What happens when you want children and your partner doesn’t? Crystal Espin finds out
We often hear people say no one is ever really ready to have kids. It’s only once you and your partner are pregnant or your baby is born that you realise you were ready all along. Today, many couples are choosing to put off having kids until their careers are more established. Others are opting to live their lives child-free.
But what happens when you have decided kids are in your immediate future and you find out your partner doesn’t have the same plans? Does it spell the end of your relationship or is there room for compromise?
The decision to have kids can be one of the most important choices you ever make as a committed couple. For many people, the idea of becoming a parent is a huge part of their identity – others struggle to imagine themselves in the parental role.
Life and relationship coach Juna Mustad says it’s not a given that two people will come together in marriage, or any relationship, and choose to have kids. ‘It’s a powerful topic because, if you’re not lined up, it can be a relationship killer.’ Juna says she’s witnessed many incidences where people who have good chemistry don’t enter into a relationship because one of them wants kids and the other does not.
Clear lines of communication
It can be devastating for someone who is certain kids are a part of their future to find out their partner, their ‘soulmate’, doesn’t share their vision. That doesn’t mean it’s time to jump ship immediately, however, says Dr Petra Boynton, a social psychiatrist.
She points out that you need to continue the conversation with your partner and really listen. ‘Find out what they are actually saying. Is it that they don’t want children right now or is it that they don’t want kids until they’re in a particular situation, for example, marriage? Perhaps they can’t physically have children? Or is it really just a case of “No, not ever”? There are all kinds
of scenarios and it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of a relationship.’
Let it all out
Talking about your wants and needs is important in any relationship and it’s especially important when you’re deciding on what your future holds as a couple. Of course, broaching this topic with your partner can be tough – especially if your relationship is relatively new – and you may not know the right time to bring it up. However, if having kids is important to you, you need to learn about your partner’s plans and life goals before heading down the path to a serious relationship with them.
For most, it’s a topic they discuss before getting married, but if you’re already married – or in a committed relationship – and have just found out your partner doesn’t want kids, it could be time to seek professional advice. Visit a counsellor and chat about your options as a couple. There is a chance that this could spell the end for your relationship, so a counsellor can also help you deal with that.
The therapist can help broker the conversation and get both parties to understand what it is they are really saying. If it looks like you are going to break up, then counselling can help you do that less painfully.
‘It’s important to make a choice based on your decision, whatever that may be – a future spent together without kids, or splitting up,’ says Dr Boynton.