Will You Regret Not Having Children?

A word that keeps coming up here at the Childless by Marriage blog is “regret.” Different dictionaries explain it in different words, but regret is basically a feeling of sorrow or disappointment for things you did in the past, decisions you made, or roads not taken. Readers trying to decide what to do about their situation worry about whether they will regret their choices later. If they agree not to have children, will they regret it? If they have children when they don’t want them, will they regret it? If they leave their partner in the hope of finding someone who wants children, will they regret it? If I knew the answers to these questions, I’d be a fortuneteller instead of a writer.

Regret. Suddenly I’m hearing Frank Sinatra sing, “Regrets I’ve had a few, but then again too few to mention . . . I did it my way.”

Well, I guess I did. Maybe you did, too. Are there choices in my life I regret? You bet. Jobs I wish I hadn’t taken, things I wish I hadn’t said, guys I wish I hadn’t dated. But I don’t regret the big choices I made, even my first marriage, which wasn’t ideal. I loved the man, we had some wonderful experiences, and I cherish the good memories. If I had waited for somebody else, I might have a husband, kids, grandkids, and the perfect house now, but I don’t know that that would have happened. I might have been alone.

I don’t regret marrying Fred, even though we didn’t have children together. He was the nicest person I ever met, he loved me like every girl wants to be loved, and we had a great life together. In death, he left me with a home and steady income. I wish I had some kids, but I had a lot of other things, including my husband’s children.

The other big decision was moving to Oregon. I have been homesick for 19 years, but living here has given me so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have gotten if we had stayed in San Jose. Would I trade the books I’ve been written, the music I’ve played here, the friends I’ve met, or my life in the woods for a more conventional life in smoggy suburbia with husband and kids? I’m not sure I would.

Every decision brings both good and bad. In the end, I believe things turn out the way they’re supposed to, whether it’s God’s plan, the way of the Universe, or whatever you want to call it. With every choice, you gain something, but you also have to let something go.

You’re 20 or 30 or 40 now. When you’re 80, will you regret not having children? Will you wish with every fiber of your being that you had made a different choice? I don’t know. All you can do is make a decision based on what you know now and follow where it leads.

Here are a few things you can read. This article from Psychology Today, “Getting Past Your Regrets,” offers some very good advice to help us move on after choices we regret.

An article in Forbes lists “The 25 Biggest Regrets in Life.” Note that several of them have to do with the kids the writer assumes everybody has. Hello? Some of us don’t have children.

On the other hand, here are a bunch of great quotes about regret that most of us can relate to. I like this one from Queen Latifah: “I made decisions that I regret, and I took them as learning experiences . . . I’m human, not perfect, like anybody else.”

I do not regret visiting with you, my friends. Thank you for being here and for your comments.

10 thoughts on “Will You Regret Not Having Children?

  1. Wonderful post!! I would love to know what it is like to live near the woods? Does it get lonely? Do you live in a small town? Is there a sense of community? I find lots of peace in nature. I live in suburbia, but my yard is a wildlife habitat for butterflies and birds.


  2. Sue, I read about your experience from your old blogspot site. When you ask readers to consider how you feel and others like you, I’m all for being empathetic.

    No disrespect, I’m just wondering before you married TWICE, if you talked about your desire for children before making such a serious commitment. You walked in knowing husband #2 had a vasectomy and had a couple of kids already, but married him anyway. Not really a “woe is me” situation.

    Marriage is a spiritual covenant before God, it’s serious. So why marry someone who wants the complete opposite from the beginning? My only guess is that emotions and hormones were involved when falling for someone completely incompatible in the topic of children, which is life changing and permanent.

    On one side you can’t expect the person who was honest from the beginning about not wanting kids to force themselves to and on the other side someone like you who always wanted kids can’t ignore your desire on a strict time restraint biologically. Can you adopt at this point? Or have you considered that? Husband #2 would have to start over somewhat but not the same as a newborn.

    The good that came out of it is that you’re helping people now.


  3. This is exactly what I’m going through now.

    I’m terrified that in 10 years I’ll be desperately sad and full of regret and it’ll be too late to do anything about it.


  4. I am so glad I found this blog today. A lot of others are in the same sort of limbo I am currently in and it gives me comfort to know that I am not alone. I have been feeling like I need to talk about this subject for a while now, but really don’t have anyone to talk to. I am about to turn 30 (husband will be 31), have been with my husband for almost 13 years and I feel more and more depressed lately about not having the two children I have always wanted. Through the years there has always been some sort of goal to reach, whether it be finishing college, having reliable income, owning our own home, etc. We have now reached that point and yet again there is a stipulation. Now I am expected to wait 1-2 more years so that I am established in my job and we can enjoy having the extra income my new job has provided. I feel like I am the one that has gone through college and is making this money, if bills are paid, what is the problem? We are now financially stable and have traveled around, we aren’t too old or young. I feel like the time is right. Any time I bring the subject of having a baby up, my husband shuts down and/or gets irritated. He says I am obsessed with everyone else and that’s why I am so focused on children like it’s not an original thought that I have always wanted to be a mother). Honestly, he makes me feel like I am crazy for wanting a family sometimes. I want to talk to him about it again, but anymore I don’t feel like I have the energy for the argument that I know it will cause just in bringing it up. I have thought about divorcing, but we are perfect in every area but this one, and I love him with all my being. Lately I find myself resenting him and growing more and more depressed at my upcoming 30th birthday ( and then I get angry at myself for feeling that way, because I feel so selfish). As you can tell, I am just a tornado of emotions. I help him and support him in reaching all of his goals and aspirations as a musician. I just don’t understand how/why he cannot meet me halfway or try to understand my feelings of wanting a family. The fact that my younger sister is “fertile myrtle” and social media is flooded with everyone’s new families doesn’t help when I start feeling sad like this either. I just don’t know when to throw in the towel. When do you finally reach that point of enough is enough, before you run out of time and miss that window?


    • Hi Amber, Do you mind if I share your comment as my next blog post? It really represents what everyone is going through here, and I’d like to get more responses for you. I wish I knew what to tell you about your situation. I gave up on my first husband when I found out he was cheating on me–in addition to him putting off children and other responsibilities for years. When I discovered his girlfriend, it was like okay, now I have a definite answer about what to do. But we don’t always get those answers. If your marriage is otherwise good, and if you can’t stand the idea of living without this man, you will need to figure out whether having children is more or less important than being with him. There are no easy answers for that.


      • Hi Sue,

        No, I don’t mind if you share. I’d like to hear from others as well. It’s a very unsettling situation to be in. Kind of like being outside looking in. Like watching and waiting for the beginning or end of a relationship….


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