If you disagree about children, is your relationship doomed?

Is it possible for a relationship to work when one partner wants children and the other doesn’t? This is the question that is still resonating in my head days after I finished reading Kidfree & Lovin’ It (reviewed Jan. 2). The opinion of most of the people author Kaye D. Walters surveyed is that this is a deal-breaker, that compromise is impossible, that the relationship is doomed. They say it is better to break up than to have a child you don’t want—or force a child on someone who doesn’t want to have children. Don’t date, don’t marry, don’t pretend it’s okay; it won’t work.

Walters urges couples to think it through and be sure of what they want. “Don’t just end a perfectly good relationship without first examining your means and motivations on the kid issue.” She offers lists of reasons to procreate and suggests that some of them are pretty shaky and perhaps one might not be a good parent after all. But in the end, like the people she surveyed, she seems to lean toward ending the relationship.
This issue is at the heart of my Childless by Marriage blog and book. It’s an issue that most books about childlessness (see my resource list) pay minimal attention to. But it’s a big one. If my first husband had been willing and ready to have children, I’d be a grandmother now. If my second had been willing to add more children to the three he already had and if he had not had a vasectomy, I’d have grown children and maybe grandchildren now. If I had dumped either one because I wanted to have children and they didn’t, my life would have been completely different.
I am childless because I married these men and stayed with them. The first marriage ended for other reasons, but the second husband was a keeper. We lasted three weeks shy of 26 years. If Fred hadn’t died, we’d still be together. He was the perfect mate for me in every other way. And maybe, if I truthfully answer all of Walters’ soul-searching questions, I would find I was too devoted to my career to add motherhood to the mix. I wanted children, and I wish I’d had them. BUT I loved Fred and knew I would never find a better husband. Should I have left him and hoped to find someone else, maybe someone not as good but who was willing to have babies with me? Am I a fool because I sacrificed motherhood for these men?
That’s the big question that many of the people who comment here are facing: stay with the partner or spouse who doesn’t want kids or try to find someone else? What do you think? Is a relationship doomed if you disagree on this issue? Is it all right to sacrifice something this big for the one you love? There are always compromises in a relationship. People give up their careers, move far away from home, or take care of disabled spouses, but is this too much to ask?
I really want to know what you think.

244 thoughts on “If you disagree about children, is your relationship doomed?

  1. I am 38 years old, and my fiancé of 13 years just told me he changed his mind and doesn't want to have another child. He has known now for a little while, just didn't have the heart to tell me. He knows I deeply want a child, that I am missing that connection in my life. I want to be a mom. I tried to reassure him that I am okay because I don't want to lose him, but it is killing me inside. He says he doesn't think at his age, 43, that he could keep up a few years down the road. I don't know what to do! I see the bond he has with his son, now 17, and think do I really want to miss that, or do I really want to give up what we have? I am scared!

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  2. Oh Anonymous July 9, Why does this keep happening? If you read the previous comments, you'll see you're not alone. May I please come and strangle your fiance? Okay, I'm calming down. If you're not okay, don't lie about it. It won't help and it may blow up in your face later. Be totally honest. I pray you can find a way to work it out. I'm writing about this subject in today's blog post (July 9, 2014).Check it out.

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  3. When I thought my body could not produce any more tears, I google searched “break up perfectly happy relationship but one wants kids the other doesn't.” This blog came up. Two hours ago, I have just ended my 12-year relationship with the man I love, the man I want to be with for the rest of my life. This man, my best friend, is no longer in my life because I want a family, HIS family, and he is unsure if he ever wants to have kids. A six-hour conversation with him face to face where the end result is “I love you, you love me, I want no one but you, I want to spend the rest of my life with you, you’re my best friend, my biggest supporter, but children; me yes please, him hmmm not too sure. This topic has been in the background for a while now and was starting to affect the relationship, both feeling we were at the crossroads. Do we go straight ahead together or go our separate ways? A million emotions are going thru me at this moment–sadness, regret, loneliness, aching, love, anger whilst checking my phone every 5 minutes to see if he has texted me. I've lost my partner, my lover, my best friend and I don't want anyone but him. Yeah, I want children, but HIS children.

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  4. Oh Rose, I hurt for you. What a painful situation. It sounds like you're not sure breaking up is the right thing to do. At this point, I'm sure the hardest thing in the world to do is hang on and wait to see whether this drastic move brings the relationship back to life or forces you to start over, but you'll need to give it some time. I'm so, so sorry.

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  5. Hi, I can relate to this although I'm not angry. I got engaged 6 months ago to my on-off partner of 3 years. We had been all off, and he said he wanted to get married and have kids. He had not said this before so I felt something had clicked for him and us. He was so up for it he even got me to add pregnancy coverage to my health care immediately. I have just turned 42 and we got married a few months ago. Our finances have been tight and we also weren't getting on great, but I thought kids would be in the mix when we got things sorted. We have just had a chat and my husband has changed his mind about having kids. He says he doesn't want them anymore, and it is not and will not be open for discussion. I am devastated. I would not have gotten engaged had I realised this truth as I always have wanted kids and would not have entered into a relationship with someone who wasn't open to trying. This is very real and raw for me, as it was only a few hours ago. I feel it's my calling to be a mother.

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  6. Anon July 15, I'm so sorry this happened. I find it amazing how many guys change their minds after the wedding. Have another chat and let him know how hurt you are. I pray you can work this out.

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  7. I'm a 38 yr old woman, never been married with no children. I met my fiancé 4 1/2 years ago, and we recently got engaged this past Christmas. He is 44 yrs old , divorced with a 14 yr old daughter that I get along with amazingly. A few years ago, he mentioned that he wasn't sure if he'd ever get married again, and that he doesn't want anymore children. This made me very upset, and I contemplated ending our relationship. I thought long and hard, and being that I love him so much, and I can't imagine my life without him in it, I decided that being married wasn't something that I HAD to have to define my love for him. As for the not wanting children, I wasn't sure how I could handle that. I never truly thought about having kids, because I was never in a place in my life to need to make that choice. I was a bartender for years, put myself through school at a later age, and at the age of 35 I got my Art Education degree, and I'm now an Art Teacher. I guess I see my life more stable, and children could be a part of it.

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  8. Anon July 16, Thank you for sharing your story with us. I'm happy you found someone who sounds great and that you get along with his daughter so well. As always, it comes down to whether you are willing to do without having your own children to be with him. He could change his mind, but I wouldn't count on it. I wish you many years of happiness.

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  9. Hello, I have always wanted children, and fell madly in love with someone who does not want any children whatsoever. He has always been honest about it. And I have accepted it, but lately I have had major baby fever. I am sure it is because all of my friends are having babies. It is nice to hear positivity on this situation. My friends all tell me I need to find someone else, but honestly I couldn’t even imagine having children with anyone else! He has always felt terrible that we have such different wants on this, but I made the choice from the beginning to stay! I wouldn’t change it for anything! I am 26 and he is 42.

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  10. Hi ladies. I am also in the same situation as most. I am 24 (and before some says this) I know I am young and have time.I am with a man who is 28 who already has a daughter who is 8 years old. We get on, but I don’t agree with how they parent her!we have been together over two years and live together. At the start of our relationship, I made clear in the future I would like children, to which I found out he had “no room ” in his life for another child, that his daughter was enough for him, so at that stage I loved this man but wasn’t fully involved. We didn’t live together and it was quite early on. I broke things off and 3 weeks later he was back begging me and promising me the world and children. So I gave him another chance.Now two years down the line, after a conversation of me having a bellyache, I was accused of being pregnant, which I said I wasn't but found it crazy that he seemed so frightened of the thought of me being pregnant.So I asked him again do you want children with me and he said he doesn’t know if he can ever see himself having anymore children. As you would expect, I was heartbroken. Lots more feelings had now been invested into this relationship and dreams.I recently found out he was engaged, had a mortgage with his previous partner (who he has the child with). It’s not that I am jealous of this. I am envious as to what she had and I don't. I want a ring, I want the children, I want the stable house situation, and he just seems as if he cannot bring himself to give me this, even though he says he has never felt like he does for me about anyone else. I will stick by my decision. I know I want a family in the future, but I want it with him! I have given him some time to think and it’s coming to the cut of date of his decision. I think I know he will not change his mind. I am just hoping.Stay strong everyone. We all deserve happiness xx

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  11. Anon,
    There's nothing I can say that you don't already know. I'm sorry you're in this situation. But I really think somebody else could give you the life you want and you're hurting yourself by sticking with this guy. I hope you can work it out.

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  12. Hello. I don't know if this post is strictly for women, but I'm a 37 year old male with 45 year old girlfriend. We've been friends since I was 27 but began dating at 30. I've never been married and I have no kids. She has been married and has 2 kids, who both are now married. She has 2 grandkids, a 2 year old and a newborn. I didn't begin to think about kids until her first grandson was born, but she was 42 at the time. Now at 45 it would be a high risk. Friends and co workers around us are having kids left and right, and I can't deny that it is eating me inside. She said that it's written all over my face when we see a baby and or her grandkids. She wants me to be happy and is willing to sacrifice by losing me. I just don't know if I'm willing to lose her for the chance of having a child. Any thoughts greatly appreciated.

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  13. Anonymous, it is not just for women. Guys run into the same problems. I feel for you. At 45, your wife is not likely to conceive. Can you really picture life without her? Would you trade her for a baby? I know. It's a horrible question. But you have to decide which you want more. There is no easy solution. I'm sorry, Anon.

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  14. Hi, My wife is leaving me because I don't want a second child and it's killing me. I feel I am being punished for that decision. She says she always wanted two but she never talked to me about it, so now I face becoming a part-time dad and I don't know what to do .

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  15. Anonymous Aug. 3,
    That's awful. My gut reaction is to say suck it up and have another child. But I worry that this disagreement has poisoned your relationship so that it will never be the same. Are there other issues? If it's just the baby thing, consider which would be worse, having another child or ending up alone? I'm sorry this is happening to you. I pray you can find a way to work it out.

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  16. Hello everyone, I am going through a terrible situation with my girlfriend. We have been together for 7 years now. We are both immigrants (she is from Russia and I am from Brazil) who live in Los Angeles. I am 32 and she is 35. Her mother passed away in 2010 due to a brain tumor. Since then she has become addicted to the idea of having a child. At the moment I do not feel that crazy desire to be a father. I moved to the U.S. kind of late in life at 25 and I am just now transferring to a four-year university to get a degree in business. I have a degree in physical education from Brazil, but the hassle to get it validated here was so time-consuming that I decided to do something else. I am also not happy with my career because my work is unstable and the pay is very low. On the other hand, she moved here when she was 13 and had her whole education in the U.S. She is very successful in her career and she is stable financially. Four years ago, I asked her to help me to pay for school so I could finish faster, but she said she was not interested in spending her money like that. It made me concerned because if she wants a family with me, how is it going to be when the kid arrives? I have no financial means to provide for a kid. Not even half of the bills for a child. It really scares me that I may find myself in a situation where I won't be able to support my son/daughter. I am feeling terrible because I cannot make her happy. I can see that she resents me because she picks fights all the time for silly reasons. The other night she said that is better for us to go apart. I just cried for the whole day and I am feeling lonely and worthless. It kills me that I am not enough for her and that I cannot make her happy. She said that she wants me to be a stay-in dad, but I am very independent and I believe that I must have a career. It would be better for both of us if I have one. I fear that once the baby arrives she will just break up with me and leave me in a difficult situation. I would not be able to abandon a child. I moved here on my own, and I have no family in the states. Our relationship was one of the main reasons that made me stay in the country. I also understand that she is coming close to 40 and that it might become harder to become pregnant, but she does not want to wait any longer. Am I being a jerk or too selfish? It is just killing me that the whole focus of my adult life is coming to an end. I just want her to be happy and she deserves all the best. It just hurts that I am not good enough. I believe that the best should be to leave her alone and not interfere on her life. I want her dreams to come true. I wish I could have a normal job so I could help and give her what she wants. I struggled financially since I got here. It took me 7 years to get a green card and now (after 9 years) things are getting better. I just don’t want to struggle right now and I want to get my college degree before having a kid. What should I do?

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  17. Oh, Mr. Anonymous Aug. 4, life is complicated and I wish I had all the answers. You are right that your wife does not have much time left to have children. This deadline might turn out to be more important than your college degree, which you can get later. Only you can decide what to do. I pray that you are both able to figure it out. Readers, can you offer any advice?

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  18. This discussion is so comforting to me and making me realize I'm not alone. Thank you for the non-judgmental posts and comments!I am 33 years old and have been with my partner for almost 6 years. He's 32 and has a 7 year old from a previous marriage. We have his son every other week and I help raise him as if he were my own.My partner comes from a extremely traumatic childhood and a very difficult first marriage. We have such a strong relationship and have worked through so much to get where we are today. He struggles with depression. I am patient and we work through it. He is worth it. We have a house together and I love my little family.I have never wanted kids of my own. He knew this when we met. For many years, we were on the same page. About a year and a half ago, he changed his mind and decided he wanted more children, he wanted a whole family unit, something he never had. He brought up that he was interested in kids and I immediately shut him down, not even open to a discussion about. He was really hurt by that, it reminded him a lot of his childhood, and he hasn't really ever forgiven me for it. In spite of that, a few months later he proposed to me and we have had some truly beautiful times in the past year and a half. He has told me many times he couldn't imagine his life without me. During his dark times, though, he lashes out at me and is cruel, uses the fact that I don't want children as a crutch, and holds it over me. We decided to take a year off from the conversation and just be with each other and consider each other's point of view. This has been going well, and it was a welcome break. A couple weeks ago, we revisited the subject and I told him that I still wasn't interested. I'm good to his son, good to him and I just feel complete. At the end of the day, I'm tired, fulfilled and can't imagine nor have any interest in another child to care for. He understands this, has decided to stay with me (in spite of this?), though he says he needs time to heal, doesn't feel like being affectionate to me at all, and still lashes out occasionally. He believes I don't compromise about anything I don't want. I do struggle with compromise, but I'm aware of this, and try to work on it. My life has changed so dramatically since I met him and I don't think he fully realizes this. I do sacrifice so much of what I want to give him and his son a good life. It's all worth it though.

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  19. I didn't have enough space to finish my comment. Sorry for the rambles!! It's just been really hard lately. I am lonely. I am tired. And I am scared of losing him. It's been really hard because he's very angry and hurt with me right now. He's hurt that I immediately shut down the conversation he tried to have a year and a half ago. It reminded him so much of how he was treated as a child and he resents me for it. But in spite of this, he wants to stay with me and make it work. He says he still loves me and I do believe him. That someday he may change his mind and I understand I don't have control of that. I don't know if I'm being unfair by wanting to be with him, by wanting to grow old with him, but not giving him a whole family unit/any more kids. We have both sought counseling in the past, occasionally together (though he feels as if this is a waste of time. He's a very private, introverted person and works on himself better by himself or one on one. I'm not this way, but I respect that. I still occasionally see a counselor, and he has plans to go back.I (and our counselor) believe that much of this has to do with the trauma of his childhood. I am by no means perfect and struggle with control issues. I believe we have a great family and I am a great pseudo-stepmom to his child. It's just been really hard lately. I know my post is long and rambling, but I don't have many other outlets of like-minded people who are willing to listen. In short, he wants more kids and I don't. He wants to stay with me in spite of this but is very angry, hurt and resentful right now, though much of that is PTSD from his childhood. He has told me he no longer wants to marry someone who doesn't want kids, but will stay with me. I'm fine with this (for now.) We have still had great times among the painful arguments. I don't know if he'll just end up resenting me. I have worked hard for our relationship, as has he. We're just at a really difficult stage, and I don't know if we'll ever fully bounce back from this. On a lighter note, my dog is my very best friend, and every night, especially during the difficult ones, I'm endlessly thankful for her 🙂

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  20. Hello, I definitely needed this today. My husband and I have been together for 10 years, and married for 2. It was a rough road in the beginning as he was uncertain he ever wanted to get married. I had moved across the country only to find this out. We broke up a couple of times over this and both times, he came back, and I took him back, but of course, always talking about the elephant in the room. Obviously, he changed his mind about marriage, and we had spoken on many occasions about having children, and he had changed his mind, though he was still slightly on the fence, he was willing to try. This is something I was totally upfront about since the beginning. We have numerous nieces and nephews and we always talk about how we would parent. We have been trying to conceive for nearly two years. When it was just over a year, I set up appointments for fertility testing and we found out that he has some issues and long story short, I was given medication to try in the first step before IUI, or IVF. I am currently in the middle of my second medicated cycle, and my husband has just dropped a bomb on me saying that he is really unsure of having kids and that he doesn't want to try. Granted he is going through some personal issues. His parents’ relationship is falling apart and we live across the country from them. He never had a very good relationship with his father either. He was working away and quit his job to work closer to home, and within a week of starting that new job injured himself and has since been in a downward spiral for 7 weeks now. I was under the impression that he was quitting because he wanted to and he didn't like it there anymore. He has just told me that he quit his job because he felt he needed to in order to make me happy and be able to start a family. We have made an appointment with a counsellor, but I am terrified. I feel as though I have just waited and waited for him and given up things in my life to wait for him. Having children is a desire I can't even explain to him. When I asked him why he would marry me knowing full well I wanted children, his answer was that he thought he would be enough. As much as it hurts to tell him, I will feel a sense of emptiness without having our child. He is not open to sperm donor or IVF. I'm not sure how I would feel if we had tried everything and it didn't work, as opposed to just not trying at all. I am literally sick thinking about a life without him, but also terrified of feeling incomplete for the rest of my life. I honestly don't think I would be able to be around family or friends if I did decide to stay with him if he chooses not to try. I would want to move away to try and become something else. He was shocked at me saying I didn't want a life without our children in it. He basically takes it as he's not good enough. I'm just plain scared of what the outcome is going to be. This has just turned my world upside down and I'm so sick about it.

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  21. Anonymous Aug. 5,wow. It took me two cookies to get through your comments. Another difficult situation. As always, someone is going to have to sacrifice something. Either you give in and have a child or he gives up and doesn't have any more kids. I'm glad you're still talking about it and working on it, at least off and on. Counseling is good. I would not recommend getting married until you resolve this. What do other readers think about this?

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  22. Oh Terrified, I can feel your fear coming right through my computer. I don't blame you for being scared. I think it's good that you're trying counseling. You're going to need help sorting things out. Your husband sounds like my first husband, who wasn't good at committing to the marriage and family thing either. You don't say how old you both are, but almost two years without conceiving is definitely a sign that something is wrong. Maybe it is a bad time for your husband right now. Maybe it's too much pressure. Or maybe he'll never be ready. I wish I had a good answer for you. Go to counseling. Pray about it. Try to remember even when your husband is driving you nuts that you do love him and he loves you. I pray that you can find a way to ease the fear and move ahead.

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  23. When I met my husband (at 26), I wasn't sure whether I wanted children, and he wasn't sure either. He knew he wanted a lot of nieces and nephews, but said he didn't think he wanted his own. I felt the same way. If I'm being completely honest, I felt like I was 70% sure I didn't want a child, but figured that if I changed my mind he'd jump on board (apparently he thought the same thing — that if he changed his mind, I'd be all for it). Fast forward 5 years, and he desperately wants a child, and I'm closer to 80% not wanting one. I think he's afraid of being left behind (all his friends are having kids), and he says his life will have no purpose.

    We're married and I know he'd never leave me, but I feel like we're down to two choices. Either he resents me forever for not having a child, or I have a child, and resent them both. Either way, it's a no win scenario. I can't figure out which option is worse.

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  24. Katherine….So I too am in a similar situation as most above. I have been with my husband for 5 years and married for 2. He is 36 and I am 30. He notes he feels old, body is changing and he doesn't have the desire. My husband continues to flounder about wanting kids. I am 30 and still am not 100% sure where I stand. There is no switch going off in my head one way or another.He believes I will one day, as I am a family-forward person. Which he may not be wrong. I see kids in the future, but are they mine or am I an Auntie?Yet, I believe we have a type of love that no other has. We are best friends. Today, I feel I choose him over kids. Why find another person that my love would be less to just have a kid. Why does society suggest that we need kids?Lose what we have today. Yet, he is afraid that if I change my mind I would resent him. I don't want that either, but how do I know what the future will hold?Is there any way that I can better navigate through this? Questions to ask myself. Questions to communicate with him.Looking for navigation help in this troubling time.Oh, how I love him so much and don't want to be apart from him.

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  25. Katherine,
    I think you have answered your own questions with your last line. You love him and don't want to be apart from him. You are only 30. You may get the urge to have babies. He may stop feeling so old and change his mind. But if you have that strong love, hang on to that. It sounds like you'll be able to work it out, no matter what happens in the future.

    What do other people think?

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  26. Thank you so much for posting this article and keeping this thread open for so long. Today marks one week since I had to admit to my partner of 4.5 years that it's best we breakup. The primary reason: at 29, he wants to be a father (and would make an OUTSTANDING, award-winning dad), while at 35, I think I would be an awful, unstable mother who would worry about everything (health, money, stability) and create an unsafe situation for a child. We've had other differences (he recently moved to another state for work, and our communication styles don't blend), but nothing else weighed on my conscience like the children issue. While I feel some relief at no longer being an obstacle to his ideal future, I feel like such an idiot–he is NOT the kind of man you let get away. I am so scared I'll end up alone and forever regret losing the most caring, brilliant, honest, loving man I'll likely ever have. My only solace is that I'd have regretted having an unwanted child even more. Has anyone here ever made this sacrifice (letting her incredible partner go so he can have children) and come out ahead in the end? I'd appreciate any encouragement possible. Stay strong, everyone. Life is so hard, and love is so important.

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  27. Anonymous Aug. 10, Thank you for sharing this. It must be a scary place to be right now. I wonder what my life would have been like if either of my husbands had let me go so I could have children with someone else. What if I never found that someone else? I have not been on your side of the situation, but it sounds like you love this man very much, and it's going to take time to accept the new situation.

    So readers, has anyone experienced this? Do you have any words of wisdom for Anonymous? Please share.

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  28. First, I would like to say thank you. I wish I had found your site 16 months ago, though. 'Sigh…' My story in a nutshell is, I have always known I wanted to be a mom. I never really had any other dream or goal, although I have been pretty successful…a pro runner for 5 years post college, and now a nurse. Yet, I still struggle with the decision my husband made about 15 months ago when he told me he didn't want children after I brought up that I wanted us to start a family soon. I had the ' having children conversation' before marrying and at that time he wanted them. It was more of how many. I hoped for 2-3, God willing. He, leaned toward 1. So, it was a shock for me and I went through the 5 stages of grief over the next 12 months, with denial lasting the longest. Finally, after getting past denial, I started battling depression. I felt as though I was enveloped in a dark, thick cloud, unable to get out. My mom talked me into starting medicine in January. I recently decided to taper off it. I didn't mean to share so much, but I do appreciate the opportunity to do so with others who understand. I'm still with my husband. Uncertain of what to do. Only because of the unconditional love Christ has shown me am I able to love my husband unconditionally. I still struggle. Living in the south where everyone around me is having children and most my age having had their second child, I get left out. I don't know if my husband understands what that must be like, to not be called to hang out because my lifestyle (no family/children) is different from all other women my age around me. I'm 31. And, no I can't just get pregnant like so many people tell me I can do, because my husband isn't intimate with me…it's been 18 months and counting. Nor would I want to bring a child into a marriage where one spouse does not want one.Anyways, thank you, again. Though I still do not know what is the right thing to do in my situation, I do find comfort in knowing I am not alone.

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  29. Dear TiffanyAnn, I'm so sorry you're going through this. I know it's terribly hard. I wish your husband could see that and do his duty as a husband. But you can't change other people, only yourself. That's a hard lesson I learned in years of counseling. It is not fair that he make this decision for both of you. If you can find a way to keep the conversation going without it turning into nagging, do it. Meanwhile, keep reaching out for help. You are not alone,and you are not the only one.

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  30. Not a day goes by that I don't cry about this. I don't know what to do. I love my husband dearly. But I am not satisfied with being just a step-mom to his kids. It's not fair to me.

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  31. I have found this blog whilst searching for help for anything after a particularly bad argument with my boyfriend. I am 38 and he is 46. He has 2 children from a previous marriage which ended very badly. We have been together 4 years and I have broached the subject of marriage and children before about 2 years ago. He never said no straight out and always gave the impression he would have another child. I have never been the type of women who always wanted children but after finding him I started to feel different about 2 yrs ago. I have never felt this kind of love for anyone and I want to further that and express it more by making us into a solid family. My bf has had a lot of insecurity, trust and emotional problems in the past. This is evident now. When I first brought this up seriously he completely lost it and thought that it was resolved by just shouting and saying no. I however continued to deal with the realisation that this man I love more than anything had shattered my dreams. So I brought it up again, I had to as it was making me different with him and his children. I didn't want that as they are wonderful. It comes down to that he knows he can't support another child as his and my job circumstances are changing very soon. So I do understand this even though it's very hard. It's his reaction I'm struggling with and as his first marriage was a disaster he's unwilling to commit again. I just don't know what I am getting out of this. Yes I love this man more than anything but I need something. I need to be committed to him and for him to me. We live separately due to our jobs but the more time I spend with him the more I don't want to be without him. It is all so very complicated but I don't want to end up resenting him, which I'm not sure whether I'm starting to already, for not having a child. I don't feel like we can talk about anything without him flying off the handle. All I want to do is be able to talk to him about anything and everything. Reading the comments and advice on your blog has helped me think things over in my head and knowing I'm not the only person going through this as well. Obviously I'm also 38, and the chances of getting pregnant could take years if it ever happens, but I see women, my friends older than me, doing this and I just think what have I done wrong.Am I destined to be on my own forever?

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  32. Anonymous Aug. 19, I wish I had the answer for you, but you can decide whether your love for this man is worth sacrificing marriage and children, especially at an age when you're running out of time to get pregnant. If you can't talk to him about these things, that's a bad sign. Are there other people in our life that you can talk to about this? I wish this situation never came up, but unfortunately, you are not alone in this. I pray you can find peace.

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  33. There are people I can talk to, but they don't see what he's like or know what he's been through. I know he's had a very traumatic childhood and there's a lot of resentment and anger there. With the way his marriage went, which has just been resolved now but not really with any great outcome, he's even more angry. All I seem to do is make things worse as he presumes I'm in a mood. I've tried explaining I'm trying to deal with a lot in my head, but he just gets angry. I don't want to give up on him, but it's hard work when I'm trying to understand him and deal with my life too. I'm a simple girl, I want to please my man and for us to be best mates as well as lovers. Is this wrong? Am I living in a fantasy world?

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  34. Anon, you're not living in a fantasy world, but clearly he is not in a place to talk about making any commitments to you because he's still dealing with the results of his past commitments. If you want to keep him, you'll need to become the one person who is not yelling at him. Can you wait until he's ready, if he's ever ready? Maybe you should just hang in there for a while.

    What do other people think? I welcome your advice for Anonymous.

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  35. I feel like I've waited and gone through so much with him. Do I want to give it all up to find someone else though? I don't think I would ever get over him and constantly compare to him. I am still dealing with not having a child. I guess in some silly way I think it will still happen. I have my weepy moments and then flip to certain I want him. Yes you are right, I hadn't thought that he wasn't ready to commit because he's still dealing with his past. I just don't know how to get through to him, deal with him or be there for him when he can be so nasty.

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  36. I found this blog looking for answers to a similar scenario I’m being faced with right now. I have been with my partner for nearly 17 years. I am 36 and she is 31. We have been engaged for a good few years, with plans to marry soon. Kids have been discussed in passing but not really any more than when you were a kid and said I want children. The problem is as you get older your life changes and your outlook and circumstances change the way you feel. The problem is all of a sudden this week she has within a few days of her sister having a child given me an ultimatum and left the house we own and lived in together for the last 10 years. She has basically said that she will leave if I don't want children and she wants an answer now or it’s all off. I’m really finding it hard to give a decision straightaway and if it was straightaway it would be no. The reasons for this are: We have zero support network, she doesn't know her dad, her mum is volatile and they don’t get on, no grandparents or uncles, etc., and on my side, I have my mum and Dad, but they are always arguing and not really a reliable resource for help, therefore we will be stuck with no “us time” at all. Another reason is we are both successful. She is a director of a company and I own my own company which I am working hard to set up. We do all this to feed our love for travelling and fun weekends away, walking and enjoying meals out, etc. She does have the tendency to be relaxed in her approach to do any work around the house and needs a push to do anything or even get up for work, where she abuses her director position and goes in late most mornings. Simple tasks in the house take so long to complete while I do 80-90% of all the work, and this worries me as when a child comes I,m in no illusion that it won,t be much harder than now and more tiring and time /energy consuming. She doesn't seem to acknowledge all these bare facts which will all add up to a serious life shock and change. I just don't see how someone can literally throw 17 years down the pan. We have done everything together. All my adult life has revolved around her and going great places and sharing moments with her. I’m so scared I’m just worried she wants kids for the wrong reasons and the biological clock is pushing the urge, along with all her friends having kids and pushing their views on her when in fact everyone is different and each couple’s scenario is different. Some people have nothing in their lives and lots of support; therefore a child is a welcome addition with not much to lose along with being able to have a break utilising the support. I am therefore stuck between a rock and a hard place. She won’t discuss it. She basically says, “If you loved me, you would give me children.” I just feel I’m being emotionally blackmailed by someone I thought I was going to be with for the rest of my life, and it’s either lose 17 years of our lives or gamble on the what if and resent her if she forces me to exchange our life when she’s actually not sure she will enjoy it herself. I’m not sure what to do. She doesn't seem to be allowing for any discussion or compromise. What do you think ?

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  37. Dear Mr. Anonymous, I think I wish I had more wisdom so I'd know what to tell you. What a painful situation. Basically your partner has suddenly panicked about having children. You really need a calm discussion about this, but it sounds like she can't do that right now. So I guess you're going to have to figure out what you want. Forget all that business about your jobs and your families for a minute. Do you want to be a father? If you do, say yes. You can work out the rest later. You're in my prayers.

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  38. I am struggling with this big-time. I'm turning 33 soon, my partner is 62. We talked about getting married and technically are engaged, but because of this disagreement over a kid, we have put the wedding on hiatus.He was divorced and then widowed. He has an 18-year-old son who heads off to university today.His son and I get along. We aren't terribly close, but we like each other. My partner initially was open to the idea of becoming a father again and is flip-flopping more to “No” side of things. He feels he's just sending his kid off and doesn't want to start again, wants to enjoy retirement.He tells me I “can't have it all” in life, but how different is this for him — he would “have it all,” a childfree marriage with me, someone to love and take care of him, which I am totally ok with. I would end up alone and childless.At least if I had a kid with him, even at old age, it would allow me to have a reminder of him when he's gone.This has caused some resentment in me towards him and his son (even though I know this is no fault of his own). His son's going-away party was difficult because it kind of feels like his old life is being pushed on to me and yet, there's a possibility of me not having my own children.My partner is my soulmate. I cannot imagine life without him. He gets me in ways I cannot imagine and he is the reason I want to have children with him.And then there is the biological clock ticking away.He has told me a few times that if I want a child, we're done. Go find someone my own age. The worst thing about finding such a special connection with him is I know I likely won't find it with someone else again.And I really don't want to look again. I've found what I've been looking for.But this issue is huge. It's causing me to lose sleep, appetite, causing fights and intimacy gaps in an otherwise amazing relationship.We have also discussed alternatives such as co-parenting (me and a gay friend having a child together, sharing the parenting duties) or surrogacy with a younger partner for me. My partner is afraid having a child would wreck our marriage and come in between us. And because we don't have the luxury of time to recover as people of the same age do, it would be really tough.But I worry those options will also divide us because my partner is not involved directly.It's like a lose-lose situation, no matter which way you look at it.Any advice would be great. We are in therapy together trying to hammer this out.

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  39. Hi Jenny. What a pickle. It sounds like your partner has given you your choices and if you plan to stay with him, you have to decide what you want to do. You're both at such different places in your lives. I wish I knew the answer. If he's open to you having a child with someone else, that might be a good idea, but it would be awkward and hard on the marriage. I'm glad you're in therapy. If he's the guy, then I'm afraid you have to accept all of him. You're in my prayers.

    Anyone else have answers for Jenny?

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  40. I am currently deciding if I want to break up with my boyfriend. He has 3 kids from a previous relationship. He left that relationship seeing pregnancy as a negative that changed his partner. She has since made it very difficult for him to have a relationship that does not include her. He misses his kids and having a family life with them . He sees them often, but there is a hole in his heart since he cannot see them every day. We get along great. It’s the healthiest relationship either of us has ever been in. But I want kids. I am 31, he is 35 and I worry that I will miss my opportunity to have kids if we continue in a relationship. We have hard conversations about how long-term our relationship could be if we do not agree about kids. Tears have been shed by both of us. Neither one of us wants to end, but it seems unwise to keep progressing in a direction that has a wall. We live together already. He said he might want to adopt in the future when he feels more stable. I don’t understand why he thinks adopting is any different. I am more conflicted about this than I can bear. I do not know what to do.

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  41. Sue, your article is quite factual, but now that you are alone, do you have any regrets? I'm in the boat where I was married 10 years to a man who wanted to wait for “the perfect time.” Then it was brought to my attention that I have fertility issues. Now I'm with an amazing man who refuses to even talk about it. Which was fine because I am realistic about my current circumstance, but in all honesty, I may want some in a few years when I graduate. But I am also almost 33. I can’t imagine leaving this amazing man just to find some potential jerk who may not even be able to get the job done. I've been with a “bad” guy. I've done that hard time and I don’t want to let my good guy go. He is concerned however that I will resent him in time. SO, tell me, now that everything is said and done for you, do you regret it with either husband? I'm pulling my hair out. Thanks, CC

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  42. Hi June, good question. I wish I had had children. It makes me sad not to have children and grandchildren instead of going through life alone. When I think about what I could have had, it's almost unbearable. Was husband number one worth giving up kids for? No. I didn't know going in. By the time I found out, the marriage was already dead for lots of reasons. Was husband number two worth it? Probably. We had a wonderful marriage. But I regret that I didn't try harder.

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  43. So, like many others here, I found this site desperately searching for answers. The stress of this issue has been overwhelming, and it is impacting my marriage and relationship in the worst way. I am appreciating all of the support that is expressed here, and I am realizing that vocalizing the issue is the first step. So here goes. I realized I was gay when I was 17. i grew up at a time when marriage for gay couples wasn't on the horizon, let alone kids. I never really imagined my life having kids, and it was never really an issue in my past relationship. I had much younger siblings whom I loved dearly, but just never had that motherly instinct to have my own. I went to law school, started a good career, and longed to find that person I would spend my life with. At 29, I met the woman I eventually married, 5 years later, after the laws changed and allowed us to. Our relationship has had tough challenges from day one primarily due to family tensions, and while I knew she liked the idea of kids, it was never expressed as something she needed to have. We worked through our other issues and matured as a couple through the years. We now own a house, dogs, nice cars, have good jobs and essentially, we've made it, and I was happy. in my early 30s i started feeling the pressure of the clock ticking and we discussed the possibility of kids. I wasn’t in love with the idea, but felt the pressure of time. so we went to see a fertility specialist to get information. It felt so foreign and didn’t make me any more comfortable or welcoming to the idea. Our straight friends were having kids, so it was worth a try to see how it felt. But since that time i've gained peace with the fact that I just never truly wanted kids and that my life was great without them.In the last 6 months, my wife realized she absolutely wants kids and it has been an almost daily source of tension for us. I think her forcing the issue has made me dig my heels in, and I have felt more resolute against it than I ever have. Yes, i'm sure some of it is fear of change, but I just don’t want a child, and you really should want one before having one! Most upsetting is I can't help but feel that I'm not enough anymore. She wants a baby no matter what. Even if that means it tears us apart. It feels devastating and I don’t have anyone to talk to about it. We tried couples counseling a few times, but that made things worse. It made us both more resolute and got us nowhere. The counselor said we had to each decide whether to divorce over it. I'm so upset over this and I can’t help but feel resentful that she would rather have a child than have me. Is there truly no good ending for us?-with tears…

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  44. Dear Lost,
    I'm so sorry things have worked out this way. It's hard to predict how a person is going to feel about having children years later. If you haven't told your wife everything you have written here, you need to do that. And then yes, you both need to decide which would be harder to live with, to split up or for one of you to give in on the issue of children. I hope and pray you find a solution.

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  45. Sue, Thank you for creating this blog. I stumbled upon this blog on accident and am thankful because it's given me some great things to think about.My situation is this: I'm 32 and my bf is 33. We've been dating for a year. When we met, he seemed like he shared my goal to have kids one day. Three months ago, he said he's not sure. That his feelings for me made him think it's possible, but he's never wanted them before. We continued. He assured me he thought it was an age/timing thing. Then this week, he said he's been lying to himself out of desire to keep me. But he never wants them, because of his past (tough childhood).Of course. I was angry. Things would be different if we met from the get-go. I've always thought I'd have kids, and I do like kids. But the past year has been the happiest of my life. I feel he's the right person and I would not find someone better for me.I am contemplating giving up on kids and continuing with him. We are on a one-week break to think about this. He feels terrible for having put me in this situation, and believes that if we continue, I will change my mind and he will only hurt me more. He wants me to make sure I can be okay with this forever. The problem is I can guarantee that's oay now but not whether I will ever feel different.So my question to people who gave up on kids for sake of the man they met, did you have a fulfilling marriage? Is it possible to be happy and change your vision of the future? Or did some of you regret, resent, or change your mind later?Any advice or comments will be greatly appreciated.Love, Cat

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  46. Hi Cat. I did have a wonderful marriage despite not having kids together. I did and do have regrets, not about marrying Fred–he was a gift from God–but about not trying harder to have kids.
    You're right that you can't know how you'll feel in the future. Nobody can. I wish you all the best.

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