*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Raising a family is usually part of a committed relationship, but what happens when you're ok with skipping the wedding but think it's time to be parents and your partner won't agree?
Would you be willing to wait for them to change their mind, or is your age what matters most? Would you look for someone else just to be sure you can have your own kids?
How much does it matter to feel the same way about having a family when it comes to staying with the same partner for a long time?
My friend Tina, who lives in Los Angeles, California, has been dating her boyfriend, Nick, for 16 years. They've been seeing each other ever since they were in high school in Los Angeles and kept their relationship going through college too.
"We moved in together in his apartment in Los Angeles after we both graduated and had full-time jobs. While we initially wanted to get married fast and have kids, our goals changed, and we felt like our careers mattered more. We wanted to be able to afford a nice home and have our kids grow up without worries and struggles, so it made sense to wait. And our relationship was happy while we supported each other and kept studying," Tina said.
As time passed, their families eventually gave up on asking about a proposal and a ring, and the couple got comfortable just being together and enjoying every memory they made. They traveled together, checked out different restaurants around Los Angeles, watched movies, helped each other with study and work projects, and kept thinking about a future together.
"It was great to know he was always there for me. And the life we were making for each other was going to be about a family eventually, too," Tina said.
While she was convinced it was just a matter of time until they got engaged and had kids, Nick wasn't sure he actually wanted to be a dad. And the more time passed, and things stayed the same, he assumed Tina would realize they didn't need to have a family after all.
"It's stressful to have kids, and I don't want to have to wake up in the middle of the night. We're doing just fine like this, earning enough and not having to think about bills or get worried about anything. Why would we have kids and end all that? Our relationship is great just the way it is," Nick said.
On the other hand, Tina hasn't changed her mind at all. She still wants to be a mom, and she's waiting for the right time; if anything, the years that have passed since they've been together are only making her worry about it.
"It's not like I can wait too long. I'm 34, and I just have a few more years left to have my own family. I've wanted this for so long, and I couldn't give up on it," Tina said.
As time passed and Nick didn't let her know about wanting to be married, she assumed maybe he wanted to skip the wedding completely. And she was ok with it as long as they would still have kids.
"Yes, a proposal is nice, having a ring and a wedding matter, but raising a family is more important than that. And we don't have to get married to do it and be happy. And if Nick doesn't feel like organizing a wedding, that's ok with me," Tina said.
She had a talk with her boyfriend and let him know she still wanted to be a mom very much but that she was willing to give up on an expensive wedding if that's what kept him back. His answer surprised her. Nick said he felt it was too soon to even think about being a dad and that he might reconsider it in ten years. But that there was a chance he would still not want to have kids.
"I want a baby; he thinks it's too soon. We've been dating since high school. And now he wants to wait ten more years. I don't have that long. My chances to be a mom will be so low by then it won't matter what I want anymore," Tina said.
She feels disappointed by her boyfriend's reaction, particularly because she's always told him how much being a mom matters to her. She's not sure if she can go on with their relationship when he clearly won't be a parent anytime soon. And her family has also been visiting them in Los Angeles more frequently and asking about a wedding.
"There's so much pressure from my parents and sisters. And I'm not happy myself knowing I can't have a family. I don't know if waiting will change any of that. It will probably just make things worse, and we will end up resenting each other," Tina said.
She's considering whether she should end their relationship and move out of her boyfriend's apartment in Los Angeles or if giving him another chance will actually mean she can have a baby sooner.
What do you think about this situation? Is Nick being fair in constantly postponing having a family even though he and Tina talked about it, and he knows that's what she wants from a long-term relationship? Should Tina give up on him and try and find someone else who wants to marry her and have kids just like she wants?