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I Married A Person Who Doesn’t Want Children

So you’ve married a person who doesn’t want children. Let’s talk about the less painful forms of this problem before discussing the harder ones. You married someone who is older than you and already has a child or two or three…She/he loves you but won’t commit to another child with you. Obviously the chances of changing someone’s mind in this kind of situation are slim and will probably bring you a lot of grief, and I wouldn’t recommend it.

For obvious reasons, I wouldn’t recommend “accidental” pregnancies either. Now I know plenty of people who participated in the rearing of their partner’s already present child/children. And this can be quite a noble task as you might imagine. Take a little advice, if you find yourself falling in love with a person who already has children and having your own “biological” child matters a lot to you, a bit of focused communication is in order as soon as possible. Remember it is entirely possible to fall in love with someone and find that the “conditions” in the relationship you two establish with each other are just not compatible for either or both of you. Walk now and avoid more pain later if you can’t agree.

How about the “I had a lousy childhood and don’t want to inflict this misery on my own children” defense. This one might respond to a bit a psychotherapy focused specifically on the fears of replicating past emotional pain. Quite frankly, such an individual just doesn’t yet appreciate the wonders of consciousness. What I mean is, if you “know” your childhood pain might replicate in your adult love life and family life, that “knowledge” gives you an inroad into keeping this scary thing from ever happening. If you trust your awareness and ability to strengthen your dedicated refusal to let this happen, especially if your partner is supportive, I’ll bet your past pain will never really replicate in your current family life. As I said, a little psychotherapy will dramatically increase the probability of it not happening.

The hardest form of this “I don’t want to have children” problem occurs when you marry someone probably around your own child-bearing age under the “assumption” that he or she will quite naturally want a child with you. How could they not? You know it’s real easy to overlook this problem simply because dating, a new love relationship, and engagement is so much fun. Being focused pretty exclusively on the thrill of being in love, whose thinking about having kids? We’ll think about that latter. Like how about after we’re married. Wrong! This is simply a formula for conflict. Here’s the rule, know who you’re marrying before you get married.

Whether or not to have children is a “choice,” pure and simple. Just because you get married doesn’t automatically mean you’ll have kids together. Having kids is like agreeing on where to live or what bank to keep your money in. Two people have to negotiate their differences. Hopefully the outcome will be acceptable to both. Knowing whether children are in the cards with someone you have fallen in love with and intend to marry, should be talked about directly and openly long before you tie the knot.

Comments welcome, Dr. Jordan

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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

1 Comment

  1. Julia on December 24, 2018 at 4:42 am

    Dear Dr. Jordan,

    I have a situation when my husband wanted to have children in the first 5 years of our marriage and now he changed his mind and does not want anymore. Due his health issues it is difficult to consive a child in a natural way. We have other options or we could adopt. But he doesn’t want. I feel cheated. We discussed it before and tried, but when the time has come to be proactive and really work with doctors or start adoption preparations, he backs off. We have other problems in our relationship, but they can be fixed and are not time sensitive. It is very sad for me. I know that 20-30 years later I will be really sorry that I did not actively pursued to get a baby. I am very sad, angry and it feels not fair to give up my need without even really to try to do something about it. It is a really by compromise for me. I would not have married if I knew that. Thank you. Julia

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