Woe Is Me! “My Partner No Longer Wants To Have Children, But I Do!”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
My fiance doesn’t want kids, but I do, badly. I am divorced and have found the man who truly accepts me for who I am. However, there was a time when he would be thrilled at the thought of having children with me. Since the pandemic, his attitude has changed drastically, and he no longer wants children as he thinks they are too much work. I am trying to accept this as I love him. I don’t want to part ways with him, but how do I convince him/come to terms with it?
— No Winner In This Game
DR: Well, given that your fiancé has clearly expressed that he doesn’t want to have children, I think it makes sense to respect that decision and figure out whether your desire to have children is negotiable, or your choice for a partner is. The pandemic has given several people the space and the opportunity to reflect and understand what they truly want out of their personal and professional lives — your fiancé seems to be one of them. Now, you can either be with him and not have children, or have children, but not him. Ultimately, it’s for you to choose what you would prefer.
But before you do that, I’d just say that it might be important for you to introspect and understand whether you truly do want to raise kids, or whether you’ve just been conditioned to think that your life will be incomplete if you don’t reproduce. In fact, that’s something I’d say everyone who is planning to have kids should consider before taking on the responsibility of another life. Based on the conclusion you reach, you’ll still have to choose between potential kids or the man you live with — just that if you’re more aware of your own motivations or desires, it might be easier to make that choice. If you do choose to stick with your partner, however, I really hope you’re not doing to be bitter towards him later or blame him if, a few years from now, you decide you made the wrong choice by choosing him over having kids. He seems to have made a clear choice for his future, now it’s time for you to make yours.
BG: Honestly, one of the most important things in such situations is communication. At the moment, even though both of you are on opposite sides of the coin, communicating and trying to understand what the other person feels about having a baby and why they feel this way might just help you to see things differently. Maybe he’ll change his mind once this pandemic dies or maybe you’ll have different thoughts about it. Talk about it and give it time.
SK: I think it’s really hard to convince someone to change their priorities — to have/not have children is particularly tricky. More than that, I don’t think you should. Of course, it’s important to talk about it — your expectations and your partner’s — and process each other’s preferences from a long-term perspective. Your partner shouldn’t have to make a big change/compromise; because in the long run, it piles on. Same for you. You mention you want kids badly, so coming to terms with it would only mean you decide what your priority is. Having said that, you shouldn’t feel obligated to not want children because you’re scared of being alone too. I’m glad you found love and your partner accepts you but is that enough to sustain you in the long run?
Perhaps, to answer that, I also encourage you to seek couple’s counseling. You have done the first step of identifying the issue. Maybe talking more openly about it, about your vision for the future, how largely children figure in your long-term plans, will help put things in perspective. These are important, even heartbreaking, decisions, and I wish you strength in dealing with them.
SS: I hope you find the resources to cope with how you feel about your partner changing their mind. But your partner–just like you–is allowed to change their mind, especially about life-altering decisions like bringing a child into the world. Better he told you today than later when you possibly have a child to account for. I never outright say this to people, barring exceptional circumstances (which this is)– please break up. When non-negotiables collide, it’s better to walk away and respect what either of you cannot consent to do, rather than try to manipulate anybody into having your way.
RN: This is such a difficult situation and I’m sorry you’re in it. I think the best way forward would be to try couples therapy, maybe, and see how you can take your relationship forward considering this? Maybe the pandemic cast a temporary spell on his willingness to take responsibility for another person, so maybe find out if that’s the case? I don’t know if convincing him or coming to terms with it is the right thing to do here because having children, or the desire to have children, is a pretty monumental and life-altering decision for both parties. An unconventional option would be to be the sole custodian of the child while keeping your relationship, but I’m not sure how feasible that would be for anyone given the social challenges associated with that. At any rate, I think seeking professional advice about this would help you both with perspective on this — since you’re both loving and supportive of one another, I’m sure there will be something you can work out with a little help!