* He’s 36, and he wants to have children, preferably several. But she’s 46, past the age when most women can get pregnant without heavy medical intervention, and she has almost finished raising the daughter she had with her first husband.
* He’s going through a divorce that nearly destroyed him emotionally and financially. His two half-grown kids are breaking his heart. And now his girlfriend is badgering him to get married and have children. She won’t stop talking about it when he barely has the energy to get through his day as it is.
* Before they got married, he said he didn’t want to have any children. She said kids were never a priority for her either. But then a couple years into their marriage, she saw all her friends having babies and started wanting one, too. When she mentioned her new desire to her husband, he told her he still had no desire to have children. Now she is certain she must become a mother or die of grief. It’s all his fault for denying her this essential part of life. But he told her all along that fatherhood was not on his bucket list.
Dear friends, I read stories like this almost every day in blog comments and in private emails readers send to me. Most of the writers are heartbroken and struggling to figure out what to do. Should they leave their partner in the hope of finding someone eager to make babies or stay and risk ending up alone and regretful in old age? I sympathize. I really do. When I married Fred, I was 33, and he was 48. He had three children from his first marriage and he’d had a vasectomy. We talked about having the vasectomy reversed. We talked about adoption. But he finally told me he just did not want any more kids. I wanted babies. I cried over it, I drank over it, I got mad over it, and I fantasized that somehow I’d get pregnant anyway. Of course I didn’t.
Like the readers described above, I had unreasonable expectations. I married an older man who had already done the baby thing. He had barely finished his divorce before our wedding day. His kids were in all kinds of trouble. His financial security had just been demolished. Finding and falling in love with each other was like a gift from God. To demand children on top of that was asking too much. If I really wanted kids, I should have found a man my own age who was aching to be a dad. I chose Fred.
Readers, I know how much it hurts not having the babies you always wanted. I still cry over it. It kills me to see families with their children and grandchildren and realize I’m alone. Add active hormones and people having babies all around you, and it can be brutally hard walking around with an empty womb. It’s difficult to see clearly when you’re in the thick of it. But sometimes you have to be realistic. If you really love someone, consider their side of the situation. Instead of browbeating them, love them and do your best to understand.
Say the serenity prayer. It helps: God, please grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
I welcome your comments.
9 thoughts on “Beware of unreasonable baby expectations”
I'm trying so hard to be realistic right now. My husband said we could have a baby and abruptly changed his mind. I planned for a baby for almost a year, even buying things to make for a nursery. Now, I can't even bear to go in the room that was set aside for our child. I've been in therapy, cried, drank… you name it, I've done it. I pray and pray, but the hurt only worsens by the day. I love my husband dearly and would never leave him, but I can't understand how he could do this to me and to us.
Anonymous, I'm so sorry. It's not right for him to get you so close to having a baby and then chance his mind. I find it hard to understand, too. Hang in there.
Anonymous, have your baby anyway. Men are clueless.
Oh my gosh, never force a child on another human being. If you want a kid that badly, divorce your husband and find someone else to have a child with. Never 'oops' someone into a life they don't want. That's disgusting.
My husband wanted kids for sure, but he had a hard time making up his mind about when (he is v_e_r_y slow making any decisions, even ordering at a restaurant). He also had unrealistic ideas of how long we could and should wait given our ages. So I must say I pushed him; this was the one decision too important to leave for him to consider for perhaps years more. Afterwards he has told me that he's happy I did so as he is loving being a dad. I know it seems risky and totally uncool to do that to someone, but this time it worked to our mutual benefit..
Thanks for sharing this, Anonymous. It gives us hope.
I am in the same boat. My husband is 39 and I’m 26. He was previously married for 10 years and has two teenage sons. He had a vasectomy after his second child, and I knew going into the marriage that I had to make the decision to not have kids, partly because of the vasectomy (let’s be honest, it’s hard to reverse and be successful) and partly because he didn’t want to have any more children. He has many valid reasons. With his age, it would mean a child in the house until he retired, losing the freedom to do as he pleases, infringing on career or finances, making it harder to stay healthy and fit . . . the list goes on. I never saw myself as mom material up until recently, and now I’m struggling with the reality I face. I can’t deny that his feelings are understandable, but I can’t help but feel like I may regret my decision one day down the road and die alone, never knowing the bond of love that a mother has for her own children. I often feel like “the woman my dad’s married to”… as if I’m the 5th wheel in a family I don’t belong to. I will never be mom to the stepkids. Their mom is fully involved in their lives and I wouldn’t want to interject myself upon them in that way; it’s just disrespectful to their mom. I just feel despair for the situation and don’t know how to cope with it. I love my husband and wouldn’t leave him over this, I made my bed (so to speak). It would be wrong of me to go back on my word.
I so identify with being “the woman my father’s married to.” It’s a hard situation. Hang in there.