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 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. :-)


Kay Jorgensen said...

I am struggling with bouts of sadness, anger, well name any emotion and I go through and repeat the cycle. I am 48 now. I thought we were on the same page when it came to having children. My husband made excuse after excuse as to why we needed to wait to start a family. I began asking him if he still wanted children and his reply is and was the same, yes. He then decided we should just adopt. Mind you, we hadn't even tried to get pregnant, he was afraid of having an unhealthy baby. So, now I'm here. We went through counseling and I've talked to a few priests. How do I make peace with this? I do love my husband but I don't like how, at many times during the day, I feel very angry with him...almost towards hatred. Is this normal?

Anonymous said...

I don't know if my children will be there for my husband and me in our old age. I can't know the future. What I know for sure is that my life is infinitely richer and filled with amazing joy because of them.

To deny oneself the joy of building and raising a family is to deny a huge part of the experience of life. We don't always get to pick and choose how our life ends up, but I'd hate to put a happy face on childlessness for those whose familial destiny hasn't yet been sealed. There is far too much overthinking of what should be a normal, natural progression. There is no career, no travel, no freedom that can compare to the precious years of nurturing a baby, of encouraging a young child, of guiding a teenager into adulthood. The years are passing way too fast, but I look forward to the future as my own kids grow up and start their own family journey.

I think fear is paralyzing a segment of today's generation, leaving them to reject something incredible because of fears that are irrational and exaggerated.

Anonymous said...

"I can't wait for Mother's Day."
I always think of childless men and women on Mothers Day and Fathers Day, and pray for their loss. I pray for their hurts to be healed. I don't know why things play out the way they do on earth, but I know in Heaven it will all make sense.

Anonymous said...

Great to find your blog.
I have to say, I never thought I'd be writing on a childless by marriage blog in my life, but here I am and it's so nice to feel like there are others to talk to about this situation.
I have bet myself up about having negative resentful feelings towards my loving partner, who would do anything in the world for me, but have a child with me. I feel slightly jealous of his teenage daughter, the woman who was lucky enough to give her to him and why can't I be the no. 1 in his life by him giving me the so-called greatest gift in life....
He is 16 years my senior, and said he didn't want children the day we met. However at this time I was in my 20's and hadn't thought about children apart from the fact that I would probably have them one day, and that we were already infactuated with each other.
It's funny how things change as a woman though, when you fall in love and start planning your future.. All of a sudden everyone is having babies and your ovaries are hurting. He refuses to talk about it. He says to live each day to the fullest, in the present and to love and be loved is the most important thing in life. But suddenly all I can notice is happy friends having babies, and the dark, heavy realisation looms that that's not going to be me.......
How do you explain to a man that something changes when you fall in love - mother nature taking her course....
Never thought I'd be in this position or writing on this blog!
But I do think talking and writing feelings down helps each day - to keep these feelings bundled inside will definitely eat away at you and destroy your spark!
Thank you for the blog - strength and love to all woman in this 'modern' unnatural situation (childless step-parent).

Sue Fagalde Lick said...

Thank you for sharing this, Anonymous. I think so many of us can relate to your situation. I know I can. My husband was 15 years older and yes, much of our story is the same. Keep trying to make him understand. And hold on to that spark.

Sue Fagalde Lick said...

Anonymous, thank you for your words about Mother's Day. It is so hard for so many of us.

Sue Fagalde Lick said...

Good points, Anonymous 4:26 a.m. It should be a natural progression, shouldn't it? I often feel the same way. Thanks for sharing this.

A.Roddy said...

I know this is old post but I wanted to address Anonymous's July 30th 4;30 am comments above. Yes there are people who change the minds but many don't. It's sonly recently child-free have been brave enough to say 'I choose not to have kids because I find other fulfillment in life'. We are under no obligation to build a family I feel my family is my husband brother parents etc. I see no harm in choosing another path.
What fulfills one person isnt going to for another. Some people have kids because they fear being alone. They wanna keep up with tradition. You dont need kids to be fulfilled and this is coming from someone who wanted them. What about the thousands of neglected and abused kids who didn't fulfill the parents? There are many reasons others choose not to have kids. They have health issues or other situations in which they don't want an added life to care for. We may see happy friends having kids but do we really know that? think it's an insult to say it's the only thing that fulfills.My life is rich with no kids thank you

Anonymous said...

I'm 31 and have been married for 4 years. About 2 years before we got married I decided I didn't want children because I have epilepsy and was (still am) scared of the drugs or my health effecting a baby. This decision was concluded after witnessing a mother have a fit whilst her baby was in the pram and hearing/seeing other stories. When I spoke to my husband about it he said that no matter what he wanted to be with me, I felt so lucky.
Then last year I had a scare, for nearly 3 months I worried that I was pregnant however when I did the test it was negative. I'm not sure why or what happened but amongst the panic I thought, 'what if'?
After a year of torturing myself thinkking I was preventing my husband, feeling like my condition was my fault and feeding other various forms of self pity; I went for counselling and sought support from an epilepsy group. I've since learnt that it's not my fault and there are mothers with epilepsy doing just fine. I really want get more information from my neurologist or consider adoption but when I spoke to my husband again he told me that he didn't wante kids. That he was surprised how easlily he accepted our decision not to, he would worry about the risks, our jobs, how he'd handle being a father etc. How do I convince someone of something I'm unsure about? Do I still feel lucky? Will this longing pass? If not what's next?
I do love my husband and I don't know what I'd do without him but......

Sue Fagalde Lick said...

Thanks for bringing this problem to our attention. I don't think we have talked about epilepsy here. I do have a friend with epilepsy who has three wonderful kids who are all young healthy adults now. So it can be done. I think you and your husband need to talk to doctors and maybe a counselor together, so you both understand all the risks and possibilities. I wish you luck.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Sue.

Anonymous said...

As I read the comments. I realise there is something difficult i need to do - walk away from my relationship of 13 years. I'm 43 and my husband is 48. For the last 18 months we have tried to conceive however with the transition of his father into a nursing home and the hours worked in our jobs finding time to be intimate was few and far between - nowhere near enough to even have a chance at conception. When we first met hubby said he never wanted to marry again nor have children he had just been through a messy divorce and raised a step child with his ex.He did change he mind. However I married him knowing he didn't want children and I thought i was fine with it even though deep down inside i always wanted a child. 18 months ago he was the one who said he wanted a baby. I was over the moon. Due to my age i went and ensured all was fine at my end and to see if there were any medical issues etc. All well at my end. He has now told never ever wanted children and only wanted one to keep the relationship. He as the one who suggested a baby. I've told him i can longer be in the relationship if we don't want the same things in life and he keeps saying he is to old to have a baby. I told him it's over. I'm heartbroken that he changed his mind. I need to leave him now even if i don't find anyone else who has the same hopes and dreams at least when I'm older i can look back on my life and say i tried to find someone who wants the same. I don't know what my future holds but i don't want to be with someone for the rest of my life having regrets about not having a child and being resentful for it. I may never have that long desired child in my life but isn't it worth trying to find that happiness with someone who feels the same about children. It breaks my heart every time i see a mother and child as i think i will never have this if i stay in this relationship and I don't want to feel like that for the rest of my life. I know nothing is certain in this world. I would rather look back on my life when I'm older with no regrets and the thought of at least i gave it my best.

Sue Fagalde Lick said...

Anonymous, I'm so sorry this has happened to you. You are very brave to start over at this point. I hope you find what you're looking for.

ldalless said...

To Anonymous at 4:26 AM and Sue Fagalde Lick:

I find the comments of Anonymous absolutely condescending and rude. You try to speak for everyone when you suggest that no freedom or travel or career could be as fulfilling as raising a family. You completely fail to see the possibility that some people do not share your view and/or are not suited to raising a family. Some people find fulfillment through volunteer work or a career instead of through raising a family. Your comments are insulting to those people.

Those fears of which you speak are not "irrational and exaggerated." They are rational in a world where it is becoming more expensive to raise a child and terrorism is prevalent. There is no "overthinking" when it comes to bringing another life into the world and assuming the responsibilities of feeding, educating, and providing shelter for another human being. Children are abused and left at shelters or on the streets or in hospitals because their parents didn't want to, or couldn't, adapt "to the joy of building and raising a family."

Don't assume your life choices are right for everyone. Life is not a one size fits all deal.

Sue Fagalde Lick said...

To clarify, you are referring to the Anonymous comment from July 20, 2015. You're right, we all have different ideas about what life should be, and we are entitled to state them as we wish.