Originally I Didn't Want Children, Now I Do
When I got married, my spouse and I didn't want children and now I do. How should we deal with this?
When one spouse decides he/she wants children, when prior to marriage there was a decision or a preference not to have any, there is a major problem. Sometimes this issue leads to an end of a marriage when feelings are very strong on both sides. It can be a deal breaker as this is an extremely emotional issue. If one of the spouses compromise in order to stay together, this may lead to resentment and disconnect, which may, ultimately, result in a divorce.
When this issue arises, it is very important to talk about it openly and understand emotional reasons for the change of heart. This has to be done with utmost caring about each other's feelings and meaning of what is happening. This can be a process with discussions and then soul searching only to have more discussions.
Wanting a child has a lot of meaning to the one who changes his/her mind. It often is the female in a heterosexual marriage, coming to mid 30's and realizing that time is running out bringing with it end of fertility, and possibly newly emerged maternal or paternal instinct and yearnings, longing to experience pregnancy and giving birth to another human being. Sometimes, there is a feeling of emptiness, lack of feeling fulfilled, missing out on something major, watching friends having babies, wanting to be a family and not only a couple.
It is important to honestly weigh the emotional impact for each spouse in whatever decision is reached and the potential consequences of such decisions for each person and the couple.
All this being said, this is clearly a major fork in the road. The spouse who wants to remain childless may feel that a promise or an agreement is being broken or sabotaged. That their spouse can no longer be trusted or is not a true partner. Possibly that he/she has been misled or is being deceived. While the one whose mind is changed, can feel as though they are prevented from the most fulfilling experience, possibility of having a legacy, being held back and not cared for. For this partner this may represent the ultimate rejection if he/she feels that having a child is the ultimate commitment between two people.
The themes are similar in same sex marriages, depending if it is a marriage with two males or two females and same meanings and emotional impact exists and needs to be considered.
For further inquiries:
Check out Irina Firstein, LCSW, at https://www.nyccouplestherapists.com
Phone: (212) 953- 1388