He Wants Children, She Doesn’t

Their marriage seems perfect except for one thing: he wants children and she doesn’t. He’s willing to wait for her to change her mind but isn’t sure that she will and wonders if this is an irreconcilable difference that will lead to divorce.

I said:

Your wife knows she is not taking the traditional female role when she chooses not to be a mother. She is testing the reaction of friends when she makes her stand for independence. She wants to know she has a choice in the matter. Once parenthood becomes a choice not a demand, she may rethink her position.

Not everyone is anxious or equipped to be a parent. Physically, most human beings can reproduce themselves without a lot of effort, being emotionally able to raise and educate the resulting child or children is another matter. If you and your wife were living on a sparsely populated earth, I would have to take a stance for “doing your duty” to perpetuate the species no matter the outcome. That is not the case. Childbearing is an option not a requirement of today’s times.

Your wife will bear the brunt of responsibility for the child, no matter how much you say you will help. She will carry the child in her body. She will be responsible for the majority of care throughout the child’s dependent life. She will give up much of herself to devote herself to her child or children. The independence she treasures will be gone. It is the job of the female, no matter how “enlightened” men try to be.

If she is unable or unwilling to provide the amount of, and degree of, care that you, family and friends feel she should provide, she will be considered to be a bad mother. This won’t be the case, but human society believes that all women are natural born mothers. It is considered a defect when a woman goes against what she “was put on this earth for.”

This is not an insignificant problem. Marriages have ended for much less. For your marriage to succeed, you must redefine what you require for happiness. If she remains adamant about not wanting to have children, you will have to decide if you can live the rest of your life without them. From your comments, it appears that you cannot.

To force someone into motherhood or fatherhood against their will is to cause grief not only to them but also to the resulting child or children. No doubt you have friends and family who insist that once she has a child she will take to motherhood like a duck to water. It could happen, but the gamble is far too risky to her, to you, and to the child.

You and your wife are only 29. Your wife is nowhere near the end of her childbearing years. She may need a few more years of independence for herself before committing to raising children.

Are you being pressured by family to produce grandchildren? Do you have friends who want you to have the same childrearing experiences they currently have? Has this always been such a high priority issue for you? What would you do if your child was born with a severe defect?

Can you financially provide for a child and still maintain your current lifestyle without your wife working? What are you ready to give up in order to make space in your life for a child? How much do you know about the day-to-day care of a newborn?

Having a child will change your marriage forever. You will have to consider the child’s needs at all times. It will end the independence and spontaniety the two of you currently have in your lives. Your financial needs will increase significantly.

I don’t want to discount the importance of having children, just add another voice. A voice that says children aren’t the only reason for being married. A voice that says some women and some men don’t have to be parents in order to validate their place on this earth.

This is an issue you and your wife will have to work out together. Don’t try to force her into being someone she is not or doesn’t want to be. Children cannot hold a marriage together but the stress of forced parenthood could pull a marriage apart. Good luck.