DEAR AMY: My husband and I have been together for 10 years (married for three years), and we are each soon to turn 30 years old. My husband has made some personal choices that more than likely have prevented us from becoming pregnant. I have a professional career, where I speak to people casually and frequently. At work and in my personal life, I frequently get asked, "So when are you finally going to have kids?" and "Are you thinking about having kids with you getting older?" and, "When are you going to give me some grand babies?" To be honest, not yet becoming pregnant has been one of the toughest feelings I have ever had to deal with. I want it more than anything, so these comments are difficult for me to answer. I don't want to make conversations awkward or put anyone in their place, but I'm tired of saying generic comments like "We will see" and forcing a smile. Do you have any advice for me on what I can say or how I can handle peoples' questions?

Judged and Sad

DEAR JUDGED: Granted, this is an extremely tough and painful topic for you, but you have signed your question "Judged and Sad," and thus seem to be interpreting these intrusive queries as judgments of some kind regarding your current childless status.

You also lob a bombshell aimed at your husband, regarding "personal choices" he has made, which you believe are affecting your ability to get pregnant.

Yes, you are hurting badly.

I cannot imagine that any person — regardless of their relationship or fertility status — would actually welcome a query about something as personal as pregnancy. Why do people ask? In the history of the world, has this question ever been greeted with, "Wow — I'm so glad you asked me about that! I've been dying to discuss my birth control choices and fertility issues with a client/co-worker/mother-in-law."

I suggest that you arm yourself with a no-nonsense but polite answer: "I can tell you're curious about this, but I don't want to discuss it. Thank you for understanding."

You should also arm yourself with accurate medical information, research your options (such as IVF, adoption, or surrogacy), and take a very deep breath and simply try to be patient with yourself and others.

You and your husband should sit down with a therapist. You may need more professional coaching to navigate your personal and family relationships.

DEAR AMY: I'm a 50-year-old woman, living in Canada. I've been with my common-law partner for over 11 years, now. He is a nice guy, but he never shows his real feelings toward me. For over 11 years he has always told me that he could leave me easily, and at any moment. At first I thought he was just joking but NO — he is really serious. It doesn't seem to bother him in the slightest — talking to me this way. Amy, I don't want to waste any more of my time with him, knowing that he would leave me anyway. I don't mind being alone (but happy), rather than confused and sad all the time. I need a peace of mind. What is your advice?


DEAR SPENT: If you decided to leave this relationship and live alone, you might not actually be happy all the time — but at least you would be secure in the knowledge that you were in control of your own relationship status. That knowledge and security can do wonders for your self-esteem.

Being threatened with abandonment will keep a person perpetually off-kilter. It's hard to relax into your truest self if you are always insecure about your relationship.

Eliminating this constant threat would free up lots of mental and emotional band-width. Fifty is the ideal age to be out on your own: You're old enough to know both who you are and what you want, and you're young enough to enjoy a second (or third, or fourth) act in the grand drama that is your life.

DEAR AMY: "Confused" wrote to you about her friend who had carried on an emotional affair with a married man, until his wife found out and he ended it. Thank you for advising her NOT to be a go-between for these two people! I made that mistake (once), and of course it all exploded. I lost the friend that I was trying to help.

Been There

DEAR BEEN THERE: Deep involvement in someone else's romantic drama seldom turns out well — for anyone.

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