In response to last week’s post regarding regret if we choose our mate over having children, Heavy Heart wrote:
“First of all thank you for posting this as I would like to hear advice from the ladies who remained childless past their child bearing age. I am going to be 36 years old very soon, married to a man who has a 10 year old son. We agreed on having our own child when we first stated our serious relationship 5 years ago. Fast forward 5 years – Now married for 3 years, bio mom drama subsided, financials are more stable. My husband says his life is finally “good.” —– um…can we now start planning for our child?? My husband has been avoiding the conversation as much as he can. Excuses excuses and excuses. I am very close to asking him “YES or NO” and if the NO is the final answer, leaving him, but I can’t get to that final answer and I don’t want to hear that final answer…. He says he is on the fence because of the financial burden of having two children because he has to take care of his son first before having his second. He knows it’s “unfair” if he said no and he knows that I will probably leave him so he is avoiding the conversation all together.”
In responding to Heavy Heart, something suddenly clicked in my head. If they had the kind of relationship meant to last forever, she wouldn’t think about leaving. I know that for me, leaving Fred was not an option. He was my person, period.
So I ask you: Is the marriage already too shaky to last if one of the partners is thinking about leaving for any reason, especially if they’re giving their spouse an ultimatum: Say yes, I stay, say no, and I’m gone? And what about the husband in this case? People do change their minds, but they had a deal. Does he not love her enough to stick with that deal?
Heavy Heart, if you’re reading this, I hope it’s okay that I’m sharing your comment more widely. You are not alone in this situation. I hear variations of the same story all the time. One of the partners balks at having children, despite having agreed to them earlier, and now the other is thinking about leaving, wondering if they can find someone else who is more willing before it’s too late.
Me, I want to scream at Heavy Heart’s husband, and I want to go back to simpler times. I have asked my father about deciding to have children. His answer is always that, “You just did.” In those years shortly after World War II before birth control was easy to get, people got married and had babies, period.
So what do you think? What is your advice for Heavy Heart?
My dog Annie had her knee surgery last Thursday. I have been in full caregiver mode since then, doling out pills, watching to make sure she doesn’t tear up her incision, taking her on short, careful walks, and just sitting with her. Right now, she’s snoring beside my desk. You can read more about her situation at my Unleashed in Oregon blog.
Readers: Today we have a guest post by Sharilee Swaity who has published a new book about second marriages. See the link at the end of this post. I already ordered my copy. I think you’ll like this post and you’ll probably have few things to say about it. Enjoy.–Sue
First, I just wanted to thank Sue so much for allowing me space on her blog to share my story. I have been reading “Childless by Marriage” for a few years now and it was the only place that seemed to understand my feelings on this topic. This is the story of how I came to a greater place of acceptance regarding my spouse’s decision to not have children again.
He was Sorry
One sweltering summer evening, not too long ago, I looked over at my macho husband as he lay quietly on our bed. With tears in his eyes, he told me he was sorry. That he loved me and knew I deserved children but he just couldn’t do it. This time I listened and finally believed him.
The “having kids argument” had been a constant in our marriage, pulled out of the closet once every two or three months, a battle with no winners and sure tears, hurt feelings and harsh words.
My tirade was sometimes triggered by the sight of a friend with eight kids bragging about their latest escapades. Or the changes in my body that signaled I was getting closer and closer to that time when having children would no longer be an option. Sometimes it was brought on by the difficulties of step parenting his children, a reminder of the lack of my own.
I would come to him, irate, pleading with him, “Don’t you love me? Don’t I deserve children, like every other woman?” My husband would look sad, avoiding my gaze and sitting quietly, his head hanging in shame.
Despite the hurt I saw on his face, the words would always spill out, the darkest thoughts of my heart, that were usually kept tucked safely away.
I am Childless By Marriage
You see, my husband has kids. I do not. I am, as the title of this blog so aptly describes, “childless by marriage.” I have stepchildren, whom I have taken as my own, but they are not mine. I love them dearly but they are their mom’s. And their Dad’s.
When my husband and I got married nine years ago, it was with the understanding that my husband was not able to have any more children because he was not physically able. It was a second marriage for both of us and he came into the marriage with children and a vasectomy.
When I found out about reversal surgery and came to an understanding that it would be theoretically possible for him to maybe have children, I asked him to undertake the procedure. He refused and I felt hurt and angry. Even though the chances of a successful reversal were almost nil and it would have cost $10,000 we did not have, I could not let it go, until that night.
What I came to realize in those few seconds that my husband pleaded with me, with pain in his gaze, is that not only is he physically unable to have children, but he is emotionally unable.
As a child, my husband went through a traumatic inter-racial adoption. He was ripped away from his biological mother at the point when he should have done his strongest bonding. After losing her at one year old, he did not meet her again until he was eighteen years old. He was adopted into a nice family, but he never felt quite connected with either family in the way that most of us take for granted.
Years later, he went through a divorce where he felt ripped away from his own children. Twice he lost a connection that should have been fundamental. Twice his heart was torn out of his chest. And he couldn’t do it again. For him, the thought of having children was irrevocably linked with certain loss.
His Pain Was Real
The moment I believed him, something changed in me and I saw beyond my own pain to see that his pain was devastatingly real, too. And I heard a still, small voice telling me to love him, embrace him. He was the one right in front of me that needed my love. There was no child–but there was him.
I saw with fresh eyes that his fear was just too strong. Just as I could never walk along the ledge of a vertical cliff, or enter a cave filled with bats, he can never again risk losing the most precious thing in his life.
I knew that I had to stop. Stop pushing him to do something that he couldn’t. Stop wishing for something that I didn’t have while ignoring the man that God had placed in my life.
What I saw in that moment of epiphany was that loving this man meant embracing him, fears and all. It meant accepting him, as he accepted me. I looked at him with eyes of compassion and felt a deep sense of connection with this man who loved me.
Does it mean I will never long for a child again or feel a wave of sadness when another acquaintance pops out a baby? Probably not. My own grief about missing out on children is complex and will probably still take time to work out. What it does mean, though, is that I intend to stop blaming him for my state. Blaming him for his brokenness. Blaming him for my own brokenness.
About the Author
Sharilee Swaity has been married to her husband for nine years now. She has two adult stepchildren and two cats. She spends her days writing and marketing her writing. Her book, “Second Marriage: An Insider’s Guide to Hope, Healing & Love” was published in April 2017, and is on sale this week on Amazon for $0.99. The book focuses on helping couples who are in a second marriage work through some of the common issues such as healing from the past, accepting their situation and loving their spouse. Sharilee also writes at her blog, Second Chance Love.
To get her free mini eBook for connecting with your spouse when you have no time, sign up here.
I keep receiving comments lately from women whose male partnerns have had vasectomies–surgery to prevent them from producing sperm. A vasectomy is intended to be permanent birth control. But people don’t always see it as permanent. The guy can just have surgery to reverse it. Right?
It’s not that simple, my friends. Here’s why.
1) If a man has had a vasectomy, at some point he was sure enough that he didn’t want any children–or any more–that he was willing to have surgery to make it permanent. That’s pretty darned sure. Maybe, as in my husband Fred’s situation, he had no idea that his first marriage would end and along would come a younger wife still wanting babies. In our case, we talked about having the surgery reversed, but Fred finally admitted he really didn’t want to start over with another baby. If I had had older kids, it would have been okay with him, but he found the whole baby and toddler thing exhausting and didn’t want to do it again when he was pushing 50. Your man may be younger and more interested in having children, but never forget that at some point, he was sure he didn’t want to get anyone pregnant.
2) Reversal doesn’t always work. The surgery to reverse the vasectomy is much more complicated than the original vasectomy surgery, and it’s not always successful. There may be blockages or the man may have developed antibodies to his own sperm. The longer it has been since the vasectomy, the worse the odds. If it has been less than thee years, chances of getting pregnant are better than 50 percent, but after 10 years, only about 30 percent result in pregnancy.
3) It costs a lot of money, estimated $5,000-$15,000, and most insurance companies consider it an elective procedure which they don’t cover.
I hate to bring more grief to people who are already suffering over the possibility of not having children, but we need to face reality. When you hook up with a man who has had a vasectomy, he is infertile and he may or may not be willing or able to change that. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. People do have the surgery and make babies. Talk to your doctors if you’re thinking about it.
You can find more information about vasectomy reversals at these websites.
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