responsibility for the outcome of the relationship. What I did resent was that he treated the relationship as a convenience. It took a few years to get past that. But I've forgiven him."
As far as ever having children is concerned, Lizzie says even now, four years later, she's not in the financial position she'd like to be in to properly raise a child. "I've decided it would be best to remain child-free. I do have nieces and nephews, so not all is lost."
Do you and your partner disagree about having children? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants to email@example.com. And check out my e-books, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front" and "I'll Call You. Not."