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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.
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brise July 30, 2020, 8:53 am
2 advices which won’t solve the situations, but will help, in my opinion.
1) Own your wish to have a child instead of hinting. About birth control, say frankly to your husband: as I want to have a child and I feel ready, after 4 years of marriage and a house, I won’t use any birth control anymore. If you don’t want a child now or don’t feel ready, then it is on you to use whatever birth control method you want. This will be effective for him to realise your determination, and to enforce his own birth control means. I think that after a while, he might reconsider because you made yourself clear and honest.
2) Once you have said that, stop asking him and start doing your own things. As you are not pregnant now, use this time to make the trip of your dreams now without him. Choose a group organised trip. Or any group activity without him that will please and bring you something you wish before you have the charge of a child. Very effective too.
Rebecca July 30, 2020, 9:24 am
If a partner of mine made the decision to unilaterally end their own birth control regimen and put the entire weight of preventing a pregnancy on me, whether or not they told me about it, that would be the end of the relationship. Right then. No follow up discussion, no anything; it’s over.
Kate B. July 30, 2020, 9:51 am
I agree with this. You don’t get to make that kind of decision unilaterally when you’re part of a couple.
courtney89 July 30, 2020, 12:17 pm
@Rebecca, SAME. Yes. What the heck??
Sara White August 10, 2021, 6:22 am
Thats your choice to make, just like its my choice whether or not I want to use any sort of birth control. Of course informed consent is important so I let my partner know when I was done, why I wanted to be done, all of that. He was honest that he felt nervous but I told them he was free to use whatever birth control method he felt was right for him and we talked about our options since I would no longer be doing hormonal contraception. I couldn’t emotionally bare to take my birthcontrol anymore, my husband saw that, and ultimately understood why I stopped. It wasn’t his choice to make, but it was information he had the right to have.
Anonymous November 8, 2021, 10:44 am
Well actually if the burden of birth control is on the woman, she should get to decide what she does. If the man chooses to keep using birth control then it’s up to him to get different methods.
Kate July 30, 2020, 6:59 pm
golfer.gal July 31, 2020, 7:31 am
Wow, agreed. This really tows right up to the line of reproductive coercion, and feels pushy, controlling, and icky.
Speaking of which, LW. Those people advising you to go off of birth control without telling him and forcing him into a pregnancy he doesn’t want? That’s called reproductive coercion. It’s a form of intimate partner violence and is 100% abuse. Abusers do this. I have no idea why people think taking advantage of a partner’s trust to lie to them and take away their decision making autonomy in huge and irreversible ways is acceptable. It’s absolutely sickening and it’s not something anyone who loves their partner would do, ever. The next time someone suggests this please enlighten them that what they are suggesting is defined as a form of domestic violence.
Kate July 31, 2020, 11:12 am
I am so uncomfortable with people making cavalier decisions about birth control and/or just winging it. STOP. It’s gross. It’s not ok with regard to either your partner or the potential PERSON who would result from your deception or carelessness. And yeah, lying to your partner about birth control is domestic abuse.
Confused July 30, 2020, 9:26 am
LW 1: your husband isn’t ready for a kid. Do not bring a child into this world if he isn’t on board. You Guys might be incompatible. But it also might be from a fear with the virus, economic collapse and political uncertainty that he feels that way right now and I honestly don’t blame him.
Further, why is anyone trying to plan travel right now? There’s a global pandemic.
Kate B. July 30, 2020, 9:54 am
I can’t repeat this enough: DO NOT “trick” your husband into being a father. I cannot believe that in 2020 people are still giving women this advice. The only thing that will get you is a quick divorce and single motherhood. If that’s what you want, go for it.
csp July 30, 2020, 11:28 am
I agree with Brise that you should stop hinting. I know for me, my husband and I were reversed. He was so ready and i knew that the work required was on me. But here is the big thing. I waited until I was 30 to start trying and then couldn’t get pregnant. We adopted a child at 35 and I finally got pregnant at 38. Know that fertility only goes down.
Now, while we waited to have a child, we made a cradle list. It was things we wanted to do before having a baby. This would be hard with Covid but some things like having a fully funded emergency fund is a good one. projects around the house. whatever education or certificate courses for work.
But I think you need to really push about finances. what do you need in cash? what about daycare or staying at home? do you need to clean up some debt? I think it sounds like you just got over the hump with a lot and he doesn’t want to fall back into the hole.
Fazal Mayar July 30, 2020, 12:13 pm
Thanks for this piece
anonymousse July 30, 2020, 1:03 pm
Does he want kids? You failed to mention if he wants kids. Like, if it’s been a clear subject for a few years that you one day wanted children.
I can understand wanting a few years to enjoy being young, married and being comfortable monetarily. I miss those days of dual incomes, travel, fancy restaurants. You actually can still do those things with kids. Or without them, and with a nanny or babysitter. Yes, it’s infinitely more complicated and expensive but it’s still possible.
But it also sounds like maybe you need to really talk in depth about what you both want. It does sound like he’s putting you off a bit, although I can’t tell if he’s canceling travel because we’re experiencing a crazy pandemic all over the world and traveling anywhere seems totally off the table right now or if he’s just putting up roadblocks to delay.
If you can’t talk this through to the point where you know what he honestly wants- it’s time to enlist a couples therapist.
Fyodor July 30, 2020, 5:25 pm
I feel like if we keep this thread open long enough someone is going to pop in and tell LW1 to just go off of her birth control.
Fyodor July 30, 2020, 5:27 pm
Holy crap-I meant it as a joke but it’s the first response.
ArtsyGirl July 30, 2020, 5:44 pm
I am just sad we cannot use gifs because the Jack Nicholson shaking his head and waving his hands perfectly captures my feelings.
brise August 1, 2020, 1:49 am
I never said that she should lie and trick her husband about birth control. That is wrong. On the contrary, I proposed a way to frankly, honestly, explicitely, reverse the charge of birth control on the husband. Why can’t he use condoms? Why should his wife take hormones when all she wants is the opposite? We are speaking of a couple where the husband said since the start to his wife that he wants children, just later. They have 4 years of marriage, they have a house, the wife really wants a child. I don’t see why it is outrageous for her to say: ok, now, as you know, I am ready since a long time, I get that you aren’t yet, but I don’t feel like using any more birth control. Please buy condoms for while, and let speak again in six months about where we are. Then it is his responsibility. Why is it always the woman’s task to pay the toll of birth control? It will just make her position clear, and for the husband to take his responsibility – or for them to agree in an real discussion on a reasonable schedule which includes the wife wishes on a more defined timetable.
Kate August 1, 2020, 8:35 am
Because you can’t just make a decision about birth control and not be on the same page as your partner. Wtf! You can’t just decide to go off birth control and be like, deal with it. Both partners need to decide together whether they’re going to try for a baby or use preventative methods. You know as well as he does that condoms alone aren’t terribly effective. Why should it be his responsibility now to prevent a baby using the sub-par method he has available to him? If one person doesn’t want a baby and the other strongly does, the answer isn’t to just be fucking careless and have one. It’s to find common ground or end the relationship.
If I were him, I’d leave her ass if she stopped using birth control. I would not want to have sex with someone who would do that to me.
And Brise, BOTH women and men need to be owning birth control, because unfortunately both men and women may be untrustworthy about it. It’s both people’s responsibility.
Kate August 1, 2020, 8:40 am
Like is it cool if my husband says to me, I’m not going to save for retirement anymore, I’m just going to spend my money on jackets and jeans, and you’re going to need to save for both of us?
Kate August 1, 2020, 9:12 am
Actually, my first husband told me he was going to quit his (very good, very stable) job and go to school for web design. I told him we wouldn’t be able to pay the bills if he did that, and to look at the checkbook with me. He did it anyway. He basically made a decision to never work again at more than a minimum wage job. That was not what we had agreed on and was grounds for divorce. I gave it a year or more to see if he’d turn it around but he didn’t. I was out. Anytime you make a unilateral decision like that, it’s a major betrayal and grounds for divorce.
Rebecca August 1, 2020, 10:36 am
Brise, I know *you* didn’t say she should trick him, that’s why my comment said “whether or not.” As in, even IF they did, I wouldn’t continue the relationship.
No, she shouldn’t have to continue pills if she doesn’t want to. I went off pills and got an IUD while I was married. But my decision to do so was part of a long series of ongoing discussions with my ex-husband about our mutual birth control choices, not a fait accompli handed down because I said so. And while we made the transition, we used condoms, because I didn’t want to be pregnant.
And when one person wants a baby and the other person doesn’t–whether that is a direct no or an indirect set of excuses–the person who doesn’t “wins.” Period. END of discussion. No children should be brought into the world if they are unwanted, or one of their parents was reluctant or coerced.
If she wants to have a baby this badly, and honestly the way she talks about it makes it sound like she wants a “baby as accessory” not a living human child who she and her husband will have to care for for 18+ years, then she needs to have a no nonsense conversation to get to the bottom of his reluctance, or she needs to divorce him, but UNTIL that time she needs to keep her birth control EXACTLY where it is.
Sea Witch August 1, 2020, 1:24 pm
“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.”
Only do that if you want to end up divorced.
Bittergaymark August 2, 2020, 8:13 pm
How the fuck anybody would even want to have a baby right now boggles the mind. Give it a rest already. America is about to fucking collapse.