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a little life advice requested(29 posts)

a little life advice requestedDuane Gran
Jan 8, 2002 7:53 AM
In the spirit of having dozens of older brothers, I hope some of you don't mind shedding a little light on a quandry I have. It is sort of a big issue and I'll try to break it down in parts.

I'm 28 and I'm an avid racer. I train about 15 hours a week and currently do contract work for a government agency in Washington DC. My girlfriend and I have been together about 6 months and we met doing the AIDS Ride and she is into cycling, but not to the extent as me. We basically plan our weekends around riding, which is really cool. I really like my life right now, but I can see some changes coming down the road.

My girlfriend is likely to be given a promotion that she can't reasonably refuse that would have her moving about 1.5 hours south of Washington. We have talked about it a bit, and I'm willing to compromise some, but I can see racing nearly every weekend becoming a problem. I can already hear the words, "all you do is ride the bike" ringing in my head. In short, I can anticipate some friction on this issue even though she aparently understand how important competitive cycling is to me.

But that isn't all, folks. Of larger concern is the issue of children. I'm not engaged, but I realize that a relationship either comes together or goes apart and I'm honestly not sure that I want to be a parent. She is certain that she wants a family. This may sound a little crass, but it seems to me that there is no shortage of people who want to have children, so why should I? By all accounts it is a major drain on your time, money and sanity. I realize that someone made that sacrifice for me to be here saying this, but on the other hand, if my heart isn't in it shouldn't that be my lead? I believe I would be a good parent (based on interaction with nephews & neices) but I'm discouraged by some negative things, chiefly teenagers.

I've been considering the thought that relationships and family just might not be for me, although they tend to fulfill the vast majority of people. I've always been something of an extremist, only happy to do something if I can give it all my effort. This means that other things tend to suffer, but that one thing goes very well. I've tried for balance, but I think it is in my personality and it has upset every past girlfriend.

The odd thing is that our society has a love/hate relationship with extremists. The pro peleton is probably the most mal-adjusted bunch of people you could meet. How does Armstrong's wife put up with him weighing his food on a gram scale, for example? Extremists are great for public display and getting stuff done, but I have some doubts if it works for a relationship or family. This isn't to say that I'm pro calibre, but just that I tend to not be happy unless I'm obsessive about my passions.

I sort of feel like I'm at a cross road and don't want to wake up tomorrow and find that I'm 50 years old and then suddenly want relationships and family. That sounds like a horrible regret, but then on the other hand I shouldn't be a family man just because I suspect I'll regret it. I really would like my heart to be in it, but I'll confess that right now it isn't. I'm crazy about my girlfriend, but I'm not sure we want the same things in life.

This is big stuff, but can anyone relate to this? Feel free to be very frank with me about it if you like.
re: a little life advice requestedmorey
Jan 8, 2002 8:37 AM
I married my wife when I was 22, had my first child 5 years later. Went to Med school, got my Ph.D.. Then my hearts said this is not what you want, I became a competitive bodybuilder, obsessed, gone all the time, chased women because they were around (groupies), made a lot of money.
My wake up call was my youngest son becoming a crack addict at 16. All of a sudden my life went topsy turvy. Where was I all his life? I gave him money but none of my time.
I was 50 when I woke up. Do not make a mistake. Do what your heart tells you. Kids pay for your errors. It may hurt but do what you feel is right. Kids can come later.
By the way, my son is now 26 and finally is free of a DEMON!
re: a little life advice requestedmorey
Jan 8, 2002 8:44 AM
Another thing to consider. Are you good enough at Bicycle Racing to make a living. Do not make a mistake and continue and then wake up a broke old man. To many athletes make a mistake thinking they can make a living. Very few can! most starve.
racing for a living; kidsTig
Jan 9, 2002 11:40 AM
I agree with you Morey.

Duane, if you are 28 and not at least a cat 2 rider or better, the chances of you making a pro team are very thin. This isn't to say you are too late. Some riders show up in the pro ranks as late as their early 30's! Just be realistic with your chances and abilities.

As to kids, you sound like you are not quite ready yet. Don't get in any rush. I didn't father mine until I was 32 and I don't regret it. But then, are we ever really ready for kids? All I know is that being a dad (not just a father) is the greatest purpose I could ever fulfill in life.
re: a little life advice requestedPaulCL
Jan 8, 2002 8:50 AM
Morey...you have my respect. I cannot imagine the pain of one of my children going through that. Glad to hear both of you came out the other side intact.

Duane...remember, things and feelings change. If your relationship leads to marriage, great, if it doesn't, then maybe another will. Marriage is a series of compromises. Would it kill you to give up one weekend per month of racing?? Probably not. Heck, it may make you a better racer. As for children, yes, they take a lot of time and money. Yes, they suck up your free time. Yes, they will put a crimp into your racing and any other activity you may be involved in. But guess what...one look at your child's face and racing will be a distant second or third concern. As you get older, there will be more demands on your time and your money. That's a fact with or without children and a wife. Quite possibly, in ten years, you won't be as obsessed with cycling as you are now. I simply can't imagine life without my children. I couldn't imagine growing old without my children in my life.

Don't burn any bridges. Take one day at a time.

FYI: I am 39 (40 in February - ouch!), I have three children, one wife (can't afford anymore), one mortgage, one job, two bikes, and am passionate about my sport too.
If you don't want kids, DON'T HAVE ANYcory
Jan 8, 2002 8:58 AM
There are enough neglected children out there, as another reply to your question shows. Seems to me (you asked for frankness) that you're too self-centered to become a parent, and maybe even to have a serious relationship. Nothing wrong with that as long as you realize it (I was the same way until I was in my 30s). But once you start having kids, you f*ck up a whole bunch of lives, not just your own.
Duane.........Len J
Jan 8, 2002 9:01 AM
I'm gonna ramble here a bit at first as I came away from your post with several different Thoughts:

I can't really tell, but it sounds like these "anticipated" problems are currently in your head. I don't mean this in an ugly way. Have you shared your concerns about the effect of her moving on your racing? What was her response (if you have shared them). Have you honestly shared your feelings about having kids with her, is this as big an obstacle to a continuing relationship with her as you appear to think? I can be an extremeist also, and can anticipate (& have anticipated) future problems in my relationships that can make me feel hopeless. Most of the time talking these concerns out with my SO ends up in a different place than I anticipate. I guess what I'm saying is that you have two choices (assuming that you haven't openly shared all of your concerns), 1.)act as if you are right without talking it out with her & eventually it will become a self fulfilling prophecy (You will end up apart), or 2.) risk talking it out with her & give yourself & her a chance to make real choices. I hope this makes sense.

In keeping with the first part of this, trust her to take care of her & you take care of you. Be honest & trust her to make good decisions for her. You will end up feeling better about yourself & ultimatly no matter what happens, you & she will have a relationship based on honesty.

I can really relate to what you are going through. After a Divorce, I didn't trust my own judgement. Unfortunatly, I didn't know myself enough to see this. Consequently, every relationship I got into I (on some level) would mentally see a reason (or reasons) why it wouldn't work out. Rather than talk it out, I would let the frelationship die. I never risked myself enough afraid of failing, what I was really doing was not giving it a chance to succeed. Only you can answer if this is you, if not I apologize for the assumption

My .02

Len

P.S. Good Luck & congratulations on your honesty.
I'm no Ann Landers, but...DINOSAUR
Jan 8, 2002 9:22 AM
To make a long story short, it doesn't sound like you are ready to settle down and raise a family. At this point of your life it would be a disaster. Unfortunately most sucessfull athlete's are rather self centered. Lance managed to balance the two because he had such a lousy childhood and because he married the right woman. Actually his wife is the one who pushed him back into the sport after his illness.

I can only speak for myself. I managed to cycle and be a long distance runner and stayed married for 35 years primarily because my hours at work allowed me the time in the morning to devote to my sport when my wife was at work. On the other hand, everything came to a screeching halt when we had an unexpected baby when I was 43 and my wife was 40. I had to put everything on hold for about 12 years and wait for retirement. Marriage is a commitment and it has it's sacrafices. Remember also, most road racers have short careers unless you are very, very good.

Maybe you have the right girl but the timing isn't right. I guess the burning question is, have you discussed your feelings with your girlfriend? It sounds like you need to lay all your cards on the table. Honestly is the platform of any successful relationship..

I think any person person who manages to put it a full cycling schedule (even if they don't race) must agree that they need to have an understanding spouse who supports their little obsession. My wife doesn't cycle, but she supports and uncourages me, she saw what happened when I didn't do it....
ChildrenKristin
Jan 8, 2002 9:26 AM
I have no wisdom to offer except this. Begin looking around in your world for parents who had kids for some reason other than that they really wanted them. Watch those families. Contrast them to families were both parents genuinly wanted children at the time they had them. What are the differences?

My mother had children because society deemed it proper. She was well-bred in the 50's & 60's in New Haven, CT when marraige and children were a young woman's lot in life. Now in my case, throw in some emotional instability and you have a traumatic and painful childhood that takes decades to recover from. I'm not saying that you'd beat your kids or anything like that. But if you bear children that you don't want, it will impact your family, no matter how much you try to hide it. Even if my mother had been loving toward me in every way imaginable, just knowing she wasn't sure she wanted me would have hurt.

In the end, I don't know much about life or love. I certainly don't have many answers, but I cringe a little inside when I hear someone consider having children for any reason other than that they really, deeply want them.
re: a little life advice requestedmr_spin
Jan 8, 2002 9:32 AM
If this is the girl with whom you want to spend the rest of your life, then you'll find a way to make it all work out. If that means sacrificing a few races, then that's what you'll do. The bottom line is that it shouldn't even be an issue--you should want to make some sacrifices to be around her, to spend time with her, etc.

BUT...don't give up everything you love to be with anyone. If part of your identity is racing, it can't come as a surprise to her that you want to continue doing it. If you are a driven, obsessive personality, she shouldn't expect you to change, unless it is leading to your doom! Don't let any woman change you in her image.

Adjustments and sacrifices are necessary in any worthwhile relationship. The key is to set expectations and live with them. If she doesn't like you racing, tough luck. That's what you do. She knew that going into this. If you give it up now, it will eventually cause bitterness on your part, and that will eventually lead to a breakup. If this is where you see things going, get out now. If not, full speed ahead!
talk about it with herDog
Jan 8, 2002 10:43 AM
Probably the first thing you should do is to have this discussion with your girlfriend. Share everything you told us. She may make some of the decision for you. In any event, she is entitled to know how you feel. If not, you are, in a way, defrauding her.

OTOH, my mother has said that if you wait until you're ready to have children, you'll never have them. Might be some truth to that. Sure, don't have them if you know you'll be miserable, but then don't make the mistake of waiting too long and then not being able to when you want them. It's only the single most important decision you'll ever make. I think for many people, it happens without them deciding (they just have sex and ... surprise).

The other aspect to your question is your girlfriend's tolerance of your riding. Believe me, if you suspect there will be a problem, it will likely be worse than you imagine. Have a very frank discussion with her. Tell her that riding is a top priority for you, and that you could very well see yourself dedicating 20-30 hours per week to it, plus about 10% of your income (use any number), and that you may want to do that for your lifetime. If she balks, you have a concern. If she agrees, then memorialize that somehow, so that you two later on can have the same memory of the discussion. Nonetheless, you or she could change years from now. All you can do is try to find out what she thinks now. If you tell her that you plan to train 30 hours per week (everything -- riding, weights, maintenance, travel...), she may make the family decision for you, at least as far as she is concerned.

Your best bet is to be very open and honest. To do that, first you need to figure out what you really think, and second, you need to communicate that to her. Sounds simple, but it's very hard if you fear the consequences.

Best wishes,

Dog
uncanny, the tuna...er, similarities...Js Haiku Shop
Jan 8, 2002 11:11 AM
i'm 30 with a 2-year old and married 5 years. dated her 6 years, living together for 2 of those, before we got married. i'm glad we gave it a test run first. Dog's mom is right: if you wait 'til you're ready to have kids, you'll never have kids. same goes for affording kids, and for putting time aside for 'em. funny thing, but everything else is 'put aside' once you have a little one, and 'time is made' for other things (riding, personal time, etc.).

many opinions (mine long ago) are valid repsective to overpopulation, poor parenting and breeding due to social and familial expectations. don't let this stop you. if you think you and she are compatible, want kids (or kid), and can even marginally afford it (economically), there's no time like yesterday. listen to Dino! listen to ME! i'm 30 with a 2-year-old. if i ever want to ride that crazy 508, or something like it, it won't be 'til he's in his mid or late teens, or later. i'll be nearly 50.

becoming a father changed my life (all good). cycling took a back seat. however, it took just about the ENTIRE back seat. :o) not to sound like a breeder, 'cause i'm not about to fill the house with little ones, but putting offspring in the mix really gives meaning to one's life. having a child opens an entire dimension of your own self that was closed before.

another note: be sure about this person you're considering. there are oodles of fish in the sea. gobs & oodles. if you're only half sure, you're not sure at all. think about spending the rest of your life with this one person. then, consider: having a kid changes your relationship. enough said.
re: a little life advice requestedColnagoFE
Jan 8, 2002 11:18 AM
You're still relatively young...don't stress it man. Sounds like you want something out of life she doesn't. Either compromise or move on without her. It sounds like it's time to make those hard choices. Can you liver without her? Or can you live with her? Definately dont get married until you work this stuff out. I think it makes total sense to not have children if you aren't into that. It IS a drain on your $ and time as well as emotionally exausting at times but there are huge benefits too that aren't obvious to people who have never had kids. For what it's worth I can't imagine having the luxury of planning my weekend around cycling--more like finding time to fit it in somewhere is my case these days.
how many kids do you have? nmJs Haiku Shop
Jan 8, 2002 12:51 PM
re: adviceStarliner
Jan 8, 2002 12:33 PM
My brother stayed single until, at 50, he found a mid 30's woman he fell head over heels with. They married, had a daughter and a 2nd is on the way.

My advice: you needn't ever worry about the future if you stay focused upon your life in the present. Trust yourself. Do what you feel is best for you now, and you'll find that things somehow will work out for you down the line.
just re-read all the responses so far, andJs Haiku Shop
Jan 8, 2002 12:53 PM
wow, what a cross-section of people and beliefs. do it now, don't do it, meaning of life, drain on your time, think about the future, focus on the present...YIKES! it's nice to see that we're all in agreement here. :-)
Here's my .02 & experiences!IAM
Jan 8, 2002 1:54 PM
First I have to agree with all those above who said you need to discuss these things with her. You can't go on assuming the worst when you have no foundation for those thoughts in your head.
Now here's my story: Started dating a girl at 20, we got along great at first but looking back with the 20/20 that I now have I realize that there were many signs of the troubles to come. I guess I'm a little obsesive about sports and I realized it then so when she started suggesting that I do what she wanted instead of what I wanted I went along with it. Not that that is a bad thing because you can't be selfish in a relationship, but you still need time for you.
Now we jump ahaed a few years and a few less hobbies and we start to discuss marriage and children. By this time (although I didn't realize it then) I no longer control my own life but I thought I was in love with the one. We get married and start a family and everything is fine because I'm really into being a dad and spend all my time with my son. Almost five years later my son and I are having a blast doing all kinds of things together, but the relationship with my wife is not good. Then along comes my daughter and the freedom that I was enjoying is gone. I can't go anywhere or do anything without an argument so I just quit doing everything and became very miserable in the process. The beginning of the end.
I would have stayed with her forever because I never believed in divorce and was terrified of not being with my kids but I was told to leave and wouldn't. I made her go to counceling and after a while even the counceler thought that we should be apart.
Fast forward 6 years and I am a very happy 36 year old with a great new wife and two happy well adjusted kids. I have my kids about half the time and have a great relationship with both of them. My new wife is "the one" and we share a lot of interests and support each other in those that we don't share.
Looking back it all seems so obvious but at the time?
Strange as it is the ex and I actually get along great now and both can focus on our kid's instead of the hatred that we had for each other.
Would I change anything?, no , I learned alot of valuable lessons and have two great kids and I wouldn't trade that for anything.
Ask the questions that you need to ask, and then think about the answers and wether there what you want in your life.
If this relationship requires more of you than you are willing to give then it's not for you. Giving up the odd race doesn't seem that bad but giving up racing all together would , you'll have to find a balance that can please both of you.
Good luck
Okay, I can't resistMcAndrus
Jan 8, 2002 2:09 PM
I'll jump on the bandwagon for kids. I wasn't ready either but ready or not ..... and now I would trade my entire life for one moment with either of my daughters (18 and 15). They are the lights of my life. The eldest even rode a couple of weeklong tours with me on a tandem: happy memories, my man.

The only thing I'd advise is make sure your lady understands your commitment to the sport and says (out loud) that she understands and supports you. If she does not, or hem and haws in any way, then there will come a day when she will resent cycling and resent you for loving it.

This site is filled with people whose wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend resent and are jealous of our love of the sport. Sad but true.

My wife used to ride with me too. Now she calls my bikes "the other women."
Are we talking about not being ready for kids or wanting them?Kristin
Jan 8, 2002 2:19 PM
I hear alot of responses stating that one shouldn't wait until they are ready to have kids. I agree in part with that statement. Most people won't ever "feel" ready to raise kids, though many are. On the flip side, if at all possible, one should be--for the most part--emotionally healthy before to raising kids.

What I hear Duane saying is that he's not sure he even wants children. This, I think, is an entirely different subject. If you don't want children and have them, you're gambling. Gambling that you will grow to love them. Gambling that it will turn out all right. But you risk feeling resentful towards them and never accepting them. (Don't under estimate...this can and does happen.)

I'm not picking on any one in particular, just trying to make a distinction.
You can always get back into biking when you're 50. I did.Brian C.
Jan 8, 2002 3:29 PM
Sure, when you hit that age, 28-year-olds will be dropping you left and right. But the kids are more or less grown up now and, while on a Sunday century, I can think about how things have more or less worked out.
On a more sobering note, though, if you're having doubts it might not be a good time to act.
But be assured that it - having a family along with outside interests - can be done with a little intense time management.
Good luck
You are not readyspookyload
Jan 8, 2002 8:05 PM
I will be the dick here. If you have that many doubts, wait. Six months isn't a lifetime together. I have a pear in my refrigerator older than that. Your relationship still has the new car smell. Everyone is rose tinted. The whole children issue is way premature. That is one issue that you must agree on. You can't fake that once the child is born. It sounds to me like you are wanting someone to say what I am by the way you wrote this article. Give the relationship some room. Let her move, see how it goes. Don't expect the worst. Things tend to work out if you let them.
The old "Pear in the Refrigerator Rule"...nm :)mr_spin
Jan 9, 2002 8:16 AM
wow... thanks!Duane Gran
Jan 9, 2002 5:27 AM
I'm continually impressed by the kind generosity of people on this site to open up and offer their views. It helps to discuss it with people who not only understand, but also empathize, with being passionate about cycling.

One thing I really take from this thread is that I need to discuss these things more with her. Mind you, I have talked about it some, but I may have danced around the issues for fear of rocking the boat. This isn't honest and isn't fair. I'll be more bold about explaining myself.

I would definitely say that I'm not ready for children or marriage. The real problem is knowing whether I ever will be into it. I'm not sure if there is a way to know the answer to that question, but if I could discern the answer I would feel more comfortable. I don't want to waste her time because I know that she wants to be married and have a family. I wish I knew for myself, but I'll keep soul searching on this.
good for you...Starliner
Jan 9, 2002 8:57 AM
Sounds like a sound thing to do now. I match with your description of worrying that, by expressing your own desires, you will rock the boat. I've learned that for my own good, it's been better to speak up and risk having to jump ship and swim to safety than to blindly proceed into the Bermuda Triangle and lose myself. Talking it out with your mate is your best chance of steering your boat into safe waters.

One more thing -- don't ever feel guilty about your feelings, and protect yourself from accusations of selfishness. Selfishness cuts both ways whenever there is disagreement, so it tends to cancel itself out. However, once you tie the knot and start having children.....
Good Luck & let us know how it goes. nmLen J
Jan 9, 2002 1:22 PM
re: a little life advice requestedTxTarpon
Jan 9, 2002 8:24 AM
Sounds like she is the perfect woman, for someone else. Noone is at fault, it is just that you and her are not a good fit. Alot of great relationships are the result of timing. Sorry.
How old is your girlfriend?js5280
Jan 9, 2002 10:11 AM
I don't believe you mention your girlfriend's age. Is she 28 as well? If so, there's still some time to figure out if you want to have kids from a biological/health point of view. However her ideal life plan may be to have kids before 35, 30, etc. which you have to take into consideration. If you don't plan on EVER having kids, then you need to tell her in no uncertain terms. If you may want kids in the future, you need to let her know where you stand and find out how long she is willing to wait for you to make up your mind. The chickensh!t thing to do is keep her in limbo or worse, give her the impression you'll change your mind when you probably won't. Once a women hits 30 and is single, kids become a big factor. Time's ticking and it's hard enough to find the right father, that can take years, then figure at least two years to make sure it really is right, get married, and have some time to yourselves. Then 9 months per kid soon you're talking about 35-40 years old. Actually this holds true for men too. I'm 30 and single, I would like to have kids but don't need to in order to have a full life. Think of the trips and bicycles you could get instead of making those tuition payments! However, I'd kind of like to have kids and be able to enjoy my retirement at a decent age so I'm looking now. I've dated/dating a number of women in their 30's and thing you can't do is waste their time. I know too many women who would be great moms but the window is quickly going past and they can't find the right guy. I have no respect for men that use this to their advantage. If you care about your girlfriend and want what's best for her, keep this mind. Even if it means you have to give her up.

I think you said she's cyclist, would she consider moving out to Denver ;-)
I might be a Dinosaur but I'm missing something here....DINOSAUR
Jan 9, 2002 11:34 AM
Skimming over all the threads I don't see one mention about the "L" word, LOVE...Love is nothing but a friendship what blossoms into a love affair. First you have a foundation that is based on friendship and honesty. If she loves you she will take you as your are and your problem will probably be a moot point. You are a cyclist, that is part of your makeup. I'm lucky as my wife has always supported my little passion, she only becomes upset if I start spending wildly, as being retired we lived on a fixed income. She only worries if I'm gone too long when I say I'm going for a short one. For what it's worth I wasn't a cyclist when we married, but she was with me when I bought my first road bike. My wife is my best friend... Like I mentioned before, anyone who is married and is a cyclist needs to have an understanding spouse..
here is the key thing...David Ho
Jan 11, 2002 7:57 PM
When you meet the right one you will know when you are ready and all will work out!
I have a 6 week old here at home and I am riding 10 - 12hours a week gearing up for the race season.You see i have met the right one -not because I get to ride a lot but because the give and take is there.I work and provide and she works and she provides.When I get a little over the top she will reel me back in and vice versa.
Go slow and live one day at a time!Stay out of the future-Good Luck!