Let’s say you and your spouse have children or stepchildren together already, but you can’t agree on whether (or when) to have another. You desperately want another baby, but your spouse says they don’t. What do you do about it?
A disagreement like this could easily create resentment between the two of you over time. So, it’s crucial to go ahead and get the conversation out in the open. Getting on the same page is incredibly important, especially for such a sensitive topic.
If you’re feeling a major disconnect with your spouse over the desire for more children, there’s hope. Let’s talk about some ways you can open up better communication and find a path forward that works for both of you.
Stay Calm and Ask for Clarity
First, it’s important to stay calm as you approach this conversation with your spouse. You’ll want to be as empathic to their stance on the matter as possible. At the same time, don’t make any assumptions. Instead, ask for them to clarify their stance for you.
Does your spouse feel “done” with having children? Or, is it just that they don’t feel ready yet? “No” and “not right now” are two different answers, so it’s important to know where your spouse stands.
It’s possible that they just aren’t ready for another child yet. “Not now” doesn’t mean “never.” Still, it’s good to get clarity. Your spouse may never want any more children, and in that case, make room for them to be honest with you.
Once you’ve gotten clear on whether your spouse is saying “not yet” or “never again,” ask for further clarification. This will help you better empathize with them and understand where they’re coming from. People form their opinions on having children, and how many they want, based on a wide variety of factors. Try to walk in your spouse’s shoes to see why they feel this way.
Cultivate Even More Empathy
Discussing whether to have more children together–and considering the possibility of being done with that part of your life–is a deeply emotional series of conversations. It hits at the core of our values as individuals, and when we don’t feel that we align, that can be painful.
Still, you need a full understanding of why your spouse feels the way they do, and in turn, they should give you the chance to express how you feel. Is your spouse taking this stance out of fear, or out of decisiveness? Maybe they’re worried about:
- Financial stability, especially after adding another child
- Missing out on certain life experiences that could be impacted by having more children
- Losing some of the one-on-one time that they value with you, particularly if your other children are a bit older now
Don’t shame or blame your spouse for the feelings they’re experiencing. Instead, try to cultivate a deeper sense of empathy for them–even if you disagree. If you’re open to hearing what they have to say, maybe you can be a part of the solution, too.
Sometimes, bringing fears out into the open allows you to work together to overcome them. Maybe you can find solutions together once you both know the greatest points of fear. Most importantly, you come away from these interactions understanding one another better.
Take a Break from the Conversation
When you and your spouse disagree on such a deeply sensitive issue, it’s going to take time to decide what will work best for you as a couple. So, call a time-out on the conversation, and don’t put a high amount of pressure on when you’re going to pick it back up.
You both need plenty of breathing room to step back and form a more objective picture of the situation. During this time, you may both find that your feelings shift and you gain a greater sense of compassion for one another. While it’s possible that you might come to an agreement, you might also find that after some time has passed, you still can’t get on the same page. If that’s the case, seek professional counseling to gain a new perspective.
Focus on Your Love for Each Other
When you’re going through a difficult season, or even a stalemate like this, it can be easy to stay focused on the conflict. However, you and your spouse should focus on how much you love one another. That’s the foundation of your relationship, and always where you should start.
If you’re having a tough time coming up with positive things to talk about that aren’t related to the situation, consider starting a new daily devotional together to shake things up. Our One Year Love Talk Devotional will give you prompts to get new conversations started and improve your communication. You can order your copy here.
This needs to take place before a baby is created. Once a baby is on the way its time to shift gears and prepare for what may become the greatest blessing of your marriage–an unexpected bonus!
Guilting your partner into saying “yes” is not a good solution. This is really one of those conflicts that can easily be unsolvable, there really is no compromise – you either have another kid or you don’t.
I eventually gave in – my partner told me they were afraid they’d hold it against me forever if they didn’t get their way.
Basically I felt blackmailed and grudgingly agreed to unprotected sex for a year. I held up my end of the bargain, but that was completely awful – having sex you don’t want to have, for a purpose you are absolutely against. I felt used. Our sexual relationship took a very long time to recover from that.
I decided to give in, because I thought me giving in upped the odds that our relationship would survive. When my partner told me, they were afraid they’d hold it against me if they didn’t get their way – they were convincing and I believed them. Basically, I hoped I would eventually make peace with agreeing to a kid I did not want. That I would eventually find a way to rebuild the relationship with my partner, and that I would eventually find a way to a healthy relationship with that child. All of those things did happen, but all of them took a long time.
If I had it do over again, what would I do? I don’t know.
I would have definitely talked more about the conflict and how I felt. And, we did talk a fair bit, I was very, very, very clear and direct about how I felt. That I did not not want to do this. I did not want this at all, not even a little bit. That I was completely against this. That this kid might always be “yours” and not “ours”. That I would try to *act* supportive, but don’t expect me to really feel that way.
In hindsight – we should have gotten help – marriage counselling. I think it would have saved us a lot of heartache. I don’t now whether counselling would have changed the outcome. Would I have given in still? I don’t know. But, I think it would have given us tools to do better in that conflict.
I am reminded that the purpose of marriage is to grow in God together. The pressure of partners not agreeing on children puts stress on a marriage and may distract from being one in God. It’s important to be understanding for the partner who is unsure of children. Having children is a huge commitment, and both partners should be 100% on board, or I believe it should not considered. Forcing them into children can cause them to feel trapped, even as the child ages. That stress may damage the relationship, and their relationship with the children.