Have you had the conversation about kids?

“We could have been parents: the conversation that changed our lives” is the title of an article in the UK’s Guardian that almost could have been written about my husband and me. The writer, Ruth Wishart, says she didn’t bring up the subject of having children until she and her husband Rod had been married for two years. She just assumed they would have kids. When she started talking about when to have them, she found out he didn’t want to have children at all. Happy with her life and career at the time, she let it go. Eventually she had her tubes tied. Then the unexpected happened: When she was in her 50s, her husband died suddenly, leaving her feeling very much alone.

I’ll let you read the article for the details, but so much of this story is familiar. As you can read in my Childless by Marriage book, Fred did tell me before the wedding that he didn’t want to have any more children, that the three he had from his first marriage were enough for him. He told me how he felt, but I really didn’t talk about how I felt; I assumed he would change his mind. We didn’t have the conversation we should have had. Instead, I let it go, too. And like Ruth’s husband, mine died. So here I am with my dog.

I’m not looking for sympathy at this point. My life is pretty good. What I’m saying is the same thing I have been saying here for years: For God’s sake, talk about it. Even if it causes a fight or sours the relationship, don’t hold it in. If you want children, say so. If you don’t want children, say so. If you’re not sure or might be willing to compromise, say so. Talk it out. Don’t let it fester, and don’t let yourself get caught in a situation that breaks your heart. Please.

Thank you to Beth at the Children or Not blog for letting us know about this article.

I welcome your comments.

4 thoughts on “Have you had the conversation about kids?

  1. I am not yet the age of the writer of this article but I fully expect to share her feelings when I am. Being unable to have children with my husband, the thoughts of “What would our children have looked like?” “What would their characters been like?” and “What would we have been like as parents?” are never-ending. Saying that, we have been foster carers and I know we are really quite different in our approaches, so sometimes I also think maybe it’s just as well we couldn't have our own.


  2. I think we always have those “what if” questions. It's good to know how it would have gone with your husband. That's something I learned about mine over the years, too. He really handled parenting differently than I did and that was a problem sometimes. Maybe it was just as well.


  3. I hear you when you say you should have these conversations, but even now when I try to talk about my grief my husband, who has two children, says, “It is in the past. Let it go.” I feel like saying, “Your children are in the past. Why didn't you let them go.” everyone seems sympathetic to a person’s attachment to their children. Grief from not having children seems to be the never-ending not-talked-about subject. Maybe if we knew how to talk about it we wouldn't be talking about over and over again.


  4. Anonymous, This is so hard. Is it a guy thing to think we can just let it go? I don't know, but I hear this kind of thing all the time. How do we make them hear us without it turning into nagging or whining that will just turn them off? Aside from recommending a counselor who can provide a nonbiased setting for the discussion, I'm not sure what to recommend.
    Anybody else have ideas?


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