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.