He keeps putting off having children

Dear readers,

Yesterday I received this comment from “Amber” to a post from last year titled “Will I Regret Not Having Children?” It represents so many of the comments received here at Childless by Marriage that I thought I would share it with everyone. It gets right to the heart of the problem. What do you think she should do? How long is too long to wait?

“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 2 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 up the subject of having a baby, 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 half way 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?”

Thank you, Amber. Welcome to Childless by Marriage. I hope we can help.

 

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32 thoughts on “He keeps putting off having children

  1. How my heart ached for Amber as I read her words. There are certain subjects that are touchy for each and every spouse out there. The matter of children is important enough in my opinion to engage a counselor to more or less mediate through the pain by way of asking questions in a non-confrontational, neutral tone and help people get to the root of why they feel a certain way. He must feel safe in this setting or it will likely not help. Something is getting stirred up in your hubby that likely has nothing to do with you. I suspect his comeback is an easy out for him; he doesn’t have to deal with his issue (if there is one) if he can put the burden back on you. (“You’re the one who wants kids, you deal with it.”) There is no shame in wanting children; there is no shame in wanting to be a mother. There is no shame in wanting to get pregnant the good old-fashioned way (i.e. no fertility treatments) and experience the ups and downs of carrying a baby full-term. My point is: Amber, if you are reading this, you are not asking for anything that is ‘extreme’ or ‘abnormal’ or ‘being selfish’ in any way. What you are asking for is quite normal. I’m of the opinion that it is a God-given desire and fighting it (by way of denying it) will only make it worse. Surely when your husband married you he had an idea in his mind that children would be in the picture one day. That is society’s norm, is it not? I realize we are getting only 1 side of the story here, and I hesitate to place blame on your husband. My personal feeling like I said is his response is a bit of a cop out, has nothing to do with you, reflects attention off him onto you, and places the burden back on you so he doesn’t have to face whatever is getting stirred inside of him. Today the subject is children, next year it could be a cross-country move, in 10 years it might be a sick parent moving in to live with you. There are many, many stressors in a marriage and the sooner he can maturely process what is really going on and respond to you in love and peace rather than anger, the better he will be mentally, emotionally and otherwise (not to mention the better your marriage will be). A trained family counselor will help to get the tough stuff out on the table for examination. I pray for peace on both of your hearts and for all things hidden to be revealed in Jesus name. God bless your marriage. If you guys don’t pray together on a regular basis, I highly encourage you to do so. Something that just occurred to me. One thing that happened to me. When I got pregnant and when I told my husband, he was not happy about it. I was ecstatic; he was angry and ‘poor me.’ I think a lot of men feel that way at first. Eventually hubby came around; next thing I knew he was making all kinds of plans for our daughter. I lost the baby, but wanted to encourage you that WHEN you do get pregnant and tell him, if his response is a bit of a disappointment, hang in there, there is a huge probability that his heart will soften and fully melt when it finally hits him he’s about to be a Dad.

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    • Sorry for your miscarriage
      Just because the world considers having kids normal doesn’t mean we need to have them. This ‘norm’ puts tremendous pressure on all of us. I feel some people have kids even they don’t want them because they feel it’s the next step.
      ANd too many have them without second thoughts as it is. I was like Amber once myself.I felt I would never be complete without kids. I finally came to my senses and there are still times I have to push thoughts of incompleteness and let down from my mind. More people are going child-free, which thankfully puts less pressure on women.. Bottom line-it should be great if you have kids and great if you don’t.

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  2. Amber,
    You are living my exact situation right now. I turned 33 this year, and after three years of marriage and 16 years together, the time is right. We have the job, the money and the home to have a family. The last of my close friends is pregnant, so I am feeling the pressure and know time is running out. My husband recently told me he’s having second thoughts about children. Deep down, I knew the change in lifestyle would be difficult for him to give up his leisure activities. For this, I feel angry and resentful because he knows how important this is for me – I’ve even had names picked out for years. There have been no surprises. I am scared to bring it up again because I don’t want to hear the answer if it’s no, so I’ve left it alone. I have made the decision to stay because of our history. I’m not prepared to give all that up for the chance of a family down the road with someone else. To me, I look at this as a form of infertility in a weird way. I wouldn’t leave him if he was unable to have children. I am living on hope right now – some days are awful and some I find myself at peace.

    The fact of the matter is that you cannot compromise on this. However, I feel you deserve an explanation to why he is skirting the topic, and if he is having second thoughts, he has a responsibility to tell you. This conversation needs to happen in a pressure-free environment without judgement or anger. Prepare yourself for whatever his answer may be. Once you hear it, you decide if this is a lifestyle you can live with or not.

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    • I just found this blog and am so thankful. I feel like I’m reading my own story. I’ll be 37 in November and my husband of 5 years (he’s 32) is uncertain if he wants more kids. He has 2 daughters that we only see twice per year because of the distance. I’m hoping I will be brave enough to share in the future on this blog. But thank you for sharing, I feel so alone in this (my husband avoids talking about it too) and some days I feel like the anger and resentment are eating me up inside. I’m trying desperately to trust God but sometimes I just cry out WHY?

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  3. I met my husband when I was 29, he was 35 and also an aspiring musician. He reacted much the same way whenever I raised the subject of having children. I also got upset alone, backed off the subject, and became very passive about the subject (e.g. if it’s meant to be it will just happen and making no plans for it). We started trying when I was 35 when he was still ambivalent but finally ready to admit we could not wait any longer if we were going to try. We do not have our own children and did not adopt. Looking back, I don’t know why I ever expected a different outcome. I see now that I was too afraid to ask for what I wanted because I was afraid it might ruin our relationship. Our relationship is not the same as it was before we started trying, but I see it was impossible for me to protect what I had while also denying what I wanted. If I had been clear about what I wanted, I would have found out what was causing him to hesitate. After being angry, resentful, and going to therapy (with him and without him), I now know that his hesitancy was related to his own fears. He was afraid I might die during pregnancy, afraid it would change our relationship, afraid he could no longer be a musician, afraid we could not afford it. Amber should not be pushing him to get her pregnant – she should be talking to him about the root cause of why he wants to wait. As an outsider, I think it may be that they met when in high school and, even though they have been together for 13 years, he still feels the same age or that he missed out on some things others experienced while they were single and in their 20s. Whatever it is, if they don’t talk, they will each become isolated from each other, they both will harbor resentments, and that will damage their relationship. Talking will help them negotiate what they want out of their marriage and their relationship and I agree it probably won’t be possible to get this communication started without therapy. They should both be able to figure out if the idea of children is negotiable, and if not, if they both want to stay in the relationship without children. Amber, don’t be afraid to find out what is his truth because you are afraid that it will force you to decide what to do with the relationship. Not knowing will hurt the relationship as much as knowing. My husband and I were fortunate that we were able to repair our relationship and come to the decision that we wanted to remain a family even without children. But it’s a process to get to that decision and you can’t make it all by yourself. My husband is now 55 and he has a lot of regret about letting his fears hold him back from having children. I have regrets too. If Amber gets her husband to talk through these issues, she will be helping him as much as herself.

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  4. Ok well firstly I think it would be good idea for her and her husband to get some sort of counseling since at the moment they are not communicating well and it is causing resentment and upset which could just get worse and which is not good in a marriage. Otherwise I would suggest that she says to him that they can come up with a “compromise” which is that she relaxes and enjoys her upcoming birthday and spends another 6 months focusing on her job and then at that stage they stop using whatever contraceptive they have been using.

    She can stress to him that once they stop preventing that it won’t happen overnight anyway and can take couples a year or even two and that they are just going to “have fun” and not think about it too much while still focusing on their jobs and lives and whatever. There won’t be any monitoring of fertile days or ovulation window etc, stress how relaxed and fun it’s going to be, no big deal. And then hopefully it will just happen naturally and then he has nine months to get used to the idea!

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  5. I appreciate all of the replies so quickly. I agree with the counseling and have actually suggested it. He is not so agreeable. I would go by myself but am not sure what god that would do without both parties present. He just does not believe that it is that “big of a deal” yet. I do know that he has hesitancies about being a parent because he thinks it will hold him back from traveling for vacations and playing music. As Maria said, he does feel the same age as when we met and does talk about other people and the families that they have started at a younger age, how they cant “enjoy life because they’re tied down”, ect. I’m going to try to discuss this again tonight once we have wound down from the day. I am hoping that after dinner and drinks we can have an adult discussion and put it all out on the table. It is very difficult to get him to open up on this subject.

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    • I am sorry you are going through this, but I notice how you keep saying ‘have a family’. You are still family with no kids. I hope it all works out for you. Dont think I’m taking his side, but it does seem like you are too focused on having kids by mentioning all the family pics. It’s easy to get caught up in that. I went through this obsession once, though we both wanted kids, and I had to take a step back. I don’t have kids now, but I don’t feel incomplete.

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      • A. Roddy I love this response. I don’t have kids between fertility challenges and my 2nd husband’s lack of desire for kids. How often I’ve longed for my own kids. Yet my life is so full. The compare game may start but I shut it down quickly. As much as I long for kids, as Sue has mentioned before, there are pro’s to not having them. Do they outweigh the joys of having your own child? No. No one is saying they do. But there are pro’s, and to ignore or minimize them is a disservice to oneself.

        “YOU ARE STILL FAMILY [EVEN] WITH NO KIDS.” <== I love this!

        One thing that comes to mind is even with kids sometimes people are still not satisfied. I know a woman with a gorgeous family and she's never satisfied; she has to be entertained. She has it all….lovely home, devoted hubby, healthy beautiful children…yet she imposes herself into other people's lives boldly and rudely. It makes no sense to me; you have a gorgeous family – make memories with your hubby and kids. Enjoy your home that you work so hard for. But she can't! Why can't she see that she has an amazing family – it baffles my brain. Just because it's a small family doesn't make it less of a family.

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      • I liked that too..”you are still a family with no kids.” It doesn’t always feel that way but it’s a good thing to try to remember. Because I don’t have kids and also grew up with no siblings or even close cousins (so no nieces or nephews are possible), I find myself often telling people that ” I have no family, so…” when they ask about holiday plans or that sort of thing. Hearing myself tell people that over and over, probably contributes to me feeling a lot worse.

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  6. I am so relieved to have found this site as I thought I was going crazy constantly going over and over in my head the sadness I feel over not having children. For years I have masked my feelings and smiled pretending everything was ok. My husband and I have been married for 9 years. He has 3 children from two prior marriages. The 2 youngest, 12 and 14 year old live with us. They have lived with us for over 6 years.

    My husband won’t entertain the idea of having any more children and has even told me he forbid me from bringing it up. As I watch him interact with his children, as the years have passed, I have become resentful of him. To the point that I don’t even know how to engage in a conversation with him about how utterly sad I feel every single day. I am 34 years old, my husband turns 43 tomorrow. I love him, but I don’t think I love him enough to understand why he makes me go through this!!!

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    • Welcome, Roxanna. I feel for you. As soon as a man says “I forbid you” to do something, my hackles go up. He’s not the boss of you. You have to be able to talk about it before you and your marriage explode. I hope you can find a way through his brick wall. Meanwhile, we’re here for you.

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    • You are not alone, Roxanna. I am so glad I found this site, too! Like you, I am in a marriage with someone who had children with other people and, five years in, I am struggling with how I feel about him not wanting children with me, especially as it was not something he made clear before we were married. It is now too late for me to have children with anyone else and I feel increasingly angry about it. I am finding that it is not getting ‘better’ over time but worse, especially since he has become a grandparent and seems to have no sympathy as to how hard it is for me. I wonder how to ‘love’ this person who causes me so much pain. And I am also angry with myself for ‘allowing’ all this to happen!

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      • You are not alone either M2L. From what you shared my situation is similar. I find it so hard to believe my husband is willingly causing me so much pain and anger. I’m running out of time as well and my husband says fertility treatments are a waste of money (I disagree). I feel such a profound sense of sadness. He’s “undecided” but sometimes I feel like he’s just “waiting it out” until it’s biologically impossible.

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      • Thank you for replying, nickifabulous. I feel exactly the same way about finding it ‘hard to believe my husband is willingly causing me so much pain and anger’ and feeling ‘a profound sense of sadness’. It catches me at different times during the day and I find myself shaking my head in disbelief. I am so sorry you are in a similar situation but so ‘glad’ to hear from someone who understands!

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      • M2L, I know EXACTLY how you feel!!! My husband is also a grandfather of a 4 year old. I feel as though he is almost like bragging about how great being a father AND grandfather is. Everyday that passes, I become more angry and I am resenting him so much. How can he be so selfish, I know he can see how sad I am all the time!!!!!! I have been thinking for the past two weeks that I don’t want to be with my husband anymore. its also too late for me to find someone else, but wouldn’t I rather not have children because I was alone instead of because my husband didn’t care for my feelings enough to even try????

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      • Oh Roxanna, I know, it is such a bizarre and difficult situation. I think it is really, really hard to understand how they can behave in a way that causes us so much pain. I wish my husband was more sensitive about it. Thank you for reaching out; it does help so much to know I’m not the only one going through this, although I am sorry that you are experiencing this, too.

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      • M2L, I know EXACTLY how you feel and what you go through. My husband also has a 4 year old grandson. perhaps he doesn’t do it on purpose but all I see my husband do is enjoy how great being a father and grandfather is. how can he not care how he makes me feel???? how can he be so selfish???? I also have fun out of time to find someone else. but over the last 2 weeks I have been very seriously debating on leaving my husband. wouldn’t I rather not have children because I was alone instead of because my husband was so mean he didn’t even want to try to have a baby???? I resent him know, I don’t see that going away. won’t I hate him by the time I hit menopause or what happens when I have no one by my side when I am a much older woman??? HELP!!!!

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      • M2L, yes I am angry at times with myself for letting this happen. I feel at times it’s been such a waste. We’ve been together for almost 17 years, married 6. He has a daughter with his ex. He knew how I wanted children, that was my plan. He seemed ok with the plan, until the last couple of years. Last year he finally dropped the dreaded bomb “I don’t want to have kids”…..wth?! I am ashamed to say, but we have not been intimate in 3 years. My weights fluctuated, I’m not the same girl I once was. I feel self conscious, unloved, so many emotions. I’ve never talked to anyone about this. It hurts too much to bring anything up, especially to him.My heart is broken.

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      • I’ve never spoken to anyone about my situation either, SL. I feel too vulnerable to open up, as if the pain might consume me. But it helps to come on here. I hope you find being here helps you, too. Sending you a supportive hug!

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  7. Amber- I would recommend either getting rid of social media (that’s what I did to avoid baby/family posts), or at least don’t check it as often.
    Resentment is a huge issue (my counselor brings it up all the time). One thing she has told me is that the relationship is a choice. You can always leave if you’re not happy. It’s not what we want to hear (I still struggle with this), but I figured that I’d throw it out there.
    On “why he cannot meet me half way”- One thing I have learned is you can’t meet someone half-way on having kids- you either want to raise kids or you don’t. Going to counseling alone has still been a huge help to me. My husband went once with me, and he doesn’t want to go back.

    nickifabulous- My husband also has children that we hardly see (and he had a vasectomy); please don’t feel alone.

    Sue, I was wondering if you think there is a difference in “quality of relationship” between couples where neither person has kids, versus ones where one has children from a previous relationship and the other person has none…? ““YOU ARE STILL FAMILY [EVEN] WITH NO KIDS.” Try telling that to those of us who are childless stepmothers. When your spouse told you earlier on that he does want a kid with you…then you fall in love, and he’s like, Nope, not gonna happen.

    Roxanna- I agree with Sue- no one should tell you that they forbid communication on a topic. My husband refuses to give me a child, but he says talking about it makes us feel better.

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    • Amy H., I think the quality of the relationship when one has children totally depends n the people involved. My husband was not close to his kids and almost never chose them over me. That’s not always the case. If there’s a part of his life where you always feel left out, surely that makes a difference in the quality of the relationship. As for a family with no kids, you are still a family, just not in the traditional way.
      I’m glad you and your husband can talk about this stuff.

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    • I know I’m not Sue but I wanted to throw in my 2cents on this:
      “Sue, I was wondering if you think there is a difference in “quality of relationship” between couples where neither person has kids, versus ones where one has children from a previous relationship and the other person has none…?”

      In my opinion it depends largely on the stepkids and the attitude that they choose to adopt. I have 2. One is mostly friendly and open to me. The other is distant; I’m excluded from get togethers at their place. Our relationship wasn’t always distant but it has evolved to this place. Even in the best of times though I was excluded from their parties. It’s ok with me since I don’t want anyone to fake anything or to feel forced into a relationship with me. It’s a 2-way street of course; I try to be the stepmom they need me to be, to be kind and inclusive, friendly and accepting.

      So to answer the question: yes, in my op, there is a difference in quality of relationship between couples w/ no kids vs. couples where 1 has kids and the other doesn’t.

      The degree of difference depends largely upon the attitude of the stepkids and stepparent and how much they are willing to give toward the relationship.

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      • Hi SilverShil0h! Thank you for replying! I’m so sorry your relationship with one of your stepkids isn’t great- that sounds like hell to me. My 3 stepsons live on the other side of the country, so we hardly see them. I don’t make any important decisions in this relationship; we were supposed to move when my stepsons’ stepfather gets stationed at a new Air Force Base, but a) my husband changed his mind due to the climate in that area [not to mention my mom’s pleas of, ‘Don’t leave good jobs here for who-knows-what out there!’], and b) my husband’s brother and his girlfriend and dog are going to come to live where we are, so we’re all getting a house or apartment or whatever they decide.
        I don’t get the mothering experience. As much as it sucks that I’ll never have my own kids (besides my dog/dog(s) in the future), I can only be a real stepmom one or two weeks out of the year, and even then I’m working and my husband takes off some days from work. But I do get along with my stepsons very well- luckily they were all fairly young when I came into their lives. And I’ve never met their mom, but she had them send me a mother’s day home-made card this year (we just got married this year), so that was appreciated (and yet made me think, She’s so perfect. My husband and his family say that she’s not, but Golden Uterus Syndrome and all that).
        Going back to the kids living far away: One of my biggest “grrrrr”s in my life regarding this subject is the fact that my husband had an oopsy baby with this woman he was going to break up with, married her, had another for his kid to have a sibling, and then she beg, pleaded, and cried for a third, and he obliged, then he got a vasectomy. Then a couple years later, he meets me, says I love you on the 2nd date, and then a few months after that, I had a dream (a nighttime dream, not just a “wish” dream) that we had a baby together, and then he was all, ‘Oh, I want to have a baby with you, I can’t wait to see what he/she looks like, I’m going to have a vasectomy reversal,’ etc. Only for him to flip-flop and not want that (or adoption, which he has also flip-flopped on), only for me to do so much research (this was when I discovered this blog!) on adoption/foster care adoption/childless stepmothers, vasectomy reversal- you name it. I had a binder with over 100 pages in it. He would flip-flop on adoption, on having another kid. Here’s the kicker, though- he really just doesn’t want to raise children. If he and his ex didn’t have their issues, yeah, he’d be raising 3 amazing boys. It kills me inside that a) he has 3 amazing kids that he lives so far away from. Especially since he has flip-flopped on moving near them in all the time we’ve been together, and b) he has them but it’s not a big deal to him (he loves his kids, pays his child support every month, occasionally Skypes with them, etc.)…If I had kids, they would be my world. I just don’t get it- he should feel so friggin’ lucky to have 3 amazing children, you know?
        I asked him a while back why people have children; he said to have a “legacy?” Oh, so you want the reputation as a dad, but you don’t want to raise them?
        Y’all, this just hurts my heart, and this is why I’m grateful for Sue and everyone who posts here. You all help me and each other so much! ❤

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      • Hey Amy, I’m glad we can help you here. You all help me, too. Sorry your husband is so flip-floppy. As my mother would have said, what’s wrong with these guys? My husband had three kids he didn’t pay much attention to either. We moved far away from them. He loved them, but they weren’t a high priority, you know? I have always thought that if I had kids, I’d never move away. Bravo for the kid’s mom having them send you Mother’s Day Cards. That’s definitely above and beyond.

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  8. Oh Amber, it sounds as though you are writing the script to my life. I am also about to turn 30 and my husband is 32, we’ve been together a total of 13 years (married for 3). I’ve written about my struggles on this blog before, here’s the gist of my story and what I’ve discovered since then: my husband and I are great together, we want all the same things in life EXCEPT for a family. He comes from a broken family (absent/unreliable father) and has no interest in wanting children, I desperately want children. I thought he would eventually come around as he is stubborn and hard headed but last October we came to a breaking point where we couldn’t even have a discussion on the topic, all I would get out of him was NO. So I packed up my bags and my dog and left, I needed space and I really wanted to show him what he’d be losing. A week later he asked me to come home and agreed to go to counselling. Counselling definitely helped our relationship but it did not curb my yearning for children. Some days were harder then others and at times the resentment and feeling of emptiness took over but I tried to push it down thinking that we’ve made progress so we are on the right road at least.

    Well it turns out that perhaps I had made progress, him not so much. The tension built up once again and now, 8 months later, I am pretty sure we a moving forward with separating. I am continuing to go to counselling for myself, and he refuses to because “there is no point.” What I’ve discovered over this last year has actually kind of surprised me, don’t deny your gut feeling, do what feels best for you, if you don’t think he’ll come around he probably won’t so either accept it or move on because sitting around waiting is enough to drive a woman crazy. I felt like I was going crazy… I am scared of what the future holds but shockingly enough I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I’m optimistic. Regardless of whether my husband shows up again down the road or not, I’m moving forward, I’m taking control of my own future, no more waiting to see what happens. I’m a good girl and I was a good wife, I’ll find the right person out there for me one day and I’m determined the live the future I envisioned for myself.

    Letting go, although sad, is surprisingly liberating. Explore your options with counselling, that may be your ticket to success but take care of yourself, it is so easy to drive yourself crazy with constant reminders and baby announcements on social media in your face. My path is uncertain but I’m going to take it day by day and focus on myself and my needs and wants. At this point regardless of whether I am with my husband or on my own a baby is not happening, so I’m going to leave it at that for now and focus on me! I sincerely hope your husband comes around, no one ever enters into a marriage thinking it won’t work but regardless life goes on, your strength and attitude will get you by.

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  9. All I’ll say is this – my husband promised before we married that we’d do whatever it took to have children. After we got married, he reneged on that. He wouldn’t hear of fertility treatment and he told me I was on my own when it came to adoption.

    He has two kids via adoption from his first marriage and a grandchild.

    One time, I got upset and he told me that I should have insisted on fertility treatment, if I was that bothered. (Conveniently, he forgot that he had told me he’d leave me if I insisted on it.)

    I’m pushing 60 now, and I love my husband, but I resent what he did every single day. My advice – if you’re still young enough, speak to your husband now. If you don’t, you’ll always regret it.

    I’m ashamed to say that I held on and held on because I kept thinking ‘Maybe I’ll get pregnant anyway.’ Then it was ‘I’m forty. A man who wants children won’t want me.’ I always did have very low self esteem.

    It’s too late for me. You’re still young enough to have a family, Amber. I hope you have more courage than I had. At least speak to your man.

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