Question:

My husband and I have been together 10 years, married for three. We have had a lot of conversations about our relationship and aspirations. About 18 months ago, I indicated I was ready to start a family. He was hesitant and suggested we were not in the right place - we both hated our jobs - but should work out a plan to move in that direction. So we did. At the beginning of 2016, we both got new jobs and bought a house that would allow us to grow as a family.

In June, we decided we would "remove the barriers" to start a family after my August vacation. After that, once the vacation was over, he expressed doubt that he could give me what I wanted when it came to kids, said the idea of kids scared him, and was worried we had not struggled enough as a couple. When I asked what he meant by that, he said he could not explain it. It was a heart-rending conversation, and we left it that we would discuss it again at the end of October after he could think about it more.

During this time, he expressed desire for a second puppy, which we brought home in October (a mutual decision we had talked about previously). Now he says we need to wait to discuss kids until that puppy is at least six months old.

I am getting really frustrated. It is starting to feel like the timing will never be right, that he is leading me on, that he isn't taking my feelings into account. His two-to-three-month timelines add up, and I am not getting any younger.

I have been completely open and honest with him and given him the time he requested. I just want an answer but don't know how to ask for one without getting overl.y emotional.

Answer: If you get overly emotional, so be it. It's better than mutely accepting his very clear if inadvertent process of dragging out this choice to oblivion.

Just pick a good time when your attentions aren't divided, summon all the reserves of calm you have, and say it: "I am very frustrated by this series of postponements. First it's the job, then the vacation, now the dog. One is a fine idea, two are a concern, three are you not telling me something - or not facing up to something yourself.

"Is that fair? I'd like to start trying now to start a family, or to hear you say definitively that you've changed your mind on kids. That way I can start to make up my mind on what I need to do next."

This latest extension you've granted him puts you at two full years of thinking and stalling. You have unquestioned standing to say, "Enough."

Chat with Carolyn Hax online at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.