If They Don’t Want Kids, Do You Have to Break Up?

That’s the question that arises in the majority of comments here at Childless by Marriage.  So many people, mostly anonymous, write that their partner says he (or she) does not want to have children. In some cases, they both agreed on not having kids in the beginning, but now the writer has changed her mind and is frustrated because her partner has not. In other cases, the partner has just announced that he isn’t interested in having kids. Not now, not ever, he doesn’t want to discuss it.

The heartbroken writer says: Now we have to break up. They may have been together for five, ten or twenty years, but it’s over because their partner does not want to be a parent.

Yesterday, Anonymous wrote: My girlfriend of 8 years has just told me she does not want children. She won’t even discuss it. I’m gutted and know I can’t stay with her. It is incredibly painful. She loves children and is great with them. Instead of even giving a reason, she just says she is ‘at peace’ with her decision.

But is it over? Should you really throw away a relationship that is good in every other way over this issue? God knows it’s a huge issue. The Catholic Church considers it grounds for annulment, declaring the marriage was never valid. Having children or not changes the whole course of your life, and if you have always wanted to be a mother or father, shouldn’t you pursue that?

Maybe. But how do you know whether you will find someone else in time to procreate or that you will ever love another person as much as the partner you have now? You don’t. So hold on. Don’t be too quick to jump ship or to broadcast to the world that your partner is a rat. Take a breath. Talk about it. I know, they don’t always want to talk. Give them a little time. Find a way to approach the subject without accusations and threats. Maybe say, “I love you so much and I want to understand . . .” Maybe you could each write a letter explaining your feelings. Maybe you could try counseling. Maybe there’s a good reason or an obstacle that you can help them get over. Or not. Just don’t give up too quickly. If you really love someone, you have to accept them as they are. If up until now, this person was The One, maybe he still is.

If the relationship is new and you really haven’t established any strong ties, then adios. Tell them it’s a deal-breaker and move on. But if you have given everything to this relationship, maybe it’s meant to be.

What do you think about this? Have you ever broken up over children? Are you thinking about it? What would you advise if it was your brother or your best friend? Please comment.

134 thoughts on “If They Don’t Want Kids, Do You Have to Break Up?

  1. I am going through the same thing right now, been with my partner for three years yesterday. For the past three years, he has said he wanted children and then changed his mind several times throughout our relationship.
    He has only said he wants children with me when he is drunk, not a good thing I know, but it still gave me hope. Yesterday on our three-year anniversary he told me he never wants kids ever, and that if I do then we shouldn’t be together. I have agreed to this. Even though it hurts so much, I can’t see myself childfree.

    You need to look back and be honest over the whole relationship, I have noticed I haven’t actually been happy at all. For the past 12 weeks, he has gone out every weekend and not come home, never spent quality time together, I never get invited out with his friends.
    Do I want to be in a relationship like this? No, no I don’t. I want to be happy with someone who respects me and treats me well and vice versa.

    I have done everything for him, and when I say everything, I mean it. He had a hard upbringing, he was in prison, he had no house etc.
    I got him a roof over his head, his driving licence. a van, food in his belly, and I got him his job.
    As I have said to him, I don’t owe him anything, and he doesn’t owe me anything.
    However, I do feel like I have been used for the last three years. as he had nothing, Note to self – do not go for someone who financially depends on others, find someone who knows what they want in their future and is driven. I’m ranting now as I am still coming to terms with it all. By the way, I am 28 and he is 30!!


    • Charlotte, I’m so sorry this has happened to you. Your husband’s activities sound a lot like my first husband’s toward the end of our marriage. It sounds like a bad situation all around. Time to start fresh. Now that you’ve got him set up, he’ll be fine. Take care of you.


  2. I have been with my partner for almost 11 years. I wanted kids ever since I can remember, but I never said anything, as we constantly had difficulties in our lives, which we always dealt with together as a couple even though we never got married nor have we ever actually discussed that as a possibility. So having in mind all the difficulties, which kept on appearing one after the other in both our lives. Before we ever had a chance to solve the previous problem, another one appeared, I never ever mentioned anything, as I was well aware that having a kid would only make things impossible and that it wouldn’t be fair for anyone. So I kept it all bubbled up inside. He himself has difficulty expressing his feelings, dreams, etc., so he never brought up that subject except for one question he posed at the beginning of our relationship asking if I generally wanted kids sometime, as he wouldn’t imagine his life without. It would be purposeless, as he said back then.

    So time went by. I will become 35 in a couple of months, and I just can’t stop crying because I know that I will never have the opportunity to hold my baby in my arms. I am well aware that I will live my life childless, and that is just killing me. I have been avoiding all my friends and family who had kids because I am miserable seeing them go forward in their lives and I am just going backwards all the time. So I have ended up alienating everyone around me.
    I blew up about a year ago, couldn’t hold it in anymore, so I exploded and told him how I felt and how disappointed and sad I have been. All he said was that we can’t right now, but we will one day. I know that is not true though. The reason we will never have kids is because we are stuck in a difficult situation. We run together a small business where we are struggling to make ends meet and the situation is just getting worse by the day because of our messed-up economy in Greece and the never-ending economic and social crisis, so there is no way I can be absent from work for any amount of time, let alone giving birth and raising a child, And of course there is no question of hiring someone to replace me as it is very hard financially as it is. The nature of our work needs both of us. If I get sick one day, our work is left behind and creates many issues with our clients. And of course there is no hope of things ever changing but only for the worse. So I am stuck and am well aware I will never have kids, my lifelong dream will never be met, and it stings like hell…


    • Mary, there has got to be a way. Having children is more important than any business. Perhaps your partner doesn’t understand that you’re running out of time. Please don’t give up on your dream. I hope you can step back and see the possibilities.


      • I wish there was a way, but there just isn’t. I would never make him do anything, let alone have child when I know he does not want it. And I know so many people in our country who neglected the difficulties we go through due to the harsh economic crisis and decided to have a family and then they just all suffered together. I would never do that intentionally to my partner nor to an unborn child. My parents made so many mistakes when we were growing up that I have sworn not to make my kids suffer because of my selfish needs. I guess I was not meant to have a family. Sometimes I think that I am being punished, probably because I had an abortion when I was young. But I just can’t get over it. It’s been all I can think of for the past couple of years since I started to realize the mess we were in. It physically hurts. I feel the pain through my body. Does this pain ever go away? Do you ever find a way to get over it?


  3. My now fiancé and I have been together for a little over seven years. He has expressed before that he did not want kids. I on the other hand always assumed I would have a family and a little one who looked up to me. One conversation we had led to him being “open” to the idea, but now it’s a definite “No.” It is killing me inside because I love this man with all my heart. Years back, I thought I lost him and it was the most gut-wrenching feeling I ever had. Now that feeling has returned. He says he does not think I will be truly happy if I don’t have children, and I will resent him. I just can’t justify investing so much time and effort into a relationship to have it end. I feel completely broken and confused. I tell myself I can learn to be okay with not having children, but I don’t know if that’s how it should be. I always want to make him happy, and giving up my potential happiness is the only solution I see to having this man in my life. Can you ever learn to live like that?


    • I feel for you, hon… ❤️ I don’t know if it helps, but you are not alone. I am in a similar situation and I must learn to live my life knowing that I will not have children, and my partner ( whom I absolutely love, is my other half and I can’t imagine my life without him) is the reason I will be childless. Since I would never imagine leaving him for this I know I have no right to blame him. I am dying little by little. This morning I heard of some woman I barely know who gave birth and I am a mess since then. Little things like that can just destroy me and I have to hide my feelings on top of everything and act as if everything is all right when it’s absolutely not. i feel so alone. I’ve become estranged from all my friends since they all are having their second or third and I feel I can’t be around them anymore. I wish I had people around me who were going through what I am and understood me. I feel that I am living on a different planet lately from all my friends. It’s so discouraging, and the years go by and my sadness, instead of fading,, gets even stronger.


  4. Hello,
    Your stories are heartbreaking and so reliable.
    In my twenties, I was madly in love with a man who was 16 years my senior. We had great times, he was my soulmate and best friend. I used to think that our love would change his mind but he was categoric, he wouldn’t have children and had a vasectomy. Our 8 year-long relationship ended because of his lack of commitment: he wouldn’t move in with me. We’re still good friends though.
    After a couple of years being single, I met my opposite: strong opinions and character. We weren’t alike but he was taking great care of me. He was very sweet and considerate. In my head I imagined us married, having children and living happily forever like in fairy tales. After four good months, I asked him if he would consider having kids with me. He was brutally honest and said no. He has a busy life and doesn’t imagine changing or adapting his lifestyle. My heart breaks because I’m 32 and my biological clock is ticking so we just stopped seeing each other.
    I see around me friends having kids, I walk on the street and see lots of mums and dads having a walk with toddlers and babies. What hurts is that I meet men who love me but not enough to change their minds. I have this feeling that I’ll never find someone I love and loves me that could grant me my wishes to become a mum before it’s too late.


    • Hi Justine,

      I had two similar relationships. Both I thought I had found the one and would have children. One even got a vasectomy reversal , but when it was successful he ended the relationship as he didn’t want to go through IVF. I was almost 35 at this stage and devastated. I thought he had led me on and then dropped me at the worst age.
      What I had done though, was when I turned 32 and found myself single, I put my name on a sperm donor wait list. It gave me security to know I had options.
      When my relationship ended, I called them and started treatment for IVF. It worked the first round, and I have a baby boy due in August. I am single but have supportive family around me. What I want to highlight to you is, it’s not over and you can take some control back in your life. It’s hard work and you need to work very hard to ensure you can financially support yourself over this time.But it’s so do-able if that is what you really want in your heart. I haven’t given up hope that I will meet the one (but I have the rest of my life to do that) and maybe have another child in the future…but you don’t need to wait around for it.


      • Thank you for your moving testimony.
        Unfortunately this isn’t an option for me because in my country, the law is strict and doesn’t allow for single people or LGBTQ couple to have access to a sperm bank. I would need to go abroad.
        Enjoy your pregnancy and take care of you 🙂


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