Don’t hide your childless tears from your partner

“My god, I cried and cried reading your post as I sit here in the dark outside grieving for what will never be. I love my partner and I hate him a little too because he doesn’t want children and I am left bound by that decision. I feel my time running out and wish every single day he would change his mind but he is unwavering in his decision. And at the same time I can barely acknowledge this pain and grief to myself because I am terrified of it consuming me. This is the first time I have ever really sat down and let it all wash over me. I can’t stop crying. I don’t know how I am going to walk inside and pretend I’m okay because he doesn’t understand.”

One of my earliest posts, “Are Your Grieving Over Your Lack of Children,” published Nov. 7, 2007, still draws more comments than any other. The comment above is the most recent. It brings back memories for me. I too hid my grief from my husband. I cried in the bathtub, in the car, or in the garage, but not in front of Fred. Oh no. Mustn’t make him feel bad or risk making him mad. But looking back, I think that was wrong. I should have showed how I felt instead of hiding my feelings and hoping some kind of miracle would occur.

I am also bothered by her statement, “I am left bound by that decision.” Is she? It’s so hard to see a situation clearly when we’re in the middle of it. We can’t see any way out, we think we have no options, but we do. To Anonymous, I say reopen the conversation. You can agree to disagree, but don’t hide your feelings. They count as much as his.

I don’t cry all the time anymore. Sometimes I just curse and kick things, but when you’re at the time of life when you see your chances of parenthood disappearing with every passing day, it hurts like hell. Losing your chance to have children is a big loss, and we don’t need to hide it. If people don’t like it, too bad.

I’d love to hear your comments.

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29 thoughts on “Don’t hide your childless tears from your partner

  1. I am in the crying all the time stage. I have ups and downs so the water works aren't always on. I am in a down time now and it is a struggle. The tiniest things set me off. My parish had a trip to Rome and the priest brought home St Gerard medals blessed by the Pope for anyone who is a mother or will be a mother. Just call the office and he would get you one and do a blessing. It is so small and I feel so selfish but that is what your brought back for the parish?

    I hope I move out of my down time soon and get back into not crying all the time. Life is better there and I hope that as time goes on, more time is spent there.

    But for now, that is not the case. Kids are shoved in my face all the time and people all around are having kids and here I am. Not going to happen. No one is going to look like me or take after me. No one is going to have my eyes or my face. No fun days of finding out what I am having or reaching all the milestones of life. A lot of people on here comment that it does get easier for a while-once you're past the everyone having a baby stage. I hope that is true.

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    • Every word you said described exactly how I feel. I can’t begin to tell you how comforting it is to not feel alone in this feeling. I feel so selfish and sometimes crazy with the amount of crying and wanting for a child and the amount of bitterness I feel towards those who do.
      I really hope it does get easier too. I’m tired of crying.

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  2. I'm sure my husband wishes I did hide my tears. I pretty much punished him every 28 days. If I was going to have a miserable period for no reason… He was going to be miserable with me. I am not one who hides my emotions or can keep my mouth shut. But over time it just got old and it wasn't making him change his mind any. We pretty much came to the understanding that I would forever resent him and that wouldn't change just like he wasn't going to change and we just moved on from there. I will never understand why the love of my life didn't want the same things as me. He is an awesome man who loves me dearly. I truly have never been loved like this before from anyone, even after 30'years of marriage. I just couldn't ever see leaving him when there was no guarantees that I could even have children.

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  3. Anonymouses, thanks for sharing your comments. Clearly there will be tears and sometimes you'll just have to cry, even if you have decided to stay with your guy because you love him. Hang in there. It will get easier.

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  4. Hi Sue, I had a meltdown last night on this very subject…we are on vacation and my DH keeps saying that his son would like this or such-and-such would be perfect for his son. The fact that his son is 35 married with his own 2 kids and (extremely demanding) wife seem to not enter his fantasy formula. Finally yesterday I'd had enough and began to cry alone; I debated, do I tell him how painful it is because I don't have my own child to fantasize that they will return with me to this lovely place and create special memories. Or do I keep it all in…? My DH is terrible at comforting, often turning taking my pain and making it about him. Eventually he asked me if I was ok and I just let it out. Hot tears and words that rip my soul apart. But I felt like it was a disservice to him if I didn't tell him. He may not be a great comforter and he may say clumsy ineffective words of comfort making it about him but in his own way he loves me to the best that he knows how, and for that reason alone I spilled. And naturally his first words were comparing me and my childless situation to his grandmother who married his recently widowed grandfather and mothered his very young children as though they were her children. (Implying I should/could be more like her) I didn't expect much in the way of comfort, and I didn't get much. He continued on until he was on a roll mentioning every member of his family and not a word about my grief or how faithful God is or how the plan God has for me must be so different and special (among the usual things I tell myself), then I interrupted him… I requested that he quit talking about his family and that he bring me a cold wet washcloth for my headache. I also told him that his going on and on about his son was like sharp glass poking my heart. I didn't hold back. After I requested that he shut up about his family, he was at a loss for words and said nothing, although I could tell he prayed for me. He went to sleep; I lay there sobbing, more or less demanding God to hold me since He could have fixed this situation but opted not to, since He held the answers that I sought, since He was the only One on earth that knew the precision and depth of merciless suffering I endure from those around me who quite unknowingly rub salt in my childless status wound. Oh I believe that you and the many other childless folks do grasp the level of unbearable pain we share in the childless place we find ourselves, but I also believe each person's situation and circumstances is unique to themselves, after all each involves different people with different backgrounds and varying reasons. This results in my mind to each person's own suffering is similar but profoundly different from the others. Anyway I am rambling now but the bottom line is I did open up, I lowered my expectations of his understanding and empathy and in the end it was worth it. He seems kinder today although it's still early, but – more importantly – he is slowly beginning to get a glimpse into my heart to understand (even if only a small understanding) who I am at the core. How can he do that if I never share this fragile, sad and huge burden with him?

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  5. Silver, I'm glad you opened up to your husband. We are allowed to have our feelings and acknowledge them to those we love. I hope he understands more and more and that you find some comfort in your situation.

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  6. I cry now and again, some days are worse than others. I cry when I am alone. I do not cry in front of my husband, he has told cannot handle it or deal with it. I often feel alone at times like this but eventually somehow the grief passes. I don't think anyone understands. I work in an office where there are that many baby announcements recently that I have avoided the morning teas and the gift contributions. I try to talk to my husband about how I feel but he just does not get it and just looks at me. I am tired of new people asking how old my children are and when I say I couldn't have them, they come up with solutions…. Adoption blah blah blah.

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  7. Anonymous, I'm so sorry for your pain. I can see how your husband doesn't want to hear it anymore and your co-workers are crazy over babies, but that doesn't help you. Is there someone you can talk to about this, a friend, relative, counselor? Try to find someone who will let you vent. This is a tough time, and yes, everybody has a solution. Hang in there. You're not alone.

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  8. Anonymous….. I'm also anonymous…. :-)…. I never felt I had anyone to talk to. My pride would never let me talk to a friend, that would be just too embarrassing. If I talked to a relative, they would have said “see you should have never married the guy” and I did talk to a counselor. I paid a bunch of money and still had no babies. I can't begin to tell you how thrilled I was to find this blog. I honestly thought I was the only person on the planet in this situation. I come to the site every day hoping to find another post. It really helps. In some bizarre way I find great comfort in knowing I'm not the only one.

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  9. Oh Anonymous, I'm so glad this blog helps. I wish I could do more. I wish I had the energy to post every day, but I will keep this up as long as I can. Do you know I have a Facebook page for Childless by Marriage, too? You might want to drop in there as well. There's also a Childless Not by Choice Facebook group you can join. I think you need to have a member get you in. If so, just email me, and I'll do it. Thank you and everyone for being here.It gives me comfort in my childless journey, too.

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  10. Hi anonymous, I know that co-irkers can be as bad as churchy types and nosy family members. Lisa Manterfield recommends developing ahead of time a quick 1-2 sentence canned answer for the kid question. Her website is http://lifewithoutbaby.com.

    Should you decide to read her book, it is written with emotion but just funny enough to provide laugh out loud moments to lighten this heavy subject. Her book tackles both childless by marriage -and- the expensive scam driven medical fertility industry options.

    Oddly enough I haven't developed my canned response yet…most ppl in my life know my situation even pesky co-irkers.

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    • The hardest thing is trying to explain that were it up to me, I would have a kid already. If you try to explain that the husband is the one holding things up, people just look at you and say “oh just get pregnant, trick him”. But that is a huge lie and not a good way to bring a kid into the world.

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  11. Thanks for posting this, Silver. I don't have a canned response either. I just say I never had any children and see what happens after that. Thanks for mentioning Lisa's book and blog. Both can be very helpful. Readers, check her out.

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  12. I have always just found it easier to tell people that I can't have children. When someone is bold enough to ask why, I just respond that I dont feel this is the time or place to discuss my reproductive organ. That so far has ended the conversation… 🙂

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  13. Anonymous, I did that too for a long time. Saying you can't have children stops a lot of nosy questions. Sometimes now I tell folks God had other plans. If I say, “Fred didn't want them,” that makes him look bad, so yes, anything to stop the conversation as quickly as possible.

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  14. Yeah… I never wanted my husband to look bad either. He is a very good man, but others would think negatively. I did tell a close friend once and the first thing out of her mouth was “I would have never married him then”. Well that was a good reminder to never tell people the truth!!! That was so not what I needed to hear that day or any day.

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  15. This was my comment you posted and I can't tell you how much I appreciate the time you took to respond to it. I tend to bury down my emotions about this but then every now and then it rears back up. Last year I did fall pregnant unexpectedly and had an abortion – I was more on board with the decision then, it seemed like poor timing for many reasons. When we discussed it then he said, “Let's say one day.” And I clung to that I think. I kind of thought there would be time down the track in a couple of years to revisit it (although I am aware I may encounter issues due to my age). But he is very adamant that there is NO chance. He loves me. He wants a life with me but he doesn't want children. And while I know it hurts him he has said if children are that important to me then I need to make a decision about our future. But it isn't that I want a baby. I want HIS baby. I want to share that experience with him. I want to see him hold our child in his arms and I want us to watch it grow. In my heart of hearts I know this will never be. I know he won't be moved from his stance. But I also know that in years to come when it is Christmas or a holiday and our family gather I will grieve that there is no one there that we created together. A physical walking breathing reminder of our love. More than wishing I could change his mind I wish I could find peace with this.

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  16. You know, I actually used to lie, to cover for my husband. He's more than twenty years older than me, and I had women at work making a comment about my childlessness, and assuming it was down to him…so I lied and said that I had gynae problems.

    Today, I told my husband that there had been no point to my life. (I'm 55. My mother has just died at the age of 90.) He told me never to say that I love him again.

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  17. I am dreading the approach of next month when we agreed to bring up the issue of trying for a kid again. I have wanted a child for about two years now. We have a house and are financially stable and don’t really care much about going out and such as is. Most of our friends have had a kid in the past year or two or are currently expecting, so that makes it even worse. My husband kept saying during this time “I want kids too but not yet”. I agreed to table the discussion for a few months, since I recently switched jobs and would need to wait a bit in order to make sure that I qualify for FMLA and I also did not want to be a constant nag.
    He seems to have been coming around and saying things like “when we have kids” now and then. I hope at this point he says ok we can start trying. But I decided if he says “not yet” to me again while refusing to tell me when, then I am going to leave. I know that means that I may never again meet someone with whom to have a family (I am 33, I have some time but not that much), but I also can’t be with someone that keeps dragging this out and does not care about the amount of pain it is causing. I would rather be alone and childless than stewing in resentment in a marriage even though I love him otherwise aside from this issue. I really hope that he has come around, but the anxiety is driving me nuts.
    Even if he has come around, the memory of these last two years when I asked for trying for a child and was repeatedly told not to nag and not to even discuss it, will always linger in mind.

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    • Before you jump out of an otherwise good marriage, calmly talk to your husband one more time. Tell him you will stop nagging if he will give you a definitely time when you will start trying to have a baby. Be honest and tell him you’re thinking about leaving over this, even though you love him. That should move things one way or the other. I wish you luck.

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  18. As I read these comments I am crying.
    My husband is 14 years older than me. I just turned 46. We have been together 11 years. I was 35 when I met him. We were perfect for each other…. so after about six months I told him I needed to have the option to be a mother… or I could not stay with him. He came back to me after three days and asked if I wanted a boy or a girl… something in my gut told me he didn’t mean it… but I ignored it and married him.

    He had had a vasectomy…so natural was not an option… especially because he had a terrible experience with his very difficult Asperger son with his first wife… he didn’t want to make another one like him. I could have gotten pregnant with others’ sperm. Wasn’t something he wanted to do. So I coordinated going to Foster Training… after two sessions he said he didn’t want a crack baby. Now… it is 11 years and I am almost past my child bearing years. I had told him that if the option for us to be parents together isn’t shared … I would completely resent him. That resentment has led me down a very sad path. I treat him terribly and am now looking to separate. I am so angry with him…. I was constantly talking about adoption but that did not elicit much of a conversation between us…. He always went the way of, “It is not easy to be a parent and your life will completely change…you have no idea.” He never brought up the subject and my bringing it up dwindled. I am so angry with him… but more so with myself. I should have known this would happen. I have even changed as a person… I am sad all the time… am so mean to him… have not patience or tolerance for him… he basically lied to me… told me what I wanted to hear back then to get to marry me… now… I am leaving him… today we discussed it all and our goals are not aligned… we are just roommates these days – haven’t been intimate or affectionate in almost eight months…..I have a full life to live… he can stay home… be a homebody…. Make excuses as to why things don’t happen….. I am young enough to adopt on my own…. I know that I have one very private regret in life… I will not allow myself to look back at 80 years old and regret not having taken a child in need into my heart and shown them how love is…. I do love my husband… but he is a liar and that I cannot abide. It’s unfair to tell someone something… and not do it. Especially something like this… so I am taking matters into my own hands… my life will change and I truly don’t care if I find someone else… I am going to pursue this… and not feel sorry for myself or have ANY REGRETS.

    I am not sure where I will be in five years….but I can tell you… I will not be crying because I am childless… I will find my forever child and make a real life for us… I will truly miss my husband… but that was his doing… he is the one who misled me. I put it in God’s hands… He will lead me to where I need to be.

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