Should I Get Married Even Though We Have Strong Differences on Religion and Children?

I’m not sure whether you respond to men asking questions about women for your blog anymore, but as a long time reader I would really value your thoughts regarding my dating situation.

I’m coming up on 6 months with my girlfriend. I decided to take a big risk after our first month of dating and invited her to live with me, mostly because she was the 1st person in my life to ever want to commit 100% to me and also because her upcoming teacher’s course would have made her so busy that we’d never have time for each other otherwise.

However, as we come upon 6 months now some of the big questions are causing doubts. She is *very* child oriented. She spends her days with primary school children and definitely wants to have kids before she’s 30. I find myself somewhat lacking in paternal instinct and while I’m not ruling out children completely, I cannot honestly tell my girlfriend that I definitely want to have kids with her in the next few years. Currently, I’m nearly 25 and she’s 24. I’m wondering, how old were you when you *knew* you wanted to have kids. What were your thoughts on the matter when you were my age? I’m torn by the fact that it’s fair of her to want some concrete answers as our relationship goes on.

Another issue we have is over spirituality. I know you’ve answered this question in various forms before, but I’m curious as to how your relationship functions in a practical way. My girlfriend is very much a believer in things like psychic readings, tarot cards and astral projection. She wants to have conversations where I engage with her over her latest spiritual experiences, but as an atheist who’s worldview is shaped by rigorous scientific scrutiny, I find it difficult to suspend disbelief and affirm her visits to a fortune teller or what have you. I’m happy for her to have her thing, but she’s hurt by me wanting to avoid such conversations. What I want to know is, does your own wife expect you actively talk about her spiritual experiences with a god you don’t believe in. How do you resolve things in your day-to-day?

Jerome

You’re young, my friend. Really young.

When you’re young, you not only tend to believe everything is deathly serious, but you also lack the experience to know that life takes a really, really long time.

In other words, not to give away the ending, but this won’t be your last girlfriend.

Sorry ’bout that.

You have a 24-year-old girlfriend with baby fever. Yet despite sleeping in the same bed with her, you haven’t caught the virus.

If it’s any consolation, here’s a statistic from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed: There is a 75% divorce rate for kids getting married under the age of 25.

I know, right?

That should be a big red flag if you think you’re going to be the exception to the rule.

You’ve already moved in after six months – not because it was the next organic step towards marriage, but because, by your own admission, you’re both really busy. This is the wrong reason to take that next step, but, well, here you are.

Which leads us to the real problem: you have a 24-year-old girlfriend with baby fever. Yet despite sleeping in the same bed with her, you haven’t caught the virus.

This is dealbreaker material for a number of reasons. Some will say that it’s because you’re not sure if you want kids, but I’ll defend you on this one. It’s not your job to be sure right now. You’re 25. You’ve got a career to build, a house to buy, a long-term relationship to procure. There’s no reason to have babies on the brain yet.

While I ALWAYS knew that I wanted to be a Dad, it wasn’t “being a Dad” that caused me to date so prolifically from 25-35. I didn’t go into first dates thinking about whether she was going to be a great mom; I was thinking about what she looked like naked. Kids would be the result of a happy marriage, not the reason to get into the marriage itself.

Thus, your girlfriend has got the cart way before the horse. As does anyone who is making plans like, “Must have kids before I’m 30”. Such plans only force people like your girlfriend into making the wrong decisions – such as marrying a man who is completely out of alignment with her long-term goals and values.

The goal – for both of you – should be to marry the person with whom you can be your best selves and see yourself spending the rest of your life. For your girlfriend, it should not be about mapping out a future and then slotting you in to suit her narrative. “Married by 27. First kid by 29. House by 30. Second kid by 31.”

Kids would be the result of a happy marriage, not the reason to get into the marriage itself.

Listen, I would have loved to have figured it all out at a younger age – married by 30, kids by 35. But I also know I wouldn’t have chosen my wife when I was 25 or 30. I needed to have the wisdom and experience of a 35-year-old dating coach to see why she was the best fit for me. Whether we like it or not, the fact is: people change. And they’re never changing as much as they are between the ages of 25-35.

This alone means that your actual question is somewhat inconsequential – interesting, perhaps, but not likely to dictate the outcome of your relationship.

Your girlfriend – the one who wants to be a mom yesterday – is immature. What’s worse is that she thinks she IS mature.

But maturity is about having a clear understanding of how the world works, the consequences of our choices, and the ability to compromise. She has demonstrated none of this. Not in her desire to get married fast. Not in her desire to procreate fast. Not in her refusal to accept your spiritual differences and agree to disagree.

She’s a little girl who wants to be a woman, but doesn’t see that playing house is really different from growing up.

The woman you marry, Jerome, may or may not want kids, and may or may not believe in otherworldly things.

The difference between her and your current girlfriend is that you will be able to navigate these issues together and end up on the same page.

Don’t worry; you’ve got a lot of time to find her.