Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Carolyn: Husband and wife (me) have been married for about a year. Wife is 31 and wants babies before fertility becomes an issue, and independently has begun to crave parenthood primally. Husband wants kids eventually but says he isnt emotionally ready yet (and doesnt have an ETA on when hell be ready).
Husband suddenly wants a dog. Hes just always wanted one, but on another level, he seems to believe a puppy will placate my baby yearning. Ridiculous, of course.
I would be OK with adopting a dog AFTER starting a family, but resent the idea of doing it now. It certainly wouldnt replace a baby, and I also worry the extra responsibility would sour Husband even more toward the baby idea, because the dog would take up more time and money that he already guards preciously.
However, I also dont want it to seem like Im punishing him for not having a baby. Please help!!!
There are at least a half-dozen ways you dont respect or trust each other, and instead youre operating as independent agents. Thats no environment for a baby or dog.
Take his not emotionally ready, for example. Even though its better he admits that, if true, than pretends or deludes himself otherwise, hes also not 17 and hes married to someone raring to go. He owes you a more thoughtful answer and a better effort. And do I detect an eye-roll in your doesnt have an ETA?
The would-be dog, meanwhile, best be sturdy, with all the subplots, suspicions and ulterior motives hes carrying.
I suggest marriage counseling or a reputable marriage seminar or workshop (even premarital, since theyre more common); if one of you refuses, then put that on the list of ways youre acting as individuals vs. teammates.
If you can go to him now and say, Neither dogs nor kids will work if we arent in this together, and if he can be receptive enough to discuss things openly, then maybe you can talk yourselves, sans referee, to an answer that suits you both.
Email email@example.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.