Breaking the ice…with a sledgehammer

Woo hoo, Formspring is my new friend!  I was feeling all sad about having nothing to write about today, and then someone asked the question below and I got all inspired.  Thanks, whoever you are who wrote the question!

my therapist says “forever” relationships are a little bit like business deals and you should ask the important things like about kids, money, career, etc. but that doesn’t seem like first date convo…when do you ask those questions?

I don’t know what the “rule” is about these questions, but I do think that if you know where you stand on an issue, and you feel strongly about, it’s worth bringing up pretty early in a relationship.  Not first-date-early – I think at that point you’re still trying to figure out if you have a connection, if you’re interested, if they’re interested.  But probably third-date-early.  And part of it, I think, is that not everyone has issues that they need to bring up; some people are flexible about a lot of things and would change their stance on an issue (kids, geography, etc) if it was for the right person.  But if you aren’t flexible, and you know that, I think it’s your responsibility to bring it up pretty early, so that you’re not put in a place where you have to choose between two things you really, really care about (an established relationship and your desire for children, for example).

Very early on in my relationship with Turtle, we went to eat lunch outside, and we were sitting there, eating, when she got a really nervous look on her face.  And then she finally sort of awkwardly said something like, “Look, I really don’t want to have kids.  I’m not going to change my mind.  It’s something I’ve thought about and something I feel strongly about, and I want to tell you now in case it’s a deal breaker*.”

us being adorable at our lunch spot, where above-referenced conversation occured

Spoiler alert! We are getting married.  It was not a deal breaker.  But here is some background on the issue for me:

Warning: this may gross you out. So, sorry. Here goes.  My girlparts have always been a pain for me.  Every month of my post-pubescent life, I got horrible, horrible cramps when I got my period, to the point where I would throw up and have to curl up into a ball and couldn’t function.  When I started taking birth control pills in college, they eased up, and that was wonderful… and then it turned out that they weren’t really working and I was still ovulating and getting these cysts, which I understand is sort of part of the normal cycle, but I was getting more than I should have.  I had lots of ultrasounds to see how messed up things were, and they kept saying things were normal, but they kept writing in my chart, “rule out endometriosis”, which I only found out later when I had them mail me copies, and lo and behold they had never ruled out endometriosis.  Fuckers.

Anyway, fastforward to March of 08, the month before Turtle and I started dating, and my doctor found a mass or lump or cyst or something that made me go to a specialist, blah blah blah… let me shorten this up and say that I spent a weekend freaking out because I thought that if I wanted to have kids, I would need to have them, like, right now or probably never.  I even called my awesome friend Ean, with whom I had planned to have babies once I realized I was a big ol’ lesbian, and said, “Let’s get this party started!” and he said, “Okay, let’s do it in a year so we can be financially stable.” Yeah, look how responsible we were even in a baby panic.

So I spent the weekend being like, “I want babies! I think! Wait, maybe I don’t want babies.  I mean, how strongly do I really feel about this whole deal? My life is kind of awesome. Maybe I don’t need babies.  Why do I want babies anyway?” And by the end of the weekend, I had decided that if it was now or never, I would pick never.  And I really felt comfortable with that.

Back to the story:

So when Turtle said, “I don’t want children.  Is that something that you are comfortable with?”, my response was, “Well… can we get a dog?”

And, obviously, that worked out just fine.**

yes, turtle is in daphnes crate in this picture. not unusual.

So the answer to your question, anonymous FormSpring Question Asker, is that I think kids is something to talk about early, if you know you do or don’t want them.  I think that money is a conversation that we are all always learning to have, especially in relationships.  I think that careers change and that they are a pretty personal decision, and that can be a conversation you have later, too, though I think it was pretty early on that I said, “I might need to move across the country for vet school, depending on where I get in,” and she agreed to go with me.

(Side note, sort of: if you do want or definitely don’t want the things that your date doesn’t or does want, don’t give up the things that you feel strongly about.  There’s someone out there who wants the same things.  But if you find someone wonderful and you don’t feel strongly, then compromise is fun; and sometimes you don’t even have to compromise, you just agree, and that’s even more fun!)

Dearest readers, what do you think?  Have you had this conversation with people you’ve dated? When do you ask these questions?

*Turtle does like babies, she just doesn’t want any, and that’s okay.
**For the record, I have never wanted children the way I wanted a dog.  I’ve been wanting a dog since I was about 2.  I’m not exaggerating.  I have wanted kids, oh, every so often, usually around the time of the month when I’m ovulating.  I find that the desire for children is easily cured by going somewhere where there are a lot of them, like the Science museum; conversely, the desire for a dog is only amplified when I am surrounded by them.  I think that says a lot.
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3 Comments

Filed under Marriage/Wedding/Engagement, Relationships

3 responses to “Breaking the ice…with a sledgehammer

  1. This is a great post! I’m with you on the dog thing. I didn’t date someone in college because, even though he was really cute and great, he was “not a dog person.” I don’t even really get what that means. Also, is it okay that I think about Tina Fey every time you say “deal breaker”? 🙂

  2. lw

    i like the part where it looks like i love daphne. but don’t tell anyone – i’ll totally deny it.

  3. Mark told me very early on, when I expressed concern over whether I could balance kids and a career, and stated that if I thought I couldn’t be a good mom because I was so busy with work, that I shouldn’t have kids, that not wanting kids would be a dealbreaker for him. So we’ve talked through it, and continue to talk through, and will continue to talk through, how to be an equal partnership with children and how I can have my career and how I can’t be supermom and how if I’m going to have a career and be supermom, he damn sure better be prepared to ignore the fact I haven’t done the dishes or the laundry in weeks.
    Since he currently ignores the fact that I haven’t done the dishes or laundry in weeks, I suspect we’ll be alright.
    I think that conversation is important – because if I really didn’t want kids, then yeah, it would have been a deal breaker. I think if you are younger, three months or whenever it feels right is a good time to talk, in general hypotheticals, about what you want out of life.

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