You might have noticed most of the people commenting here are women. This is not an all-woman blog. Men are welcome, but they are definitely in the minority. Why is that?
Many women, including me, have struggled to get their male partners to talk about the baby-no baby question. They change the subject, shut down, or leave the room. Why?
At a recent World Childless Week webinar, Robin Hadley, a counselor who specializes in working with involuntarily childless men, gave some answers. Childless himself, he said he came from a family of eight children and really wanted to be a dad when he grew up. But circumstances worked against him. His first marriage ended in divorce. By the time he met his second wife, he was in his late 30s. She was older, and it was simply too late to have children. He was forced into a stay-or-go decision and decided to stay.
Hadley has learned to express his feelings about childlessness, but knows he’s in the minority.
People may mistakenly think that women are “broody” and men just aren’t, Hadley said. But they both have the biological drive to procreate. Men are silenced by the “culture of masculinity.” Men are supposed to be strong, courageous, and independent. They strive to prove their virility not just by reproduction but by work and earning money. Girls are encouraged to be expressive, but from boyhood, males are taught to be strong and never show their emotions. Boys aren’t supposed to cry. It becomes deeply ingrained, and that may be why your partner won’t discuss how he feels about having children.
Does this make sense? Male readers, do you recognize this in yourself, this need to stifle your emotions and be strong? Or is there something else that keeps you from opening up about childlessness? Please share in the comments.
These articles perhaps explain the situation better than I can. Give them a read.
“Male Childlessness: You Think ‘If I’m Not Reproducing—Then, What Am I?’” The Guardian, Nov. 17, 2018. Features interview with Robin Hadley.
“Men Don’t Talk About Their Feelings Because They Don’t See the Point, Study Says,” Martha Edwards, Huffington Post, Sept. 9, 2011
Markway, Barbara, PhD. “How to Crack the Code of Men’s Feelings,” Psychology Today, Jan. 18, 2014
Would you like to write something for the Childless by Marriage blog? I’m looking for 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.