You don't need to make excuses for not wanting children
Q: How do I translate to people that my desire not to have children does not mean that I hate children, and that I do in fact like them, just not enough to give up the things I would have to give up to have them? I guess this makes me a selfish person, or a non-nurturing person, but not a non-kid person.
A: It makes you a clearheaded person. You know what suits you, and you are honoring that. Say so. The response should be applause, period. Not judgments, not raised eyebrows, not "You'll change your mind someday!!!," not anyone else's hard-earned and I'm sure 24-karat wisdom, no matter how tempting it may be to share it.
Couples need to keep working on communication skills
Q: Do you think all couples eventually run out of things to talk about? I've noticed that conversation between my life partner and me runs dry so quickly these days. We mostly just talk in puns and inside jokes, but nothing real like we used to. Is this an inevitable fate of partnership, or is there a way to learn how to boost our communication skills? I keep having a complex that we are already one of those old couples who eat dinner in restaurants and don't talk at all.
A: Do stuff together that can become a conversation topic. Reading the same book or newspaper story, watching the same movie or TV series, following a team, doing a regular volunteer gig, all these things are fuel for different levels of conversation, along with some nice time together. Sometimes it's going to be, "Do you think they'll re-sign X?" and some of it will be about your most deeply held beliefs.
You won't have the getting-to-know-you motor to drive your dialogue the way you used to, but you'll have the ongoing-connection motor, which you've probably used with friends and family — without questioning it — for years.
These are practical and conceptual means, respectively, to the same end: learning to want what you have. A seasoned relationship just isn't going to have the same level of excitement as a new one. But what you do together can be exciting. The lack of excitement also can be an advantage: The brain space you aren't devoting to whether the phone will ring can be used to pursue other, deeper things — including a more rewarding life with each other.
Imagine how you'll remember this chapter in your life
Q: A woman I used to work with and I have been hooking up recently after she broke up with her boyfriend. It is just sex, and her boyfriend is trying to win her back. She is torn. I am 100 percent honest with her that it's just physical. She is confused and thinks about going back to him, but still wants to see me. I feel I am doing nothing wrong here. Am I obliged to not sleep with her?
A: What do you think: Ten years from now, a proud moment in your history, or not? Believe it or not, I don't mean to imply there's only one right answer to this. I just think, given the power memories have both to uplift us and haunt us, it's a useful exercise to try to anticipate which it will be.