I didn’t know my first husband didn’t want children until we were well into our marriage. He seemed good with other people’s children. I assumed he’d be great with our own. But I was wrong. He kept wanting to put it off until he finally admitted he didn’t want kids at all. By then, our marriage was shot anyway so we didn’t talk much about it. We should have talked about it before we got married, but we never did.
With my second husband, we talked around the issue of having children but never addressed it head-on. He had had a vasectomy and he told me didn’t want to add any more kids to the three he already had, but did I believe him? No. Did I stand up for my right to be a mom? I did not.
All too often, we fail to have one of the most important conversations we should have with our mates. We might not agree on whether to have children, but at least we need to be honest about it. I think if I had really pushed, I might be a mother today. But I never straight out said, “I want children. This is important to me. I will be devastated if I never become a mother.”
Sometimes we’re afraid to push, for fear our partner will get angry and break up with us. But if you can’t talk about such an important topic, how good is that relationship anyway? Now, don’t bring it up on the first date, but if you’ve been together a while, it’s time to have the baby talk.
For this conversation to succeed, we have to know what we want. Is not having children a deal-breaker, or can you live with it? How strongly does your partner feel about it? Why does he think he doesn’t want kids?
All too often, I see couples who find themselves in a miserable place because they didn’t work this out before it was too late. I know it’s hard to bring it up. But try it. Maybe you could say something like, “I always wanted to have a little girl.” See what he says, then follow up. Make sure you both are clear on this all-too-important issue. Sooner or later, it will harm your relationship if you don’t.
4 thoughts on “Have you had the "baby" conversation with your mate?”
I just stumbled onto your blog trying to find something online about increased breast cancer risk associated with childlessness.
My husband and I were the oddballs that actually did have the conversation before we married. We are childless by choice, and thankfully we are both happy with our decision (married 18 years now). When he asked me to marry him, I reminded him that I was serious about not wanting children, and he was okay with that, actually relieved. It must be very painful to want children and be with a partner who does not. I can't imagine it.
Anon, I'm so glad you had the talk and worked it out so that you are both happy. That's the way it should be. Regarding the breast cancer risk, we do have a slightly higher chance of getting breast cancer. The American Cancer Society has some pretty good information on this at their website.
And here I'm googling how to have the talk … After my first marriage, I was completely sure I never wanted to have kinds not because my marriage didn't work out but because I never had the need or urge of motherhood … Now that I'm on a new relationship, seems like is our society is on the attack and lately my new partner keeps asking indirectly the million dollar question: do I want kids? I'm not against having them, but I'm afraid that it would change the relationship I have now. Now I don't even know if I want kids or I’m just a pleaser.
Anonymous 4/13,I don't know what to tell you. You need to figure out what you want and decide how to deal with it with your partner. I wish you luck.