What do you do if you want to have a baby, but your partner doesn’t?
There are many variations of this situation and is one of the most common reasons why women consider becoming a Single Mother by Choice.
If you find yourself in this situation, you're not alone. It's actually fairly common for partners to be on different pages when it comes to having children. The question is: what to do?
There are a couple of different things that we need to consider. The first - is this a new relationship or a long term, established relationship?
So let's consider the first one. Let’s say you've just met this person, you might have been dating for a little while and you've had a conversation about children and surprise, surprise, you're not both on the same page when it comes to children.
Now, this can also apply if your partner says that they do want to have children, but they're very vague about the “when” of starting their family. Men don't have the same time pressure when it comes to their fertility as women. Men can have children through their sixties and seventies (although most probably wouldn’t want to have kids that old) but men can still be very old and have children.
Women have finite fertility, so we are more keenly aware of timing when it comes to our fertility window and when we want to start our families.
If a new partner says to you that they want to have children but not for at least another five or 10 years, and you are keen to get started in the next three to five years, then that is a big conflict and needs to be discussed.
You need consider what your priorities are and what the consequences of delaying getting started will mean for you.
If this is an established relationship where you have been together for a long time, you know each other well and all of a sudden there's this disparity between how you feel about having children, then this also needs to be discussed.
It is important to have open and honest conversations about the reality of one party compromising what is important to them.
There's a few things that I think are important when having this conversation and the first thing is to understand who has actually changed their mind.
Let's consider for example that you have said previously that you didn't think you want kids and now all of a sudden you've changed your mind and you actually do want to have children.
It's important that you take responsibility for the fact that you've changed your mind.
Secondly, it's completely normal for you to have different priorities when we are in different life stages. The things that are important to us, how we spend our time and who we're spending it with, change vastly as we move from our twenties to our thirties. This is completely normal and it isn't unrealistic for someone in their twenties to feel differently about having kids compared to when they are in their thirties.
Often when we get to our late twenties or early thirties our friends or siblings might start having kids and all of a sudden we see a different side of babies and children that we've not been exposed to as an adult. This can change the way that you perceive things. Getting to know a little baby from birth, watching them grow up and being part of that child's life has an indelible impact upon who you are and how you perceive yourself.
If you have changed how you feel about having family and your partner hasn't, there needs to be a very open, honest conversation about what that means for your relationship.
If your partner isn't onboard or is very, very reluctant to consider it then it's important you consider the impact of not fulfilling this desire in your life. Either way, there will be an experience of loss, which can lead to resentment.
If you stay in the relationship, but can’t let go of that yearning to have children then there is the risk that resentment and blame will end the relationship anyway, leaving you without the relationship or the child.
If having a family is important to you and your partner is not on board, then with great courage it is possible to separate and open yourself to finding new love with someone who has similar values. This is a big decision, but it's entirely possible to maintain high levels of friendship and love for your former partner, even if you're not together.
Now let’s suppose you're with someone who has always indicated that they wanted to have children but now that you're at that stage, they’ve changed their mind. This is a very confronting situation to find yourself in.
Its very important to have open and honest communication with your partner and to understand if your partner has genuinely changed their mind. As mentioned before, we never really know how we’re going to feel about having a family until we’re at that stage of life, so it is entirely possible for someone to think they want children, then but change their mind when they see their friends and siblings become parents.
It's actually quite common because having kids changes everyone’s lives forever in every possible way.
It's entirely understandable that someone may no longer want to have kids when they've seen the impact of parenthood on people's lives, their relationships, their bodies, and their sanity! It's just not surprising that some people elect to not go down that path.
However, if your partner never actually wanted to have kids, but allowed you to believe that they did, then this is a different matter entirely. I would question what else in your relationship have they allowed you to believe? Where else in your relationship have they not been entirely honest or transparent? Where else have they been keeping quiet in order to keep you happy?
This is important to explore because the reality of your relationship could be vastly different to what you actually thought it was. Knowing the truth will make it easier for you to make important decisions such as whether you stay in that relationship or prioritise your aspirations for a family.
None of this is easy and if you would like help in navigating your situation you can book an online session with me here.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, have you been in this situation before? What did you end up doing? How did you make your decision and are you happy with the decision that you made? Ultimately, we need to remember that a lot of relationships aren't for life.
Even if you're deeply in love with this person right now, the consequences of not being on the same page when it comes to your family can cause a great divide in your relationship. So, get clear on and prioritize your values and create your life accordingly.