Dear Amy: I have been married to the love of my life now for almost five years. When we were dating, we both expressed a desire to have children. After we got married, we got two dogs that fulfill my needs. I no longer want children. I am content with our life.
My wife still wants children. Should I agree to have children to satisfy her need for motherhood and fulfill an unspoken promise? She got married with the understanding that children would be part of the equation. I know this upsets her, and understandably so.
I feel that if I agree to have children I will be miserable and regretful for the rest of my life. On the other hand, I am heartbroken that she is so upset over the matter. How can we resolve this?
— Unsure in Anchorage
Dear Unsure: When you feel your life is perfect as it is, it is common to want things to stay exactly as they are.
One reason having pets is so fulfilling is because, unlike children, they don't grow up and present mysterious and ever-changing challenges. But ask yourself: Before you got your dogs, did you know how having them would affect you? Did you know how much you would grow to love them?
Nobody knows for sure how having a baby will affect them; for many women, the human biological drive to have children overrides this anxiety.
You should talk to other men about this; listen as they describe their experience of fatherhood. Watch the excellent television show "Parenthood," which portrays the ups and downs and rewards of having children.
You and your wife should also seek professional counseling. If you do the work of trying to imagine your life with a child and still decide against it, you should be honest with her; she will then have a tough choice to make.
Dear Amy: The letter from "Old-fashioned Aunt," who was dismayed her wedding gift check was cashed so quickly, reminded me of a lesson I learned when I was involved in a fundraising event: Never let a donor get the canceled check before he or she gets a thank-you note from you.
I found it was a great way to stay on the right path as far as getting thank-yous out and not putting them off, and people were pleased and appreciative enough that I could usually count on them for a donation again the following year.
— Maureen in Belgrade Lakes, Maine
Dear Maureen: Excellent advice. Thank you for passing it along.
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