Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Before deciding about future, try out the no-guy life
Southwest: My boyfriend and I have been together for just over a year. We've talked generally about long-term stuff, but nothing specific or concrete. Our larger disagreement on the long term is that I want kids and he doesn't, a topic we generally avoid, but is probably the key to our not getting specific about marriage.
Recently he was presented with a job opportunity across the country. He wants me to come along. I have no foreseeable job there. My career is very specific and limited. The move would require me to become financially dependent upon him for as long as it would take me to find an entirely new career.
I wouldn't be losing anything in my current city other than a paycheck. While we both agree that moving away would be best, I'm afraid to move away from my financial security without a guarantee we will be getting married. So, how do I reconcile my fears with his opportunity?
Carolyn: Why don't you use this opportunity to figure out the kids/no kids problem? Let him move without you while you stay in your career — but play with the idea of career changes you could make. In the meantime, continue to cultivate friendships, hobbies and other connections in your current city, as if you might soon be single; don't just cuddle up with Skype.
Be absolutely transparent with your boyfriend: Say you're not going to move with him because you need time to make a career change anyway, so you're going to use that time to try to make peace with the no-kids issue, one way or the other. The exploration of alternate careers can even keep you occupied after he moves, to take the edge off the loss.
You're facing a huge choice, whether you actually discuss it or not: yes guy, no kids — or no guy, yes kids. You already have an idea of what the first configuration will look like, since it's what you and your boyfriend are living now.
There's no great way to try on family life, since you can't exactly borrow some kids for a few months. However, you've just been handed a way to sample life without your boyfriend. Your career obstacles aren't emotional, they're fact, and they're buying you time. Stay put and use this chance to "try on" a different possible future.
Humor can help new mom cope with moronic comments
Oakland: I just gave birth to my third boy. Ever since I was pregnant, when people ask "Boy or girl?" I get responses like: "Good luck with that" or "I assume you are going to try again for a girl?" I've even had people laugh in my face that I have three boys. What do I say when I get stung by a comment like that?
Carolyn: Laugh. Or, please, just try to see the humor. With all girls, you'd be getting "Good luck with that" or "Are/Were you trying for a boy?" or "Heh, wait till they're teenagers" — the girl version of laughing in your face.
In other words, most people are just trying to share a knowing chuckle with you, not ring you up for your unacceptable use of X and Y chromosomes; it gets old, but, like childhood, it passes.