Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Desperately Want Another Baby But My Husband Does Not”

My husband and I have been married for several years now. He wasn’t sure he wanted kids when we first started dating, but by the time we got married he said he thought he would probably agree to them at some point. I was pretty sure I wanted at least one, but not 100% sure. We had (and still have) a great relationship, so I figured we’d work it out–and we got married.

About two years ago, he said he was ready to have a baby. I was too, so I was delighted. We agreed that we would only have one. We discussed it and thought that would best fit our lifestyle, allowing us to enjoy being parents, while also allowing us to continue traveling and doing the things we like to do together.

Luckily, I got pregnant pretty quickly, had an uneventful pregnancy, and, a little over a year ago, our baby was born. This last year has been amazing. It hasn’t been all puppies and rainbows, but, overall, we’ve had a fantastic time being parents. We’re both totally in love with our little one, and my husband is head over heels, doting, fun, etc.

Here’s where I need the advice. I thought I’d be fine with one, but after having our first and getting through the first year relatively unscathed, I feel so passionately about having a second, for so many reasons. I love being a parent. I stay home with him full-time right now, which has worked out so well for us. I feel like I’m doing something I was meant to do. I was meant to be a parent. I’m better at this than I was at any job I’ve had before. I love him so much that I want him to have a sibling. I want to see him be a big brother. I’m afraid of something happening to him and my no longer ever being a parent. I’m worried that someday, when we’re both gone, he won’t have anyone in his immediate family left. Or that, when we’re older, all the burden will fall on him alone.

I know these are not all rational reasons but are more emotional. It really came clear to me when we had family pictures taken on his first birthday. Looking at three of us, I had this flash that someone was missing. That there should be four. After that, I’ve been obsessing over it in my head, going round and round. I’m older and, if I want this to happen, we should be having a second in the next year to two years, I think.

My husband knows that I would now like to have a second. He is convinced that he only wants one. As happy as he is with our son, he just doesn’t feel like there’s any reason to have a second. And that we’d be gambling to try and get a healthy baby a second time around (I’m 34 and he’s 39). That kids cost a lot of money and why spread our resources thinner (by any average measure, we can certainly afford it). That he wouldn’t be as interested the second time around, because it’s all new and different the first time, but he would be jaded with a second and wouldn’t care as much. That it would be too much mess and chaos.

On a side note, he works about 55ish hours a week, so the bulk of everything house- and kid-related falls on me. And, for the most part, I’ve been totally fine with this. Even with having a newborn, my husband never got up in the middle of the night with our baby, etc., since I was breastfeeding and there was really no point. So I expect it would be similar with a second. There wouldn’t be a whole lot of sleepless nights for him at all.

He said he’s thought a lot about it and he really, really just wants one. He’s been pressuring me to get rid of all the baby stuff, but so far I’ve been resisting. It seems silly to get rid of it this soon. I just feel as though, if he changed his mind once about even having kids, maybe he’ll change his mind again.

We haven’t had a full-on serious discussion, more like off-handed chats, usually interrupted by other things. But he’s been pretty clear. He keeps asking if this is going to be an issue between us further down the road. Like, will I resent him for years and bury it, then bring it up. I’ve been reluctant to have a sit-down, serious discussion yet because I wanted to wait at least 18 months before getting pregnant again anyway and I don’t want to full-on pressure him about it. He doesn’t react well to that kind of thing. I was ready for our first for about a year before he came around to it, and he said later that he really appreciated that I let him come to it in his own time and feel ready and that I didn’t start laying down ultimatums or bringing it up all the time. I was relaxed about it. Just about the opposite of how I feel now! I feel kind of desperate, a little obsessed, and like time is ticking away.

So I guess my question is: How do you think I should approach convincing him to have a second (if we get lucky again and can have one)? And failing that, how can I move on, not feel resentful, and just find happiness with only three of us? — Wants a Second

I absolutely do not think you should try to convince your husband to agree to having a second baby. I say this as someone who, for about 18 months, wasn’t sure she wanted a second child even though her husband very much did. Fortunately for me, Drew never pressured me or tried to convince me. Instead, he respected my decision and remained grateful we had one healthy and happy child. He focused on that and on how he was able to enjoy parenthood, something that many people who might wish otherwise aren’t lucky enough to have the chance to enjoy. He told me how fulfilled he already felt and that, even though he imagined a second child would enrich his and our lives, he felt more than fortunate to have everything he already had. And his being so understanding about it gave me a chance to also focus on everything we had — our healthy child, our parenting experience, our marriage and home and life together. And even though I never was able to fully let go of this decision hanging over my head — because, unlike your husband, I never felt certain I was done at one — I was able to relax enough to just let the decision eventually come to me.

I decided I wanted to try for another baby. I decided because it was what *I* wanted, and not because I felt pressured into it by my husband. I was able to arrive at the decision because I had the freedom to reflect and really weigh my options and deeply consider potential scenarios. I don’t know that I would have felt as relaxed in doing that if I had had a spouse breathing down my neck, trying to convince me to do something I wasn’t sure I wanted to do.

And I’m not saying your husband will arrive at the same decision I have if you back off. I’m not saying that at all. In all likelihood, he probably won’t. But what I can say for certain is that you won’t have as high a chance of fucking up your marriage if you back off. You won’t be as likely to make your husband feel like shit if you back off. You won’t put strain on your family unit just as your baby enters the incredibly challenging and trying toddler years if you back off.

Oh, and that’s another thing: you said you thought you’d be fine with one, but after “getting through the first year relatively unscathed,” you suddenly felt “so passionately about having a second.” Here’s a secret not many people will tell newish parents like you for fear of scaring the hell out of them: the first year is a cakewalk compared to the second and third years (and, I suspect, subsequent years, but I wouldn’t know from experience yet). It’s when your child becomes mobile, verbal, and very opinionated that things start getting . . . well, really interesting. This isn’t to say you’ll change your mind at all down the road and decide one is plenty, but only to lend some perspective that might be lacking: parenthood is a long journey. It is much more than a year of exciting firsts.

If your husband is feeling certain that one is enough, that is as valid a choice as your desire to have a second. And unfortunately for you, the one who doesn’t want more kids has the upper hand, because it is better — for a family, for a marriage, for everyone involved — to only have one child and wish for more than it is to have two children and wish you’d stopped at one. And even if you did manage to convince your husband to try for a second, there’s no guarantee he will feel as happy with that choice as he has with the decision to have your first one. You are banking on that with zero indication that that’s a realistic scenario, and there is too much at stake to make a gamble like that. If your husband were giving ANY wiggle room at all — if he were saying he wasn’t certain or that he needed more time or that there are some aspects about having a second baby that appeal to him — that would be something; but he’s not saying those things. He is telling you with certainty that he is done. Yes, he came around to the idea of having your first baby a year after you were ready, but he’d been saying all along he was open to the idea of having a child. He has never told you he is open to the idea of having a second baby. He has given zero indication that this is a scenario he will ever embrace, and yet you are “desperate” and “obsessed” over it.

You need to let it go. I know it’s hard. But this obsession isn’t healthy. And it’s taking away from the focus you could and should be giving to the family you already have. Most of the reasons you give for wanting a second baby — enjoying parenthood, being good at it, doing something you were meant to do — are things you are already fulfilling and can continue enjoying with having just one child. You ask how you can “move on, not feel resentful, and just find happiness with only three of you,” and my advice is to enjoy the moment that you’re in. Enjoy your child’s life and your role in it. Relish being a mother, and realize that even having just one doesn’t mean you are any less a mother than a woman with 10 babies; it just means you have more time and attention to give to the child you do have, not to mention to your hobbies and interests outside parenthood. (Remember who you were before you became a mom? She’s still in there). Focus on all of those things. Focus on what you DO have rather than on what you think you’re missing. And if you simply can’t stop the resentment from creeping in, I’d suggest seeing a counselor to help you process your disappointment so you can enjoy these precious early years of your child’s life without a cloud of resentment hanging over you.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

68 comments… add one
  • avatar

    SasLinna November 25, 2014, 8:39 am

    I loved Wendy’s answer. I’d wait a few months and see how you feel then – the ‘obsession’ with having a 2nd sounds like it might be temporary. I can see how one could change one’s mind after having the first and I really feel for you if that’s the case, but basically you’ve only wanted this for a few months (compared to years of being fairly sure you wanted just one). Waiting a few months will also give your husband time to think it over. Maybe you had a really positive reaction to the ‘baby year’ with your kid and your husband wasn’t quite so enthusiastic about that phase? I’m not saying he’ll change his mind (it seems like he’s been pretty consistent), but if anything he’s more likely to if he’s given time. And maybe you’ll be less enthusiastic about having a 2nd kid a few months down the line.
    I was also wondering how much of this has to do with your new role as a SAHM? Do you feel, on some level, that staying home with just one kid isn’t legitimate? There’s no minimum number of kids you need to be a SAHM, and in case you’ll probably need to find something else to keep you busy in a few years.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy November 25, 2014, 9:04 am

      The SAHM thing is a good point and one I didn’t address because the column was already getting long. But I definitely got a vibe from the letter, and have felt the same thing myself as a part-time SAHM, that with just one kid, your time for justifying “just being at home” is limited. By the time your kid starts school — either pre-k or kindergarten — you are kid-free about 30 hours a week, or roughly the amount of time you could be devoting to a part-time job. Maybe there’s a feeling, at least for the LW, that she will have to go back to work when her kid starts school and when weighing that against having another kid and getting a couple more years to enjoy full-time stay-at-home parenthood, the latter wins out. I get that. But if that’s part of the motivation, she needs to communicate that with her husband. If they have the means for a second kid, they probably have the means for mom to continue staying home full-time or close to full time even when her kid starts school. There is so much to keep busy, even when a child is in school 30 hours a week. There’s all the domestic chores, plus PTA involvement if that’s of any interest, maybe volunteer work, etc., etc. And, it’s not like kids are in school 8-6. They’re done at 2 or 3, so someone — and it may as well be a parent — needs to pick them up in he middle of the afternoon (or you pay for some after school program). Anyway, my point is, there is a lot of legitimacy in stay-at-home-parenthood pr part-time stay-at-home parenthood well past the pre-school years.

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        SasLinna November 25, 2014, 9:35 am

        Totally agree! I think I got that vibe from her because she mentioned feeling like she’s better at being a SAHM than at any other job she’s had. So it seems like this is partially about her finding a fulfilling activity for herself and now wanting to continue with that. I can understand that motive. I’d guess that being a SAHM with one kid would mostly be a psychological / social pressure issue for her (thinking that’s not enough to justify staying home, being questioned by others in her social circle etc.), as it sounds like they’d have enough money for her to stay home longer and she would very likely be able to find some new activities to keep herself busy once the kid is older.

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      • BriarRose

        BriarRose November 25, 2014, 9:43 am

        Yep, I thought the same thing. It’s easier to “justify” being a SAHM when your kids are young, but honestly, they almost need more care and attention when they’re older. One of my cousins worked until both of her kids entered elementary school, then quit her job. She helps at the school, picks them up after school, is the one to be there when they’re sick and can’t go to school, etc. If the LW decides to remain a SAHM once her son goes to school, so what? That’s her family business, no one else’s. She’ll need to learn to tell people “we do what works best for our family”.

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      • avatar

        WantASecond November 25, 2014, 1:58 pm

        I’m the LW and I’ve been mulling this over since reading your comments and I think you may have picked up on something that I’ve maybe only been subconsciously thinking myself. As much as I’ve enjoyed staying home with him and as much as I am 100% sure this is the right thing to do for our family, I have struggled with the decision from a social perspective.

        I was raised with the expectation that I would get an education and have a career, all of which I did. And when my husband and I first started dating, we agreed that if we ever had kids, we would both work. That it was important for balance and equality in our relationship. Well, that was 12 years ago, and our circumstances have changed dramatically. My husband’s job has caused us to move several times, disrupting my career. And there might be yet another move overseas in the next year. He works much longer hours than he used to but conversely, makes a lot more money, too.

        So, now, when our son was born and we looked at our life now, we were on the same page with me staying home. But pretty much all of my friends have continued to work, so while deep down I know it’s right for us, it’s been a little hard for my ego. So maybe having a second would make me feel more “justified” for doing it.

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      • avatar

        SasLinna November 26, 2014, 5:49 am

        I think lots of people (particularly women who ended up in more of a SAHM role than they anticipated) can relate to this. I hope you’ll come to the conclusion that you have nothing to justify and that doing what’s best for you and your family is the way to go.

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  • avatar

    Kate November 25, 2014, 8:58 am

    A-frickin’-men, Wendy!

    The most important thing to me here is that the LW is in a legally binding relationship that she entered into knowing her husband might not want any kids, or one at most. This sudden baby fever after a year of caring for an infant does not trump that. None of her “reasons” for wanting a second kid weigh anything in the balance of potentially wrecking her marriage.

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      SasLinna November 25, 2014, 10:39 am

      I agree – not so much because of the obligation she took on with the marriage, but because I’d guess that being in a happy relationship with her husband will ultimately trump the importance of having a second kid (not to mention how much the state of their marriage will affect her already existing child). This is a point that for me is driven home time and time again with different LW’s here on DW and in real life: Being in a good relationship is more important than most other things, and risking a marriage (if it’s a good one) over this decision would be foolish.

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      • avatar

        Kate November 25, 2014, 10:47 am

        That’s what I think too. ESPECIALLY if she would rather not work outside the home, but primarily because a good, solid, loving relationship and family unit are so valuable.

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      • avatar

        WantASecond November 25, 2014, 2:02 pm

        Thank you for the reminder, SasLinna. This really stuck out for me: “Being in a good relationship is more important than most other things, and risking a marriage (if it’s a good one) over this decision would be foolish.” I feel really lucky that we have (what I think) is a really great relationship. We’ve had ups and downs, but gone through a lot over the 12 years we’ve been together. Our son has just enhanced our lives and our relationship. We delight in him together and sharing that is so cool. I’m not willing to risk that, so thank you for putting the focus back on that.

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      • avatar

        SasLinna November 26, 2014, 6:01 am

        Glad if it helped, and it sounds like you are very level-headed about everything. I just wanted to stress that I didn’t mean this in a “Be happy with what you’ve got” way (although of course that’s often an accurate thing to say), since of course it’s totally understandable and human to want a 2nd kid. I can relate. It’s just something that’s become clearer for me recently – you can have deal breakers in relationships, and kids is an important one for many people, but once you’re in a good relationship that makes you happy, there’s very little that could justify putting that in danger. And I believe some people (not you in particular) underestimate that and don’t appreciate their partner enough, or create resentment (around totally understandable desires that for some reason cannot be fulfilled) and slowly let their relationships deteriorate. Of course it goes both ways – each partner sometimes has to sacrifice something for the other. But it’s usually not in the same areas, and not at the same time. So a sacrifice can feel quite big at the time, but may still be justified for the overall good of the relationship and your general happiness.

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  • FireStar

    FireStar November 25, 2014, 9:18 am

    I think Wendy is right LW. There really isn’t a compromise position to be had. The deal was one kid and while you are completely allowed to change your mind – you can’t expect him to. ..or pressure him to. Being sad over what might have been is the lesser evil than being sad over what is…and the children feeling that.

    I’m a little bit in your boat since I’ve been thinking about having a second child lately – and if it is going to happen then I would want to get pregnant within the year or so. My husband, who always wanted lots of kids, is the one who is a little on the fence now. We have a lots of expenses coming up – we need to do an addition to the house to include making an in-law suite for my mom that is going to cost $200-$300K (which I feel is ridiculous for what will end up being 1000 sq ft) And we would need additional money for childcare since right now my mom watches our daughter when we are at work and I work 4 days a week now until I can get new staff up and trained. With two little ones – that would be too much for just her on the days I go into office (I’m aiming for 2-3 days a week). He feels we should have our financial ducks in a row before any new addition comes along – which I agree with – but I don’t know how much military precision those ducks need to be in. Both of us make decent money and our expenses can pretty much be covered by one party right now. I know he worries about dying early based on family history but I’m of the school that I will be able to figure out whatever I need to with whatever comes my way (since we already have insurance in place for both of us). I was thinking about sitting down and making a budget with him to see exactly how much is going out of our pockets and how much is coming in and what cushion we would need in place if we have another child. He is incredibly annoying about budgets though and I might murder him in the conversation – which I guess is one way of deciding the issue. But I’ve already accepted that if he figures out he is financially ready after the window that I feel comfortable getting pregnant in then we will just have the perfectly mischievous one. It would suck for both of us….but everyone is entitled to their own timing.

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  • avatar

    Essie November 25, 2014, 9:30 am

    Since you mentioned wanting your child to have a sibling, I just wanted to give a little perspective from a 55-year-old only child. 🙂
    .
    I love him so much that I want him to have a sibling. I want to see him be a big brother: I’ve done fine without a sibling. Haven’t regretted being an ‘only’ at any point in my life. I have a circle of longtime friends that I couldn’t be closer to if they were my sisters and brothers. And ‘wanting to see him be a big brother’ – well, that’s what you want. You don’t know if that’s what he would want.
    .
    I’m afraid of something happening to him and my no longer ever being a parent: Don’t know how to answer this, as I’ve never thought about having a second child as a ‘spare’ in case the first one breaks. 😉
    .
    I’m worried that someday, when we’re both gone, he won’t have anyone in his immediate family left: By the time you’re gone, his immediate family will likely have expanded to include a wife, children, and maybe grandchildren. They’ll all be there for him.
    .
    Or that, when we’re older, all the burden will fall on him alone: I’m living that now, with two elderly parents. Logistically, would it help to have another person around to share some errands with? Sure. Emotionally, would having a sibling diminish the pain of seeing my parents age? Not at all. Again, I have my dear, close friends to lean on.
    .
    Your reasons for wanting a second child are, to be honest, rationalizations for extending what’s been a fun and fulfilling year for you. You wouldn’t be harming your son in any way by keeping him an ‘only’.

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    • avatar

      Kate November 25, 2014, 9:47 am

      “rationalizations for extending what’s been a fun and fulfilling year for you.”

      EXACTLY.

      I was thinking these same things. I’ve said this on here before, but I can’t stand my brother, we hated each other growing up and fought violently, still have no relationship to speak of, and his issues needed so much of my parents’ attention growing up, he should have been their only kid. They SHOULD have stopped at one (him).

      Also, you don’t have a kid so you have someone to take care of you when you’re old. Damn, I hate that attitude. You save up your money and try to surround yourself with people you love and look out FOR YOUR OWN SELF. Who is to say that any child you have will want to take on the burden of caring for you when you’re old, or even have the capability and resources to do it? It’d be nice if they did but you can’t count on it.

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      • avatar

        ktfran November 25, 2014, 9:54 am

        The middle sister and I did not get a long at all growing up either. I couldn’t stand her and I was mean. Luckily, we are close now, but I do feel bad about how horrible I was. The closeness didn’t happen until I was probably 25 and she was 23. So, we’ve only liked each other for 9 years.
        .
        I agree that having a second child doesn’t automatically make best friends, or even friends. You can want that, but the children involved might not.

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      • avatar

        Kate November 25, 2014, 9:59 am

        Yeah, and let me just project and air my family’s dirty laundry a little more…

        Re: child caring for parents, my parents have the opposite problem – they are 65 and freaking out about who is going to care for my brother when they no longer can. He nominally “lives on his own,” but not really, and I don’t know how he’d function very long without them. Years ago I told them this was not going to be my job. So they set up a trust for him and appointed somebody to be his trustee. I don’t know the details, but they’re making sure he’ll be cared for. It makes way more sense to me to have a plan / arrangements in place then to just assume that a family member is going to provide care.

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      • Portia

        Portia November 25, 2014, 10:17 am

        Oh gosh yes! Me and my sister did not get along for a long time while growing up. It turned out OK and we’re pretty close now, but there was 5+ years in there while living at home where we were enemies and that was no fun for anyone.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph November 25, 2014, 10:59 am

        You make two great points that I hope the LW heeds, Kate.
        First, since she mentions her and her husband getting older as motivation to have a child now. Well, the risk of many birth defects and disabilities increases as the parents age does. Contrary to giving her son a sibling to share the burden of aging parents with, she could give her son yet another “burden” to carry. (Not that I think fear of having a child with disabilities should keep anyone from having a child they want, but it does matter if your reason for wanting the kid in the first place is to ease the load on your other kid!)

        Also, as you say, the burden of aging parents can be alleviated in the same way your parents are easing their concerns for your brother. Saving well for retirement would do more to ensure that the son isn’t overwhelmed by aging parents than having another kid would. The other kid could be perfectly fine but move far away or just be completely uninterested in helping care for the LW and her husband (as could this current child). The best way to set your kids up for old age is to make it so you don’t have to rely on your child to care for you.

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      • avatar

        Kate November 25, 2014, 11:15 am

        Yup, and you know what else? I don’t appreciate being that kid who my parents think “everything is great with her!” because something happened to my brother (an accident when he was a toddler is what I think caused his problems). It’s no fucking fun growing up that way, so I wish people would lose that thinking about what amounts to a “spare” kid. You don’t think the potential sibling(s) would also go through enormous pain and suffering if something happened to their brother??

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph November 25, 2014, 3:06 pm

        The spare kid argument made me think of My Sister’s Keeper (never read the book, have seen the movie). They basically had another kid hoping to have a bone marrow match for their sick daughter. How is that supposed to make the “spare” kid feel that they only exist as a first child replacement unit? You should have a child because you want to love it and want it for it’s own sake, not because it will have benefits for you or your other child.

        Also, does she really think the pain of losing a child would be alleviated by having another? Losing a child is devastating no matter whether it was your only kid or one of 12.

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      • Portia

        Portia November 25, 2014, 10:14 am

        Bassanio also have that reason for having a family, that you’d have someone to take care of you when you’re old. I still don’t get it, except maybe being a part of the whole “feeling your own mortality” thing. In my experience (taking care of my grandma), it becomes a strain on your relationship when it does happen. And with more kids, it can become a contest of who is doing more or who needs to do more (that’s what it turned into on the other side of my family where there’s 3 siblings).

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      • avatar

        SasLinna November 25, 2014, 10:19 am

        I guess for me the fact that you’re more likely to have loved ones around when you’re old can be a good reason – as well as the idea of being able to see the ‘next generation’ grow up. But not so much the being taken care of aspect itself.

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      • Portia

        Portia November 25, 2014, 1:09 pm

        He actually said the taking care of thing first. When I reminded him that he really has no intention of taking care of his parents, he went to a story more like that, that one day it’s be nice to have these people around. I still didn’t find that a very compelling argument, but the first just made no sense based on his own family history, like he had this idea of how other families should work or something?

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      • avatar

        SasLinna November 25, 2014, 10:16 am

        Yeah, I don’t get the “giving my child a sibling” argument at all. I know a lot of people who don’t get along with their siblings. If you’re lucky, your child will have a great relationships with a sibling, if you’re unlucky, it could be very bad indeed. While being an only child is not harmful at all.

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      • avatar

        ktfran November 25, 2014, 11:29 am

        Don’t get me wrong, I love that I have sisters (now)! But I don’t think it’s a reason to justify having more kids because you never know what kind of relationship they’ll have (with parents or with each other). You just don’t.

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      • FireStar

        FireStar November 25, 2014, 11:45 am

        What I have found so fascinating lately is that parents of only children have been coming up to me asking me when we are having another child since we shouldn’t have just one. I would have thought they would have been the biggest advocates for only children – since that was their choice – but it is completely the opposite.

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      • CurlyQue

        CurlyQue November 25, 2014, 12:11 pm

        In re: to the child taking care of the parents when they’re older. I think having another child really does help with this. When my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer last year myself, my father and my two brothers all stepped up to the plate to help care for her, and it was also nice having other people to lean on who were going through the same situation. On the other hand my bf’s parents OBLITERATED a trust they had (what amounted to a fortune) and now rely solely on my bf to support them and it’s a nightmare. I can see how him having a sibling to help share this responsibility with would be helpful.
        *
        I’m not saying this should at all be a reason for the LW to have another child but just wanted to share my thoughts on the caring for parents aspect.

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      • Lyra

        Lyra November 25, 2014, 1:03 pm

        Mmmmm, tough situation. Would your boyfriend ever cut them off? Otherwise it’s going to be a world of misery, especially should you two get married…

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      • Lyra

        Lyra November 25, 2014, 1:01 pm

        Yeah. My dad has 10 brothers and sisters and his oldest sister basically decided that she was the “caretaker” of the family. I don’t remember her working a “regular” job ever. Her husband works but she doesn’t and she only got married in 2002 so I’m not sure how she supported herself before she got married. Anyway my grandma had a stroke in 1992 and lived until 2004 — and my aunt took care of her for that entire time. Literally that’s all she did. Before my grandma was in a nursing home my aunt was by her side all day every day. Then she went to the nursing home all day every day. Heck she met her husband at the nursing home because he was taking care of his mom too. My grandpa was still working on the farm when grandma first got sick so it actually worked out really great in that situation, but even to this day I think she still sees herself as “caretaker” when no one asked her to be. She knows all the family news and will “report” it to everyone. (I typically don’t take her calls because she’ll talk on and on and on for like 20 minutes.) I just wonder what she does with her life sometimes.

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      RedroverRedrover November 29, 2014, 1:52 pm

      I think for people who have good relationships with their siblings, it makes a lot of sense. I had a fantastic childhood with my siblings. I know not everyone does, but I’d like to give my son a chance at that same kind of happiness. Also my aunt’s husband is an only child, and he has no family. None at all. If he wasn’t married to my aunt, he’d be completely alone right now. He doesn’t make friends easily, and he doesn’t have a best friend. I’d hate for my son to end up in that situation. He does have cousins but they’re in different cities so I doubt if they’ll be close as adults.

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    • avatar

      Juliet February 20, 2017, 1:46 pm

      I am 44. divorced. I have one son, he is 12.
      My heart is screaming for another child. I would have to care for this child on my own. Time is running out.
      What shall i do ?

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      • avatar

        anonymousse February 20, 2017, 3:10 pm

        Adopt!

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      Maria March 12, 2017, 4:05 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing your perspective as a 55 yr old! This made me feel infinitely better! I too am struggling with coming to terms with my husband not wanting a second.

      THANK YOU for sharing!

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  • avatar

    ktfran November 25, 2014, 9:30 am

    Do not ever force or convince someone to have a child that is not wanted. Ever. The child will grow up knowing he or she is not loved by someone. Do you really want a child to experience that?

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  • BriarRose

    BriarRose November 25, 2014, 9:36 am

    Oh man. My husband at the time (now ex) used to pressure me like crazy for another baby. It was so stressful and also so confusing, since he initially was the one who said it was fine if we just had one (a thought that seemed taboo to me at the time). There were times I even gave in and said we could try, and would then be relived beyond belief when I didn’t get pregnant. It’s not why we split, but I’ll tell you–it was a huge relief to have the pressure removed from my life once we did split. I just didn’t want another one. I had so many reasons and felt like they were all incredibly valid and incredibly selfish and felt so guilty about it. To have the one person who was supposed to have my back disagree with me on such an important topic was horrible. HORRIBLE.
    .
    Another point to make is I met several women when my daughter was younger who all had only children. One of them desperately wanted another but her husband didn’t. Another desperately wanted another but they couldn’t get pregnant. The one whose husband didn’t want another spoke of it CONSTANTLY. Always complaining about him and his selfishness, etc. She was so focused on that imaginary second child that her husband was denying her that she seemed disinterested in her actual, existing child. I’m sure she loved her son very much but honestly, it was a huge turn off in a friend and I didn’t enjoy hanging out with her very much.
    .
    All that said, I do feel for you. I know it must be incredibly frustrating to want to share this experience with your husband again and not be able to. Try to focus on enjoying the wonderful years ahead with your husband and son. Whether or not you have more kids, these upcoming years with your son are a once in a lifetime experience–you’ll never get his younger days back, so don’t let them pass you by. As the mom to a 10 year old, I can attest that time just flies.

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  • Lyra

    Lyra November 25, 2014, 9:45 am

    I just want to comment on the fact that before you got married he wasn’t 100% sure that he wanted a child. That was a pretty big gamble going in, and you’re really lucky that he changed his mind on that. I have a friend who is married and her husband is very much against having a child and she *thought* she would be ok with it but now she’s realizing that she really wants a kid. They have MANY other issues in their marriage that I won’t mention here. Essentially she feels stuck.

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    • avatar

      WantASecond November 25, 2014, 2:06 pm

      I got super lucky, Lyra. I know that. I think it’s just because I was 22 when we got together and kids seemed like such a hypothetical thing. When we got married, I was 26 and I just figured that I would rather be with him with no kids than without him, with kids. I think it would be different if I were dating at 30. At that point I knew that I really did want a kid(s) at some point and I never would have gambled like I did when I was younger.

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      • Lyra

        Lyra November 25, 2014, 7:43 pm

        Thanks for the clarification! That makes sense. 🙂

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      RedroverRedrover November 29, 2014, 1:46 pm

      It’s really only an issue if one person is sure. If no one’s sure, then you’re gambling no matter what. When I got married I was thinking maybe at some point, but I was nowhere close to yes. My husband was leaning towards no, but was still a maybe. I’d much rather have that situation than a husband who definitely wanted them. Basically since I was unsure, being with someone who had definitely decided would have been a way bigger risk.

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  • avatar

    Laura Hope November 25, 2014, 9:46 am

    There really is no simple answer here. You can sign all the “no kids” contracts you want. It doesn’t mean that your feelings won’t change. I will say that I did not want a second child until I had him. I was so over the moon about my first that I didn’t think it would ever be possible to love like that again,,,,,until the moment I saw his face. Honestly I think if your child is one year old, it’s probably too soon for your husband to consider going through it all over again. But he may feel differently in a year or too. You might also. I would try to enjoy the present and leave the future open. Because you really don’t know.

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  • avatar

    hol November 25, 2014, 9:58 am

    I would just like to point out to the lw that just because the first year with the first baby was relatively easy that doesn’t mean that the first year with any future baby would be just as easy. I have three kids. My first daughter was like your son, she was a piece of cake, nursed fine, slept well and was just generally a happy baby. My second daughter was the complete opposite. She was a lot more work than the first one and by the time she came along was busy trying to keep up with a three year old. And my last baby wasn’t as easy as the first or has hard as the second. They are all different, and have always been different. I don’ regret having any of them, but you just need to know that easy babies aren’t a guarantee.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom November 25, 2014, 10:41 am

    With both of my kids I found that things slowly got easier the year that they were three and the year that they were four was much easier than the year that they were two. Five is even better and the ages six to 12 tend to be the easiest. I personally, wouldn’t have wanted a new baby the same year that I had a toddler. That would have been a nightmare. Many parents handle it but I’m glad that I didn’t have to handle it.

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  • avatar

    Married By Elvis November 25, 2014, 10:42 am

    A-freaking-men indeed. Especially to the part about year 1 being a cake walk compared to years 2 and 3. And, Wendy, for what it’s worth, my experience was that years 4, 5 and 6 were mostly pretty awesome. Then the sass starts. I’m in year 10 now, so I’m knee deep in sass.

    I think I’ve said this before here, but I get so tired of people arguing for more kids so that the only will have someone to “help” them take care of aging parents. And this is coming from someone who’s been called selfish (yes, selfish) by people who claim to like, even love me, for only having one child. First, I have a brother and he will be no help at all with our parents. If I’m lucky, his wife or kids might, but who knows?

    Second, you don’t know what’s going to happen. Life’s like that. For all you know, a second child will have special needs and then you’ve possibly saddled your oldest with caring for a sibling long after you’re gone. There are plenty of reasons to have a second child (or more), but this isn’t one of them.

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    • avatar

      RedroverRedrover November 29, 2014, 1:58 pm

      I think it depends on the kid. I’m only halfway through year two, but so far it’s waaaaay easier than the first year. My baby was an awful sleeper, and he was constantly feeding, which was exhausting. He was also in the 100th percentile for weight, which made carrying him around that much harder. Feeding himself and walking have been a godsend. And now he actually naps, which makes a huge difference. He’s still pretty pliable now, so I know he’ll probably get worse in the next year or so. But still. That first year was pretty horrible. I enjoy him a lot more now, even during the tantrums.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom November 25, 2014, 10:48 am

    We tried to have a second child when our son was four and nothing happened. We had secondary infertility. One thing that helped a lot was that we already had our son and we looked at him and felt lucky to have him. We felt that if we were going to have only one child we were lucky to have the one child that we had. I think that if you look at your son and feel lucky it will help more than if you look at your son and feel that something is missing. Practice feeling grateful for what you do have rather than obsessing on what you don’t have. You are incredibly lucky to have a beautiful son that both you and your husband love. You are lucky to have enough income to stay at home with that son. You are lucky to not worry about how you will feed him and clothe him and shelter him and educate him. Try looking at your son as a gift in your life, a very lucky, fortunate gift that many will never have.

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    • avatar

      WantASecond November 25, 2014, 2:08 pm

      Thank you, SkyBlossom. A really good reminder. I am lucky, lucky, lucky for all those things. And so grateful that I have the family I have, even if it never expands. That’s also the flip side, he could change his mind and then we might not even be able to have another one.

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  • avatar

    Sunshine Brite November 25, 2014, 11:19 am

    Oh man, I hope you see it from his perspective at least somewhat. Especially around how you feel you can afford another child yet he’s working 55 hours a week regularly which isn’t outside the norm but higher than I prefer to work. He may be feeling stretched thinner than you realize and not feel like he has the time with the child you do have that he would like. That’s good you take on the bulk of the housework as well and thoughtful that you did the midnight duty, but that doesn’t mean that his sleep wasn’t interrupted anyway and he doesn’t feel the pressures of home.

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  • mylaray

    mylaray November 25, 2014, 11:30 am

    This is a case of you can’t always get what you want. It’s great having one child worked out well for you and your husband so far, but I do agree with others that your reasons to have a second child/give your kid a sibling are misguided a bit. My husband was raised as an only child (he has half brothers who are much older and from many states away) but both his parents really wanted a second child. He has a rare genetic disorder and any future siblings would have very likely had it as well, so his parents decided to stop at him. His mom wanted a second child despite the risks, but she had to let it go. She focused on loving her one child, instead of what she couldn’t have. Even if you did have a second child, you never know how the difficulties that could come with that child, and when one parent isn’t even on board with that, resentment will grow. There’s nothing “wrong” or weird about having one child. There are always going to be people who wished they had one more, but it’s better not only to bring in a wanted child, but a child who is wanted by both parents.

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  • avatar

    MMcG November 25, 2014, 12:02 pm

    I’m a completely functional only child… if I do say so myself;) I don’t think I would have enjoyed a little sibling at all, and it would have seriously curtailed some of the opportunities I had growing up with my parents (travel, etc.).

    I agree with what everyone is saying about fixating on a second child, but I wanted to put out there another option (maybe??). You say being a parent is the most fulfilling thing you have ever done, and not that it isn’t hugely different with your own child, but have you ever considered childcare as an option in your future? Maybe your one of those baby people who has a gift with the little ones and would provide other mothers a welcome respite. If you are concerned about your kid being lonely maybe take care of another baby or toddler a few days a week in your own home. Expand your parenting circle, surround yourself with that new baby smell, and make some cash at the same time. Just a suggestion. In the meantime, focus on the kid you have and good luck!

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  • TheLadyE

    TheLadyE November 25, 2014, 12:12 pm

    I understand this is totally anecdotal but my advice as an older sibling would be: please don’t think that your son HAS to have a sibling and do not let that ruin your marriage. As an older sister with 7+ years between us, I started telling my parents at age 5 that I wanted a little sister. I waaaaaaaaaaaanted a little sister. Pleeeeeeeease give me a little sister. Then two years later they did, and because my father preferred her over me all throughout her childhood and my adolescence it has nearly ruined my relationship with him and if I knew at 5 years old what I know now I probably would have changed my tune.

    I know that sounds harsh and I do love my little sister (and the fact that my father preferred her is not her fault, so I work at my relationship with her even though it hurts), but looking back at it objectively, I would have been just as happy if not happier as an only child. It might have vastly helped my relationship with my dad (and subsequent relationships with men) well into my now thirty-something adult life. The sometimes fun, sometimes somewhat strained relationship I have with my sister does not make up for deep wounds that resulted because of family dynamics that happened years ago.

    That sounds really selfish and I almost feel badly for writing it, but it’s true. Because *I* was the one who pressured my parents to have a second child (when they didn’t think they could), I feel like the things that happened as a result were my own doing.

    Anyway, LW, what I’m saying is: don’t let this ruin your marriage. Your son will be just as happy as an only child as he would with a sibling, and I am sure that he’d be much happier as an only child in a happy home than as an older sibling in an unhappy home. There are pluses and minuses to both, and the grass is definitely not always greener on the other side.

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  • avatar

    WantASecond November 25, 2014, 1:47 pm

    I’m the original letter writer and I just wanted to thank everyone for commenting. I read Wendy’s advice and everyone’s replies and there are some really good, thoughtful points being made. Some of which my husband and I discussed when we agreed to have one child, like the fact that siblings might not be that close anyway. Neither my husband or I are close to our respective siblings. There’s no animosity, just not tight.

    And when it comes to “taking care of us,” I think that came out wrong. I would never, ever bank on or put the responsibility on our little guy to take care of us physically or financially. I just see that as our parents are getting older, it’s nice for both my husband and I to each have a sibling to talk to about decision-making, etc. That’s all I meant.

    I’m surprised to find myself feeling the way I do, but your replies were a good smack of reality. I’ve tried to enjoy and soak up every moment with my son since he was born, expecting that he was going to be an only and it would be the only time I went through all of these phases and stages. It’s only been in the last month or two that having a second has really started gnawing at me and this was a good reality check to get back to soaking up and enjoying every moment with him and with my husband. And to let things lie. Maybe I’ll get lucky a year or two from now and he’ll change his mind. Or maybe he won’t, but with a year or two of pushing myself to accept it and being grateful for what I have, I’ll be able to move on more gracefully.

    Thank you again for taking the time to offer advice. I’ve lurked around here for quite some time but never had the need to ask for advice until now. I’ll try to be less lurky in the future, so I can hopefully be helpful for others who need feedback.

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    • avatar

      ktfran November 25, 2014, 2:37 pm

      That was really lovely and I’m glad you’re reading this! I loved what Vathena had to tell you too!
      .
      Good luck with everything and remember, if for whatever reason a second doesn’t happen, it sounds like you’re a great mom to your first! Enjoy.

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  • avatar

    Vathena November 25, 2014, 1:59 pm

    I don’t have a lot to add – there are plenty of wise words here. Your husband knows how you feel; give it some time (at least several months) before you mention it again, and really think about Wendy’s advice.

    We always knew we’d be “one and done” with kids, and that’s still the plan 18 months in. I feel some of what you feel, LW, in terms of the joy of parenthood. I don’t want another baby, but I can understand why people do. When your baby is still an angelic innocent little one, it’s easy to idealize how they would handle a sibling. But it doesn’t reflect the reality of what people experience as adults (see above). I’ve encountered some judgment on our decision to only have one child, but children aren’t “gifts” to one another. They are individuals who deserve to have two parents want them and love them. They are individuals who may (probably will) not turn out to be your ideal. Also, just because you had an easy pregnancy and birth experience the first time, it doesn’t guarantee anything if you decide to try it again.

    I would also add that now would be a good time to be especially careful about birth control – it will really damage your marriage to have an “oops” pregnancy.

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    • avatar

      WantASecond November 25, 2014, 2:14 pm

      Two good points, Vathena. You’re right that a hypothetical second child deserves two parents that want and love him or her. Part of what’s been so fun with our first is how much my husband loves and delights in him. I wouldn’t want a second child to feel anything less than that. Also, agree on the birth control. I’ve been very careful for just that reason. An oops pregnancy would be devastating and damaging and it’s the last thing I want.

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  • sobriquet

    sobriquet November 25, 2014, 2:31 pm

    Don’t be resentful of lacking something that is so uncertain. It’s not like your husband is simply refusing to swing by the baby store with you. There is no guarantee that you can get pregnant again and if you did, there’s certainly no guarantee that baby #2 would be as effortless as baby #1. What if baby #2 caused complications that had you bedridden and unable to completely take over household and SAHM duties? What if baby #2 had a collick, or was otherwise not as easy-going as baby #1? I imagine it would put a huge strain on your marriage. Looking forward, what if you or your husband favored one child to the other and had trouble balancing your attention between the two of them? I have seen this so many times (or heard many stories from emotionally scarred adults) and it pisses me off that parents aren’t more self-aware about the obstacles of having multiple children. Each additional child changes the dynamic of a household and affects the personalities of the children (read about birth order- it’s fascinating).
    .
    I could go on, but I’m on my phone, so I’ll just wrap this up by saying that I completely agree with the sentiment that you should NEVER have a child if you’re both not 100% on board with it.

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  • avatar

    wobster109 November 25, 2014, 8:44 pm

    Just a thought – consider getting a health screening. Sudden, overwhelming feelings that come on all of a sudden may be an indicator that something’s out of balance.

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  • avatar

    Lindsay March 7, 2017, 3:04 pm

    I am a SAHM of three children and I give zero F’s what anyone else’s opinion in my life is. I plan to stay home until all of them start school and then go back to work PT.
    My husband only wanted two children but I pressed for a third and he agreed, he now tells me he is glad I pushed for it. I think sometimes we don’t know we really wanted something until we have it, but it works the other way too….we don’t miss something we chose to not have.

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  • avatar

    Ryan June 10, 2017, 1:17 am

    Just quickly, I found many replies here and the original response to be very negative, judgemental and one-sided. Many assume that a child only brings about so much negativity such as sleepless nights, financial strain, marriage strain, but what about the positivity? If a parent sees so much joy in being a parent, why do we start to pick apart her reasons for wanting another by analyzing her choice and dissecting it to mean something else? Maybe she just loves children and loves her family and wants another. Why can’t that just be good enough?! Frankly, I think she has every right to talk about it in a way she is comfortable with and throw away all this negative talk from this website and all the judgemental comments.

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  • avatar

    Sandra July 17, 2017, 7:04 pm

    I really disagree with the response. I’ve researched this issue throughly. There is nothing abnormal about a mother/wife wanting children. I find it disheartening that many people basically tell the women to “get over it” and “it’s unfair to pressure your husband into more children.” It’s equally unfair to deny your significant other their right to another child. Emotions and biology are a huge factor that cannot be controlled. I also have that pull for more children though I have 2 already and husband who is against it. Unfortunately, I hold a lot resentment over it. It seems crazy to contemplate breaking up a happy marriage because of this, especially when the person you love is who you want another child with. My suggestion would be to express your feelings to your husband. Don’t give up on something you feel so strongly about. It’s not fair for you.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom July 18, 2017, 6:29 am

      No one is saying it is abnormal to want children. It is just wrong to push them on someone who doesn’t want them. It is hard to imagine the person who is angry and resentful over the existence of the child to be a good parent to that child.

      If you are resentful because he doesn’t want another child can you imagine how resentful he would be if you went ahead and had another child that he is obligated to raise but didn’t want in the first place. Marriages can be destroyed by too many children just as easily as by not having them. Resentment and anger can build on both sides of this issue and it is the innocent child, plus the older children, who are hurt when the marriage breaks up. Pushing someone to have more children than they can handle is one good way to destroy a marriage.

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      • Cleopatra Jones

        Cleopatra Jones July 18, 2017, 9:02 am

        Amen, Skyblossom!
        Her desire for more children doesn’t trump his desire for not wanting anymore children. It means that they are incompatible in a fundamental way that’s going to cause problems over the long term if they don’t reach a compromise.
        Just because you think that you love someone one doesn’t necessarily mean that you should be with them.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. July 18, 2017, 9:37 am

        Double amen! The impact of a child on your life is considerable. I can’t imagine doing it unless it was something I wanted with my whole heart and soul. If I was pressured into it by someone, I could really see me hating that person. And, no one has a “right” to a child. Having children is a choice that everyone has the “right” to make.

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      • avatar

        Janelle July 18, 2017, 10:24 am

        Agree. A child isn’t a new car. A child is a lifetime commitment. That isn’t something you just sell if you end up miserable. Yes plenty of people end up happy the child came but plenty don’t. I had a friend who never wanted kids and once his wife got pregnant and had the baby he was begging her for more. He now has three lovely girls. I have another friend who it was the opposite, she very intentionally got pregnant as she felt he was wanting to end the relationship (he was) and it has not worked out well, although he does love his child very much.

        You cannot assume how it will turn out and the best bet is to be on the same page. Resentment can kill a relationship faster than most anything.

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    Sara July 18, 2017, 10:04 am

    In the end, the LW backed off, let her husband process things at his rate, and he ultimately came around to the idea of a 2nd child. http://dearwendy.com/updates-wants-a-second-responds-again/

    But that might not have happened had she pressured him…he might have really resented the heck out of her and the situation had she persisted.

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  • avatar

    Kelly July 18, 2017, 11:14 am

    THANK GOD someone finally said that the response to her post is totally BS! I’ve been reading all the comments thinking wtf are they talking about and couldn’t believe the judgements being made and this attitude of suck it up and accept that he doesn’t want another one blah blah blah. Unbelievable. I really feel for the writer and believe her feelings are totally valid and that she’s completely in the right and all she got was blasted with a million ppl telling her she’s wrong. I 100% agree with Lindsay, Ryan and Sandra. And P.S. If it were left to men the human race would probably be extinct. Most men are not chomping at the bit to have kids…yes there are always exceptions but most of the time it’s the woman who wants to have children, it’s bio 101.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy July 18, 2017, 12:06 pm

      What an ignorant and sexist comment! Sure, let’s advise people who don’t want kids to continue breeding and raising little people they don’t want — that’s a swell idea!

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    • avatar

      RedroverRedrover July 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

      Not only sexist, but completely incorrect. It’s men who are more likely to want children, and has been for a long time: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/actually-men-have-always-wanted-children-more-than-women/article23681771/?arc404=true

      Maybe you need to go back to biology 101?

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    • avatar

      ktfran July 18, 2017, 12:37 pm

      My brother in law wants another child. My sister does not. How’s that for your Bio 101?

      I firmly believe that to bring a helpless, innocent child into this world, both partners should want it. Obviously, if you’re single, you don’t have to worry about the other partner.

      This world does not need more children in it with parents who didn’t want them.

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