Although it is popularly believed that ‘unlike polls attract’, common goals and shared interests are key ingredients for any couple to thrive. Some differences in opinion can be the much-needed spice to keep the ball rolling, but when one's choices and opinions directly affect the other person, then this is where most relationships end.
Coming to the realisation that your partner does not want to have children can be disappointing. Many couples all around the world face this dilemma all the time.
This is why it is advisable to have this conversation about children in the early stages of your relationship before it gets to a more committed or serious stage. But what happens when you skipped this conversation and you are now far along in your relationship? Or maybe you talked, but now your partner has had a change of heart. Here are some tips and strategies to navigate the disagreement about whether or not you should have kids.
If you just started dating
There is no simpler way of saying this. If you just met someone and your opinions differ on whether on not to have children, just end it! That’s right! There’s no point in going down that road of trying to convince someone. You’d be wasting your time and you are better off finding someone with similar goals and views. Yes! Doesn’t matter if he ticked all your other boxes, this is a real deal breaker!
If you are in a committed relationship
It is quite common for couples to delay the harder questions for later on, but nonetheless, it’s an important topic to discuss even if you’re already in a committed relationship.
Here are some reasons why one party may be hesitant to have children:
Financial strain - This includes aspects like the cost of child care during the workweek, family support, and even necessities like diapers and formula.
Repeating unhealthy family patterns - For people who have experienced abuse at the hands of their parents, they can be hesitant to have children of their own.
Already has children and doesn’t want anymore - This could stem from a possible negative experience your partner might have had with the previous partner or perhaps the idea of added responsibility on their part.
The partner feels too old to have children - Sometimes it’s not just about age, they may also be worried about missing out on the child’s milestones when older, age-related fertility, or health complications.
Some other reasons your partner might not want to have children are:
Commitment to pursuing and prioritizing career goals
Concerns about overpopulation and societal problems (i.e. inequality, bullying, racism, etc.)
Dislike of children
Not part of their life vision
Is there anything I can do about it?
Sometimes there’s a chance that you could do something about it. You may want to try.
Forgiving yourself for not addressing it “earlier”- Blaming yourself for not having the conversation earlier will not solve anything. Instead, be more gentle with yourself to be able to move forward with a clearer head.
Reevaluate your motivations - This isn’t about assessing which motivations are “good enough” to have children, but about truly understanding the why so that you have all the information you need to make a decision. Sometimes we don’t know what we want because we just do what we think is next on life's checklist
Place yourself in your partner’s shoes - Listening and understanding may help you ultimately realize the situation isn’t what you first thought and help you resolve it better.
Understand if the “never” actually means “not now” - In this case, come up with a timeline for your partner. Agree on, when they’ll feel ready to re-visit the kids' conversations and decide how long you’re willing to wait.
Explore other roads to parenthood - Compromise is not exactly fun but sometimes necessary. This could look like having one child only instead of more, adopting a child or an older child. Among other reasons depending on your concerns
Seek professional help - Sometimes, there is only so much you can do and this is where therapy presents itself as a great next step. Some level of skill and sensitivity will be needed to bring it up of course. But other times the help you may need is seeing a doctor if one of you is battling with fertility issues.
Deciding on whether or not to have children as a couple is important and it’s advisable to do it in the earlier stages of the relationship. However, this is no guarantee as your partner could still change their mind in some cases. If they do, you can try and apply some of these strategies but should the conversation get to a place where it causes more emotional distress and strain to the relationship it may be a good idea to call it quits or reevaluate the situation. Remember not to be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
Stay informed, stay in control Have you dealt with a similar situation before? How did you resolve it? Share in the comments