If They Don’t Want Kids, Do You Have to Break Up?

That’s the question that arises in the majority of comments here at Childless by Marriage.  So many people, mostly anonymous, write that their partner says he (or she) does not want to have children. In some cases, they both agreed on not having kids in the beginning, but now the writer has changed her mind and is frustrated because her partner has not. In other cases, the partner has just announced that he isn’t interested in having kids. Not now, not ever, he doesn’t want to discuss it.

The heartbroken writer says: Now we have to break up. They may have been together for five, ten or twenty years, but it’s over because their partner does not want to be a parent.

Yesterday, Anonymous wrote: My girlfriend of 8 years has just told me she does not want children. she won’t even discuss it. I’m gutted and know I can’t stay with her. It is incredibly painful. She loves children and is great with them. Instead of even giving a reason, she just says she is ‘at peace’ with her decision.

But is it over? Should you really throw away a relationship that is good in every other way over this issue? God knows it’s a huge issue. The Catholic Church considers it grounds for annulment, declaring the marriage was never valid. Having children or not changes the whole course of your life, and if you have always wanted to be a mother or father, shouldn’t you pursue that?

Maybe. But how do you know whether you will find someone else in time to procreate or that you will ever love another person as much as the partner you have now? You don’t. So hold on. Don’t be too quick to jump ship or to broadcast to the world that your partner is a rat. Take a breath. Talk about it. I know, they don’t always want to talk. Give them a little time. Find a way to approach the subject without accusations and threats. Maybe say, “I love you so much and I want to understand . . .” Maybe you could each write a letter explaining your feelings. Maybe you could try counseling. Maybe there’s a good reason or an obstacle that you can help them get over. Or not. Just don’t give up too quickly. If you really love someone, you have to accept them as they are. If up until now, this person was The One, maybe he still is.

If the relationship is new and you really haven’t established any strong ties, then adios. Tell them it’s a deal-breaker and move on. But if you have given everything to this relationship, maybe it’s meant to be.

What do you think about this? Have you ever broken up over children? Are you thinking about it? What would you advise if it was your brother or your best friend? Please comment.

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Are we defying nature by not making babies?

Women’s bodies are baby factories. It’s not all we are, of course, but if you look at our bodies, they are definitely designed to produce babies. Our breasts give milk, our vagina is designed to take in sperm, the ovaries to produce eggs which unite with the sperm, and the uterus to provide a nest for the resulting embryo to grow into a baby. Somehow, when it’s time, the body knows how to send the baby out through wide hips and a cervix that expands tremendously. Women carry extra fat reserves to help nourish the babies they carry. Hormones flood our bodies to keep the process going.

Every month of our fertile years, our uteruses prepare a cushy space for a baby then flush it away through our periods. That monthly flow of blood is the reminder of what’s not happening in our bodies, that we’re not making babies. I had periods for 40 years. Mostly it was a nuisance, messy, painful, and embarrassing. I didn’t think much about how it meant I was not pregnant because I wasn’t trying to get pregnant. I was using birth control with my first husband, and my second husband had had a vasectomy. Between marriages, I was trying NOT to get pregnant, so the arrival of my period was a relief. But think about how amazing this whole system is and how different from men’s bodies, for whom it’s all about sex.

Of course, we’re not JUST baby machines. We think, we love, we create, we dance. We’re CEOs, doctors, lawyers, teachers, ministers, artists, actors, bakers, gardeners, and so much more. But we do it all with bodies designed for motherhood. In modern times, we can decide we don’t want to be mothers. Sometimes our partners make the choice for us. Sometimes something goes wrong and we can’t get pregnant or carry a baby to term. But four out of five women still have children. Why not us?

Every other animal reproduces without questioning whether or not to do it. But we humans with our fancy brains sometimes say, “No, I’d rather do something else.” Not to get all Catholic on you, but is this right? I would love to know what you think about all this. Women’s bodies are designed to have babies. What does it mean when we choose not to use those parts or let someone make that choice for us?