When I ask how long he wants to wait, he’s says he’s not sure – maybe five years. I’m 30 and he’s 35, so I feel five years is way too long for us. I’ve asked if we can try in one to two years, but he gives me a vague answer like “we’ll see.” Earlier this year both my sister and my niece had babies. I’m so happy for them, but it’s a constant reminder that we don’t have one. We are asked by friends and family constantly about when we’re going to have a baby, and I have to say “Oh, we’re not ready yet,” despite my feeling like we are. I catch myself pressuring my husband by bringing it up without any thought. I’ll start talking about making the guest room into a baby room, I’ll show him pictures/videos that my sister and niece have sent me and gush over their babies, I’ll mention how one day our kids will be doing this or that, I’ll wander into the baby aisle at the store, etc. I don’t do it intentionally and sometimes I don’t even realize I’m doing it until he gives me a look.
My family and friends tell me I should just push him to have kids, making it into an ultimatum—-or, worse, I should trick him into it (skip a pill/ruin the condom), which I really don’t want to do. I honestly want him to want a baby too. I want him to gush and dream with me. He used to enjoy talking about our future kids, but now he’s so hesitant about making it happen. I’m starting to get depressed and resentful because it feels like he doesn’t want kids even though he assures me he does, just not right now. It feels frustrating to see him be so aloof about it and not try to find a middle ground. I don’t want to ruin our marriage over this, though. I don’t want to force him or pressure him, but I also don’t know how to be supportive like he needs me to be when I feel so resentful.
How can I be supportive when I feel this way? How can I stop the baby fever so I can just enjoy my husband again? — Baby Fever
It would be helpful for you to know what you are supposed to be supportive of when you think of how best to support your husband. You know he’s not ready for a baby, but WHY isn’t he ready? The excuses he’s giving sound like just that – excuses – if he’s resisting any solutions you offer to address them. But are you offering solutions? You say that he wants to be more financially secure before having a baby, and your response to that is that you have enough money already. Maybe to him you don’t. Ask him what he considers enough money to raise a child. Making a budget could be very helpful – a budget that considers all the costs of raising a baby for the first few years. When you can see it in black and white – the costs and your entire financial picture – it helps remove the emotional part of the equation and focus on the logistics. You feel sure you can afford a baby, but if he doesn’t, then examining your financial picture can help you each argue your case more effectively.
If your husband is reluctant about having a baby because he wants to travel more first and yet fails to actually plan trips and rejects any plans you make, then that sounds like an excuse more than anything. But talk to him about it – where does he want to travel, when will you travel, how much traveling does he think needs to happen before he’s ready? If he can’t answer these basic questions, he’s stalling, and the real answer is much more complicated. If he’s stalling, then the roadblock likely isn’t finances or a desire to travel, but rather it is his feeling emotionally unprepared to be a father. And that’s when you’ll need to enlist the help of a therapist.
There are so many reasons someone might feel resistant to having children. Your husband might fear how it will change your relationship or maybe he’s afraid he won’t be a good father or maybe he doesn’t want to give up certain freedoms and independence, and while some of the reasons can be addressed and conquered (again, therapy can be especially helpful here), it’s also possible that he simply does not want children, period – not now, not ever. And if that’s the case, you need to know sooner rather than later so that you can make the very difficult decision about whether to continue a marriage that will forever remain child-free or to end the marriage while you still have time to become a mother either on your own or with a different partner.
Vintage DW (this letter was originally published on June 5, 2012)
Last night he found out that I went to the club for my bachelorette party – alone. I played around with one couple, but there was no sex involved. I didn’t even take off my clothes. But to him, this was practically like cheating. He told me that had he found this out before the wedding, he probably wouldn’t have married me. He told me everything had been perfect and this ruined everything. (BTW, his bachelor party was very PG. I saw the pics. He went with friends and some family. I told him he could have done anything he wanted.)
He told me he wouldn’t bring it up again or use it against me but would need some time to get over it. I understood and felt horrible. I apologized profusely (I meant it) and was crying at his feet all night, but inside I felt like he was being overly dramatic and blowing this way out of proportion. I tried to explain my point of view, but he wouldn’t hear it. I’m not sure what to say to him to make him feel better. I just want to bring some closure to this and try to make him see this really wasn’t that big a deal. — No Pain, No Gain
My response was published here.