You’ve got to ask the hard questions

Two days ago, Richa wrote:

I am going through the worst pain of my life. On the second day of my marriage, my husband told me that he already has two kids so he would not want kids from me. It came to me very shocking. He just announced his decision and never thought what I wanted. Today, after four years of marriage, I keep fighting for kids, but he just turns a deaf ear. I have started having menopause and he never ever discusses anything about my pain of being infertile. Many times I talk about adoption, but he doesn’t even want to do anything about it. I loved him but I hate him for this. I am really not a risk taker and because of insecurities that life offers, I continue to live with him. But it is really difficult to forgive him for all this.

On the second day of their marriage???

As someone far removed from the situation, I’m thinking I’d be screaming, “Annulment!” But then I try to put myself in her situation on that day. She loves this man. For months or maybe years, she has been planning this wedding and this life together. Now, with the wedding dress not yet put away, the gifts not yet all opened, the ring still new and shiny on her finger, her new husband drops this bomb. She feels stuck. Heartbroken. Disbelieving. Surely he doesn’t mean it. He’ll change his mind.

He didn’t.

Why didn’t he say something sooner? Did he just realize he wasn’t comfortable with the idea of becoming a father? Was he afraid he’d lose her if he told her the truth? Is he just a jerk?

What would you do if you were that woman? From the comments I have received here at Childless by Marriage, I know that some of you ARE that woman or that man who found out after the wedding that you did not feel the same way about having children.

If you’d like to respond to Richa, go to

There are certain questions that need to be asked before a relationship goes too far. Maybe I’m influenced by the finale of “The Bachelor” TV show that happened on Monday. I hope I’m not spoiling anything, but Nick chose Vanessa. Unlike the usual “bachelorettes” who swoon into their engagement as if it were the happy ending of a fairy tale, Vanessa still has lots of questions and concerns and is not ready to plan a wedding until she knows some answers.

I’m with Vanessa. Love is great, but you’ve got to get some things straight before you make a long-term commitment. The following is a list of things you really need to talk about. If your partner refuses, see that as a giant red flag.

  •  How do you feel about having children with me? Do you want them? How soon? How many? What if we have fertility problems? Would you be willing to try in vitro fertilization or other techniques? Would you be willing to adopt children?
  •  Where do you want to live? Would you be willing to relocate? Are there places you would never want to live? Would you be willing to change jobs so we can live where I want or need to be?
  •  What are your goals in life? What do you dream of doing? Do you have a secret desire to be a singer, mountain climber, or astronaut? What would you regret never having a chance to do?
  •  Are you religious? What church do you belong to? Would you be open to changing churches or expect me to convert?
  •  Republican or Democrat?
  •  Have you ever been arrested?
  •  Do problems with alcohol, drugs, mental illness or domestic violence run in your family? Do certain diseases run in your family?
  •  How will we handle money? Who will be in charge of the checkbook?
  •  Dog or cat?

It’s funny. We learn our sweethearts’ favorite foods, favorite music, and favorite football teams, but we don’t always know about the things that really matter. If I don’t eat sweet potatoes or okra, so what? But if I won’t set foot in the church that means everything to you, that’s a problem. Likewise, if I say no to the children you have always wanted. Sometimes we don’t ask because we’re afraid the answers will destroy the relationship. They might, but better now than when it’s too late.

So ask the hard questions. Sometimes people will give you the answers you want to hear instead of the honest truth. But push for real answers. It will save a lot of heartache later.

What do you think? Let’s talk about it.




5 thoughts on “You’ve got to ask the hard questions

  1. “So ask the hard questions. Sometimes people will give you the answers you want to hear instead of the honest truth. But push for real answers. It will save a lot of heartache later.”

    This. This so much. We hear about people changing their minds over time. It’s totally probable. But it’s not likely that this is what actually happens. People generally do know what they really want deep down. Ask any child and you’ll get an honest answer. But years of opinions, education, upbringing, hard experiences . . . often put a thick veil over their heart’s desires. Often, an “honest” answer has much to do with a lifetime of conditioning and little with how we actually feel.

    I’ve been there. In the first few years, my partner was willing to have a child with me, but she pretty much left the final decision with me. I was dealing with my own insecurities at the time and I was unaware of what I was going through. So, I said no each time the topic came up. As I got older, I realised I declined having kids not because I didn’t want them, but because I was scared. By then, it was too late. I don’t resent her for not pushing hard enough. She couldn’t look inside my head at the time. And me, I probably still would’ve said no as adamantly. Do I feel regret and grief? Yes. Would I leave her? No. Once you’ve been together for many years, you’ve built a relationship with someone you know now through and through and which supports a large part of your life and identity. If things otherwise work out swimmingly, are you really willing to sacrifice it all? Especially if you are older, the clocking is ticking and the pressure really is on to get to know someone well enough before you have kids with them. This isn’t as easy as it was when you were in your early 20’s.

    When it comes to hard questions: ask them early on, push as hard as you need to feel confident, and revisit them regularly. Don’t ask once casually while dating and then revisit the issue the day after marriage. Ask every few months or so.

    I think this is something we should impart on young people besides the ideal of romantic love which is so omnipresent and pervasive in our culture.


    • Thank you, Matt. There’s so much wisdom in your comments. People don’t always give you the honest answers, and these are questions that take more than a casual one-time response. I’m sorry things worked out the way they did for you, but I admire you for sticking together through it all. I wish you all the best.


  2. Agreed. Don’t just ask about having birth children, check what their Plan B would be in case of infertility. Turns out mine and hubby’s were different. He was okay with IVF, but not adoption. IVF didn’t work; his plan after that is lots of holidays.

    After 25 years of big holidays, and weekend trips, I’m really not that into them anymore. Just got back from one and I’m having to come up with creative responses to all the “Wow, your photos made me so jealous. Was it fabulous? How lucky are you?” comments. Yeah, it was okay. Just okay, but it’s not what I really want to be doing – is what I want to say.


    • This reader’s story is quite shocking to me. But only because he announced that he would never have a child with her on day 2 of the marriage. I think there are many of us who are/were in the exact same situation but the one who didn’t want children kept quiet about it for a lot longer. That is what happened to me anyway. As far as asking the hard questions goes, to be fair, I myself DID ask those hard questions. His answer was, yes, I want to have children, ….someday…when I”m old. So I thought, great, I want kids too, we’ll just wait a few years. The problems is he was lying. He never wanted to raise children. He just liked the idea of having kids around to take care of him when he is an old man .

      So back to the reader. I think he has done this woman a huge favor by actually admitting he doesn’t want children. The problem is that he did it in the most crooked way possible, right after the legal documents were signed and the vows spoken. As a Christian. we are taught to always forgive, be understanding, and to love our spouses unconditionally. But we cannot do that if we were deceived by the spouse before the marriage. So when he said, I will love you for better or for worse, he was lying. He only wanted the better, for him. In this case, it is clear, the marriage is based on deceit, which makes it invalid according to some church doctrines. I do think this woman loves her husband, and I also think that she did ask him questions before the wedding about having kids. He may have nodded in agreement, or just simply said nothing, which she may have taken as an agreement to wanting children. This is also lying. It’s called a lie by omission.

      In my own experience, the type of person who manipulates the situation by omitting pertinent information like this is not trustworthy. This man will rob her of her property, her time and her joy in life if she still wants a child of her own. I’m sorry to be so critical, but I’m one of the women who chose to leave. I think the reason there are so few of us reading this blog is because the women like me are few and far between and also have moved on with our lives and no longer wish to dwell on being married without children.


      • What a great comment, Crystal. Actually I got my first marriage annulled by the Catholic Church because my husband didn’t tell me before the wedding that he didn’t want kids. Congrats on moving on. I totally understand why you wouldn’t want to dwell on the childless situation anymore.


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