What If Your Mate Says No to Kids?

Last week, I wrote about how important it is to have The Conversation with our mates about whether or not we want to have children. It can be a tough conversation to have, especially for women. Sometimes men are like fish. We don’t want to speak too loudly for fear of scaring them away. I know that’s how it was with me. I lacked the self-esteem to say I wanted children and would do whatever it took to have them. With my first husband, by the time I found out he didn’t want to have children, our marriage was already going badly. It didn’t matter what I said; it wasn’t going to happen. But what if we had had that conversation before we got married? Maybe we would have avoided a troubled marriage.

With Fred, well, I suspect he was actually worth sacrificing children for. We had such a love, the kind they make movies about. He was the best husband a woman could want. He did not want to have more children, but I think if I really insisted that I had to have kids to be happy, he would have gone along with it. I didn’t insist. I just moped. I think part of me believed I had already lost my chance with my first marriage, and I was lucky just to have another husband. Also, to be honest, I wonder if my desire was not as strong as my desire to do other things in life, but I’ll never know. We avoided the conversation.

So what does one do if one’s mate says, “Absolutely not. I refuse to have children.” A lot of people who comment here are dealing with that problem right now. Do they push to the point of destroying the relationship? Do they risk abandoning the love they have in the hope of finding someone else who will welcome children? Do they give up their dream in order to stay together? How do you make such a decision?

I wish I had all the answers to these questions. We each have to find them for ourselves through soul-searching and prayer and being alert to those moments when everything becomes very clear.

What do you think? What do you do if he/she says, “No kids. No way.”

4 thoughts on “What If Your Mate Says No to Kids?

  1. Hi Sue,

    I came upon your blog today while looking for kindred souls on the internets. I am married to a wonderful, loving man. He is older than I am and has two grown children. This is his second marriage, and my third. I will be 40 this year and I am struggling desperately with my own childlessness.

    My first marriage was to my college sweetheart, a funny, hard working and honest soul. We spent six years together before I left, having decided the lack of real connection between us was more than I could bear for a lifetime. Although he was extremely upset by the divorce at the time, he is happily remarried and has a 12 year old daughter.

    My second marriage was a whirlwind internet romance to an extremely intelligent, slightly OCD and fabulously gregarious individual. He is a computer programmer by trade and an amazingly gifted musician in his spare time. We were together four years, through a variety of infertility treatments that were stymied by my lack of ovulation. Ultimately, we parted ways over reasons unrelated to infertility. He is now remarried and is delighting in the birth of his firstborn son a few weeks ago. I was honored to be one of the first people he called to share the news, despite the tears that run down my cheeks when I see photos of that beautiful baby.

    You know how they say the third time is a charm? I can tell you that for me, that is true in marriage. I have never felt more comfortable with another human being than I do with my husband. Or more protective. Or passionate. We worked together for six years before he asked me out on a date. I respected him tremendously as a friend and co-worker before we shared a fall stroll and I couldn't figure out what to do with my hands. Our romance was instantaneous, and final. I don't want anyone else.

    During those first few months, we had “the conversation” about children. He wanted to know if I wanted to be a parent, and said if I did, he would support that. But having gone through years of unsuccessful fertility treatments, I believed it impossible for me to have children and thought I had made peace with that reality. I didn't object when he had a vasectomy just to “avoid surprises”. A year later, completely out of the blue, I began ovulating every 28 days like clockwork. And now, five years later, the hard truth is, he is 52 and doesn't want to start a second family at this stage in life, while I am 39 and it seems that parenthood is all I can think about.

    I've been thinking all evening about your question at the end of this post. Would I have done anything differently if he had said no to kids from the start? There's a small part of me that wishes the answer was that I'd have recognized how important being a parent would be to me and moved on, but there's a (much) bigger part of me that knows that whatever he said at that moment, I would have gone along with it. And I still love him that much. So I try to hold on to that realization, and to breathe through the pain. And to avoid concluding that his rejection of my desire for a family is somehow a reflection on the kind of parent I would be. Some days are easier than others.

    Thank you for creating this blog, and for sharing your story. It is enormously comforting to know that someone else has been through something similar to what I'm living.

    My name is Libby.


  2. Libby,Thank you for sharing your story. I'm sure lots of women can identify with what you've gone through. How amazing that you've suddenly started ovulating now. I hope you can find peace with this issue.


  3. Libby and Sue
    Thanks for your posts. I am new to this site, but have been silently feeling the same sadness about not having my own child to hold, teach and love.
    Libby, your post helped me to feel less alone. I share your worries and wish you the best outcome.

    -Been Blue


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