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What if my husband doesn’t want more kids?

"I want another baby but my husband doesn't," is a popular issue amongst parents. We rounded up tips on how to navigate making a decision.

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Dear ITN,

My husband comes from a big family and we always planned to have multiple kids. Our baby is just over a year old, and we’d always planned to grow our family in the next year or so. But recently my husband has decided that he no longer wants to have multiple kids, in fact he’s happy with our daughter being a singleton. He’s even gone so far as to bring up the idea of him getting a vasectomy, he’s that sure of his decision. Of course I respect his decision and am trying to be supportive of the fact that my husband doesn’t want more kids. But I am not sure that I don’t want more. This was our plan for so long, and now it feels like I’m mourning something that I never even had. I’m not sure how we move past this. Help!

Signed,

One and Not Done

Dear One and Not Done,

Oof, this is a tough position to find yourself in, mama. I want to first say I’m sorry, because I definitely know that you are probably feeling all kinds of emotions right now, and cycling through potential scenarios in your head as you try to come to terms with things as they are laid out. I always, ALWAYS urge folks to talk about these sorts of things with their partners before committing to a long term relationship. And you did! You and your husband did talk about this, and made a decision together. But things and minds can and do change, and when it’s not a mutually agreed upon change, someone is always left holding the bag. I appreciate you saying that you respect your husband’s decision, but I also understand that his decision potentially made yours for you, and that is hard. How do you move past this? That really depends on how tied to this new plan for your life each of you are.

I want to first say that it is not uncommon AT ALL for people to change their minds about how many kids they want after they actually have a kid. Prior to becoming a parent, you’re really just dealing in hypotheticals. You have no idea what it will actually be like. Then some folks have a kid and think, ‘You know what? Imma do this as many times as I can!’ And other folks have a child and decide that one is more than enough for them, thank you very much. Nothing wrong about either scenario! It sounds like your husband, having been wading in the parenthood pool for the last year or so, has decided that the deep end is not for him and he would very much like to just sit with his feet dipped in. He is not wrong for that, he now has the real-life experience to help guide his choice, and no one (not even our partners!) get to judge the rightness or wrongness of such a decision. What you need to do now, Not Done, is decide where YOU go from here.

I think the use of the word mourning is spot-on here. We do create these ideas in our hearts and minds of what our lives and families will look like, and even though another child doesn’t exist in this realm for you as of now, it’s normal to become attached to and fall in love with the idea of that child. Now, you have to decide if you are or will be OK if that child or children exist only in your heart and mind. No one else can answer that for you, just as no one else can tell your husband that he can’t make this decision for himself. Will you be happy and fulfilled if your dream of multiple children turns into a reality of one child? No wrong answers here, either. Your husband gets to make that decision for himself, but not for you.

I strongly encourage the two of you to get into couple’s counseling asap, if you haven’t already. Not because you or him need to be convinced to change the other’s mind, not at all. But because clearly, somewhere along the way, the plans and dreams you guys had together have diverged. They may merge again along the way, or you may come to a happy medium. You may also, it needs to be said, find that you cannot reconcile your needs with your husband’s on this. Either way, I think talking through your feelings with a therapist (alone and with your husband) will give you the best chance at clarity to make the decision YOU can live with. I wish you and your husband nothing but the best, and I sincerely hope the two of you can work together and come together to find a solution that you are both comfortable with, and will be comfortable enough with for the rest of your lives together. 

Finding A Happy Medium,

Is This Normal

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