*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Changing how you feel about raising a family right before a wedding rarely happens, but when you haven't given your reasons before, and you suddenly want something else for your relationship, your partner can get confused about whether you still love them or not.
Should you marry someone who tells you they won't have a family with you before your wedding date, even if you agreed before that you would be parents together?
How does such a change affect a relationship, and is there still a chance to be happy together by avoiding talking about kids?
My friend Lilly has been engaged to her fiance James for 11 months. They've been dating for four years and studied at the same high school in Phoenix, Arizona.
"We also grew up in the same neighborhood, so I knew him from when we were both little. As time passed, he had several girlfriends, and I had a few relationships. Somehow, we always found each other when we were sad and needed to be comforted. After we graduated from college, we lost touch for three years, and then we met again at his parents' wedding anniversary," Lilly said.
They had invited Lilly too since she'd been visiting their home since she was a little girl. Lilly chose a present for the party, and as soon as she came in, she saw James.
He came over to greet her, and they had a great time for the rest of the evening by catching up with each other's lives.
"He'd been working hard to get promoted and had a great career. I told him all about my classes and how I wanted to become a chef in a few years, and he was so supportive. It was like all that time apart helped us really connect again, and we realized how much we'd missed each other," Lilly said.
James walked home with her on that day, and he asked for her phone number before they said good night. They texted and called each other over the following two weeks.
"Once that time passed, we felt like we were ready for more. We'd never tried to be in a relationship, but that was just because we always had a boyfriend or a girlfriend at the time. We weren't single at the same time, but now we were," Lilly said.
James asked her out, and they had dinner and stayed out late. They also remembered what they both wanted for their future and how much it mattered to find the right partner to make you happy.
"It was like we met exactly for that. To have a home together after all the relationships that ended badly. And our parents knew and liked each other, so there wouldn't be any stress about fitting in or getting accepted by in-laws," Lilly said.
They kept dating for six more months, usually three times a week, trying their best to fit into their busy work schedules. Once they'd been together for those months, James asked Lilly to move in together.
"I had my doubts because sometimes when you live together too soon, you don't get married. But I didn't think that would happen to James and me. We cared about each other, and we did need to know more about our habits and adjust to sharing our space," Lilly said.
She ended her lease and packed her things, ready to begin a more permanent stage of her relationship. Once they were both in his apartment, James became more attentive, and he helped Lilly with all the house chores.
"He didn't take me for granted or sit in front of the TV while telling me to cook. He was still nice and got me flowers. And we went out every weekend, too," Lilly said.
He surprised her with a romantic proposal one year and a half later. She said yes, and they set the wedding date one year after the day he asked her to marry him.
"Our parents were so happy for us, and they offered to help organize everything. And we needed the support; it was difficult to keep track of the menus, the guest list, or the arrangements for the ceremony," Lilly said.
She went shopping with her mom, too, looking for the wedding dress that would look best for the big day.
The couple had a talk about their marriage, and they agreed they wanted to work on buying a home first and, after being able to cover mortgage payments, they would have kids. Lilly wanted three kids, and James was ok with that.
As time went by, he worked long hours so they could add different options to the wedding venue and be able to afford a unique wedding cake.
"It did cost a lot, but I was so sure it would be worth it. You only get married once; we will remember that day for the rest of our lives," Lilly said.
However, when the wedding day was almost upon them, James had a sudden change of heart. He still wanted to tie the knot but under different conditions.
He wasn't interested in having kids anymore and told Lilly just one week before the wedding. At first, she thought he wanted to cancel the ceremony, but he made it clear it wasn't about that.
"We're getting married in a week; he doesn't want kids with me. We talked about it, and he agreed; now he has changed everything. I had my dress; everyone got their invitations, and we paid for the venue and everything. Our families are looking forward to celebrating with us, but how can I be completely happy knowing this? It's not like he wants a different wedding cake. That affects our whole future together," Lilly said.
She didn't know how to react when she learned about what her fiance wanted. She doesn't want to give up on their relationship, but she also wants to be a mom one day and has a hard time agreeing not to have kids.
She's hopeful that it was a reaction related to the stress around the wedding and that James didn't mean what he said, but so far, he's still repeating his conditions.
What do you think about this situation? Should Lilly marry James anyway because he might change his mind about kids again? Is it better to postpone the ceremony until they can find a compromise and agree on some solution to the kids' issue?
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