Will he change his mind?

My first husband said he’d leave if I got pregnant. The marriage ended before I had a chance to see if he meant it. My second husband, who had three children from his first marriage, said he really didn’t want any more. I was 33 and he was 48. We had talked about reversing his vasectomy or adopting a child. The odds of a successful surgery so long after the vasectomy were slim. Adoption agencies felt Fred was too old. And now he was saying he didn’t want to do the dad thing again.  But did I believe him? Deep inside, I still thought I was going to be a mother. How? Immaculate conception? Miracle? Well, I was Catholic.

As age 40 rolled around, I grieved the loss of the children I never had. I felt the pressure of time passing, of my fertility running out. But it would be another 10 years before I could say and believe that I was never going to be a mother. Life would have been easier for all of us if I had accepted the truth sooner and put more energy into developing a stronger relationship with Fred’s children. But no, I was still telling myself that a baby of my own was coming.

How many of us play these mind games, thinking our partner or spouse will change his/her mind? I suppose they do sometimes, but usually they don’t. One of the things I have learned over the years is that you can’t change other people, only yourself. So if the person you love says no to kids, it’s up to you to decide what you’re going to do about it.

Have you seen anyone change their minds about having children? Tell us what happened.

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23 thoughts on “Will he change his mind?

  1. At (almost) age 38 I'm on the path to acceptance. When people ask if I have children I would quickly say, “no, we don't have children yet – I have dogs for now.” Lately I just say, “no, we have dogs”.

    I think about children and family all the time but I'm not doing anything to put me on the baby path. My husband and I never speak of it. Instead of scaling back on my career to catch a breath, I've made a major purchase toward my business. A property purchase that would be a hard to unload should I want to switch gears and start a family.

    Last weekend I was supposed to babysit for my nieces so their father could help with renovations on this property. I was MORE than overjoyed when the mother called and said that her mother wanted to babysit the children. I couldn't deny the relief. Was it because I don't want to be a mother or was it because of the overwhelming prospect of taking care of three very active little girls (one still in diapers and bottlefed)?

    At a family party I was thrilled to catch the attention of a handful of my nieces and nephews, who were happy to regal me with the details of their halloween costume, first day at preschool, the new dog. I listened with joy, thinking that even if I never have children I would never be lonely with this sort of company. Then one of the kids said something to the other. Something like, “hey, ask your mom if you can spend the night. She might let you.” And I realized that I'm just a lap to sit on, an ear willing to listen to silly chatter and a last ditch babysitter. I'm not “mom”.

    Of course as the years pass a few of those nieces and nephews might latch on. We could be close and at the end of it all I might have visitors in the nursing home. I might have someone to pass my grandmothers ring on to. I might count on one of them to watch over my husband (should I die first). Might. I suppose there are a lot of “mights” in the world, even amoung those with children.

    Lately I've been feeling like I should close the book. I must have a few more years where something “could” happen. If it does I'll probably be overjoyed, God will make it all fall into place and life will be good. But if it doesn't happen – I guess I will have already prepared myself.

    I'm not sad until I think about it. So I avoid thinking about it.

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  2. Thanks for posting this, Anonymous. It sounds like you have a good thing with your nieces and nephews. Indeed there are no guarantees that they'll be with you later in life, but I think there's a good chance of it, as much of a chance as if they were your own children. Keep thinking positive thoughts.

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  3. a couple years ago I realized it would be impossible. Prior to that when people would ask if we had kids, I would answer “we are planning on adopting” and now its a resounding “no we tried adopting but its just not going to happen”

    As part of moving on, I am planning on selling our house and moving to smaller one and we take more vacations now.

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  4. I'm 44 and just recently married finally for the first time, and I'm discovering that I'm not able to conceive naturally, unsure about what fertility treatments will work or are worth it…part of me wonders if I should start accepting that it's not going to happen, but it just seems so unfair, I have so much love that I could give a child, I could raise a good kid, a decent human being. I don't even have stepkids so I'm really not a mom at all. It's a hard pill to swallow.

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  5. Anonymous Sept. 19, I'm so sorry. This kind of thing is so hard. I could say all the usual platitudes about adopting or being grateful for the blessings you have, but I know it doesn't help that much. In fact, last night, somebody suggested I take in an exchange student to fill the gap. Uh, no. I wish you peace in dealing with not having children of your own.

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  6. Two and a half years ago, when I was 38, I met the man I knew I was going to marry. We had an amazing connection, and we were on our way to getting married. I did clarify in the beginning if he was open to having children, and he said yes (He had two of his own already…they were adults too). We got engaged, moved in together, started to plan our wedding, and I was researching my fertility, and was ready to plan when were going to have children. He now had a different tune, that I did not like, and that was a resistant tune. He was not sure. After 3 months of going back and forth to therapy, he finally admitted he did not want kids. I just turned 40. I was devastated. Through therapy, I tried to accept not having children, but after 6 months, I couldn't, so I moved out. I thought perhaps, I could accept it since I missed him dearly, we were working on getting back, but in my heart, I knew it was wrong. Recently I turned 41, I told him, I can't continue on with him, in anyway. Here I am 41, and terrified of my future. I don't want just a baby, I wanted a family, love of a partner, and an experience. Even if he gave me a chance to try ( I was not even sure I could get pregnant) I would have been happy. He did not want any part of that. I couldn't accept that as my future. I didn't think I could not go thru my life without at least trying and giving it a chance. It's a risk I took and I am hoping that my dreams will still come true!

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  7. Oh Anonymous Sept. 20, it doesn't seem fair that we're fertile such a small portion of our lives. It doesn't give us a chance to make mistakes or be unsure for a while. I wish you lots of luck in getting that family you dream of.

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  8. To Anon @ Sept 20 – I experienced something very similar. I dated a man who said he wanted more kids, and after 3 1/2 years, the relationship fell apart. By this time, I was 40. I was devastated by this, but was fortunate enough to meet someone else and was married by the time I was 42. As it turns out, we both have severe fertility issues. For me, it's just my age, and there's nothing anyone can do. I'm still trying to come to terms with it. I guess hearing a similar story is no consolation, but the point is, even though you feel so alone, you're not. Do not beat yourself up for the decisions you made. I bet they were reasonable at the time, and none of us can ever foresee the outcome – which doesn't always end up being what we want it to be.

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  9. I'm seeing a theme here. The first Anonymous Sept. 20 and the second one are two different people with similar stories. You're right, you can't predict what's going to happen in the future. You can only make the best decisions you can make at the time and not tear yourself up if things don't turn out the way you had hoped.
    At times, I have explained my own situation by saying “God had other plans.” I'm still working on believing it.
    Hugs to you all.

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  10. I met my husband in my early 30s. He has always known that my life dream was to become a mother, be part of a family. He already had children from his previous marriage, but at the beginning, he was happy for us to talk about having children. Eventually he admitted he didn't want anymore but I kept my head firmly buried in the sand – I was convinced I could get him to change his mind. Four years ago, I suffered a breakdown and almost left him. Baby talk came back and I got better. I'm now 43 and still childless and he has just become a grandfather. I cry every time I think or try to talk about children or even read your blog. I now resent my husband for deciding that I wouldn't have a family, for making me choose between him and a child.

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  11. Oh Anonymous, I'm sorry. Let the tears fall. It helps to release some of the grief and anger. It really does. This happens so often in second marriages. If you look at it from his point of view, it's not hard to see why he doesn't want to have more children, but that doesn't help you much, especially when the grandchildren start coming. Hang in there. It will get easier.

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  12. Dear Susan,
    Your book changed my life overnight! I recognized myself inside! I am playing in this exact movie now! All your reasons, emotions, understanding with the husband, compromises that you did, you even raised his child! And he “'didn't do it for you”- to give you the blessing to become a mother. And I bet you would have been the greatest mother!
    Hard to say, but you were manipulated, just like I am now.

    I discussed your book and the term “childless by marriage”” with my psychologist and she said: The fact that out of myriads of books you read exactly this one is a sign from God.”” Thank you Susan, you don't know me but you are already my best friend.
    My short story: At 29 married 20 years older man. I was obsessed with him – he knew everything, always did the right things, also was bon vivan, utterly caring… I wanted to be protected – me and my family. And I wanted to save my husband from his own despair – his wife had recently committed suicide.
    My mother was worried when I told her that we are getting married. She tried to warn me that at the end I might end up committing suicide like his late wife. A faraway friend said: watch out! Don't do this! But I did, I entered the darkness. Before me, my husband had 2 unsuccessful marriages – a daughter close to my age from the 1st and the second wife who committed suicide 10 years after they got married ( no children from her). There are a lot of versions, but I believe that the second wife realized that they will never have a baby and then got despaired. When he drank, he was proud to say to me that he did not touch her for years. No I am sure that this is true. Because he hasn't touched me for years as well!
    After the wedding I was pregnant. I lived in great stress – mainly because everybody hated him – and people started hating me as well, accusing me that we have had relationship before she died (and God knows, this is not the case, things happened one year later). I miscarried our first baby in the 2nd trimester. I wanted to die. Tried hard not to constantly show my grief but it was carving into my soul. The doctors said that I will have babies. This one had not “sticked” well from the very beginning.
    We never had normal sexual life afterwards. We made love once in 6 months or even more rarely. And noone would believe this because I am considered attractive.
    At 30 I made a nervous crisis. I ended up in mental hospital for 2 days and exiting with the label: depression. Since then I have constantly been in depression. How could I live now? Who would believe now that I can be a caring mother and that I can raise a happy child in good health?
    And my husband does not touch me! He is caring but we never never make love! For five years now.
    Close to my mid 30s, I am married to an old man, who is desperate, constantly nervous, who does not want and seems not able to take new responsibilities – for the children that he promised me to have together, for anything but his adult daughter who is close to my age.
    I know, my dear friends, that you will all advice me one thing – run away!
    I am afraid that I will be so lonely without him by my side, but I will try to find somebody who wants children – in marriage, in relationship, or without any engagement – only a child. It sounds not at all romantic, but my life is running in a direction where there can be no turnaround.
    Thank you Susan, I know that my guarding angel send you to me. I can still catch the train, but now I need to run run run.
    Please tell me, do you think I am doing the right thing? If you were in my place, what would you do?

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  13. Anonymous,
    Wow! What a story you have. If my book has helped, I am so glad. I very much hope it will do that for many people.
    As for what to do, I'm thinking “Run away” too. I stayed with my husband because he gave me everything else I needed besides children and even shared his children with me as much as he could. He loved me so much, and life with him was good. But it sounds like your life is not good enough to stay with your husband.
    I wish you luck and I wish I could give you a hug.

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  14. So sad yet relieved to read some of your stories. I too am experiencing a similar tale. I was married at the age of 25 and never felt maternal yet fell pregnant by accident at the age of 26. Just as I got used to the idea of motherhood, I miscarried at 16 weeks. I was devastated and have never got over it. 5 years ago I divorced and have met someone new who initially wanted children. As I mentioned I have never felt maternal until recently when it hit me hard. Im 39 now and time is ticking away. I told my partner who is 5 years younger than me how I feel and he told me he's changed his mind and no longer wants children. I feel torn. My Aunt did not have children till she was 49 which gives me some hope. I firmly believe that having kids is a blessing and not your god given right. Part of me thinks this is just a passing phase but its been 6 months now. Dont know what to do.

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  15. Anon, Clearly the conversation isn't over. Your partner did want children before, so it seems like he could want them again. Keep talking, and I hope you reach agreement soon. You and I both know it's rare to be able to have children deep into your 40s, so make sure your partner gets the urgency of it. But be careful it doesn't turn into nagging. I wish you luck.

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  16. I haven't read your book but am open to reading it. My husband and I married six years ago when I was 24. In the past six years a lot has happened. I have type I diabetes and hypertension and he has had a series of back complications, including surgeries. When we married we both were in agreement about having children after we had married for several years. Now I am ready and he is not. He is unsure if he ever wants to have kids. I can't stand the thought of never having children either biologically or through adopting. His concerns are valid with his and my health concerns, but it still hurts to think that it would never happen. I'm committed to him and marriage, but this has been our biggest struggle and conflict in our relationship and probably will continue to be. It is comforting to know that I am not the only one that is going through this issue in her marriage. Thanks for your blog and I'll definitely look into your book.

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  17. Anonymous Oct. 8, I'm sorry for your health problems. I'm sure you know they will make pregnancy more risky, and I can understand why your husband is concerned. But I wouldn't say never yet. More discussion is needed and maybe consultation with a doctor who can reassure you both that it would be okay to have a baby. I hope you can work it out.
    Thanks for coming here.

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  18. Dear Susan, Now, 2 years after I read your book and posted my “aged husband” story on October 5, 2012 at 7:36 AM, I am successfully divorced. God bless you for giving me the insight of my situation and making me see that my situation is not that much unique and the end will be the same – no children at all. Now I am occasionally dating my university years love who also had destroyed marriage and lives separated from his wife. Even if he does not go for divorce, at least I am now free and can have child from him, or from someone else, or turn to the sperm bank or freeze my eggs and use them when I meet Mr. Right. I am the same strong, independent person that I was before I entered an unhappy marriage to end up with depression pills for the rest of my life! I do recommend your book to every lady who marries a guy who already has kids. You saved my life, Susan! God bless you for that!

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  19. Reading these stories really makes me worry about the choice I need to make. I meet my wonderful man when I was 38, now I'm 40 and it is only now that I really understand that he does not want children. When I meet him, I made it very clear that I wanted a partner in life and from there I wanted to start a family. I have since moved in with him, I love living with him, he loves me dearly but he 'clearly' told me the other day he does not want children. He is 44, never married, no children but has a huge family and many young niece and nephews. He said he is too old, he doesn't want to be an old dad, he's dad was never around and he doesn't want to be the same, he hs friends divorced with young kids plus he works in mining and doesn't think it right if he is away for weeks at a time… part of me feels he is more scared and focused on our relationship ending if children are included. I see a future with him but i don't want to convince him, he should just trust what we have. He told me he's thought about marriage .. we have a wonderful lifestyle, we travel and explore and i would love to do all these things and more as a family. he thinks i will turn into one his sister inlaws, I won't but i can't just keep telling hinm that, he should know..

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  20. So in a newish relationship, a man with two kids and a star from his previous marriage, lots of games go on in relation to him having his children which he hasn't got the energy to get involved in. Since the beginning of our relationship he has said he wants children and marriage. We've been together just under a year, I'm 36 and he's 44. We get on great and live together, until recently we had an argument, he felt he let himself down, we decided to.have unprotected sex to show our love for eachother and a natural urge to take things further, I got scared and. Took the morning after pill but talked to him about it and he said we'll be fine if I didn't take it. Few weeks have past, seen his kids love, more realisation of mind games from the ex and now he can't say if he wants kids now, was a yes and now he can't say. Not the right time and wants to spend more time with me, but if I ask for oneday being the right time he refuses to answer. I need help on this I'm devastated and scared of being without him or motherless, both options terrifying at the moment. Help please.

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  21. Anon,
    I think it's important to remember this is still a “newish” relationship. Maybe you're putting too much pressure on the child thing too soon. You have a lot going on with the ex and the other kids. Let it ride for a while, work on your relationship and see what happens. I wish you luck and happiness.

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