You’ve got to ask the hard questions

Two days ago, Richa wrote:

I am going through the worst pain of my life. On second day of my marriage my husband told me that he already has two kids so he would not want kids from me. It came to me very shocking. He just announced his decision and never thought what I wanted. Today after 4 years of marriage I keep fighting for kids but he just turns a deaf ear. I have started having menopause and he never ever discusses anything about my pain of being infertile. Many times I talk abt out adoption but he doesn’t even wanna do anything about it.
I loved him but I hate him for this. I am really not a risk taker and because of insecurities that life offers I continue to live with him. But it is really difficult to forgive him for all this.

On the second day of their marriage???

As someone far removed from the situation, I’m thinking I’d be screaming, “Annulment!” But then I try to put myself in her situation on that day. She loves this man. For months or maybe years, she has been planning this wedding and this life together. Now, with the wedding dress not yet put away, the gifts not yet all opened, the ring still new and shiny on her finger, her new husband drops this bomb. She feels stuck. Heartbroken. Disbelieving. Surely he doesn’t mean it. He’ll change his mind.

He didn’t.

Why didn’t he say something sooner? Did he just realize he wasn’t comfortable with the idea of becoming a father? Was he afraid he’d lose her if he told her the truth? Is he just a jerk?

What would you do if you were that woman? From the comments I have received here at Childless by Marriage, I know that some of you ARE that woman or that man who found out after the wedding that you did not feel the same way about having children.

If you’d like to respond to Richa, go to (https://childlessbymarriageblog.com/2013/02/26/sometimes-childless-grief-is-too-much-to-handle-alone/) and scroll down to the comments.

There are certain questions that need to be asked before a relationship goes too far. Maybe I’m influenced by the finale of “The Bachelor” TV show that happened on Monday. I hope I’m not spoiling anything, but Nick chose Vanessa. Unlike the usual “bachelorettes” who swoon into their engagement as if it were the happy ending of a fairy tale, Vanessa still has lots of questions and concerns and is not ready to plan a wedding until she knows some answers.

I’m with Vanessa. Love is great, but you’ve got to get some things straight before you make a long-term commitment. The following is a list of things you really need to talk about. If your partner refuses, see that as a giant red flag.

  •  How do you feel about having children with me? Do you want them? How soon? How many? What if we have fertility problems? Would you be willing to try in vitro fertilization or other techniques? Would you be willing to adopt children?
  •  Where do you want to live? Would you be willing to relocate? Are there places you would never want to live? Would you be willing to change jobs so we can live where I want or need to be?
  •  What are your goals in life? What do you dream of doing? Do you have a secret desire to be a singer, mountain climber or astronaut? What would you regret never having a chance to do?
  •  Are you religious? What church do you belong to? Would you be open to changing churches or expect me to convert?
  •  Republican or Democrat?
  •  Have you ever been arrested?
  •  Do problems with alcohol, drugs, mental illness or domestic violence run in your family? Do certain diseases run in your family?
  •  How will we handle money? Who will be in charge of the checkbook?
  •  Dog or cat?

It’s funny. We learn our sweethearts’ favorite foods, favorite music, and favorite football teams, but we don’t always know about the things that really matter. If I don’t eat sweet potatoes or okra, so what? But if I won’t set foot in the church that means everything to you, that’s a problem. Likewise, if I say no to the children you have always wanted. Sometimes we don’t ask because we’re afraid the answers will destroy the relationship. They might, but better now than when it’s too late.

So ask the hard questions. Sometimes people will give you the answers you want to hear instead of the honest truth. But push for real answers. It will save a lot of heartache later.

What do you think? Let’s talk about it.

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Men agonize over childlessness, too

Day after day, I receive comments and emails from women who are struggling to decide to stay with their male partners who don’t want children or leave in hope of finding someone who wants to father their children. But it’s not all women. Men agonize over this issue, too.

On Sunday, I received a long comment from a man calling himself Rollcage. Here are excerpts from what he wrote:

“So I’m 30/m and my partner is 26/f. We have been dating for a year and compared to many on here with years of marriage behind them that’s nothing, but this woman is extraordinary. The love of my life and I am on the verge of proposing to her.

“Apart from a few ups and downs we have a perfect relationship, we can talk without getting bored nonstop, we share so many similar interests and I could never have imagined a woman like her existed.

“So you probably can guess where I’m going with this. She is already a mother of one, a 2 year old boy from a previous relationship. . .

“She never wanted to have kids before they did and he managed to convince her to conceive. She had always said that she didn’t want kids and that if she did circumstances would be different (she would be married, post career, etc.). You could almost say she was deceived by him. He had no love for her, he simply wanted someone to give him a child after he lost his previous to a previous partner . . .

“My gf is an incredible mum, even more so when she coped so well raising him under the most difficult circumstances! She’s sweet around him and I found that part of her more and more attractive. I started to think to myself hey if we ever do decide, I know she’ll be a great mum.” At this point, I didn’t really think about kids, but I thought that it was possible that we may end up having one someday.

“Then something happened around two weeks ago. She was looking after him (he spent 2 weeks with his mum and 2 with his dad) and he got sick with the stomach flu. He was often sick when he visits her, we think because of the childcare he goes to, and my gf would often get sick herself as a result, something she can’t afford to do with her job. She also has emetophobia and doesn’t do well when he is vomiting. This always prompts her mum to visit to help look after him and clear the mess.

“This isn’t anything new, but this time this event, coupled with her current form of sickness and also a decision having to be made in the future about where he should stay for pre-school (they live in different towns), she decided that she just wasn’t made up to be a mum and that she should give her ex custody and see her son only every other weekend . . .

“I just don’t know how to feel. I can’t leave her, and I know I’ll be happy with her without our own, but her changing her mind about her own son has made me see things differently. I still don’t know if I will ever want kid,s but the woman who I love who I always saw was such a great mum is now convinced motherhood is just not for her. She has told me she doesn’t want me holding it against her and she doesn’t want me trying to change her mind. Equally she told me she doesn’t want to make me unhappy if she can’t give me what I want . . .

“I desperately want her to just notice how great of a dad I would be and to crave a child of our own, but the stupid thing about that is I don’t even know if I do want children. I feel as if I’ve always expected to be the one in a relationship who probably sides more with not having kids, but suddenly I find myself wanting kids more than her (even though I’m not sure yet) and her lack of desire vs mine puts me off . . .

“My heart tells me I’m going to marry this woman and deep down I hope spending more time together she will change her mind.

“My head tells me I need to get used to the idea of not having children as most likely it isn’t going to happen.

“It’s almost like her wanting it less than me has made me feel unloved. I want her to be able to give me what she gave her ex and I want to prove to her that it will be different, that we will enjoy it. Whilst she is the opposite trying to convince me it’s a bad idea . . . ”

There’s a lot more. You can read the whole comment by scrolling down to the end of the comments on the original post. Then you can add your own comments here or there.

While I’m sharing links, here are some articles about the male point of view:

“The Untold Grief of Childless Men”

“Childless Men Speak Out”

“Why Do We Never Worry about Men’s Childlessness and Infertility?”

“Men Aging without Children”

Also check out my previous posts “What Do the Men Say about Being Childless by Marriage?” and “Father’s Day Tortures Childless Men.”

No, my friends, it’s not just the women who suffer with this dilemma. Please feel free to comment.

Childless post 550, same question persists

Dear childless friends,

We seem to have discussed everything there is to discuss about being childless by marriage. This is my 550th post! How many times can we go over the “stay or go” dilemma? The mate, usually the man, doesn’t want kids; you do. Should you leave in the hope of finding someone else or stick around and hope that you can live with the decision or, better, change, his mind? The answer is always: Talk to your mate, be honest about how you feel, and decide which you want more, kids or this partner. Unless the relationship is already a mess or you’ve only been dating for a week and a half. Then the answer seems clear to me. Move on!

Funny nobody has written here about having an affair with someone who would be happy to make babies together. Should she leave to be with the potential baby daddy or get pregnant and tell her husband, “Oops, I guess some sperm slipped through all the layers of birth control”? Is nobody doing that, or does that only happen in fiction? You can tell us anonymously in the comments.

I did date someone who tempted me with the babies we could have. I wasn’t married at the time, but technically he was. The kids he had were gorgeous, and he really hated birth control. But no, he was not the right guy. And once I met Fred, I didn’t want any other man. I never considered leaving him to have babies.

It’s all a done deal for me now. My namesake niece, age 29, is going for the mommy job in a different way. She has just been approved to become a foster mother. A child could be arriving any day. She is not married. She works full-time. How she’s going to do this, I don’t know, but she’ll have plenty of help and advice. Her brother and his wife just had a baby last year, and her mom is over the moon with grandmotherhood. Her cousins and friends keep having babies. Being a strong, assertive young woman, she decided to go for it on her own. She is braver than I ever was.

My cousin and his wife just announced their pregnancy on Facebook. I’m glad for them. This will be their second child and it will be great for their daughter to have a little sister. I added my congratulations to the many congrats pouring in. But it’s all very far away, geographically and in terms of life experiences. I can hear the babies crying and the children playing in the distance, but I’m busy with other things. For the most part, I’m happy. Are there times when it hurts? Yes, especially when I see family photos of women my age surrounded by kids and grandkids. All I’ve got is myself and my dog, and she can’t work the camera. But what’s done is done. I curse for a minute and move on.

Speaking of moving on, I’m delighted that Halloween is over. Aren’t you? This morning, I saw my first TV Christmas ad for kids’ toys. Yikes.

So readers, what have we not talked about here? What concerns about your childless life would you like to see discussed? I’m here for you.

Go or Stay? Readers Keep Asking

Should I leave the person I love in the hope I can find someone else who is willing to have children with me? That question comes up over and over in the comments here. Sometimes people ask if they should do it. Sometimes they declare that they are going to do it, that they have to do it, that it’s breaking their hearts, but they have no choice. However, most of them haven’t done it yet. It’s next year, next month, if he doesn’t change his mind, if, if, if . . .

I don’t blame anyone who is hesitating about taking that giant step, especially when they have been in a relationship for many years or when they’re borderline too old to get pregnant. What if you end up alone?

I don’t know how many people are as insecure as I am, but I always found it miraculous to get one guy to love me. How could I know if anyone would ever even ask me out again? And now that I’m older and widowed, it has been ages since I kissed anyone except my dog, and my friend are all busy with their grandchildren. Maybe I screwed up, but now it’s too late.

How do you step out on faith, as my churchy friends used to say, when you’re not sure there’s anything under your feet except a big black hole? I didn’t do it. Most of the men in my life left me one way or the other. There was that handsome druggie whom I dumped because I couldn’t deal with him always being stoned. He was willing to have children. It would have been a disaster. As it was, he stalked me for six months after we broke up. No, you never know what’s out there. It’s not like “The Bachelor” TV show where you have all these men who look like models and who all profess to be eager to get married and have children. The real world isn’t like that.

I suppose a person could do online dating, specifying that they only want partners who are willing to have babies. Back when I was younger and dating, that kind of ambition scared some guys away. I suspect it still does. If you’re Catholic, you could do catholicmatch.com. The church says you have to welcome children. But I know a Catholic couple that didn’t get around to marrying and trying to get pregnant until the woman’s eggs were defunct, so even that’s not a guarantee.

I’m meandering here. It’s that kind of day. But hear me on the following:

1) If you are in the go-or-stay dilemma, I can’t tell you what to do. I don’t know what’s right for you. You have to decide which you want more, to be with this person or to have children. Nobody should have to make such a choice, but that’s the deal.

2) If you’re in your early 20s, just dating, and haven’t been together long, for God’s sake, find someone else. You do not have to stay or to settle for a life that’s less than you want. If you’re older and have been together for ages, see #1.

3) I would really like to hear from someone who has taken the leap, left the relationship and tried again. Did they find someone, did they have kids, did it work out? We need to know.

I welcome your comments.

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.

Why Wouldn’t He/She Want to Have Children?

Here at Childless by Marriage, one reader after another reports the same problem: One partner wants kids and the other does not. Period. End of discussion. If infertility is an issue, there are ways to work around it, such as in vitro, surrogates, donors, or adoption, but no. They don’t want to talk about it. I always encourage readers to keep the conversation going, but I had a tight-lipped first husband who wouldn’t discuss it either, so I understand if you keep running into a dead end.

Why are some people so sure they don’t want children? Let’s look at possible reasons:

  1. ·They hate children–Kids are needy, whiny and sticky.
  2.  Money–Raising children is too darned expensive.
  3. Conflicts with existing kids–They already have children from a previous relationship. Between child support, dealing with the ex and taking care of these kids, they can’t imagine bringing more children into their lives.
  4. Fear–of pain, conflicts, cost, life changes, and passing on physical or emotional problems.
  5. Age—They don’t want to be the oldest parent on the soccer field.
  6. Career—Having kids will totally screw it up.
  7. Freedom—They want to do whatever they please whenever they please.
  8. Marriage—Will having children ruin their relationship? Will the wife focus all her attention on the kids? Will they fight over how to raise them? Will they never have sex again?
  9. Inadequacy—They’d be a lousy father or mother.
  10. Responsibility—Don’t want it.
  11. Overpopulation—The world has too many people already.
  12. Messed up world—Why subject a child to wars, terrorism, climate change and a culture gone to hell?

Do any of these sound familiar? Can you add anything to the list? Do you think it’s possible to change their minds? I look forward to reading your comments.