I received this email from “Kristin” over the weekend. At her request, I am sharing it with you. What do you think? What would you do?–Sue
My husband and I have been married about eight months, but were together nearly eight years before we were married. To fully tell this story, I feel like I have to go back in history a little because a portion of our eight-year relationship we spent apart. That breakup was because I was sure I DID want kids and he was (and always has been) sure he did NOT. To be honest, I can’t really say how we came back together, other than we did.
He is my very best friend. I think when we got back together and decided to get married a few years later it was because I genuinely thought I could compromise. I knew he didn’t want kids, and several more years had passed where I’d seen one sibling suffer through a stillbirth and another’s infertility leading to divorce. I rationalized that both of these things were just more examples that you shouldn’t choose a mate based on a desire to have children because “there are no guarantees” in life. I wanted to marry someone because I loved him and didn’t depend on all the “extras” in life.
What I could not have predicted was that by loving someone, building a life with him, and experiencing an even deeper love in this commitment than I had before, I developed a stronger desire to have a child. All of this became very apparent when he scheduled an appointment to have a vasectomy. I felt fine with it until, I didn’t. It hit like the worst wave of depression and devastation I’ve ever felt. We talked about it, and he agreed to cancel the appointment, but ever since then, it has been brewing just under the surface. He doesn’t say it directly, but he alludes to me trying to trap him into pregnancy, frequently saying we are “playing with fire.”
I should add that we have been pregnant once—more of a chemical pregnancy than anything—enough to be positive on a pregnancy test, and then I got my period. It was actually just before we were married and was one of the worst fights we’ve ever had. I know you could say I “shouldn’t have married him” if I knew that, but it didn’t change the fact that I love him. Even the antagonistic child-hating part of him. I can’t lie and say some part of me didn’t subconsciously think that time or a miracle from the Lord would change his mind. I think I also sort of have a false hope because he didn’t go through with the vasectomy yet. Like, he loved me enough to compromise on delaying it and then more false hope came about.
Today we are arguing again—and I am depressed, again. He will list all of the logical reasons why he doesn’t and has not ever wanted a child, and I will fail to articulate my emotions—because that’s all I can say it is now, a feeling. What I guess I wonder is: Will this pass? Is my love for my spouse enough to carry me, to carry us through this “fear of missing out” and whatever else may be rolled up into my desire to have a child right now? I am thankful for the solidarity of knowing that other people experience this, too, but it feels so painful that this is undeniably such a divisive thing. I don’t know how I won’t resent him at some point if I continue to feel this way, and yet a life without him isn’t something I want either.
Well, this is the crux of our “childless by marriage” problem. She wants kids; he does not. She loves him, he loves her, but neither is likely to change their mind. What do they do now? I know many of you have been there, done that. Me too, but my situation was different because Fred was older, a father of three, and he’d already had the vasectomy. I stayed with him, and I’m not sorry. But what advice do you have for Kristin?
Do you want to tell your story at the Childless by Marriage blog? I’m looking for personal stories, 500-750 words long, that fit our childless-by-marriage theme. You could write about infertility, second marriages, partners who don’t want children, stepchildren, feeling left out when everyone around you has kids, fear of being childless in old age, birth control, and other related issues. Tell us how you how you came to be childless “by marriage” and how it has affected your life. Or you could write about someone else. We love stories about successful childless women. We do not want to hear about your lovely relationship with your children or how happy you are to be childfree. Not all submissions will be accepted, and all are subject to editing. If interested, email me at email@example.com.
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5 thoughts on “Reader Caught in Childless by Marriage Dilemma”
Quote: “I can’t lie and say some part of me didn’t subconsciously think that time or a miracle from the Lord would change his mind.” And “Is my love for my spouse enough to carry me, to carry us through this “fear of missing out” and whatever else may be rolled up into my desire to have a child right now?”
Hello, brave soul who opened up to Sue and had your innermost thoughts posted on our humble blog.
I’m a long-time follower of Sue’s blog. I’m also a strong believer in Jesus.
First, what you did is brave. In case you’re not aware. You were vulnerable with total strangers. You opened yourself up to scrutiny. This is no small feat. Well done.
On the first quote, I trusted God for years that by a miracle I would get pregnant, carry a baby full term and prove all those infertility doctors wrong. I did get pregnant which was a miracle . . . but miscarried 3 times, so the last 2 didn’t happen.
My journey goes back 30 years, so I’ve had a lot of time to process the pain of miracles that didn’t happen.
I’m going to speak to you plainly now. Please understand there are no shortcuts. You’ll have to experience the grief that comes with the many losses of the shattered dream of not having your own children. You’ll have to step through this grief one moment at a time, one holiday at a time, one baby shower at a time (and so on).
This grief process will not work unless you forgive . . .
Yourself for changing your mind
Your husband for not wanting a child
God for not changing your husband
And anyone or anything else you need to forgive. Release these things to the Lord. He already knows your heart anyway. The sooner this process starts, the sooner your life will have peace in it. The longer you…
dwell on lost dreams
hold anger toward your husband
hold anger toward God
question why your heart wanted a baby after not wanting a baby
. . . peace will elude you.
I can tell you that a very full, happy and blessed life possible without the dream of having a child of my own is possible. I’m living proof.
Sure there are occasional “poor me” moments, but they do not last.
Grief is so weird. It’s unpredictable, uncontrollable, varies per individual, comes upon a person suddenly, happens in the oddest places at the most inconvenient times. But, once you’ve pressed through the bulk of it, you find yourself a different person in good ways, wiser and able to embrace what you do have with freedom and peace. There is more than hope for a fulfilling life–there is reality. But it takes owning your sadness, forgiving as needed and forging a new life with new dreams with your husband.
Hopefully this speaks to your heart. I will pray for you for God’s peace.
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There honestly is no right answer. What happened with my situation is that my mind became far too consuming with grieving my future childlessness. I loved my partner so much, but I absolutely knew the resentment would build up for me and the guilt for him. I felt the relationship would have ended at some point due to that.
I am saying this from the position of having met someone new and having a child. What I would say is that it is something you need to be relatively sure you want. Now, having my son, I realise my previous partner would never have coped with the relentlessness of caring for a baby. I desperately wanted a child, but I have found adapting to this new life hard. People who tell you that your child will fit into your life, or that life won’t change much are not being honest. It is a total lifestyle change.
My advice would be that therapy might help, talking and thinking through what you imagine your future might be in both scenarios. I hope you find some peace.
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dresseatlove, I love your name. Thank you for sharing the realities of the having-a-baby dream. When deciding what to do, we need to consider how overwhelming early motherhood is. Hugs.
There is no perfect answer. By that I mean there is no answer where everybody gets off hurt-free.
Having lived through this, I will say this: it is such a fundamental question that it will cause angst and cause division for many years to come. Either he’ll give in and you’ll have kids. He will then resent you, especially when things get tough (as they inevitably do when caring for a child). Or you’ll give in and not have kids. You’ll then resent him. And grieve for many years at various milestones.
Best case scenario would be that you both arrive at the same conclusion and 100% close the door on the other options and reconcile yourselves to your choices completely. This isn’t likely for most people. There’s always that small thought at the back of your mind.
So now the choice really is: Do you want to find a partner where your choices align? Or do you want to stick with this partner knowing you’ll have angst and grief for years to come, and that’s okay because other aspects of your relationship make it worthwhile?
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Yes, that’s exactly how it is for all of us. No one gets off hurt-free.