Thursday, July 23, 2015

Honey, I Changed My Mind About Having Kids

In Carolyn Hax's July 20 advice column, a reader asks what a lot of folks ask here. She and her husband originally agreed not to have children. Now she's having second thoughts. She has a whole script worked out to discuss this with her guy, hoping maybe he has changed his mind, too, but what if he says he still doesn't want kids?

Hax asks the reader if she can accept it if her husband sticks to his no-kids decision. She offers comments from other readers who have experienced this situation. And one of them mentions this blog. Whoever you are, thank you. Tell your friends.

So, people do change their minds. They think they're okay with not having children, but then everyone around them is having babies, they are aware that they're running out of time, or they realize they agreed to a childless marriage just to keep the relationship going. Maybe they thought stepchildren would fill the space where their own children would be, but they don't. Am I ringing any bells for people?

Maybe you're not the one changing your mind. Maybe it's your partner, who suddenly says he wants kids or that he (or she) has decided he does not want them. He/she cites money, freedom, jobs, age, bla bla bla.

Where once you thought you agreed on this huge decision, you don't anymore. You had an agreement. You knew what you wanted and were living your life counting on that agreement staying the same. Now what do you do? Do you leave? Do you urge your partner to leave? Do you get counseling to help you accept the unacceptable? This is the heart of the whole childless by marriage concept.

As longtime readers know, this is what happened to me. I stayed. I didn't have children. I cried where my husband couldn't see me. I wrote a book about it. He didn't change his mind. Now I'm a childless widow living with my dog. It's not as tragic as it sounds. I have a good life, but I still wish I had found a way to become a mother and grandmother and great-grandmother.
I want to share some comments posted at my old Blogger site that you might not otherwise see:

On July 20, Anonymous said...
In my fourth year of marriage, during marriage counseling, my husband told me he never wanted me to have children because of my auto immune disease. I divorced him because we had agreed on children, we had picked out names. One unsuccessful relationship after another led to me missing my window. I never did get to have a child. But I have a stepson who lost his mother at a young age. We love each other so much. Jumping in as a parent of a teenager is very hard. But to hear him wish me my first happy mothers day was priceless, absolutely priceless. My ex has been married twice after me and he plans on having children. Sometimes I hate him for what he did to me. But now I have my wonderful stepson who I never would have met if it wasn't for my ex. My husband now is pretty awesome too. I love my boys like crazy. So, happy ending!

Yesterday, Anonymous commented:
I feel like I am the only woman in the world who started out not wanting children, grew to change my mind, and had my husband on several occasions scream at me that I can't change my mind. He expects me to be around and support all of his friends families and everytime, I die a little more inside. I am scared for my future in aging, lonely, and just sad I married someone like this.

On July 21, another Anonymous wrote:
I was lucky enough to fall in love in my mid-twenties with a man who, like me, was somewhat leaning against having children. I was pretty sure I didn't want children, having had, since childhood, a feeling that motherhood probably wasn't for me. But after we married, I wanted to wait a few years before making a final decision to see if my feelings, or his, would change. They didn't. What happened next was a series of vivid dreams in which I would inexplicably find myself six or seven months pregnant, too late to change my mind, horrified and terrified, and trying desperately to convince myself that having a baby would be okay while knowing it would not. At least twice I woke up clutching my belly. Husband and self are now in our sixties, happily married and childless. I know that by not having children, we gave up some wonderful things. And I know my sisters will have the support of their children as they age, and I won't have that special kind of support. But I remain convinced that I made the right decision for me, and my husband feels the same way. My childhood was happy, my mother is warm and wonderful, and I really can't explain why I knew I didn't want to become a mother while my sisters wanted to be, and are, great mothers. I do know that especially after those dreams, anyone who might have tried to persuade me to have a baby would not have been successful. To the list of reasons why some people don't want children, I'd have to add "Unexplainable but extremely strong gut-level knowledge that having children would be a huge mistake."

Everybody's different. I thank you all for your comments. Keep them coming. This is one of the few places we can discuss this stuff without judgment, and I appreciate every one of you.


I have been in the process of transitioning from one blog host to another. This month, I'm posting the same posts here and at http://www.childlessbymarriageblog.com. After Aug. 25, the old site will remain online, but new material will only be posted here.

I apologize for not posting yesterday, my usual day. I work as a music director at our local Catholic church and we have a new pastor whose changes kept us occupied and mind-blown all day. Basically he thinks this is a cathedral, not a little coastal church, and he thinks it's 1950, not 2015. Think Gregorian chant. In Latin. Last Sunday, he gave a little speech on the importance of family that let me know he's going to make it hard on us childless folks because we failed to reproduce. I can't wait for Mother's Day. Don't share this blog with him! I need my job. :-)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Why Wouldn’t He/She Want to Have Children?



Here at Childless by Marriage, one reader after another reports the same problem: One partner wants kids and the other does not. Period. End of discussion. If infertility is an issue, there are ways to work around it, such as in vitro, surrogates, donors, or adoption, but no. They don’t want to talk about it. I always encourage readers to keep the conversation going, but I had a tight-lipped first husband who wouldn’t discuss it either, so I understand if you keep running into a dead end.

Why are some people so sure they don’t want children? Let’s look at possible reasons:

  1. ·They hate children--Kids are needy, whiny and sticky. 
  2.  Money--Raising children is too darned expensive.
  3. Conflicts with existing kids--They already have children from a previous relationship. Between child support, dealing with the ex and taking care of these kids, they can’t imagine bringing more children into their lives.
  4. Fear--of pain, conflicts, cost, life changes, and passing on physical or emotional problems.
  5. Age—They don’t want to be the oldest parent on the soccer field.
  6. Career—Having kids will totally screw it up.
  7. Freedom—They want to do whatever they please whenever they please.
  8. Marriage—Will having children ruin their relationship? Will the wife focus all her attention on the kids? Will they fight over how to raise them? Will they never have sex again?
  9. Inadequacy—They’d be a lousy father or mother.
  10. Responsibility—Don’t want it.
  11. Overpopulation—The world has too many people already.
  12. Messed up world—Why subject a child to wars, terrorism, climate change and a culture gone to hell?

Do any of these sound familiar? Can you add anything to the list? Do you think it’s possible to change their minds? I’d love to read your comments.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

For a little while on Fourth of July, I was not childless


On Fourth of July, I was walking the dog down a nearby street when this boy came out just past where someone had chalked “party” on the pavement with an arrow. There was no party now, just this kid about 10 years old with nothing to do. I had seen him before, remembered an awkward conversation about his missing model plane. He’s a loner, geeky with thick black glasses, possibly autistic. He has two sisters who are busy with their own lives, but I’m pretty sure he’s the only boy on the block.

Without asking, he joined us for our walk down the paved street on our way to the wilderness trail beyond. His speech was slow, coming in spurts, worked around his crooked front teeth. “Going for a walk, huh?”

“Yeah.”

He dodged nervously as Annie darted over to sniff him. “She’s big.”

“She is. But she won’t hurt you.”

“Is she gonna have puppies?”

I stared at him. What? “No. She’s been spayed. She had an operation. And she’s too old now anyway.” Suddenly the whole idea of taking away a dog’s ability to reproduce seemed ludicrous. Why would we do that? But he didn’t ask. He just said, “Oh.”

Annie paused to sniff a grass area where all the neighborhood dogs stopped to relieve themselves. The boy paused, too, then went on with us. It was nice having him along. I had been feeling especially lonely, this being another holiday I was spending by myself, my family too far away and my friends too busy with the kids and grandkids.

“Is it just you and her?” the boy asked.

I swallowed. How did he know? “Yes.”

“Oh.” No judgments. No “where is your husband?” or “why don’t you have kids?” He’s alone, I’m alone, just fact. He reached out shyly to pet Annie’s thick yellow fur.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Gavin.”

“Nice name.”

We walked on, Annie stopping between houses to pee.

“I know where there’s a trail.”

“Oh. I do, too.”

“I’ll run up ahead and show you.” He took off, streaking toward the end of the street to where the wild berries and Scotch broom have grown so thick you have to look hard to find the path.

“Is this your trail?” he called.

“Yes, that's it.”

He hesitated. “I’m not allowed to go past the end of the street.”

And with that we said goodbye. I heard Gavin’s shoes slapping the pavement as he ran home while Annie and I went on along the trail marked with the footprints of deer, dogs and tennis shoes, feeling much less lonely.

My dear childless friends, there are children who would love to hang out with you if you let them. Don’t give up.

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The transfer of this blog to my new Wordpress site is coming along. If you’re reading this at childlessbymarriageblog.com, you might notice that all of the old posts back to 2007 are here now, along with the comments. The formatting is a little funky. I’ll have to work on that, but this new site is going to be great. Remember, I will be posting on both old and new during July and early August, but as of Aug. 26, new comments will only be posted on the new site, so please subscribe or click “follow” so you don’t miss a single post or comment. For those who have already signed up, thank you. Every one of you is precious to me.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Get Some Boxes--Childless by Marriage is Moving



Dear friends,
Next month, I will have been doing the Childless by Marriage blog for eight years. My first post was published on Aug. 27, 2007. Unbelievable. Eight years. Don’t panic. I have no intention of stopping. But I am working on moving the blog to a new site at Wordpress.com. The address will be http://www.childlessbymarriageblog.com. The new site will offer features I can’t get with a "blogspot" blog and increase our community of childless-by-marriage friends. I already have two other blogs at Wordpress, Unleashed in Oregon and Writer Aid. If all works smoothly, the previous posts and comments from this blog will be transferred to the new site. But I don’t want to take any chances, so until Aug. 26, 2015, I will publish the same posts at both sites.

I started the Childless by Marriage blog before I finished the Childless by Marriage book, which came out in 2012. To be honest, the blog has been more successful than the book. At the heart of it is your comments, so much heartfelt sharing of joys, sorrows, successes and mistakes. You offer comfort to me and to one another. This has become a conversation, not just me talking into cyberspace.

You have been with me through my own pain and loss, including the death of my husband from Alzheimer’s Disease in 2011. You have supported me as I adapt to my new status as a widow, a new age group, and a new life on my own without the usual kids and grandkids to support me.
Of course I want to sell my books and draw attention to my writing through my blogs and other activities. That’s why most of us start blogs in the first place, but you have become precious to me, and I’m happy to be here as your big sister or Aunt Sue to listen to what you need to say. Most of you comment as “Anonymous.” That’s fine. I’m glad I can provide a private space to say what we might not be able to say anywhere else. I feel like I know you anyway.

I’d like to make this blog more interactive, maybe add some guest posts, feature more of you in the main blog. I welcome your suggestions. Meanwhile, I’m here. I may be moving, but I’m taking you with me.
Hugs,
Sue