Clock ticking on waiting spouse
Q: My husband and I agree we want children, but he's balking, even though we've been married 10 years. He patently refuses to acknowledge that at our age (36), waiting any longer could mean the difference between doing it naturally or not at all. I had my doctor speak to him about fertility rates and age, but he insists on holding onto this "we still have time" mind-set. Any suggestions?
A: This is impossible to answer blind, and here's why:
Invariably, when this comes up, I hear from men whose wives got tired of waiting and simply announced they were ditching the birth control — and these men now declare that the resulting children are the best thing that ever happened to them. The premise being that child fear can't ever be eliminated by conventional means, so you just have to go for it (with full disclosure, of course).
I also hear from people who would view such a unilateral move as a betrayal of everything marriage stands for. The premise being that "go for it" is a great way to produce unwanted children with a resentful parent or two.
The only "right" answer is to know your spouse, and know whether the right words are "I am going to stop using birth control, just letting you know!" or "Your stalling on kids has me feeling bitter, like you married me under false pretenses."
The precursor to both, however, is the same: If it meant never having children, would you want to stay married? That alone could decide your next move; knowing yourself will be, as always, more illuminating than anything you read into him.
Don't fight about compensation
Q: A friend sent an e-mail to his close friends asking if anyone would be willing to lend their home to host a surprise party for his wife, saying he would compensate whoever volunteered. I've been friends with him since college and I let him know we would be happy to host. My wife was fine with our hosting, but insisted I could not accept any compensation. I told him this was our gift to his wife.
We hosted the party. It was wonderful. Well, today he dropped off a thank-you note and a $100 check.
My wife and I fought over this issue upon agreeing to host, and tonight we are fighting again. My wife says I can't cash it, they can't afford it, it's not proper etiquette, and I'm cheap and conniving, etc. I feel I made it clear we didn't expect anything, but he still chose to compensate us and we should simply receive it as a gift. I wonder if he would be offended if we returned it or didn't cash it. Please help clarify what's proper in this situation.
A: I'm not sure "proper" applies to spousal accusations of "cheap and conniving" behavior. Consider applying your windfall toward competent marriage counseling, stat.
If that doesn't sit well with the missus, then consider spending the money on dinner out for the four of you, or donating it in your friends' name. While no marriage should hinge on so little in the first place, no marriage should be sold out for so little, either.
Regardless, your friends' dignity demands that you don't decide what they can afford.