Did They Stay Childless Together or Split?

I have been editing old posts and their accompanying comments. (Please proofread, friends.) I’m dying to know what happened to all of those people whose partners said no to kids and put them into a tizzy of should I go or should I stay? There were so many. Today I was reading some of the 245 comments on a 2013 post titled, “If You Disagree About Children, Is Your Relationship Doomed?”

Anonymous: Hi, … I got engaged six months ago to my on-off partner of three years. We had been all off, and he said he wanted to get married and have kids. He had not said this before so I felt something had clicked for him and us. He was so up for it he even got me to add pregnancy coverage to my health care immediately. I have just turned 42 and we got married a few months ago. Our finances have been tight and we also weren’t getting on great, but I thought kids would be in the mix when we got things sorted. We have just had a chat and my husband has changed his mind about having kids. He says he doesn’t want them anymore, and it is not and will not be open for discussion. I am devastated. I would not have gotten engaged had I realized this truth, as I always have wanted kids and would not have entered into a relationship with someone who wasn’t open to trying. This is very real and raw for me, as it was only a few hours ago. I feel it’s my calling to be a mother.

 My response: Anon July 15, I’m so sorry this happened. I find it amazing how many guys change their minds after the wedding. Have another chat and let him know how hurt you are. I pray you can work this out.

By now, surely the issue is settled one way or another. They broke up or they stayed together. They had a baby or they didn’t.

If you have been in that situation, please tell us what happened. What did you decide to do? Does it feel like the right decision now? It will help those coming behind you to figure out what to do.

I’m relieved to know that I still agree with the advice I gave back then. Also embarrassed that I needed to proofread, too. I hope the typos are all gone now.

***

I leave tomorrow for my father’s funeral. I know that I will be sitting on that front-row pew as a party of one with my brother’s tribe: wife, children, grandchildren, in-laws, with other families nearby. Just me. For years, it has been me and Dad, but he’s the guest of honor this time. Damn.

So there’s that. If you don’t have children now, the loss compounds in the future because you will also not have your children’s partners and children, and your grandchildren’s partners and children, and everyone’s in-laws. The loss just expands. Like an earthquake that starts out small then blows the world apart. They say each higher number on the Richter scale is not just a little bit more but exponentially more (WAY more).

Something to think about.

Thank you all for being here. I treasure you.

 

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When hormones outtalk common sense

I’ve been thinking about Monday’s “Bachelorette” TV show. Did you see it? Kaitlyn, the bachelorette, and Nick, one of her suitors, made out all over Dublin, even in a church. It was embarrassing to watch. I kept yelling at the screen, “Nick get your hands out of her dress!” but he didn’t hear me. Then they went back to her hotel suite and had sex. We didn’t see it, but we heard the sound effects, and it was all over the news on Tuesday. Shooting in Charleston, Kaitlyn does Nick. It could all have been staged, but clearly those two were in that zone where common sense goes out the window. I’ve been there. Have you?

In her voiceovers, Kaitlin kept saying that when she gets together with Nick, she forgets the cameras, the other guys and everything else. I know the feeling. Maybe you do, too. You have just discovered this person. Your hormones are going crazy. Suddenly nothing else matters. You will do or say anything to keep the relationship going. You’ll move, you’ll quit your job, you’ll shut out the advice of everyone in your world, and you’ll ignore that little voice in your head that says, “Hey, wait a minute.”

Then the initial fire cools. You look around and think, wait, I don’t want to change my whole life. I like my job. I like my home. He’s not as cute as I thought he was. Suddenly he or she says, “About those babies . . . I’m not so sure.” Now you’re committed and in a jam.

That’s where most of the folks here, including me, end up. I hear it over and over. Yesterday, an anonymous writer sent a four-part comment about her situation. She’s 38, he’s 40. She’s sure he’s the love of her life. She moved in with him a while ago. He was okay with baby thing before, but now he’s saying he doesn’t want to have a baby. She’s freaking out, she’s starting counseling, she’s not sure if they can stay together. What do I think she should do?

I never know what to tell people in this situation. The old lady in me misses the days when people didn’t jump into bed or move in together so quickly, when you had to commit to marriage before doing the horizontal polka. Or maybe people were just sneakier about it. We all do it. I slept with Fred early on and moved in with him before we got married. Luckily, I got a good man and I have no regrets, except for not having children, but it doesn’t always work out that well. I could have skipped my whole first marriage if I had listened to the wiser woman in my head.

Don’t ignore that little voice. It’s like when I quit my excellent job and gave up my apartment in 1983 to sing with a band that had a contract to tour the U.S. All I ever wanted was to sing in a band, and here was my chance. We were going to be rich and famous. Our sponsors went bankrupt in two months. There I was with no home and no job. I moved back in with my parents and started over. Wiser members of the band had kept their jobs and had something to go back to, but me, I jumped headfirst.

It’s the same with relationships. I know how it feels to be crazy in love. The rest of the world just disappears, but don’t let it. Do whatever you can to get a clear head, whether it’s prayer, a hiking trip, or a long talk with a friend. Listen to your loved ones, listen to that voice in your head. Don’t burn any bridges until you’re sure it’s going to work because sometimes it’s perfect, and sometimes it turns into a disaster.

Have you been in similar situations? Have you dumped everything for a man or woman and then regretted it? I would love to hear your comments.

Should you gamble on a partner who says he or she doesn’t want children?

Back in my grandmother’s day, things were pretty simple. You grew up, got married and had babies. Period. No birth control. No legal abortions. No vasectomies or tube-tieing. The only people who didn’t have children, aside from priests and nuns, were the ones who were physically unable. And everyone pitied them. “Oh poor Aunt Martha, she couldn’t have children.”

There was no choice, no changing of minds, no “do you want to have children?” “Let’s wait until we have more money” or “I don’t think I want to have children.” People just had babies, and if it made their lives more difficult, if taking care of the kids meant sacrificing something else you would have liked to do, tough.

Sometimes I wish we were still back in those days. With all the sex my first husband and I had, I’d have at least three children now, maybe more because we might not have gotten divorced. I’d still be attached to a husband who drank too much and didn’t believe in monogamy. Instead, we split up, and I married Fred, who was the best husband ever, except for not wanting to have children with me. Did it turn out for the best? I think so.

Every day I receive comments from readers struggling with the baby question. In many cases, they and their partners completely agreed when they got together about having or not having children. Then either one of them changed their minds or one of them proved to be unable to make babies. And now they don’t know what to do. They’re broken-hearted. They’re talking about breaking up, but they’re still in love and don’t know if they’ll ever find a better mate. I don’t know what to tell them. Things happen. People turn out to be infertile. People who said they didn’t care about having children suddenly realize that they can’t bear living their entire lives without experiencing motherhood or fatherhood. People who thought they wanted children discover they really don’t.

What it comes down to, I think, is making a commitment to another person and sticking to it, no matter what. Relationships are a gamble. Marriage is a gamble. He/she might die, might get sick, might get fired, might not be able to get pregnant, might decide he’d rather have a puppy. People change their minds. If you truly love that person, you don’t leave when things get tough. You talk it through and find the best solution for both of you. When it comes to having children, if one wants them and one doesn’t, somebody’s going to get hurt. So the question it always comes down to is: Is this person worth taking a chance?

What do you think? Please post your comments. I’m running out of answers.