Not sure when you are starting Dr. Reality Steve again, but I wanted to get your thoughts on something.
My husband and I have been together 6 years and have been married for 2 of those years. He is 32 and I will be 30 next week. Even before we were married, people would ask when we are going to have kids. We are both from the upper Midwest and I feel that it is just kind of expected here that once you get married, you will start having babies.
Neither of us have ever had dreams of being parents and we decided pretty early on that it is not something we want. We have nieces, nephews and friends with children that we adore, but parenthood is just not for us. We are perfectly content being “parents” to our two fur babies.
We’ve been open about this with family and close friends. However, we have a difficult time when people we aren’t as close with bring it up. There is definitely the feeling that judgement is being passed when we say we don’t want children. It has come to the point where, when asked, we stumble on our words while trying to answer and leave it at “maybe someday.”
As a single guy (by single I mean not married), do you find that you get bombarded with questions about marriage and children? How do you respond? Why do you think there is such a stigma attached to people who don’t aspire to have children?
I guess we are just tired of feeling judged or like we are bad people because we don’t want to have children.
Comment: Tell them to mind their own bees wax. Kidding. Sort of.
I get it. You’re married, been together 6 years, people always wanna ask when kids are coming. Sure it’s annoying. I guess instead of saying “maybe someday,” you change that answer to, “We’ve decided we’re not gonna have any. We’re content with our family the way it is. It’s just not for us.” If they want to judge, let em’. It your life, not theirs. I’m sure a couple with kids, the first thing they’ll think to themselves is, “Well why don’t they want to?” Not your responsibility to provide them an answer. Like you said, parenthood just isn’t for you guys. There’s nothing wrong with that.
I get asked on occasion about marriage and kids, but it’s not something that’s ever become a burden or annoying because I don’t let it. I don’t know. Let me live my life and what happens happens. I’m not too worried about it and I really don’t get asked that much. But is there a stigma attached to people who don’t have kids? Absolutely. Why? I guess you’d have to ask the people who have them why they look differently at those who don’t. I don’t really know the answer to that one. But don’t let it get to you. Sounds like you and your husband have already made the decision to move on with your lives and not have children, and if that’s not good enough for someone else, that’s their problem, not yours.
Hi Dr. Reality Steve,
My fiance and I have had a rough 2 years (been together 5 total), but we’ve really persevered through it and have fought hard to work things out and stay together. Long story short we were not kind to each other, which was driven by external factors in our relationship, and we just handled our feelings and our relationship poorly. There were many mistakes on both sides and we both know this.
I first sought individual therapy because I knew I wanted to work on myself (anxiety) and the areas I could improve in how I contribute to the relationship. I have since gotten light-years better and I am super happy with my life, I’m feeling confident, self-assured, etc etc.
I noticed that where I was improving, my fiance was still stuck in the emotional rollercoaster left behind by the tough year, and we talked and talked about it and I got lots of verbal empty promises, and it’s been another year of no real change. He has pretty low self-esteem and has for his whole life, but he has gotten by with a natural charisma and intelligence. He also has issues facing his emotions – he struggles with sympathy/empathy and his instinct is to block all emotions or to avoid/ignore them.
We then went to couples therapy for a few months, but as a last ditch effort at that point, and I noticed some improvements in the relationship and in him, and some stuff has stuck, but mostly it would get better for a few days after a session and we’d be back to where we started. Also, my fiance who was originally very uncertain about therapy (because of the stigma associated with mental health issues) actually enjoyed the sessions more than I did. Our couples therapist had to leave the country unfortunately, so we stopped going and haven’t picked a new one, but he did leave us with some referrals for a new one AND for someone for my fiance if he wanted to do individual therapy.
Now we have had many discussions about him going to individual therapy. I cannot praise therapy enough (if you find the right therapist). But I understand he has to want it for himself, but he has verbally told me he will make an appointment for months now, but nothing. Then, a few weeks ago he again said he would book one by the end of the week. The end of the week came and went with no appointment. I asked him why and he said he didn’t have time to make the call at work, and that he was feeling better so wasn’t sure he still needed it and was thinking about it, which are both bad excuses. It’s been another week that he hasn’t made an appointment and I am losing patience, because I’m dealing with the same empty promises as always, that I’ve had to deal with for the last two years.
I’ve now concluded that he seems to move the goal posts on himself, and he never suffers a real consequence from failing to follow through on his promises. I am still here doing everything I always do around the house and emotionally, and he still gets what he needs from the relationship without needing to fulfill his responsibilities towards the relationship (my needs). I’ve debated living at my parents short-term to show him the true consequence of his actions but I don’t know if this is going to be more damaging or petty. I feel like we’re at the point where he has to hit some kind of rock bottom to really take action? I have no idea. He doesn’t seem to own up to the fact that his choices and actions are directly leading to the failure of his relationship. Again, I completely take responsibility also for part of it but I have taken concrete steps to better myself for my sake and for the relationships sake.
We are balls deep in wedding planning and have a lot of our deposits down, a date for 2019, and I am of the mentality that I am committed to this man even if we aren’t married yet. I’m wondering if you have any advice from a male perspective of how I can approach this behaviour, or if maybe I should just give up once and for all, or if I need to step back and give him space. But I don’t know how to give him space without holding back on my end, because if he isn’t fulfilling my needs in the relationship then I don’t think I can continue to fulfill his. Or maybe I sound like a frigid bitch (hello Legally Blonde), which please tell me if I am. There is honestly a lot of love in the relationship, really, and there is no malicious intent on either side, it’s just sorting out our own issues to be better together..
Sorry I feel so defeated I can’t come up with a clever alliteration for you
Comment: There’s a lot here, but I don’t think there’s a giant black and white solution either. If I were you, after numerous false promises on his end which seemingly lead to no consequences for his actions, that needs to change I believe. Doesn’t necessarily mean you need to leave him or move out (although that’s certainly something that should at least be considered), but you have to put your foot down. He says he’s gonna do a bunch of things, he doesn’t, and suffers no consequences. So of course he’s going to continue doing what he’s doing, because he knows he’s not getting in any sort of trouble for them. Maybe just the threat of you saying you’re going to separate, or put a halt to the wedding plans – something that might light a fire under this guy’s ass because it sounds like he needs one.
You’re in a position of power right now I think, and you need to use it. If what you’re saying is true, and you’ve done your part to be better and move on and improve yourself from your earlier relationship struggles with him, and he’s doing nothing to change, then you need to force the issue. I think there are numerous ways you can do that, but I don’t think it’s my place to tell you exactly which route to go. I think you know the biggest options out there and it’s how you choose to deal with it. Just know that what’s happening right now isn’t working. Sounds like this guy has countless times not followed through on what he’s said he was going to do. And these aren’t just “Oh yeah, I’ll remember to pick up after myself” kind of things. We’re talking about things that are clearly affecting your relationship, and if he’s not willing to do what he can to make those better, is it magically going to get better once you’re officially married? You need to really look into that and ask yourself the tough questions. Because by all means, it doesn’t look like he’s there yet. Could he be? Sure. But nothing you’re doing right now is making him think he really needs to follow through on what he says, and that’s a problem.
So I have been dating my boyfriend for nearly a year, we live together, and you have helped with relationship drama in the past including getting him to clean & not play so much Fortnite. #ManChild
Lately, I have been wanting to move back to Colorado. Back story, I lived there for three years but returned to LA due to some family issues. I have always wanted to return to Colorado but this has been really pulling on me a lot lately. My boyfriend is from LA as well, but likes Colorado. We’ve talked about moving there eventually but last week I told him I want to be in Colorado within a year. He is absolutely shocked but this news, saying that it came from nowhere and he doesn’t understand why I am in a rush to move. He said he wants to move but feels that within a year is a harsh timeline.
Should I just make the move on my own? I would want to stay in a relationship if I moved, but I am not really willing to compromise.
Confined in California
Comment: Well, the minute I heard “I’m not really willing to compromise,” I thought “Uh oh.” That’s going to put a strain on any relationship since that’s what relationships are mostly based on. There’s just no two people in the world that come together, date/live togheter/get married, and everything fits into place, neither side has to budge in the relationship, and there are no compromises made. That’s just not realistic. And on something like this of where you should live is the thing in question, I’d say yeah, that’s kind of a big deal. If you want to move to Colorado, by all means you have every right to. I think putting a 1 year ultimatum on it is a little extreme. I know nothing about your finances or his finances, but you’re asking a lot of him. Maybe he can’t just up and leave for job/money purposes. Or family matters. I don’t know. Ultimately you do what makes you happy. If living in CO is what you want, then do it. But know that he’s not being unrealistic saying that’s a harsh timeline. Uprooting your life to move to a new state may be easy for some, but for most, I’m guessing it’s not. You might want to stay in the relationship if you move, but he might not want to. Understand that going in as well. Then again, I guess as long as he can play Fortnite in Colorado, maybe he’ll be happy to move. Kidding. I think.
I’ve been a really longtime follower and love reading your site. This is the first time I’m emailing you but need some dr reality Steve advice…
Ok, so here goes…I’ve been dating someone since the end of December. I had broken up with my long-time boyfriend about 2 weeks before we met and I wasn’t looking for a relationship but we hit it off. We’ve been taking things VERY slow. We’ve done a ton of “couple” things together…I’ve met his family, he’s met mine, and recently traveled to my hometown for a wedding together with his parents. One (sadly) drunken and emotional night in April we said I love you but haven’t said it again. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I have fbi level snooping skills and ended up finding an Instagram page for a girl who’s pictures he’s been liking regularly. I happened to notice a month or so ago her name pop up on his phone. I didn’t say anything but remember being frustrated. Anyway, after a day of drinking yesterday I decided to look through his phone while he was in the shower. I found the texts from her and let me just say they are not the most platonic. He said a couple weeks ago “let’s grab a drink” but she was busy. Based off what I read they haven’t seen each other since March. She definitely does not seem as interested as he is in the messages. Needless to say I was really upset but chose not to confront him. At the same time he had made a comment about me having my own key to his new apartment- many mixed messages. Also going to add that he never guards his phone, I know the passcode and he will leave it if he gets up or showers (I know from personally having cheated on someone else that if you have something to hide you’re definitely going to guard your phone). Lastly, we were looking at his app usage on his phone last night and I noticed that a dating app was ranked up there for data usage. When I asked him about it late last night he said he wasn’t dating anyone else and then turned it on me by saying he’s seen that I still get matches via email for another dating app. Basically- I need some advice…how would you handle the texts I saw? How do you bring them up without looking like a lunatic? And do I even believe him?
Very sorry for the long winded email!
Comment: Seems to be all sorts of trust issues going on here, and you’re 6 months into the relationship. That’s never a good sign.
I think you need to stay away from his phone. And he needs to stay away from yours. Just because someone is private with their phone doesn’t mean they’re cheating. I’m the same way with my phone when I’m with someone, but it’s more for work purposes. I don’t see the point of them reading my texts/emails as I would never care to read the ones of the person I’m dating. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just different, but I find that a total invasion of privacy. You asked me how I would handle the texts you saw, and my response is, it doesn’t seem like you saw were all that bad. If you guys have been together six months, why are you both still on a dating app in some form? You’re getting matches via email and he’s having a lot of dats usage on an app. Are you guys exclusive? If so, why are you both still signed up for these? I’d basically both unsubscribe or whatever and focus on yourselves and not what the other person might be texting or saying to someone else. You’ll drive yourself batty doing that. But to be honest, this “relationship” seems to be on thin ice since neither of you seem to trust the other one. You have to get past that if you’re going to have any success whatsoever.
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