Relationships often involve compromise. Two individuals unite to form a couple. This will inevitably lead to many scenarios in which you will have to stake out the middle ground. But what if an issue has no middle ground? Case in point: To have kids or to not have kids.
You defied the odds and connected with a compatible soul. On so many levels, you are deeply bonded. You’ve even made progress in compromising and resolving conflict. Then, along comes the disagreement to end all disagreements. One of you wants kids but the other doesn’t. How did this happen and what should you do?
Let’s begin by validating the reality that some people just don’t want children. They are under no obligation to justify and explain themselves to the world. If this is you, it’s highly recommended that you are open about this—early on—with potential long-term partners. Besides this, there are many common reasons to eschew parenthood:
- Fear of the financial strain
- Concern about the unknown, often unpredictable ways that having a kid can change every single aspect of your life
- Dislike of children
- Lack of trust in your partner as a parent
- Fear of more responsibility
- Preference to make a career (or anything else) your priority
- Desire to avoid repeating unhealthy family patterns or diseases
- Concerns about societal issues (overpopulation, environmentalism, social strife, etc.)
Sure, people can change their minds or be convinced otherwise. But in the present moment, there is an impasse. Now what?
A note for those who are in very new relationships. If you already know that this gulf exists between you, it’s almost always best to end the relationship. It may be painful but won’t be as painful as facing the “kid issue” in a few years when you both already knew it was coming.
What Can You Do When Only One of You Wants Kids?
In many ways, it can come down to asking yourself some tough questions. Do you want your partner’s companionship more than you want to have children? Is it that you want kids in general or more specifically, do you want kids with your partner? While you ponder that, you’ll need to have some serious and direct conversations with your partner.
Introduce the Tough Topics
Open up honestly as to why you each feel as you do. What are your personal reasons and are they open for discussion? Do either of you think you can be happy if you gave in? Do not avoid the subject because you fear it means the end. Get your thoughts, ideas, opinions, etc. out in the open. (You may want to consider doing this in the presence of a therapist.) Some guidelines for these conversations:
- Don’t say “not now” when you mean “never”
- Take time to seriously ponder your motivations and your partner’s motivations
- Tend to other aspects of your relationship in the meantime
Does a “Compromise” Exist?
You might look into foster parenting. You might agree to give it a short break but set a firm future date to revisit. There’s a delicate balance to strike here but it’s possible. Once again, you really should consider getting guidance.
This is about as fundamental a rift as a couple can face. Emotions are cascading and this can make things seem darker than they are. Connect together with a couples therapist and do the hard work of reaching some kind of resolution. We invite you to reach out today to start this crucial process.