We’re so different


I am currently dating a great guy. We live together with very few problems, we like the other's friends and family, and generally have a great relationship. We've been talking about a future together more often lately, and while part of me definitely sees him as the man I can build a life with, part of me can't stop thinking about the life I wouldn't have if I marry him. For example, I always envisioned having a big family. However, for money reasons, he only wants two kids. I love dogs; he is allergic. I'm Jewish (and envision raising my children that way); he is Christian. I'm up for having an adventure at some point in my life; he is content moving to his hometown and staying at the same job for thirty years. By no means do I think negatively of what he wants, but when we talk about these things, his general answer is, "We'll deal with it when the time comes." I'm just worried that by that time, his flat answer will be no --two kids, no dog, we can't move because of work -- and I'll have wondered why I waited so long.

He loves me more than anything and I love him. But should I keep going and plan on compromising, or get out not knowing if I will find someone with a similar vision as me? Any advice would be great. Thanks!

– Confused, Boston

These issues aren't deal-breakers -- yet. You both want kids, so that's a start. And really, he knows what you want from life and he hasn't run. That suggests that he's open to compromise.

(Of course, the dog is a non-starter. You can't expect him to sacrifice his health.)

But you're right -- you can't put off the discussion. My advice is to start asking my second favorite question in relationships: "How?" Don't expect him to have any specific answers, but tell him that you'd like to start planning a life that works for both of you.

Are you open to celebrating Christian and Jewish holidays? How much does he know about what it means to be Jewish? And how does he feel about travel, in general? Is he interested in trying some smaller adventures? (You don't have to ask all of these questions in one sitting. Take your time.)
You both should also admit how much you don't know about yourselves. You say that you want lots of kids, but maybe after a kid or two, you won't want more. And maybe after you have kids, you'll love the idea of living close to family and limiting adventure. And maybe he'll realize that he loves to travel.
Differences are inevitable. You just have to figure out if you're open to working together, and if so, how much. If he can't talk about any of it, that's a bigger problem.

Readers? Are these deal-breakers? Is it time to talk? What if he doesn't want to? Do they really know what they want?

– Meredith