He said he didn’t want any more kids

Thursday, I wrote about how my first husband, Jim, didn’t want children. It was a gradual, non-stated thing until I thought I might be pregnant. Then he said he’d leave if I was pregnant.

Our divorce a year or so later had nothing to do with that, but under the rules of the Catholic church, I was able to obtain an annulment on the grounds that he refused to have children. The diocesan tribunal in San Francisco ruled it an invalid marriage.

So, three years later, along came Fred, cute, funny, loving, responsible, gainfully employed, all the stuff a girl wants in a husband. The first time we made love, I rushed to put my diaphragm in, but it proved unnecessary. He had had a vasectomy after his third child was born. After we got engaged, we talked about reversing the vasectomy or adopting a child, but finally he told me that he really didn’t want to have any more children. I was upset, but we went on to get married. Did I think he’d change his mind? Probably. I tend heavily toward denial. But in our 25 years of marriage, the only babies in our family were the ones his daughter had.

Looking back, I’m glad Fred was honest about not wanting more children. Over the years, I found that he liked children, but didn’t want to be responsible for them. Like Jim, he wasn’t keen on babies. To be honest, he wasn’t even that good with puppies. All that noise and mess. I grieved the loss of the children I might have had, and, to Fred’s credit, he felt tremendously guilty.

It’s not always that one person is the bad guy. I can see Fred’s side. He was 15 years older than me, and he had spent years raising the three kids he already had. He had thought he was done with that part of life until I came along. If there’s any blame to be laid, it’s on me. Fred loved me enough that I believe he would have gone along with the process if I had insisted that I couldn’t be happy without being a  mother. Instead, I made a non-decision and the years passed until it was too late.

How about you? Have you made a definite decision to have or not have kids? If you cannot be happy without them, have you made that clear to your partner?  Will it damage your relationship if one person has to give up what they want?

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26 thoughts on “He said he didn’t want any more kids

  1. I am in a similar situation. I made it clear that not having a baby was a deal breaker. He agreed and reneged, somewhat by default and later by biology while I remained much to his irritation relentlessly fertile. In one of life's many little ironies he has a daughter. So he had one and I have none. Does it affect our relationship? Yes! I once thought of him as my soulmate, anam cara. While I still love him my feelings are not of the same depth. Some of the love has been replaced by hurt, anger, and jealously. I watch as he enjoys life's little triumphs and pleasures, fathers day, a wedding, good news from work… I feel outside looking in, nose pressed against the glass.

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  2. Anonymous, Thank you for sharing this with us. I appreciate your honesty. I wish the situation were different for you, but I bet a lot of readers can identify with what you're going through.

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  3. It's been both powerful & reassuring to read this blog. I'm 40 in a month, its taken me a long time to believe in myself enough to be a mother, and to find a man I want to build a future with. We've been together 5 years. He has a son, who I've never met and lives in another country. He often goes to see his son for xmas, birthdays etc, and I don't go. His ex isn't easy and doesn't want me to meet the son. Ok, that hurts a lot, we've argued over it – but I try to accept it as much as I can. Its made harder to accept though, because he doesn't want anymore children – not with me. We've talked, he seems to have some notion of how confused and upset i am at the prospect of not having any children of my own, but i'm still left feeling quite purposeless and sad about it all. 40 is a weird age, and I feel friends don't understand why I'm not a mum. I avoid situations, and feel lost inside. I feel like an outsider, and don't really know how to move through this without people thinking i'm some old spinster with 500 cats!
    Its hard, i feel so close to him & he clearly wants to build a life with me, but not as a mum.
    I hope i can learn to accept it better, and find a sense of purpose someplace.

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  4. “Fred loved me enough that I believe he would have gone along with the process if I had insisted that I couldn't be happy without being a mother. Instead, I made a non-decision and the years passed until it was too late”

    I was combing your blog, and any blogs I could find, to sift through my own issues of whether or not to have a child. I am also married to someone who is not particularly interested in being a parent, but adores me and would support my decision to be a parent. This particular quote sent waves through me…I realize I have not been taking responsibility for my own future, and was waiting for my spouse to suddenly become as excited as I would be about the prospect of being a parent. So, that said, I have made the decision to give it a try. I appreciate your blog, and your open sharing of such a painful and emotionally confusing topic. Thank you, thank you.
    Maria

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  5. feeling hugely comforted by your blog, and by both Anonymous' posts, thank you so much for sharing… I'm in a similar state Husband 15 yrs older but has two boys already, feeling left out and empty… sister breeding like mad and apparently getting preferential treatment for inheritance. At 43 I just feel a bit silly that I can't get over it!

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  6. Welcome, Anonymous July 6. We know the feeling. But there's nothing silly about having trouble getting over it. It's natural to feel bad about it sometimes, especially with your sister emphasizing what you're missing. Hang in there.

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  7. Thank you for all your comments here I dont feel so alone. At times I feel empty & sad, my husband had a vasectomy 12 years ago after the birth of their second child during his first marriage . We have been married now for 2 years, I have always longed for children of my own and he knows this. We see his children (Boy is 16 and Girl is 14) every weekend I feel nothing special towards them but I love my nephews and nieces more due to seeing them from birth and watching them grow. I am 36 and my husband is 44 my biological clock is ticking, we looked at options of IVF but this is very expensive. Personally I am even willing to go to the route of sperm donations but husband is a traditionalist only he can father our child, thinking back I think his comments and his decision is selfish and has affected me emotionally. I keep grieving over the feelings like I had lost a child, not having the chance to see my own child grow up and seeing my own grandchildren. How do I fulfil my dreams of motherhood? Do we need a marriage guidance? Divorce?

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  8. Anonymous, I wish I had the answers to these questions. Maybe a counselor could help you talk it through and figure out what you want to do. It all comes down to whether you want to risk losing the husband you have for the child you might have. Which is more important, and that's a question nobody else can answer for you.
    Readers, do you have advice for our latest anonymous?

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  9. I have been with my boyfriend for close to 5 years. He has 2 daugthes I have no children. He recently told me that he does not want any more children. Im a little heart broken. I did not always want children I would have been fine with him not wanting any kids if he didnt already have any. Helping him raise his kids has opened my heart to wanting to add to our family. Its hard going to the kids basketball game and watching all the parents talk about their kids and im left on the side line. I thought he was the one but now im not so sure. Age is also a factor for me im 32. Im so confused

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  10. Anonymous,
    It's hard, isn't it? When they're his kids and not yours, you're always going to feel a little left out. But you have to be sure whether you really do want your own or just want to feel less left out. Keep the conversation going with your boyfriend. You still have a little time, but if he's serious about not having more kids, you'll have to decide whether that's okay or you need to find someone else.

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  11. I'd love some advice if anyone has it. I turned 40 this year and have been dating my boyfriend for just on 2 years. He has two kids by his previous marriage (9 and 12). I was pretty upfront with him from the beginning that marriage and a kid were important to me – and that I wanted to be a mama. At the time, he thought that was wonderful. When we had the proper conversation though – about a year into dating, he admitted that he was leaning towards not wanting to have anymore kids. Since then, we've had the conversation several times and each time it starts with “I don't really see myself having any more kids”… we go through the idea of breaking up… then it turns into “I just need some time to process it and think about what it would mean”. So I give him some time and we come back to the same place. That's been happening for the last year. Most recently he admitted he hasn't really shifted internally on the issue – but he also said that he doesn't want to make decisions based on his fears, he wants to be courageous. Again, he asked for time. I know he loves me. We have a great relationship in most other respects. Actually – we really do have something good together. But to never be a mama – I just can't do it. I watch him with his kids and I want that for myself too. He's so good with kids, ironically. He's actually a great dad. His fears are around finance, what it would mean for his artistic aspirations and his age (he's 49). What should I do? I keep trying to work up the courageous to leave and just have done with it. And take my chances with finding someone I'd love enough, and have a good enough relationship with to want to have babies with. (In time to have them of course). Part of me thinks that if I was courageous, I'd do this and that I should stand for myself and my vision for my life. Another part of me thinks this is silly, that I should give it more time, keep talking and working on my relationship with him. That this is the real, sticky, messy reality of life I'm experiencing with him and it would be taking the easy path to just pull-out because things are a bit complicated. What should I do? (I must confess too I have a serious fear of rejection and loss which makes me act sometimes like a startled deer in headlights at the idea that he may not love me as much as I love him… after all if he loved me, wouldn't the answer just be yes??) Help!

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  12. Anonymous, I'm going to be blunt. At 40, you don't have time to fool around with this. Your chances of getting pregnant are getting smaller by the minute. It doesn't sound like he's going to change his mind, so you have to decide whether it's worth giving him up to take a chance on maybe finding someone else in time to have children. He sounds like a great guy. Tell him you don't have any more time and be clear about how you feel, that you need to try to get pregnant now. I really hope you can work this out.

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  13. My boyfriend and I have been dating for going on five years and he has said repeatedly that he does not want anymore kids. He has two kids from previous relationships and basically refuses to even talk about what would happen if we have an accidental pregnancy. I do understand where he is coming from, he lost his daughter in a horrendous and long custody battle after his divorce, and although we see his son on a regular basis, he simply doesn't want anymore children. I very much want to be a mom at some point, and though I'm only 25 (he is 33) I know I want a child of my own too. I love his kids but it's heartbreaking and makes me incredibly envious and even a smidge resentful. I have nightmares about being pregnant and him leaving me because of it. I'm terrified of the possibility of becoming pregnant because I love him more than anything and don't want to lose him, but what if I do get pregnant even while on birth control? I want to know he won't leave me in that circumstance, but he won't give me any reassurance on the issue. Any advice would be appreciated!
    DMB

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  14. Oh boy, Anonymous. I wish I knew what to tell you. My gut says that if you cannot relax and know that if you did get pregnant, your boyfriend would love you and the baby, then you need a different boyfriend. You can't live constantly in fear. No guy is worth that. I know some people have been traumatized by their previous experiences with children, but this isn't fair to you.
    What do other readers think?

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  15. If someone doesnt want something I feel like all necessary precautions will be taken to prevent it. If you had an accidental pregnancy you didnt do it to yourself. He provided the missing link to the birds and bees. It comes down to accepting responsibility. If he loves you he should accept what was done by both parties involved.

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  16. Im in a similar situation. Im 31 and my bf is 40. He has a son from a previous long term relationship of 14 years of which there was no marriage and a desire of 1 child was agreed upon and thoroughly planned. We were both honest in the beginning he didnt want any more children nor marriage and I 'wasn't sold on the idea of either' but was moderately sure having a biological child was not a desire. 1 year and half later seeing him interact with his son has made me fall more in love with him and the desire of our own child continues to lurk in the back of my mind.He had verbal plans of getting a vasectomy a year ago but has yet to do it. He says hes afraid of the procedure itself and the temporary permnancy. Which makes me wonder if he does want another. I admit I flip flop as I love our current freedom to come and go (when his son isn't visiting). Im o.k. about the marriage thing but wonder if Im prolonging the inevitable regarding motherhood. I am perfectly o.k. with adopting and would rather. While it's still early this us why im trying to determine if I'm dining my wheels. I don't want to be 5 years in abd the motherhood bug hits abd stays.

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  17. Oh, Anonymouses, there you go. The need to accept responsibility if pregnancy happens should be obvious, but I guess it isn't. Meanwhile, so many of us just aren't sure what to do about the baby thing. We kind of want a baby, but we're not sure, but we're afraid we'll regret it if we don't, and the partner is equally unsure, and time is marching on, and man, maybe it was easier in the days when people didn't have so many choices. You're all in my prayers.

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  18. I have always felt so alone until I read this post. My situation is very similar. My husband and I have been married for about 2 years. He is 17 years older than me and has a vasectomy. Prior to marriage we talked about children… about the possibility of IVF or reversal. We never had an in depth conversation about it other than that he wants what I want. If I want a kid, then so does he. Sounds like I am being pretty selfish I know. He has a 6 year old child from a previous marriage that I help take care of. We get along great and have a special connection and in some ways I think it is even harder because I lack that connection when she is gone- which is the majority of the time. I am 28 and already struggling with the idea that I will never have children because we cannot afford any procedures. He says he understands but I can't imagine him completely understanding how I am feeling. At times it does affect our relationship because he gets defensive when I am upset. After all, his life seems complete already. Who am I to ask him to start all over with another child? Any advice?

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  19. Anonymous Feb. 25,
    Boy this sounds familiar. Except that my husband had three kids and said he didn't want any more. At least your husband is willing to talk about it and try to give you want you want. IVF is crazy expensive, but vasectomy reversals aren't so bad. I'd encourage him to do that and hope that's all you need to make a baby. I wish you all the best.

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  20. Hi Crystal. That's kind of a gnarly situation. To me, it seems like you need to decide whether you want to have a baby with your husband because you want to have a baby or because you don't want to have anything his other women had. Forget them. He's with you now.

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  21. I am in a very similar situation, but have different questions about it. I am 29 years old, and my boyfriend who was previously married and has 2 kids is 40. We have been dating for 2 1/2 years and things are very serious. When we first started dating I wasn't looking for nor did I want to get married or have kids, and he was very upfront and honest that he didn't want either of these things. Now, he says he has fallen so in love with me and wants to spend the rest of his life with me and get married, but still is holding firm on no kids. I still don't know if I want kids, but I know I want the option to have them if I changed my mind down the road, but he is not willing to budge. I think a relationship is about compromise, and he has definitely compromised and met me half way when it comes to marriage. Am I being too selfish? Do I want too much for myself? I read a blogger say above she changed her mind on kids and marriage because she loved and trusted her partner. That is exactly how I feel. I want these things with HIM…no one else because I love him so much and he is such an amazing person who loves me, supports me, cherishes me. Do I give all of that up because I might want to have kids one day but am still not sure? I am so confused. Any advice will help!

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  22. I was released to everyone’s comments. I know no one has posted in some time but I’ve been scouring the Internet for support. It’s such a delicate situation that I can’t expect friends or family to understand. My boyfriend of 4 years has been adamant he didn’t want to get married or want another child. He has one from a previous relationship. In the beginning of didn’t see things blossoming to where they are. Its been such a learning experience. Although I do love him, at this juncture I can’t say if I had it to do over that would continue as I have. Although he is against a biological child, he is open to adoption. However, he wants 5 and older I want a baby/toddler. It’s funny if I had a friend in this situation I’d tell her to run bc she deserves better. Funny how love makes us consider giving up a dream where as their love creates no sacrifice for our happiness.

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