Q. I recently met the most awesome man. I feel like I have known him all my life. We click in every area but one. He is 30 and I am 50. He wants a family and I am too old to give that to him.
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We have talked about the age difference and are trying to figure out where to go from here, since you never know what tomorrow brings. I don’t want to give this up, but I also know I can’t give him what he wants. We are really torn and confused. Do we keep seeing each other or just end it now? But what if he never meets anyone he loves the way he loves me? Can you help us?
A. This is a tough situation.
The age difference does not affect your love for each other, which is a terrific thing. And it’s great to have a wonderful love relationship.
These days, there is less taboo concerning December-May romances, especially when the man is younger. But, as you know, there is one immutable fact — you are too old to have children the ordinary way.
Are you saying that this man wants biological children and you do also, but that, as his partner, you can’t give them to him? Then your dilemma is no different from that of any couple with a fertility problem.
In this case, there are ways to compromise that might be fine with both of you — egg donation, surrogacy, adoption. These are not quick, easy and inexpensive, but they are certainly viable ways to have a family.
If you are going to go this route, you don’t have time to waste. At some point, it becomes unfair to children to have a parent too old to physically manage the demands of child-rearing. Some adoption agencies have upper age limits.
Or are you saying you don’t want children but this man does? If so, this leaves you at an impasse. To a large degree, you are in the same situation as a couple that disagrees on having children. Having a child purely because your spouse wants one bodes poorly for the relationship. You cannot compromise by having half a child.
Then again, staying together without having children could lead to tremendous resentment on his part and guilt on yours, which can also erode a relationship. Part of this depends on how much he wants children.
I think you need to hash this out to the point where one of you is truly willing and able to do things the other person’s way. Either he says, “I would like to have kids but it is not a burning issue for me. You are a burning issue and I would rather remain with you without kids than gamble on the possibility of finding another good love relationship and potentially having children.”
Or you decide that forming a family by adoption or another method is the best route for you two.
If you really don’t want children and he really does, you both are probably better off seeking someone whose life goals are more compatible with yours.
That might or might not happen. He might not meet another woman. If he does, he might have fertility issues with her. It’s a risk, as are so many things in life and love.
Each of you is taking the risk you will never find as good a partner as you have found in each other. If either of you decides to give that up, it is because you can’t abide by something that is a fundamental and crucial limitation in the other.
Dr. Gail’s Bottom Line: You can’t change biological facts. If you are unable to have children and your partner wants them, you — as a couple and as individuals — must decide what is most important.
Dr. Gail Saltz is a psychiatrist with New York Presbyterian Hospital and a regular contributor to TODAY. Her latest book is “Anatomy of a Secret Life: The Psychology of Living a Lie.” She is also the author of “Amazing You! Getting Smart About Your Private Parts,” which helps parents deal with preschoolers’ questions about sex and reproduction. Her first book, “Becoming Real: Overcoming the Stories We Tell Ourselves That Hold Us Back,” was published in 2004 by Riverhead Books. It is now available in a paperback version. For more information, you can visit her Web site, www.drgailsaltz.com.
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