“Honey, I changed my mind about having kids”

In Carolyn Hax’s July 20 advice column, a reader asks what a lot of folks ask here. She and her husband originally agreed not to have children. Now she’s having second thoughts. She has a whole script worked out to discuss this with her guy, hoping maybe he has changed his mind, too, but what if he says he still doesn’t want kids?

Hax asks the reader if she can accept it if her husband sticks to his no-kids decision. She offers comments from other readers who have experienced this situation. And one of them mentions this blog. Whoever you are, thank you. Tell your friends.

So, people do change their minds. They think they’re okay with not having children, but then everyone around them is having babies, they are aware that they’re running out of time, or they realize they agreed to a childless marriage just to keep the relationship going. Maybe they thought stepchildren would fill the space where their own children would be, but they don’t. Am I ringing any bells for people?

Maybe you’re not the one changing your mind. Maybe it’s your partner, who suddenly says he wants kids or that he (or she) has decided he does not want them. He/she cites money, freedom, jobs, age, bla bla bla.

Where once you thought you agreed on this huge decision, you don’t anymore. You had an agreement. You knew what you wanted and were living your life counting on that agreement staying the same. Now what do you do? Do you leave? Do you urge your partner to leave? Do you get counseling to help you accept the unacceptable? This is the heart of the whole childless by marriage concept.

As longtime readers know, this is what happened to me. I stayed. I didn’t have children. I cried where my husband couldn’t see me. I wrote a book about it. He didn’t change his mind. Now I’m a childless widow living with my dog. It’s not as tragic as it sounds. I have a good life, but I still wish I had found a way to become a mother and grandmother and great-grandmother.

I want to share some comments posted at my old Blogger site that you might not otherwise see:

On July 20, Anonymous said…

In my fourth year of marriage, during marriage counseling, my husband told me he never wanted me to have children because of my autoimmune disease. I divorced him because we had agreed on children, we had picked out names. One unsuccessful relationship after another led to me missing my window. I never did get to have a child. But I have a stepson who lost his mother at a young age. We love each other so much. Jumping in as a parent of a teenager is very hard. But to hear him wish me my first happy Mother’s Day was priceless, absolutely priceless. My ex has been married twice after me, and he plans on having children. Sometimes I hate him for what he did to me. But now I have my wonderful stepson whom I never would have met if it wasn’t for my ex. My husband now is pretty awesome, too. I love my boys like crazy. So, happy ending!

Yesterday, Anonymous commented:

I feel like I am the only woman in the world who started out not wanting children, grew to change my mind, and had my husband on several occasions scream at me that I can’t change my mind. He expects me to be around and support all of his friends’ families and every time, I die a little more inside. I am scared for my future, aging, lonely, and just sad I married someone like this.

On July 21, another Anonymous wrote:

I was lucky enough to fall in love in my mid-twenties with a man who, like me, was somewhat leaning against having children. I was pretty sure I didn’t want children, having had, since childhood, a feeling that motherhood probably wasn’t for me. But after we married, I wanted to wait a few years before making a final decision to see if my feelings, or his, would change. They didn’t. What happened next was a series of vivid dreams in which I would inexplicably find myself six or seven months pregnant, too late to change my mind, horrified and terrified, and trying desperately to convince myself that having a baby would be okay while knowing it would not. At least twice I woke up clutching my belly. Husband and self are now in our sixties, happily married and childless. I know that by not having children, we gave up some wonderful things. And I know my sisters will have the support of their children as they age, and I won’t have that special kind of support. But I remain convinced that I made the right decision for me, and my husband feels the same way. My childhood was happy, my mother is warm and wonderful, and I really can’t explain why I knew I didn’t want to become a mother while my sisters wanted to be, and are, great mothers. I do know that especially after those dreams, anyone who might have tried to persuade me to have a baby would not have been successful. To the list of reasons why some people don’t want children, I’d have to add “Unexplainable but extremely strong gut-level knowledge that having children would be a huge mistake.”

Everybody’s different. I thank you all for your comments. Keep them coming. This is one of the few places we can discuss this stuff without judgment, and I appreciate every one of you.


I apologize for not posting yesterday, my usual day. I work as a music director at our local Catholic church, and we have a new pastor whose changes kept us occupied and mind-blown all day. Basically, he thinks this is a cathedral, not a little coastal church, and he thinks it’s 1950, not 2015. Think Gregorian chant. In Latin. Last Sunday, he gave a little speech on the importance of family that let me know he’s going to make it hard on us childless folks because we failed to reproduce. I can’t wait for Mother’s Day. (Don’t share this blog with him! I need my job. :-))

10 thoughts on ““Honey, I changed my mind about having kids”

  1. Those questions I ask myself not daily but at least every couple of weeks? Can I live with this? And can I live without him? Tough questions.


  2. I just spent a week visiting my family 3,000 miles away. My mom has cancer, and we don’t think she will live past the end of the year. My brother-in-law is a photographer, so we took family photos in all sorts of poses. I surprised my mom with a couple of frames with the different poses and she loved them! I was so happy to do that for her; the look on her face was priceless. When putting them together, however, I will admit it was hard. There was my one sister with her husband and beautiful daughter. The next picture was my sister and her two beautiful daughters, and then there was the picture of just me. I imagined my mom showing off her frames to her friends (she lives in a seniors apartment building), and I will forever be the daughter who didn’t have any children. It’s a label that I hate. At 50 years old, all I want is a family of my own. It is always so hard when visiting my sisters. The jealousy is always there. I guess it’s getting a little easier now that my nieces are growing up. Two are teenagers and one is getting close. My sisters are both awesome moms and have great relationships with their girls. I would give just about anything to have that. Just about. I can never figure out why I didn’t leave my husband when he changed his mind and said no to children. I think part of it is because there was no guarantee I could even have children if I did leave him. And also the guarantee that I would find another man who loved me more than anyone else ever did, as my husband does. Now my husband has health issues. He started having seizures and it is taking its toll on him. Our life has changed a lot. My outlet for not having children has always been awesome vacations… We would go on cruises, or road trips and have a ball. I would always know where next year’s vacation was before this year’s was even over. Now he isn’t able to travel, and I’m losing my ability to fill my mind with travel plans when faced with yet another story of how wonderful and adorable someone else’s child is. There is some hope that my husband will be able to travel again. We are just trying to find the right medication. If I lose my ability to travel with him, I just don’t know what I will do. We were always the best travel buddies with each other. There are so many places I still want to visit. He said he is okay if I travel without him, but it just wouldn’t be the same. I just need to keep it in today. This year’s vacation is now over, and I know I don’t have to make a decision yet about next year. I just need to remember to keep it in today.


    • Candy, I sympathize. My husband and I used to travel, too, but when he got sick, travel just become too difficult. And yes, we’re the ones in the family who didn’t have children. I hope your husband can find the right medication and get you guys back on the road together.


      • Thank you for your kind words and a place to write this junk down at. I’ve never said these things before until you offered a place to write them. You truly are appreciated!!!!!


      • Oh Lisa, you are definitely not the only one. Don’t beat yourself up too much. You’re human. People change their minds. But sometimes their spouses don’t change with them, and that’s a problem. You made a deal, and now you might to stick with it. Keep talking about it with your husband. Know that we are here to support you. I wish you all the best.


    • Candy,

      I’m so sorry for your husband’s bad health. I can understand your feelings of wanting to leave him for not having kids. Now you see where I’m coming from. As we age, our health takes a hit. Taking care of sick people, especially the elderly is quite stressful. I’ve been the primary caregiver for my mother, who for 89 isn’t doing too bad. But it’s taken a lot out of me. In retrospect, I should have married much younger, but I didn’t for a lot of valid reasons. I’ve tried to work things out with my wife and I can’t. I had two business that I sold for much less than I should have, but the economy tanked and I couldn’t get working capital to keep them going. She lost a grandbaby six years ago and it about killed her. I stood by her and was her rock. Candy, this kicked my behind, too. Anyway, she’s not gotten over it and made no attempts to do so. We had a horrible argument and I said some nasty things. I wasn’t sorry and I’m still not. Suddenly your stepson and his wife have two boys. They are neat boys, but they aren’t my own flesh and blood. I’ve tried to love them as my own and I can’t do it. So, I know what I’m going to do and I don’t feel bad about it. At all. I’ve wanted to do this for five years. I may burn in hell for this. So be it. I’ll have plenty of company. But, I feel for you taking care of a sick husband. Many wives would have left him when he got sick. You didn’t. That tells me you’re a very good person. Stay strong.


  3. Dear Sue,

    I only discovered your blog yesterday, and all I can say is WOW it’s good to know I’m not the only one!

    I’ve been married to my wonderful husband for 3 years, been together for 9. We both staunchly didn’t want any kids, and everything was fine until about 3 months ago. I don’t know if it’s hormones, my age (33) or what, but I have changed my mind. Sadly my husband hasn’t.

    I feel like a complete fraud for changing my mind. I have tried to talk to family and friends, but they don’t have much to say, just that they didn’t think I would ever feel this way. When I raise it with my husband, I can tell I’m hurting him. He is so desperate to help in any way, except having children.

    I’ve been having a down couple of days, I’m trying to find ways to distract myself and enrich my life, but really I just want to curl up in a ball and stay there.


  4. I have recently discovered your blog because of this very issue. My husband and I married young. I was 19 and he had just turned 20. That was almost 10 years ago. When we first got married, we both wanted children, just not right away, but the plan was that I would have my first by the time I was 30. I am turning 29 in a couple of months and in the last few years, my husband has changed his mind about wanting children. I am in a place now where my friends are getting married and planning families and I have no idea what my future holds. I love my husband so much, but I’m afraid that if I give up my dream of becoming a mother I will wind up resenting him when my friends, and his, start bringing beautiful babies into this world.

    It is comforting to know that I’m not alone. Thank you for your writing.


  5. I married my husband almost three years ago. He was 49 and I was 36 then. Before we got married, he asked me if I wanted to have a child someday, and I said I do. He said ok, but we waited a year. (We had met over the internet, he had divorced with his ex about 20 years ago and has two daughters from it. We talked almost daily for about four years before we met for the first time, and decided to get married after our second meetings, so I think a year was a good idea to find out if we were suitable for each other). One year had past and he started telling me he was scared to have kids because he worried if we might have kids with Down Syndrome like his uncle. I reminded him of his promise, and he gave in, but our sex life went downhill after the argument. And just as I was about to give up my baby dream, I found out I was pregnant. I told him that, although he denied it at first, but he later accepted it. Unfortunately, I lost the fetus at 10 weeks. Our ob-gyn at that time reminded me about my age and how it would affect my eggs and that maybe the cause of the miscarriage was the possibility of having a child with Down Syndrome or any DNA abnormality. My husband was scared as hell, and although the doctor also offered a solution for it, that we could have blood test at 10 weeks of my pregnancy to find out if the fetus would be normal or not and we were given a choice of terminating the pregnancy or carrying it on, my husband did not want it anymore. Now he refuses to have a child, with the reason that he does not wanna play God to determine the life and death of our baby if the blood test result was not good. Another reason is his age, as he does not want to put our future child in some sort of emotional distress if one day he died or I did. I was very upset, and I forced him to file for divorce, which he did out of guilt. Now one week past since we filed, I sat and thought about whether I really wanted give up my marriage to chase a dream which I may or may not be able to get (am now turning 39) and may even end up with nothing, or should I embrace my marriage and give up my dream? I asked my husband if he were to put the kid matter aside, could he see himself staying married to me till death do us part? He said he does. So as I was willing to give up my baby dream, he seemed very happy and started sharing again the pictures of his grandchildren with me like he always did before. Little that I know, seeing those pictures brings up the pain that I tried to forget. Like any of you, now I am asking myself, am I making the right decision or the biggest mistake in my life?


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