Marriage: Kids – when one spouse is ready and the other is not – how to negotiate a new strategy.
Living in harmony with your spouse is a joy and blessing many people are grateful for, but when two individuals come together as one, there are bound to be disagreements.
Having or not having kids can be one of the larger, more emotional recurring arguments partners have. It’s a landmine of sorts that’s unavoidable in disrupting whatever harmony that does exist within the relationship.
Needless to say, bringing children into the world to raise as your own is unequivocally life-changing. Which is why discussing the topic of raising children is critical as soon as you realize the relationship is serious and has a future.
Now, the moment of truth has arrived, and it’s time for you and your spouse to have the difficult and uncomfortable conversation of having children, which usually falls into at least 1 of the 3 categories:
- Do you want children at all?
- Do you want children now or later?
- Do you want more children?
So, as psychotherapist Esther Perel would say, “Where should we begin?”
Well, let’s start with these 3 strategies in dealing with this sensitive subject with loving kindness and an open mind.
Strategy #1: Understand Their Why
Understanding a person’s reason for their behavior or way of thinking is often the key to dealing with that person more successfully or accepting them as they are.
When adults consider child-rearing, it can trigger memories, good or bad, of their childhood, which can be motivators in their decision-making. It’s especially important during these conversations to create a safe space, so that each of you can share your reasons for wanting or not wanting children.
Practice listening to understand, and not for responding with a clever rebuttal that dismisses their feelings. Frankly, sometimes, the issue may be more physical than emotional or psychological; some partners have reservations about having kids because of their medical or genetic health.
This is also a time to check in with yourself, and make sure you want to have kids for the right reason.
Strategy #2: Don’t Settle
It is much better and more practical to wait when you can’t come to an agreement about parenthood, but don’t settle on “yes” or “no” if that’s not what you want.
Choosing “not right now” gives each of you time to sort things out, especially if one of you is on the fence. But don’t bargain and make a deal that is ultimately unfair to you both, and will eventually lead to resentment or spite.
Strategy #3: Seek Couples Counseling
If you believe you and your partner’s disagreement on children is starting to sound like a broken record, you should consider therapy. Sometimes professional mediation or couples therapy can help you hear each other enough to come to a reasonable compromise or new agreement.
So, Do You Stay Together or Go Separate Ways?
If you’ve exhausted the conversation on having/not having children and therapy didn’t help you resolve the matter, then it might be a worthy consideration to separate. It’s a tough call, doesn’t have to mean the end, but some experts do recommend it.
Stay or go? If you think that’s a tough question now, imagine how it would feel when you’re fully invested by love and law. Learn from my mistakes! In my book about finding yourself before marrying someone else, I ask 8 essential and defining questions that will help you find your voice and get clear on your wants and dealbreakers. Go here.