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. Hi Sue, I can't believe you've kept this open for so long, but I'm glad you have. My own situation is this: I'm 31, and my partner is 49. He has two children from his previous relationship, 17 & 18.When we started dating, I knew he was unlikely to want more children. He had a vasectomy a long time ago, and I thought I was okay with that. I've never had a strong drive to have kids. But we discussed it at length early in the relationship, and he said he'd never say never to the idea of having another child. I've just come back from a month away without him, and he's dropped a bombshell on me: he never wants have more children. He says he's too old, and he's not willing to sacrifice his hobbies and interests like he had to before. I'm in shock. I've spent the last few days in tears. But what gets me is I can't figure out whether it's the way he laid down this ultimatum that has made me decide I want a child, or if it's a genuine desire. I really don't know how to figure this out. I love him so much, and once I was willing to sacrifice children to be with him. I think I'm mostly just mad because he opened the door to the possibility, and now he's slammed it without so much as a conversation. Before him, I'd never been in a relationship with someone whose children I would love to carry. Anon H

    Like

  2. Anon H, you've got to have that conversation. Tell him how hurt you are by how he dropped this bomb and how you're not sure now. Ultimately you may find your way back to how you felt before, but you'll have to work your way through it. I'm sorry this happened.

    Like

  3. Reading through this thread has helped me feel like I'm not alone in this struggle. I'm a 46 year old man who's thinking about becoming a father for the first time. My wife of 20 years has always known she does not want children. Eleven years ago, I had similar thoughts and explored the options but chose to stay with her instead. Perhaps this is a mid-life thing where I'm looking back over the first half of my life and wondering if I'm missing out? I've always known I would be a good father. I'm patient, kind, and generous. People have always told me I'm like an old wise soul. I rarely give advice, instead choosing to be a good listener and help people make their own decisions. Lately, I'm worried that I'm going to regret not having raised a child. I have no romantic ideas about it. I've seen friends and family struggle so I know it's not all fun and games. But I'm still drawn to the possibilities in the richness of the experience, and with passing on my values and way of life to another person. I feel drawn to the idea of choosing to raise a child with someone who shares my values not because it's “the next thing to do” like I see so many people doing, but because I want the experience. To learn. To love. To know. Bringing this up again after being together for 20 years has caused a tremendous amount of pain. I absolutely know this will end our life together and it hurts so much. We are seeking some counseling both individually and together and we'll see where I'm at with this in six months. No need to make rash decisions, you know? But for me at least, I know if I decide to do this, my relationship with a wonderful woman is certainly doomed.

    Like

  4. Hello, I'm 23 and my partner is 27. We are engaged to be married next year and have been in our relationship for nearly seven years (he was my first boyfriend). Just two days ago, he dropped the bombshell that he doesn't want children now and isn't sure if he ever will. I have recently found out that I have some issues with fertility and may find it difficult to conceive. So he knows my clock is ticking to start trying. He is the love of my life and I cannot stand the thought of losing him. Our relationship is perfect. Everyone loves him, he is great with our young nephews and would make a great dad.The problem is he wants me to be happy, and he thinks the only way I can be is if I have children. But I'm not confident I can be happy without him. He hasn't said he doesn't EVER want them, just he doesn't know if he will. I have never felt pain like this. I feel as though my whole world has ended. We have cancelled the wedding until we know we want the same thing, which was very hard for me to do. I feel guilty because I think to myself if he loved me, truly loved me, would he not give me the one thing that would make my happiness complete. I know I can’t force him into it and he is not ready, but how can I end something because he MIGHT never be ready? And how do I risk staying if he never will be? We are looking at relationship counselling, but I'm not sure what good it will do. I feel drained. I don't think I can live without him but I don't want to live the rest of our lives with resentment.

    Like

  5. Oh, Anonymous Nov. 10, I'm sorry this is happening to you. Do the counseling; I think it will help. Is it possible your fiance said this because he didn't want you to worry about your fertility issues? You are both still young, but if he is the man you are meant to be with, hang in there and try to work it out. You're in my prayers.

    Like

  6. Thank you for your reassuring words. I am trying so hard. It is extremely testing, but no matter how much I think, I still can’t believe leaving him will ever result in my happiness. It has been playing on his mind for a while. He was scared of losing me and hurting me. I'm not angry or annoyed, just very very sad. Thanks again for your kind words x

    Like

  7. Thank you for creating this space for people to share their experiences. Like others, I appreciate knowing I'm not alone, but it doesn't make the decision any easier. I guess my husband and I have some other issues, but my wanting a child and him not, is the biggest elephant in the room. We just spoke with a counselor about it together and all it did was make it clear that I am the one who has to make the decision to stay or go. It's all on me and I am completely devastated over it. I try imagining a life with him and no child and it leaves me feeling cold and very sad. Yet imagining life without my husband leaves me feeling the same way. I am stuck. I'm 38 and can't imagine starting all over again, but I can't imagine the desire for this child to go away. Additionally, this is the life in which I want to raise a child in the first place, not some other life with some unknown person. I hate the thought of resenting my husband for the rest of our days if I decide to stay. I am so conflicted.

    How did others come to the decision? What did you weigh out to help you decide to stay or go? I'm so lost.

    Like

  8. No, Anon 9:02 Nov. 10, you are not alone. See previous comments. There is no easy answer for this. There just isn't. You have to do without the man or without the children. It sucks. At 38, you also have to worry about not having much time left to conceive. I chose the man, but you may choose differently. My heart goes out to you.
    What do others have to say?

    Like

  9. I needed this today! I have been so back and forth on my decision to stay or leave! My fiancé of almost two years has two amazing kids, 6 and 9. When we met he wanted another child. Now after being engaged for one year and eight months, he told me during a counseling session two weeks ago that he has decided that he is firm on the decision that he no longer wants another child. He doesn't want another child so dependent on him now that his two are so self sufficient. In his previous marriage, he was the caretaker of the children (bottle feeding them in the middle of the night, and caring for them when he got home from work when his stay-at-home wife would say “they're your problem”). We have both been on the fence about this, but I at least wanted it on the table. When he told me his decision during our appointment, I cried so hard! I feel like I'm grieving and so back and forth! It is such a difficult decision to make. I love his children dearly and they are so accepting of me, snuggling, kisses and I love yous! But I want my own child! But that's the hard part, my clock is ticking. I am 35, in four months I'll be 36. He just turned 33 and to top it off has had a vasectomy which is of course reaching the last chance of 80% working if he is reversed by April 2015. So any which way this were to happen, science would have to be involved. I love the fact we don't have to worry about birth control, but having a child is still something I have always wanted when I'm ready. I'm even concerned that maybe I can't have children since in previous relationships of not always being careful I never got pregnant (which isn't a horrible thing looking back as those relationships didn't last). Our relationship has had many ups and downs the past year for sure. He had a horrible divorce and is still not ready for marriage, although he proposed after five months and told me he wanted a baby with me. My heart hurts so badly because I love him and the kids, but I feel like these are plenty of issues on their own and then adding that he doesn't want any more children is the last heavy issue to add to all of the stress in our relationship. I feel like it may be time to walk away, as hard as it may be. I don't feel this is something we can compromise on and our relationship isn't very strong to begin with. I guess I was hoping with trying to work things out we would eventually move back in together and get married, but of course I'm scared to death to move back in with him. We have different parenting styles as it is. I may be too strict and he is so relaxed. I think kids need structure and bedtimes and age-appropriate chores. So even at that, I think we wouldn't be compatible with raising kids. Anyway I have really enjoyed reading the other comments and know I am not alone!

    Like

  10. Dear Kimberly,
    Yes, you do have issues. I'm sorry it has become such a muddle. Somehow you have to get down to whether you love this man enough to spend your life with him and whether his kids would be enough. It worked for me, but each of us has to decide on our own. I wish you all the best.

    Like

  11. Thank you for your reply! I do love him, but we're not rock solid. If we were, I think I could handle not having my own child since I love his so much. That's the hardest part, walking away from the kids! I'm scared that I'll not find someone I love as much as him, or won't love or cherish me as much as he has loved and cherished me. But all of the issues, and then adding this on top isn't equaling success. I feel in my heart it's over, now I just need to listen to my soul and stop ignoring the red flags! Hopefully we can stay in touch and be friends! Time will tell. Thank you again! I am so comforted knowing I'm not alone!

    Like

  12. I'm having some issues very similar to lots of you and need some advice! My fiancé and I are getting married in six weeks. He's dropped the bombshell he doesn't want children. We've been together for nearly six years and have spoken about children before. He says he's not sure he'll ever change his mind but as he's never mentioned it before could he just have cold feet about the wedding? We've now cancelled the wedding and I've moved out to give him some space but he's still not changed his mind! What do people suggest that I do? Stay with him and talk through the issues or accept children aren't for him and move on? I'm 33 and he's 32 and has a terrible relationship with his dad.

    Like

  13. Yikes, Anon, what a lousy situation. He might just have cold feet. Or maybe he really doesn't want children. It's hard to know. I think since you have already called off the wedding and moved out to give him some space, you need to give him that space for a while. But then get back to talking. It seems too soon to just accept it and move on. I wish you all the best.

    Like

  14. Like many comments here, I'm in the same situation. I've been with my boyfriend for nearly seven years and we just bought our house together. When we first started going out, we were just enjoying the feeling of falling in love and were both sure we had found our soulmate in each other. A few years later,he told me he didn't want children and I accepted that as I wasn't sure but I knew I wanted him. Then my siblings and friends started settling down and starting families and it looked like really hard work but also fun. I sorted my career out, finished college and got a good job. I thought that buying the house was the next step in cementing our relationship and making us happy. But I had a false alarm when my period was late and instead of bring totally panicked I felt ready and excited. It really made me think, and now I don't know what to do. We have talked and cried a lot. He is still a no never, I want the option at least. It's tearing us apart, and we are thinking of breaking up over this, but I just can't think what life would be like without him. I don't know what to do.

    Like

  15. I'm in a difficult position myself recently. My husband of 12 years (we've been together 18) who is almost 45 yrs old has now decided he wants kids. I'm 42 years old. HELLO, too late! He talked about it two years ago and he wasn't sure if it was a kid, or something else he was missing in his life. Now he's adamant and basically gave me the option – A kid, Adoption or Foster children. I'm 42 by the way. The thing is we talked about never having kids 10 years ago, so that is why I am pissed. I thought that shipped had sailed. I don't really want kids now. I love my life without kids. We have dogs that pose enough challenges. Now that I am 42 I am scared to have a kid at my age (I have 24 years of back /neck issues) and really don't want to go through birth at my age and risk birth defects. And then he mentions that adoption is too expensive, even though he seemed to present it as an option. So what option do I have? We are best friends, he's the love of my life, and he admitted I'm the same for him. Do I just tell him to go? But I just can't believe after being together for so long, he'd chose a baby over me. Especially if by this point I can't have them or it would be difficult anyway.

    Like

  16. Anonymous,
    What kind of stupid pills are men taking these days? Oh, sorry. I'll try to be more diplomatic. It would probably be quite difficult to conceive and bear a child in your early 40s. Not impossible, but not easy and probably more expensive than adopting. But maybe he's just going through a phase. You had an agreement, and now he wants to change it, but it's too late. Somehow he needs to accept that. Keep talking. Be loving but firm. I wish you luck.

    Like

  17. Hello all. This is insightful, reading posts from both sides. I'm 34, male and asked my 31 year old girlfriend who I've been with for 11 years about having a family earlier this year. She said she doesn't want to and probably won't in future. She said she's only started finding her feet in what she wants to do, art, and wants to travel a bit also. All our friends are agreeing to have families in the not so distant future. I come from a loving family and just always thought someday we would have our own little family. I let the issue lie for a few months but it has been tearing my head apart and it came up again. She could sense it in me. We are both very low and sad and depressed about the fact that our relationship might be over. I do love her deeply, but fear I will turn jealous and angry with her as our friends start raising families

    Like

  18. Oh Anonymous Dec. 14, I feel for you. Did she say she didn't want children at all or just not now? That's the most important question. If she doesn't ever want to, and you know you do, the relationship might be doomed. Keep talking. Don't let the fact that your friends are doing it now influence you. It has to be right for you both. I wish you all the best. I know it hurts.

    Like

  19. My husband and I are both 32 years old. We have been married since we were 26. We always agreed that we would have kids some day. Neither of us wanted to have any before we were 30 but wanted to be financially steady first and to have a home.The last year or so has been very painful for me because I started to really want to have that first kid at least. My husband has not. It does not help that many friends are currently pregnant or already had a child. It really hurts every time a new pregnancy is announced and both the expectant mother AND father are in on it and seem so happy.We agreed to start trying this year – 2015. I will be 33 at the end of the year. I asked my husband if we could talk and decide on when I can go off birth control. He says he does not even want to discuss it. I am happy to give him a little more time but I want to know a month when I can stop taking the pill, so that I have that to look forward to at least and know that he is not stringing me along, but he refuses to even talk about it.In the meantime, we have sex very infrequently as is. I feel like I am that baby-crazed woman I used to mock and he is just avoiding me and finding me annoying. He refuses to even say why he is not ready – we are financially steady, we bought a house two years ago that would accommodate a couple of kids, and that is the only reason I moved to the suburbs. Otherwise, I would be happy to stay in the city.Why is it so easy for others to just get on with it and have kid? The longer he procrastinates the more I resent him. The worst part of it is his refusal to even discuss it, so I have no clue about whether he has given up, or just wants a little more time, or wants something to change before we have kids. I feel strung along, sad and frustrated.I decided that I will tell him, whether he decides to respond or not, that since we agree to start trying this year he either has to tell me when or I am going off birth control halfway through the year. At the same time, if I have to divorce him and leave, I am preparing myself for that.

    Like

  20. I'm 30, he's 38. He has seven, yes, seven kids from previous relationships. Ages 10-22. We've been together just under ten years. We finally got married in 2014. I had been so excited to finally have the wedding, and then his mother died the week of the wedding unexpectedly. They used our reception hall the day after the wedding for the funeral. 😦 The week after the wedding, I collapsed and a CT scan showed a tumor, a rare fibroid in my uterus, causing chaos in my body and also not allowing an egg to ever attach. The tumor is going to be removed next month. Up until this year, I loved kids, but my bio clock wasn't ticking or anything. Now it's ticking. Up until now, he said he wasn't getting a vasectomy because it wouldn't be fair to expect me to help raise all his kids and then tell me I can’t have one. Except that's exactly what's happening. He doesn't want more kids; he's worn out. He will have another but not because he wants to. It's a totally different story to raise other people's kids. His youngest is ten and we’ve had full custody since he was two. It's still not the same. I want my own child. I won't leave over this matter, but I'm heartbroken. It seems like everything I've ever looked forward to is being destroyed. I can't feasibly get pregnant and feel good about it if it's just going to chase him off because he's tired of kids. I doubt he'd leave but I don't want to do it alone either..

    Like

  21. Wow, Amanda, what a tough situation. I'm sorry this is happening to you. So after you get the tumor removed you could get pregnant? I'm sure your husband is worn out, but he needs to stick to what he said before. Otherwise it is not fair to you. Raising stepchildren can be very rewarding, but it is definitely not the same. I wish you the best.

    Like

  22. Lol happens all the time, my bff in high school was Amanda they just called us both manda. I'm not sure if anyone knew which of us was which lol. Yes I'll have a window of anywhere from six months to a year to conceive without miscarriage or having a deformity/ unhealthy fetus. Both ways, it’s high risk. I don't think he would flat out tell me no. But just knowing it's not really something he WANTs is tough to deal with. We've been through so much over the years. We won't give up, but it's just a rock and a hard place.

    Like

  23. Long time reader of these comments. I feel for the other people on here because I've been dealing with the same thing for a long time.I started with my girlfriend when we were very young (mid teens) and we've been together twelve years now. Even back then she was clear that she wasn't sold on the idea of kids, but she wasn't sure she would never want it either. She wanted to be with me regardless of whether we'd have kids or not and she wanted me to be the same way. I try to think back to what I thought when she first told me that; I think what I did was lie to myself and think that she would change her mind and want kids eventually. I didn't think about it much because we were young and in love. We stayed together through college, and I think I kept thinking the same thing whenever this issue would come up, which wasn't often. Throughout this time, we were far from a perfect couple. I can be careless and forgetful, and she will usually give me the silent treatment for long periods when this happens. She doesn't really compromise with me and can be hard. Yet she is also an incredibly special person who is so smart, shares so much in common with me, so clever and fun to be with most of the time. Fast forward to a year and a half after college graduation, and I've finally accepted that I'm not going to be okay without kids. At that time (and still) I had little experience with childcare, but I knew I liked spending time with kids and I loved imagining a life with a family. I admit that I idealized things, but I did make pro and con lists and talk to a therapist and I dwelled on the negative things about parenthood, but none of it seemed to matter. My desire to have kids seemed unmovable, and I stupidly did not seek out more information about the practicality of what I envisioned. I told her all this, but she wouldn't guarantee a child and in the end I gave in and buried my desire. I told myself that I might be able to give up this desire and be happy with her if I examined it more, even though deep down I thought this probably was not true. I played for time for a few more years, focusing on my career and the good things about our relationship, but this problem never resolved in my heart. It made it impossible for me to truly give my all in the relationship and to truly feel the good things about our life. It has been three years since the first time I told her about my wishes, and now recently I've repeated them and tried to leave again. In the heat of the moment, I gave in again, after a day-long fight where she begged me to stay. Since then I have been unable to sleep much. I have a difficult career that I am neglecting over this agony. Trying to accept that I won't have kids and feeling that desire well up from deep within me has hurt me, and now I don't really even feel much or know what to think. I think what I'm going to do is trust the three years of soul searching I did, and not the past week of hell. I just hope that if I am even able to find someone that I won't always regret this decision and yearn for my old life. I also worry that I can't take much more of this pain and that I will lose everything either way. I also feel crushing guilt because I agreed to stay so many times no matter what she decided on children.

    Like

  24. Oh Anonymous, shoot. I hate that this has happened to you. It's perfectly normal and natural for you to want children. And some people just don't want to have them. Why do they keep getting together? I'm not clear on whether you have decided to leave your girlfriend and look for someone else or stay and try to deal with it. I think you have to be very clear with her that the child thing is a deal-breaker and if she wants you, she's going to have to have children, that she can't guilt you out of it.
    Somebody has to give in. I hope and pray you can work it out.

    Like

  25. I grew up changing diapers. My childhood consisted of crying babies and responsibilities. At that time I knew I had to help. My parents worked two jobs. Also I got paid by the neighbor to watch her kid. As soon as I was able, I started working at a store. I didn't stop working until I got married at age 20. Finally starting college at 21 and getting a job felt good. I'm in the best shape of my life. Today I'm 25. School is been tough for me, because I worked extremely hard to maintain a perfect gpa and to learn as much as possible, as my childhood consisted of watching children and not studying. I decided after I finish college I want to enjoy earning real money and traveling and living life. I don't want to leave stress to go into more stress. I love children and I would love to see mine grow up and teach them what was never taught to me. But honestly right now I don’t want kids. I never felt this way before. The day I turned 25, I just didn’t want kids. I know I will eventually have two. But not now. My husband got teary once because I said this. So I won’t mention it anymore. Honestly because I love him, eventually I will have his children. maybe by 30. But not now.

    Like

  26. I have been married to my best friend for 8 years and we have been together for 14 years. We are both 35 and are struggling with the decision to start a family late in our marriage.When we were first married, we agreed to put off starting a family while we focused on careers and travel. We never said that we did not want to have children – we both just knew that we were not ready and were perfectly happy traveling, and fortunate enough to do so.A big obstacle in our marriage that has affected our decision to start a family is that he is active duty military and we have spent several of our 8 years of marriage apart. Each separation has been very difficult for us – it’s really like being married to a stranger after you have been separated for over a year. The thought of having a child while he was deployed terrified us. For me, it was the fear of raising a child alone. For him it was the fear of being an absentee father with no end of deployments in sight.Fortunately he has been under the same roof with me for the last two years, and the probability of another lengthy separation is unlikely. Unfortunately his attitude about starting a family has shifted. I very much want to have a child, and he does not. He has told me that he is content with his lifestyle and has said that he can be happy without children. No regrets. Very recently after arguing/debating having a family, he has conceded that his is “50/50” – but I know that this is just an effort to push back the inevitable question of whether or or not we can stay married and be happy with the decision to not have a family.I will be 36 in a few months, and I know not having a child will be a huge regret. I can’t picture a life for myself without children. I can’t imagine leaving my best friend after everything that we have been through. I can’t imagine staying married and being resentful.… I take comfort in this blog and seeing that we are not the only married couple to face such tough decisions.

    Like

  27. Oh Anonymous, how frustrating. I think you need to keep talking until he understands that he needs to stick by what he said when you got married and have a child or two. You will not be happy otherwise. Don't give up. I wish you luck.

    Like

  28. Is anyone out there in a similar situation to me? I'm 42 years old, never been married and never had children. All I've ever really wanted was to get married to the right guy and have a family. About 6 months ago I met a lovely man whom I'm still seeing and he's without a doubt the nicest guy I've ever dated. We don't live together as he has never talked about it but I'd prefer to be married before cohabitation. I guess it's still early days yet. I'm due to have surgery in a few months to remove a large uterine fibroid which is causing me issues. Due to this operation I could become infertile. My boyfriend who is 43 has a daughter who is 8 years old. I get on well with his daughter. I've told my boyfriend that the surgery I'm going to have is likely to make me infertile but he plays his cards close to his chest and didn't respond when I told him this. There is a chance I could still have a pregnancy if I don't go through with the surgery but I havn't talked to my boyfriend about this as I feel it would put pressure on him and he's never said he has ruled out anymore children.The other day we were talking and I told him I felt as if I'd missed out on having a family. He asked me if he wasn't enough for me and told me there are worse off people in the world. Has anyone got any wise advice about his situation?

    Like

  29. Mel Bell, my only advice is to be totally open with your man about your surgery and about whether or not you want to try to get pregnant. Not talking will only cause trouble later. I wish you the best with your guy and your surgery.

    Like

  30. It's really heartwarming knowing that there are so many people that understand my struggle. My heart goes out to all of you. I know many people will think that I'm too young to worry about this. I'm 26, and my boyfriend is 31. We've always been on the same page about our future: marriage, kids, a big house with a white picket fence. I thought our future was sorted. He suffers from bipolar, which has it's struggles, but I've learnt how to notice the signs he's sinking into a depression and we cope with it as a team. He's my support system, my world, my best friend, and my world would be a dark place without him. So recently, he's been suffering from a particularly bad low, and he's decided that he's not sure that he wants kids, and he's not sure he'll ever wants kids. On top of this, he thinks we should go our separate ways as he couldn't live with himself knowing that he can't give me the future I want. I'm so confused and lost. Now I'm torn between staying with him and accepting a possible future without children, or leaving and possibly never finding a love like this again. I've told him that I think he's not thinking clearly at the moment due to the depression, but he's adamant he is of sound mind to make a decision like this. I wish this decision was easier.

    Like

  31. Anon, I think it's the disease talking and you should not make any life decisions based on what he has been saying. Just support him as much as you can, knowing that he'll come around. I'm so sorry you have to deal with this.

    Like

  32. As someone in a similar situation, I came onto the Internet to look for some advice on the subject. I am only 21 years old, my partner is 25, and we have only been together for two years. I have never really wanted kids before, as I have dreams of travelling or being committed to my career when I get older. I am currently in the process of applying to graduate schools, and we have already agreed that we would either maintain a long distance relationship or he would move with me to wherever I end up going. However, we recently got into the discussion of kids. He adamantly wants kids, and has explictly said that it is one of the most important things to him. I told him this was something I understood, and that while I currently don't want kids, I think there is a good chance I'd change my mind in the future as many of my previous desires have already changed in the past. However, he said he wasn't sure if he would be willing to wait that long to have children, as he still wants to be young (mid to late 40s) when all of his kids would be moved out so he could still enjoy his adult life. I personally would prefer to wait until my early 30s to have children, but was willing to compromise with him and say that I would seriously consider having children a year or two after I would graduate from school (putting me at about 27 yrs old). This would give me the time to get a good footing in my profession and really get a good foundation in my life before committing to children. I also mentioned possibly adopting children as I have a fear about the health complications and changes a woman goes through with a pregnancy. He seemed more willing to the idea of adopting children, but still insisted he would want children of his own. I really do want to stay with him and try to make things work, I just feel like I'm the only one willing to compromise and make sacrifices to make the relationship work. I feel like I am being reasonable, but can't be sure as it's hard for me to look at the situation from his point of view. The worst thing about it is that while I said there was a good chance I'd want kids in the future, he's not sure if he's willing to wait for me to make that final decision. I feel that if he wasn't so adamant about having kids in the next few years, this would be much easier. I know that if I were to cave and have children while I was in graduate school, I would be overwhelmed by the responsibilities I would have which would put strain on our relationship and make him feel guilty. Either way, I feel that the road ahead will be difficult and potentially heartbreaking, but I'm hoping it will turn out for the best. Even writing out the whole situation has helped clear my mind about it all. I know my situation isn't nearly as extreme/desperate as others, but it doesn't make me feel much better about it.
    As for the fear of childbirth/impact on my health, am I being irrational? I've been told by many mothers that it was easier than they imagined and well worth it in the end. It's just hard for me to wrap my head around it being as health conscious as I am (which is one of the reasons why I think adoption would be a good alternative for us).

    Like

  33. To Anonymous 3/25/15, I don't know the answer to your dilemma. Both sides sound reasonable, but something has to give. I guess you need to figure out if you are both committed to the relationship enough to compromise. I hope you can figure it out.

    Like

  34. I am a divorced father of 2 children, 11 & 13 (Boy & Girl) and my girlfriend is 29, and the mother of a 6 year old. We've been together 2 years and have a very good relationship overall. The issue of children has come up many times in the past, but we kind of talk about it but never make an issue out of it. I am 48 and pretty much done on the idea of rearing more kids. My gf is 29 and keeps feeling that she wants another child. We've crossed this road before but always tabled it for another time. However, now it has been a source of stress for us for almost one month. We both knew prior to the relationship commencing that we had different views, but our hearts kept pulling us together. We are deeply in love with each but have seem to hit a roadblock. And yes, I am aware of the age difference. We both knew at one point that this would come up – and linger. Sometimes she feels that she doesn't want one more, but most of the time she feels the urge that women feel. She has a very busy life and, with all the obstacles in her life, having another child would create complete havoc in her life – and mine because of her situation. We have gone to therapy in the past, and the therapists seems to think that she should just stick with one and be happy with everything she has with me. She has said that I bring about everything she has ever needed or wanted to the relationship – except that I really don't want any more kids. I am not sure what to do now. I have told her that if she truly wants a baby then I am not the man for her, but she says she can't bear the thought of us not together. I have told her that I don't want her to resent me in years to come if we stay together and I don't give her a child. Unfortunately we can't compromise in this situation. Neither of us is right or wrong. Any input would be appreciated.

    Like

  35. Dear Anonymous April 2, Thank you for sharing this. It's always a difficult situation when couples disagree about children. I can see that you are trying to resolve it. I feel like the three kids you have between you are probably enough, but I understand her need to have another one with you. My husband was also 48 when we got married. I didn't understand then but I do now why he didn't want to raise another child. You're right that you can't compromise. Someone has to give in. I hope your love will lead you to an answer.

    Like

  36. I'm glad I'm not the only one in this. I am about to turn 30 in 3 months. I've been with a wonderful man for 5 years and he is about to turn 35. Our relationship was all cakes and roses the first year, but after that we had lots of problems. And the ONLY main problem we have is the issue over kids: I want one and he doesn't. But I just want one, not 2 or 3. But here's the thing: we don't have the money to get married or have a kid right now. But I am sad that he already made up his mind. He says he doesn't see himself being an older father running after a kid. He wants to travel and buy expensive things. He doesn't want the responsibility. There's nothing wrong with not wanting a kid, I guess. It's a personal choice…… But why after 5 years does he tell me this? Sometimes I feel like the idiot for hanging on in this relationship because we BOTH expressed at one point that this relationship is already doomed. But I hate leaving after investing 5 years. I love him. I don't want to search for anyone else. I too feel like by the time I make enough money and meet someone else, I'll be too old for a baby. I've even considered being with him childless because I love him too much, yet I know I'll be dying inside knowing I won't have my kid. And it just kills me inside every time I see my relatives getting married or getting pregnant, and some of their husbands gave into having a kid. Why can't my man do the same??? I love him and respect him, and I do NOT want him to have a kid if he truly doesn't want one. I cried myself to sleep almost every other night over this. I'm not even sure I deserve a kid myself because I crumble easily at first sight of stress. And a kid needs a mom who is strong. See what I mean? I want a kid but maybe I don't deserve one and I'm crying for nothing. Maybe I should just enjoy my boyfriend and not worry about kids. I understand kids require a lot of time and energy. and I already said I'm willing to get up at 4 in the morning when the kid is screaming, I want to pay for what my kid needs. like school supplies or braces. I want a kid whose softball games I can go to, etc. I just want kids for the same reason everyone else wants kids. And a lot of people say “Focus on yourself”. Yes I know that. I'm a 30 year old who is still trying to grow as a person every day. I'm going to school and volunteering at a hospital….. I just want to find happiness. I love him and I don't want to leave him. And the next issue I'm worried about is getting married. I know marriage is not something to take lightly. Judging by the kid issues we're having now, I'm afraid to get married. I don't want to have a horrible marriage if we disagree on kids. At least he doesn't have a problem getting married. That, I'm thankful for. I know I have a shot at getting married with him if I can just resolve this kid issue. I don't know what to do…… =(

    Like

  37. Dear Anon April 10, My gut feeling is that you need to break up and find someone else. That's harsh, but if you already can't talk about something so important, how are you going to deal with other issues that come up. 30 is not too old to find someone else, someone who wants children as much as you do.
    I hope you can find a solution.

    Like

  38. I am struggling with this same situation. I have been with my partner for eight years and we have talked about having a family. He just told me yesterday that he actually doesn't want children at all. I am so confused, angry, upset and lost. He is the love OF MY LIFE, and I couldn't see myself with anyone else. But I have always seen myself having children with him. I am now at a crossroads, unsure of what to do. I feel like my only options are to stay with him and not have children or find another man who isn't as good as him and have children. I can't seem to choose which one is more important. I love him so much but I don't want to make him unhappy in the future by resenting him for not giving me children.

    Like

  39. I thought I was the only one in this awful predicament, until I came across this blog. I have been with my boyfriend for 15 months. I am 33 and he is 38. He is divorced and has two children aged 14 and 10. Before meeting him, I had built myself back up following the ending of a serious relationship where I lost a great deal. Therefore I was reluctant and cautious in trusting when trusting a future partner. The last 15 months with him have been amazing. I am so in love with this chap, he is my partner and also my best friend. Although I have never been sure on the babies front, it is not something that I want to rule out. Therefore from the start of our relationship I asked him the question: 'would you consider having children in the future?' to which he replied 'I am open to the idea, I love kids!' I was thinking this is amazing. A great guy and if I experience a strong urge to be a mother, he seems open to it. During the course of our relationship, he has 'freaked out' about the child issue on two occasions. Both times he raised it and both times he came to the idea that he would do this for me if I wanted to in the future. Two weeks ago, again without any prompting from me, he suddenly tells me that he doesn't want children now (neither do I, which is cool) and that he is certain he will never want them again. I am now being forced, it feels, to make a decision that I am not ready to do on the baby front. He has pretty much said that if four years down the line, I decide I want children that will be my responsibility as he has been clear (?!) about not wanting them! I feel so upset, angry and frustrated and have no strong sense of what to do. I am left doubting everything about our relationship as I can't understand how someone who claims to love and care for me would put me in such a horrible predicament.

    Like

  40. Anonymous 4/13, I feel your frustration. He keeps changing his mind. I think you need to be clear about what you want because he could go either way. Take some time to let things settle down. Maybe even take some time away from him to figure this out because ultimately it is going to be your decision. Not fair? You bet. But that's the way it is.

    Like

  41. Anonymous 4/12, you're not alone, that's for sure. And you're right about your choices. Maybe he'll magically change his mind, but that doesn't happen very often. So you'll need to figure out which is more important to you, staying with the love of your life or having children. I'm so sorry this has happened to you.

    Like

  42. I'm happy to see this post and know I am not alone! I'm 34 and my husband is 40. We've been together 8 years, married for 5 of those. When I was younger, I wanted kids, but due to bad relationships and curveballs I decided I didn't want them. Eight years ago, I met my now husband. We began dating and talked about kids. At that time neither of us wanted children. Two years later, I was having complications from birth control, so we talked about getting him a vasectomy, and he got one. I asked him then what happens if one of us changes our mind about kids. His response: “we'll cross that bridge if we get there.” Well, 2 years ago I got there! I changed my mind. I want kids. We have gone round and round, and he is still a no, never on kids! That's not what he wants. He thinks he's too old, he's starting to think about retirement, wants to travel more, started looking into the health risks he could pass onto the child at his age, he enjoys his hobbies, doesn't want to go thru the reversal or IUI/IVF process, thinks that if we have a child he wouldn't be a priority to me. His list goes on and on.I feel horrible, changing my mind on him! He feels like I misled him from the beginning! But at the time I didn't want kids. There have been some family matters in that last few years too, that have made me long for a child. The last 2 years have been a struggle for us. Intimacy has been tough for me. It's hard for me to give my all to someone who is not on the same page with me on kids. I have good days and bad days. I try not to be consumed with my wanting. Seeing him with our niece and nephews is hard, too. He would be a great father! I also have noticed things in the last 2 years about him that I had never seen before, rose-colored glasses, blinded by love. So I have tried not to let that affect my judgement. Sigh. He's at the point that if I want kids we need to separate, but it's not what he wants. I don't want to either, but this is not something a person can compromise on. He told me I need to decide, as this is tearing him up inside. Ummm, me too! I feel depressed all the time. It also doesn't help that my friends are all starting families, and it's all I see at work. I feel envious at points. I get frustrated and angry at him and myself for being in this position! I try not to take it out on him, but sometimes it gets the best of me. He is a one of a kind man! We are great together in all other aspects of our marriage. I was completely happy up until 2 years ago, when I brought up wanting kids. I wanted to start a new path/journey with the man I love! This past week we decided we weren't going to be intimate with each other, no hugs, kisses, sex etc. Due to that, we decided to sleep in separate rooms instead of having him go to a hotel. It's super awkward in our home. I thought it might be easier then having him go to a hotel, as we are able to still talk. Maybe this is hurting us more than I thought, opinions please?? How do we go back to normal? Is it possible? I hate that I have to choose between him and kids! How do you decide what you want more? What are the chances of getting a great man again who wants kids? I don't want to resent him or resent myself later on. I also find myself asking do I really want kids or is it me being envious of friends, wanting what I don't have?? Will I be happy without kids? I'm also curious about others who have stayed with their spouse and what your result or outcome was. S

    Like

  43. Anonymous April 24, if you read through the blog, you'll see the same thing happening to so many people. It does come down to that impossible choice, stay with him or leave and hope to find someone you can have children with. Nobody can make that choice for you. It sounds like you had a good marriage and still love each other very much. Have you tried counseling? Right now, you're both hurting. I hope you can find a way past it and find a way to work it out.

    Like

  44. I enjoyed reading all of the comments on this post. I am currently struggling with the same thing. I am in a relationship with someone 8 years younger than I, and she is undecided if she wants a child. She goes back and forth but thinks she does. The problem is that I do not. We have been together almost a year. I am 41, she is 33. I love children but have never had the desire for one of my own. We love each other very much, but she feels like she may be wasting her time in this relationship if she does decide she wants a child. I don't want to lose her, but I understand that there is a strong possibility that it might happen. I really am trying not to be too upset about it and have faith that everything will work out the way it is meant to, whatever the end result may be.

    Like

  45. Anonymous, Thank you for sharing this with us. It is so difficult to know how to mesh your own desires with another person's. I hope you and your girlfriend can figure this out. Maybe all it needs is time.

    Like

  46. I'm so happy to see this thread has continued!!! I feel for all of those that are struggling as I am. My partner and I have been dating for a year and we love each other very much. She is 32 and I am 41. I have never really wanted children. I love kids and I'm happy to have my nieces in my life. My GF says she isn't 100% sure she wants kids but she doesn't want someone that takes that option off the table. I tend to feel like this is more about her having control over her life than about actually having a child. She told me that if I take having a child completely off the table that we are done. If I am the love of her life how could she be willing to throw that away for something she isn't even sure she wants . She actually said when we first started dating … I don't want anyone making that decision for me. I feel like I should give this more time to play out. I'm just afraid to lose her. Thoughts? Please keep this thread open for support. It has been wonderful to know that I am not alone. 🙂

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s