ASK SARAH : ADVICE FOR PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE?

Hi Sarah,  I absolutely love your blog and your style! I’d love your advice on a somewhat personal issue. You’ve written some really great posts on anxiety and the future and I thought you’d be a good person to turn to. I’m a 30-year-old woman and have been with my boyfriend for over 4 years. Lately, I’ve been feeling really anxious about marriage and having a baby. My boyfriend is fine with the way things are, but I’ve just been feeling like we have to make all these important life decisions and that he has all the time in the world to make them. I’m a planner, and I don’t like all the ambiguity about where we’re going to live, if we’re going to get married and if we even want children. Do you have any advice on how to handle this? I’m not even sure I want to get married or have kids, but I guess I just wish I could feel more laid back about our path. It feels like everyone else in the world is making these decisions and we’re just trucking along as is. Any advice you can offer would be so appreciated.  – Emily   {answer after the jump}

hi emily,  thanks for the kind words!  your email really couldn’t have come at a better time!  lou and i have been having some pretty heavy conversations about our future and it’s so completely overwhelming i can’t stand myself!  some people are fortunate enough to KNOW they want to get married, have kids, live in a certain city, etc.  but, like you, we struggle so much because we just don’t know.  and we’re reaching that point where we’re being forced to make some hard choices or we may not have choices to make, or at least may face many more challenges and risks.  

here’s what i can give you for advice though- make sure your boyfriend is at least open to the ideas of marriage and kids.  you have a few years still to figure it out, but you don’t want to wait a few years and find out that he really knew all along what he wanted and you have different dreams.  so really honest conversations about it are critical.  and i think he’ll be more open to chatting  about these things if you’re clear that these aren’t decisions you need to make now, but they’re things you have to at least talk about now!

similar to you i also feel unnerved by not knowing what the future will bring, but having lots of discussions about how we see our lives or the options we have takes some of the pressure off.  it helps me see that we’re on the same page (lost, but at least lost together!).  

once you’ve had those chats with him i think you’ll feel better, and the two of you may discover something in the process about what it is you envision for your lives together.  you’re smart to be thinking about this, it’s important to look down the road in order to craft the kind of life you want to have for yourself!  and you don’t want to wake up one day and realize you avoided the hard questions or didn’t spend the time really thinking about what you want.

does anyone else have any advice for emily?  all thoughts are welcome and appreciated!  xx- sarah 

photo of my friend elizabeth’s daughter via jose villa

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Reader Comments

  1. Chas|

    I can totally relate to this topic. I am married, and there's that underlying pressure that I am sure all of us can relate to about getting married, having children, buying a house and creating the 1950's white picket fence image. With that being said, my advice to you Emily and to all women whom are feeling that type of pressure is to talk about it with your partner (like Sarah suggested). Being honest and making sure that you and your guy are on the same page is what is most important. We all are on different paths of life but headed in the the same direction (moving towards the future). So go at your own pace because we all have our own speed ;)

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  2. Ashley|

    Hi Emily!

    I was petrified to get married. It was the one of the hardest transitions I ever went through. I felt like I was the only female on this planet who had doubts and was scared to take a leap of faith. The media portrays women as the ones who "just know" whether or not they want to get married or have kids. It's all wrapped up into finding "the one" and having a magazine-worthy wedding. I know Sarah has talked about this here, but in a world full of pinterest, beautiful blogs and bridal and parenting magazines, it's hard to see the shadow side of these transitions. I found the online resource conscious-transitions.com to be a life saver throughout my transition. Best of luck as you navigate your own! On the other side of whatever you chose is serenity :) xo!

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  3. Monica|

    Hi Emily!

    Oh boy can I relate to this! I got married when I was just 21, and have been married now for 8 years, as my husband and I approach our 30's all of our friends are having kids so naturally we get asked ALOT when it'll be our turn! To be honest we are fine the way things are right now, we know we both want kids someday but now is not the time for us, we are still really enjoying it being just us! I couldn't agree more with what Sarah said about being on the same page, it's really important and honestly we feel no pressure at all when we're asked because we both are on the exact same page, we want it but not right this moment. I think the key is having great communication with your partner and really being true to yourself as well, dig deep and really figure out what YOU truly desire. Best wishes!

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  4. Anni|

    Emily, I'm right there with you. I think Sarah's advice is spot on – those conversations are important to have, and so is listening and being really open to what the other person has to say. My husband and I actually went into our marriage with neither of us being sure what we wanted kid-wise, but over time we both decided we wanted kids someday (now it's the when we're talking over…) I think that's scary when there's a period of time where you might want different things, or at least want them at different times – but if you're open and talk about what you want, it'll eventually work itself out.

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