He wants kids, I don’t

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Dear Meredith, 

My boyfriend and I have been together for about four and a half years. I am in my mid-30s, and he is in his late-30s. We are perfect for each other in all ways except one very significant one: he wants children and I do not. 

We first talked about this on our third date. We agreed to give our relationship a little time and to see if either of us changed our mind. Over the years, we've gone to couples counseling and have been actively trying to come to a compromise. I feel like we have both moved closer toward each other's point of view, but there's still a significant difference in what we want for the future. The uncertainty is starting to take a toll, so I'd like to come to a decision very soon. 

Right now, the best option we've come up with is for us to have one child via a surrogate since the pregnancy would be very difficult for me. The problem is that I simply cannot decide. I have significant concerns about being a mom, but it's equally devastating to think of losing the man I love very much. I feel torn between two heartbreaking options. Any advice on how to make this final decision would be much appreciated! 

– Torn

Raising a child is a huge, lifetime commitment. It doesn't seem like something you should do to keep a romantic relationship alive.

Consider that if you have a child, that perfection you experience with your boyfriend will not be the same. Your lives will begin to revolve around a new person. Having a kid doesn't preserve what you have; it makes everything different. It could be a wonderful new step ... if you wanted kids.

There's a difference between having "concerns about being a mom" and not wanting to do it at all. I've had friends who were ambivalent about the experience and wound up loving it, but again, they were open to it. They had doubts, but they were willing. They knew they couldn't control the outcome and were ready to try.

Your letter makes it sound like parenting is something you wish you didn't even have to consider. If that's the case, the answer is clear to me (and to you, probably).

Think about whether this is doubt or a strong feeling that you'd rather not. There's a big difference there.

I wish I could give you an easy answer, one that would make the tension go away. Maybe it's time for more therapy on your own.

– Meredith

Readers? Any way to compromise on this issue? If you were opposed to having kids and found that you loved it, can you share that experience?