Would He Divorce You If You Got Pregnant?

Newsweek: “Woman Accepts Divorce after Twelve Years over Unexpected Pregnancy”

Twelve years ago, this couple agreed they would not have children. Neither of them wanted kids. They were happy being just the two of them, and that’s the end of that discussion. Except that the 40-year-old wife somehow got pregnant in spite of his vasectomy.

Surgical error? Immaculate Conception? Was she cheating on him? We don’t know. She says, “It’s like a miracle.” She wants to keep the baby. The husband has declared that he will divorce her. When he said he didn’t want kids, he meant it. In general, she doesn’t like kids either, but she wants this baby, even if she has to raise it alone.

The article goes on to talk about the impact having children has on a marriage, how things change dramatically and how couples with children are more likely to divorce than couples without. I don’t know how much truth is in this piece, which is annoying to read with its overdose of ads and pop-ups, but what do you think?

Can having a baby ruin a marriage? Is that one of the reasons you’re not pushing to get pregnant? Is the guy in the article a jerk for rejecting his wife when she gets pregnant despite efforts to prevent it? Or is he sticking to what he has always said, that he absolutely does not want to be a father?

The article quotes smartmarriages.com, which says one factor more likely to lead to divorce is the situation where a woman wants a child more than her spouse. “Couples who do not agree on how much they do or don’t want to have children are twice as likely to end their marriage.”

So I ask, because disagreement about having children is the essence of being childless by marriage, if both parties are not 100 percent sure they are not going to have children, no matter what happens, is the possibility of divorce always hanging over their heads?

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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Katy Seppi’s online Childless Collective Summit starts tomorrow morning at 8:30 PST, 11:30 EST, and runs July 14-17. It includes four days of talks, stories, workshops, and networking with others who are childless. Registration is free. Your anonymity is guaranteed. All sessions are recorded and available for free for 24 hours. By purchasing a Pace Yourself Pass, you can watch them at your convenience. Click here for more information or to register.

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He was an Older Man with kids…

Today, as we sit breathing smoke and looking out at orange sky from wildfires burning all over Oregon and California, we have a guest post from “Kimberly.”

I just discovered the term for the grief that has been building up in my throat and tear ducts yesterday as I was scouring the internet for anything to define my current emotional state, and I finally found it: childless by circumstance. Finally a phrase to equate with this heavy unwavering feeling that pervades my soul.

I always wanted kids, since I first taught kindergarteners at Vacation Bible School at the tender age of 13. Sunday school followed that, and I even became a nanny at age 22 to an adorable toddler named Alex. My life was to be filled with kids—dirty diapers, tiny fingers grasping my thumb, wispy, sweaty baby hairs that I would tenderly wipe away and salty tears that would dry up instantly with my hugs.

But then I fell in love at age 27 with a man 10 years my senior, separated from his wife, with 10 and 14-year-old children. We dated on and off for years, a desperate and mesmerizing love story. I tried countless times to move on from him and start a fresh relationship with someone who could give me the safety I craved, complete with 2.5 kids and a white picket fence. But he was my soul mate, so I followed my heart and married him finally at age 37. He never wanted more kids and told me so, but I guess I believed that love would eventually change his mind. It didn’t and I accepted that—or I thought I did because I grew to love his children, especially his daughter, like my own. I even bought Natalie her wedding dress.

Then Natalie got pregnant at age 26, and I grew so excited at the thought of becoming a grandmother at age 44. Except once the baby was born, the grief hit me like a tidal wave. Here was what I could never have. The loss of the life I dreamed about was amplified and triggered by her newborn, and I realized I had never told one person in my life how much it hurts to lose my baby dream. I never even whispered it. I just bottled it up into some tiny piece of my heart and hoped that being a stepmother and eventually a grandmother would be enough. No one knows how hard it is to walk in my shoes every day with a profound sense of loss—what a burden I feel—and how lonely it is to be childless by circumstance.

I have a friend right now who is almost 41 and actively trying to get pregnant for the first time. She too married later in life and was never sure if she wanted to have children. But then out of the blue it hit her, that yes, this is the path she wants to go down. Somehow I have become her confidante and the only one she tells about all that she is going through. It never occurs to her how much this might hurt someone like me, someone who never got the chance to have kids. How each time she calls me, I end up sobbing afterwards, how I do not think I am strong enough to support her in this journey, how much I wish that journey was mine.

Kimberly, we do know how you feel because many of us feel the same way. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Well, readers, comments? Commiseration? Hugs?

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Please pray for everyone involved in the western wildfires, including the firefighters and the thousands who have had to leave their homes. The heat is extreme and the wind near-constant. Here on the Oregon coast, the sky is orange and full of smoke, and it’s almost dark at 10 a.m., but we are safe so far.

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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 sufalick@gmail.com.

He said he didn’t want any more kids

Thursday, I wrote about how my first husband, Jim, didn’t want children. It was a gradual, non-stated thing until I thought I might be pregnant. Then he said he’d leave if I was pregnant.

Our divorce a year or so later had nothing to do with that, but under the rules of the Catholic church, I was able to obtain an annulment on the grounds that he refused to have children. The diocesan tribunal in San Francisco ruled it an invalid marriage.

So, three years later, along came Fred, cute, funny, loving, responsible, gainfully employed, all the stuff a girl wants in a husband. The first time we made love, I rushed to put my diaphragm in, but it proved unnecessary. He had had a vasectomy after his third child was born. After we got engaged, we talked about reversing the vasectomy or adopting a child, but finally he told me that he really didn’t want to have any more children. I was upset, but we went on to get married. Did I think he’d change his mind? Probably. I tend heavily toward denial. But in our 25 years of marriage, the only babies in our family were the ones his daughter had.

Looking back, I’m glad Fred was honest about not wanting more children. Over the years, I found that he liked children, but didn’t want to be responsible for them. Like Jim, he wasn’t keen on babies. To be honest, he wasn’t even that good with puppies. All that noise and mess. I grieved the loss of the children I might have had, and, to Fred’s credit, he felt tremendously guilty.

It’s not always that one person is the bad guy. I can see Fred’s side. He was 15 years older than me, and he had spent years raising the three kids he already had. He had thought he was done with that part of life until I came along. If there’s any blame to be laid, it’s on me. Fred loved me enough that I believe he would have gone along with the process if I had insisted that I couldn’t be happy without being a  mother. Instead, I made a non-decision and the years passed until it was too late.

How about you? Have you made a definite decision to have or not have kids? If you cannot be happy without them, have you made that clear to your partner?  Will it damage your relationship if one person has to give up what they want?