Professor's House

Is It Unfair to Change Your Mind about Wanting Children?

When my husband and I got engaged in our early twenties, we foolishly did not discuss the possibility of having kids one day. I’m quite sure we didn’t even give children a second thought at all during that time in our lives. We were practically kids ourselves – self-centered pleasure-seekers who didn’t regard other people at all, let alone entertain the idea of creating people of our own to care for. We were living in the moment and just wanted to be married.

Several years later, my brother and his wife would have their first child. I babysat my sweet nephew every once in a while, and it was only then that I realized I’’d like to have children of my own. My husband didn’t seem to mind either way, so we stopped trying not to get pregnant. It didn’t take long for us to conceive our first child, a girl, and we would ultimately go on to have two more daughters.’

I think our situation is fairly typical. In our society, you grow up, get married, and have kids for the most part. And that’s just the way it is. Even if a couple doesn’t discuss the possibility of eventually having kids, it’s assumed they probably will one day, and they just cross that bridge when they get to it. However, some couples do decide before marriage that they don’t want to procreate, and even seek out a mate with a similar viewpoint. This is becoming more common as folks are putting their careers first and marrying at a much older age on average.

So, is it fair for the person you married to change their mind about wanting kids, even if they originally promised you that they didn’t? This can be a very difficult question to answer as many factors can come into play. Sometimes people mature and evolve, and the way they felt when they were younger no longer holds true. Other times, people get caught up in the excitement of all of their peers starting families of their own and want to follow suit. And it may just be that one’s love for his or her spouse grows so much over the years that having a child as an expression of that love just seems like a natural next step.

If your husband or wife has changed his or her mind about wanting kids, and you’re the one who has stuck by the original plan of not multiplying, you can do one of several things. First, give yourself some time to see if you change your mind as well. Ask your husband or wife to be patient and allow you to try to get onboard with his or her new outlook. Remind him or her that nagging, persuading, and insisting will only be counterproductive. Second, you could possibly come up with a compromise with your spouse and agree to reproduce, but only have a single child. Or, you can ask your spouse to give you a period of time to accomplish some things you’’d like to try while kid-free, such as traveling or renovating a house, before trying to conceive.

If you’re the one who changed your mind and decided that you want to have kids after all, you must give your husband or wife time and space to come around to your new point of view. Having a child is more life-changing than anyone can possibly imagine. You can’t go back to how it was before. Things will never be the same. This can be terrifying to someone who isn’t really interested in reproducing and who loves their life and marriage to you just the way it is. Fear of the unknown can prevent a lot of people from making this leap from being a childless couple to a family of three or more. You must acknowledge your partner’s feelings on this matter and understand that you originally agreed to remain childless. Ultimately, marital counseling may be the necessary nudge to get the both of you on the same page, whether that be yours or your mate’s.

Even more complicated, is when one’s husband or wife changes his or her mind about reproducing after one member of the couple has been surgically sterilized. Often times these procedures can be difficult, costly, and even dangerous to reverse, especially for women. If both husband and wife are on board with proceeding to reproduce, they will need to consult of medical professional about restoring their fertility. Otherwise, adoption is an option that can be explored if desired.
it’s always best to discuss important matters with your fiancé, either before you’re engaged, or during your engagement period. Topics like finances, where you’ll live, workload, possibly caring for extended family or in-laws, etc. should all be talked out, agreed upon, and possibly written up in a friendly contract that you can refer back to if necessary. And yes, most importantly, procreating should be discussed. This is the most imperative subject to consider since it will involve the two of you plus the child or children who may eventually be involved.

One of the secrets to a successful marriage is flexibility. Realize and embrace that the two of you will evolve and grow over the years. it’s foolish to want your love to remain stagnant and as small and shallow as it was when you first fell for each other. Allow your love to grow big and deep. People change, hopefully for the better, and their viewpoints might also turn. Knowing this before you walk down the aisle is crucial to enjoying a healthy marriage. If you’re rigid, and unwilling to flow with the natural changes of married life, you might reconsider getting hitched in the first place. However, it’s also unfair for someone to make a complete 180 on major topics that you both agreed on to begin with. If you can’t come to a compromise on a vital decision such as having children after you’re married, then seek counseling. There’s always hope!

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