Should she stay with her boyfriend who doesn’t want kids?

In responding to a previous post, “They stayed in a childless marriage,” Maria commented:

I see most replies are from people who chose to stay in a marriage. I am not married yet, but I love my boyfriend dearly. I know sometimes you’re biased by love, but I genuinely think he’s perfect for me in every other aspect. He makes me feel happy, safe, understood, loved. He’s a very caring person and I have never felt like this about anyone. I feel it is very unlikely that I will find someone with as high a compatibility as I have with him. He says he’s unsure about having children because he feels he’s too old (38) and that it would be too great of a lifestyle change. Ultimately the financial burden that comes with children is also something he is concerned about even though he’s more than stable financially. He just wants to retire very comfortably and without many worries at an early age. He even told me that if he won the lottery, he would agree to have children. I am 31 and for most of my adult life, I have known that I wanted children, so it breaks my heart to have found a wonderful man and for us not to agree on the one issue for which there is no compromise.

Is there anyone out there who wasn’t married but chose to stay with their significant other that can share their story?

I would like to hear those stories, too. This comment also raises two questions I’d like you to ponder with me.

  1. Is it truly different when you’re not married to the person? You don’t have legal ties, but so often, I hear from readers who are so in love and so sure that this person is “the one” that they can’t imagine leaving. Are the emotional connections more constricting than the so-called bonds of matrimony? Looking from the outside, we might say, “Hey, move on, Maria,” but should she? Can she? And will this issue ultimately keep them from getting married?
  2. What about the money part of it? We know that raising children is expensive. It often requires sacrifice and perhaps working at jobs you’d rather not have. Instead of taking a trip to Europe or enrolling in grad school, you’re paying for braces on your kids’ teeth. My father would say, “Well, that’s the way it is.” But he was born almost a hundred years ago and grew up in an era when everyone had children if they could. How many of you are hearing worries about money as part of the reason why your partners are reluctant to procreate? As Maria suggests, would it be different if they won the lottery and had lots of money? Short of winning the lottery, how can you ease these worries?

Maria isn’t the only one dealing with these issues. I welcome your input. Please comment.


My role as dog mom is getting intense. Next week, Annie will be having knee surgery. Read about it on my other blog, Unleashed in Oregon. I’m extremely worried about how I will manage her recovery by myself. The last time I went through this kind of surgery with a dog, my husband was here to help look after her and to lift her into the car when we needed to take her to the vet. Now it’s just me. What if I have to go out and she hurts herself? At this moment, although not having children has left a vast crater where family ought to be, I feel much worse about not having a partner. Something to ponder as you decide what to do with your life.

Thank you all for being here.



7 thoughts on “Should she stay with her boyfriend who doesn’t want kids?

  1. Poor Maria. She is 31. I think that she should go back out there and find another good one. I do believe they are out there! He is only 38, not sure why he thinks he is too old to have kids. And it will never be financially a good time to have them. Parents can survive on very little starting out. As far as the marriage question, I do think it’s different. I’m not married to my boyfriend, I don’t have kids, he has two teenagers that live with us every other week. I don’t know if we will be together forever. I really love him and want this to work, but I’ve done this rodeo a few times so I have no expectation. It is different though!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is so hard to know what the best choice is. On the one hand, Maria is not married, so she is free to leave the relationship at any time. However, there are no guarantees that she will meet someone who creates as great of a relationship with her. I also, speaking from experience, know that she may not find someone who wants to have kids. It’s so hard to give up on a great relationship for the unknown. I believe she needs to listen to her intuition and accept whatever fate she decides. Sue, I wish you all the best with Annie’s surgery. I feel for your situation in doing it all on your own. I hope that it all goes smooth and that you are able to accomplish all you need to make her better.


  3. I agree with Shonna. As Maria says, she knows that she wants children – “for most of my adult life, I have known that I wanted children”. On the other hand, she describes her boyfriend as “unsure about having children”. So it sounds like an open and honest discussion about what they both want is needed. There are lots of rationalisations for and against having children, but if you know in your heart that it is something you do want, especially as you’re potentially still young enough to make it happen, I would advise to end a relationship with someone who doesn’t want that.
    Good luck and best wishes for Annie’s surgery, Sue – try not to worry (not easy, I know)! Thinking of you x


  4. Certainly at 38 he’s not too old. I think that it sounds like he just has some concerns but those reasons don’t sound to me like the right reasons to not have children. Or at least have one. I know of other friends’ partners who were worried about the financial side, but having a kid doesn’t have to be crazy expensive. There are minimalist parents who find ways of cutting costs, for instance. I think and hope for Maria that she will be able to reassure him and that they can still have a child or children together. Unless those reasons he gave are just excuses and he has other worries. Good luck to her, I hope they can get on the same page, maybe going to couples therapy to figure things out.


  5. This is an older thread, but I thought I would comment anyway, in case it is helpful.

    I was in a similar position 10 years ago, and I chose to stay. My then boyfriend did not want to get married, but he did sometimes talk about having kids. We argued a lot about marriage because I wanted to be married before having kids or buying a house. Eventually, we eloped. He is a kind, caring person who does the dishes and buys me flowers. He makes me laugh and we enjoy each other’s company. But we did not want the same things out of life, and that has created a lot of resentment. He decided after we got married that he didn’t want kids, but he never came right out and said it; he just kept avoiding the conversation. He now has the life he wants and I am constantly reminded of the life I didn’t get–I made sacrifices to be in this relationship but the commitment and family never materialized. I didn’t know how much it would hurt. Back then, I felt like the choice was simple. Why leave a man you love for a chance at a life with someone you haven’t even met yet? Now my choices are more limited. Either leave a man I love to be alone and start over (too old to have kids), or stay and forever be reminded of the life we didn’t have, and knowing that he got what he wanted but I never will. I know that what happened is my fault and my responsibility, because I felt selfish if I put my needs before the relationship. Now I am the one who can’t help putting a strain on the relationship. I resent his happiness. I keep trying to change because I know that this is my fault. But I can’t force myself to feel the way I want to feel about it.

    So, if you think that you can get over not having kids, when you watch all your friends and family have kids and progress in life and you can do your own thing with your boyfriend/husband and have a fulfilling life, then that’s great. But if there is a chance that you will resent him later, you owe it to both of you to tell him that children are your deal breaker. He might find that he is more flexible when he sees what he is about to lose.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your comment. I’m in a very similar situation as yourself. I have been with my boyfriend for 2 and half years. Previously I was with a man for 12 years, but it was a difficult relationship. My current boyfriend has shown me how much damage the previous relationship had affected me, and has been considerate and loving throughout. The only problem we have is that I want children but he has never wanted any. We knew this at the start but convinced ourselves that the other would change their mind at some point. I’m now 33 and so my window for kids is getting smaller. I don’t know whether to break up and try to find another good person who wants kids (but I would want to be with them for a year or two before we would have them) or stay put. My boyfriend is considering adoption as a compromise, but I’m not sure if that will pan out. Unfortunately, it is looking more likely that we might have to call it a day, but we really do love each other, which makes it painful. Thank you for your insight. Knowing that other people go through this too makes the situation a little easier to bear.


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