*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Living with your partner while sharing responsibilities and happy moments is one step closer to getting engaged and eventually married, but what do you do when this step suddenly comes with conditions, and you could lose them anytime?
Is it ok for your partner to say they will leave if you have kids, or should they assume that's why you're together anyway and raising a family is a part of being together permanently?
My friend Simone has been dating her boyfriend Harry for two years. They first met at a birthday dinner one of their friends organized in Phoenix, Arizona. They happened to sit across from each other, and they got to talking, and since then, they haven't been apart for longer than a day. They texted and sent messages on social media after the dinner and stayed in touch as friends for a few weeks.
Once a month had passed, and they felt they got along well, they began going out together. Their first date was at the same restaurant where they met, and they went dancing later.
"It was fun to remember that time, and we decided to keep that place as an anniversary thing because that's where our love started. It was so romantic and nice of him to say that," Simone said.
They went out several times a week whenever they didn't have to work longer in the office, and they gradually learned more about what they wanted for the future.
"It was easier to get to know each other while doing something we both liked. It wouldn't have worked if we had tried cooking or doing housework. That just wasn't the stage our relationship was at. I had rushed into other relationships before, but this time I wanted to take things slowly and figure everything out before taking any further steps toward being together," Simone said.
During the next eight months, they checked out different places to eat, took classes together, and went on short weekend trips. They also had the same group of friends, so whenever one of them had a party, they were both invited, and they always found a reason to have a good time.
"It wasn't boring being with him, and we didn't get too serious either. Being in love is about staying spontaneous, and I could see he was like that. I felt he might just be the right partner for me to have a home and a family with one day," Simone said.
One year after they first met, Harry asked her to move in together. He wanted them to live in his apartment since she was renting one, but he'd already bought his.
"It was about spending less time apart and saving on my rent and other costs, too. And I was sure it would be one step closer to getting a ring and having a proposal. I was so happy when he told me. I said yes immediately," Simone recalls.
She packed her things, and in three days, she was ready to start living with her boyfriend. They had a few issues while deciding who did what chores and accepting that one of them liked to sleep in while the other was awake very early.
"He likes to sleep in a lot, but I made that work for me. I did some extra work until he got up, so I wasn't annoyed by the delay. And he dusted with me and helped me with laundry whenever I needed it," Simone said.
Even though Simone was sure this step would lead to her boyfriend proposing and setting a wedding date, there was one thing they couldn't agree on.
She kept mentioning that she would like to be a mom, but each time that happened, Harry found something else to talk about or completely ignored her remarks.
"After it happened a few times, I didn't think it was a coincidence anymore. He didn't want to talk about having a family, but he was ok with discussing rings and wedding stuff. What could that mean?" Simone said.
As she got more confused, she decided it would be best to clear things with him and see where he stood. So, she asked Harry specifically to sit down and talk about having kids and what he wanted after they got married.
"His answers were surprising because I never thought he would think like that. He wasn't interested in being a dad or raising a family with me. He did want to get married and have a nice wedding and honeymoon and spend a life together. But kids had no part in that. Not according to him. He didn't think he could be happy raising kids and didn't want to have to change his schedule or give up on any of the things he wanted for them," Simone said.
While she had assumed a marriage included kids, Simone understood Harry didn't feel the same way. And what's more, he warned her he would leave if she ever got pregnant.
"He said he'll go back to his parents if I get pregnant; how will we have a family? Not that he needs to live with them again; he ears enough to live on his own. But it was just to show me he would end all connections to me if I went against what he wanted," Simone said.
She felt sad to learn his opinion, but she was still in love with Harry. Simone isn't sure if that will be enough to give up on being a mom and having the big family she's always thought about.
"It will be a very different kind of marriage from what I had in mind. Sure, we would travel and have our careers, but what about playing with our kids or being grandparents one day? We would miss out on all of that,' Simone said.
She's undecided if she could convince Harry to change his mind in time or if it's better to give up on their relationship.
What do you think about this situation? Is it fair for Harry to warn his girlfriend he will leave her if she gets pregnant? Is wanting a family part of a happy marriage, or can they be just as comfortable without kids? Should Simone give up on wanting to be a mom if she really loves Harry?
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