I’ve asked her for time, but she’s worried that waiting any longer will diminish her chances of having a biological child, especially because she could wait a long time and I could still be in the same place of not knowing. She has said that she would consider adoption but would like to try to have her own child first.
I feel like a terrible communicator; in heated situations, I say the wrong things or clam up and find it hard to get my points across. Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
The decision about whether to have kids is one of the few truly irreversible decisions in life, so I understand why you’d want to take time to think about it. But I wonder if instead of focusing on answering the do-I-don’t-I question (and getting nowhere with it), you can consider your situation more broadly.
Let’s start by going back to what happened when you two became a couple. You had recently gotten out of a difficult relationship that didn’t end well, and it sounds like the shadow of your ex loomed over the beginning of your current relationship. Even so, you were enjoying the experience of a healthier relationship, part of which included open communication, at least on your girlfriend’s part: She told you up front that she definitely wanted to have children. I imagine that when you heard this, you experienced a combination of excitement (Hmm, maybe having a family in a stable relationship would be nice one day), anxiety (Holy crap, being a parent? Me?), and abandonment terror (If I share how I really feel, my girlfriend will leave me).
In other words, you felt ambivalence, and it sounds like you have shared that with her. But there are many ways to express ambivalence, ranging from “I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure I’ll want kids” to “I’m not sure, and it may take me a few years to figure this out” to “I’m not sure, but I’ve just come to a place where I was at peace with not having kids, and right now I don’t think that’s likely to change.”
Those are very different flavors of ambivalence, and this might be where your communication has gotten tripped up. For instance, your girlfriend probably wouldn’t have pursued a relationship with you if, when you met, you’d told her in a straightforward way that you don’t know how you feel about having children and couldn’t imagine making this decision in the near future.
So where does that leave you? Well, the goal right now isn’t to make a decision before you’re ready (and you’re not). The goal is to learn how to be a good partner and have a healthy relationship, even if this particular relationship might end. And this means two things: (1) gaining a better understanding of your ambivalence (and your indecisiveness more generally), and (2) learning how to communicate in a more direct way.