I want marriage and kids, but is now the time to talk about it?

My boyfriend and I have been together for three years. We're in our mid-30s and have been living together for almost a year. He's a great guy, and it's the best relationship I've ever had. He's smart, fun, caring, we have similar interests - we are just a really good match, in my opinion. His family tells me the same thing about us and he's given me no reason to think he doesn't feel the same.

So what's the problem? He's never been great with feelings and expressing himself. The most I get from him is the occasional "I love you." I know he does feel it, and he shows it in different ways (ie: he’s excited when he comes home and sees me, and sometimes he sings these silly little made up songs with my pet names in them). I was the one who had to broach the subject of moving in together, even though I was renting and he owned a condo. I feel like I'm always the one bringing up the big questions.

I'm at that point where I want to take the next step: marriage and kids. At my age, there is only so much of a window of time left to start a family. We have talked about marriage/kids, but only in a very general "yes, that's something I want" kind of way, and less framed around our specific plans as a couple.

With the current state of the world today, I have no idea how to start this conversation with him. The world is on lockdown due to COVID-19. There is no shopping for engagement rings, setting weddings dates, picking venues, etc. And who knows when any of that will be possible again; could be months, or over a year. He's fairly traditional and I know he'd want to be married first before having kids, but if we stick to that type of timeline, I could be nearly 40 before kids are an option, and I don't want to wait that long because it may be too late. I'd be fine with getting engaged (don't need a real ring) and then beginning to start a family soon, knowing we'd get married later once the world goes back to normal. I don't mind if we were to do the marriage and kids out of order, but I'm worried he will care.

And because he's been so bad about expressing himself in the past, I guess I don't even feel 100 percent sure that he wants what I want. I'm nervous about how things will play out if we aren’t on the same page once we begin to discuss this. He changed jobs literally right before the pandemic hit and he's been quite stressed with learning this new role remotely, and I don't want to add any more stress to his plate, but I also don't want to put my life and future on hold. How do I have this conversation? How can I try to get him to understand we don't have the luxury of time if we want a family? If the world wasn't in the state it is right now I'd be far less worried about talking to him about all of this.

– Starting a future during a pandemic?

This is a very stressful time. But life is still happening. In fact, some people are making big decisions because of this pandemic. We've seen stories about secluded proposals and Zoom weddings. Trust me, wedding planners are booking out into 2021 and beyond.

Your boyfriend is learning a new job, which is a lot to handle right now (although it’s great that he has work, in general ... so many people don't.). But that's temporary stress. You're assuming that your life plans will be new obligations for him to worry about, but they're supposed to be things to look forward to. If he wants to get married and have kids someday, this talk will be about shared desires and how to make them work.

Everything you said in this letter makes perfect sense. I mean, you could wait a few more months before you act on any decisions; we have no idea what will go down over the next year, and maybe we'll see more light at the end of the tunnel soon. But at the very least, you can talk about possible timelines. Honestly, if he's not on board with any of this, you need to know.

I'm sorry you have to be the one to bring it up, but sometimes one partner is better at that kind of thing. Hopefully he can balance that by bringing some enthusiasm to the table. Maybe he'll write some little songs about a life with you. Get brave, be honest, and see if he does.

– Meredith

Readers? Should the pandemic delay this kind of talk?