Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: I am a 38-year-old woman, living with my partner of three years. When we first got together, I told him that I really wanted to have a child, and he said he was on board. We were trying to conceive, but then he lost his job, and he didn't feel comfortable trying until he was back on his feet.

He is now working, and we have worked through some challenges. This week, he told me that he does not want to have kids. He says that he doesn't want to spend his money and time on this. He knows it's important to me, and he felt guilty about not saying something sooner. I am devastated. Should I give up my dream to be with someone who is admittedly selfish? But I am 38, and I might not find somebody new in time to have children. I don't think he is ever going to marry me. I want that vow. He says it's just a piece of paper. I feel I'm losing out on all of those big moments but can't bear the thought of losing him, and he says he wants to stay together. Am I stupid to stay with this man? What is more important -- the little things or the big things?

-- Wondering

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DEAR WONDERING: The big things are more important than the little things. The trick is deciding what is "big." For you, these things are: children and marriage.

Your guy seems more in tune with your big things than you are. He knows how important having a child is to you. He knows how important money is to him.

He believes these two things are mutually exclusive. (They are not.) If you choose to be with him, your life will be all about his priorities. This will not work out for you. Furthermore, your attitude that you might stick with him because there might not be somebody out there who could father your child isn't fair to him.

You can be a mom without being in this (or any) relationship. If this is your lifelong dream, then you should pursue it. After that, all the big and little things will fall into place.