I want kids

And she doesn't.

Dear Meredith,

I'm involved in a serious and stable relationship with a remarkable woman whom I fell head over heels in love with, and she with me. Our relationship has only gotten stronger with time. I can honestly say I'm the happiest I've ever been, and she tells me she is, too. We're living together, and we've talked about getting engaged, settling down, and everything seems great. But I wouldn't be writing you if everything was perfect, right?

Being open and honest with each other has never been a problem for us, so when the subject of having kids some day down the road came up (almost jokingly at first), I gave my honest opinion on the matter. I've always loved kids and I've always known that I wanted to have at least one kid. I told her that I thought we'd make fantastic parents. I also stressed that I was in no rush, as we both have some things we want to accomplish before that time. But when the time was right X-number of years down the road, I would be very open to the idea. When I asked for her opinion, I got a very different answer. Her response was that she never EVER wanted to have children. When I asked her why, she got very defensive. She says that she just doesn't "like" kids and that she has so much in her life she wants to accomplish she can't possibly see how kids can factor in to any of it.

Over the period of a few months, I've gently broached the subject a few more times, hoping her opinion would soften a bit. In fact, it's just the opposite. She's turned even colder to the idea. She says she respects my desire to have kids someday. She says that she loves me and wishes she could feel the same way, but she just doesn't and will never want to have children.

I'm at a loss of what to do. I'm happy in every other aspect of our relationship but this, and it's become a big roadblock for me. Do I stay the course and hope that someday she will change her mind? What if she doesn't? If I have to choose one or the other, I will be heartbroken either way. If I stay with her, and she remains true to her word, it could mean giving up on a dream that I've had for my entire life. If I leave her, I will be leaving the greatest relationship of my life, and a dear friend and counterpart. All over the concept of a "theoretical baby" that I might have someday.

I guess I have to decide whether the desire for this "theoretical baby" is more important than the factual great relationship I already have. I'm doing my best to respect her feelings, but the eternal optimist in me wants to believe that as our relationship grows, she'll change her mind. I hope so because I don't want to lose her, or my dream of having a family.

– Unsure What to Do, Boston

"Do I stay the course and hope that someday she will change her mind?"

No, UWTD. She has been incredibly clear. She's not going to change her mind. If you stick around, you have to be comfortable with the idea of no kids -- ever.

Your letter suggests that this theoretical baby isn't so theoretical. You want one. That's why you keep bringing it up.

You're allowed to be an optimist, but you also have to be a realist. If you want a family, there are people out there who can give it to you. Women who share your goals. Women who want a baby with a nice partner. Your girlfriend sounds wonderful, but when family is on the line, wonderful just isn't enough.

My advice is to tell her that you’re not sure that you can live without a baby. You've been having theoretical discussions about the issue, but it's time to have a real one. After some honest talk about plans for the next five years, the answer should be clear.

Shared goals are just as important as timing and all of the other things that go into finding love. You can't go into this crossing your fingers and hoping for a change down the road. (Sorry.)

Readers? Will she change her mind? Should the letter writer ask her to? Is there anyway to get around the children issue? Discuss.

– Meredith