Of course, as in any relationship there are many complicated issues, and many things happen, but I will summarize and over-simplify for the sake of this discussion and bring it down to one issue:

We met at 18 in college in the Midwest – fell madly love
We married at 24 and immediately moved to NYC
We have now been married for 5 years and still reside in NYC.

Over our more than 10+ year relationship, we, like any other couple, have experienced many ups and downs… maybe some of our downs have even been a bit more significant than average, but we’ve always found a way to work through it and we both do genuinely love each other very much and treat each other well.

For our entire relationship we have always looked to the future and talked about the things we want… where to live… how much money we’d like to have… being close to our families… good careers… to buy a house or not to buy a house…etc.

Children have always been part of that conversation – as though it never even occurred to either of us that not having children could even be a possibility – always a matter of when, not if.

But the last year was a bit rough, and Pete has since changed his tune – looking back, I suppose it happened slowly over time, I just didn’t notice… but suddenly, for the last several months, he has stated that he no longer wants children. He doesn’t know if he’ll ever want children.

Needless to say I’m shocked. Extremely disappointed, and very, very sad. I truly do not know what to do. I love Pete more than I ever thought was humanly possible – and I do not want to imagine sharing my life with anybody else.

But the truth is that I do not think that I am capable of feeling fully fulfilled as a person without a family of my own.

And like I’ve said to Pete about it… I’m 30. If we are going to continue forward on life’s journey together on a promise that one day he will change his mind and be ready… then there’s plenty of time.

But… if that is not the case, and he knows in his heart that raising a child is not something he wants in life… then I need to know because I’m running out of time.

Thus far, he has been unable to give me an answer.

Please, any guidance will be of help.
My father says I just need to convince him… but I don’t believe that is the answer.
My girl friends say I should leave him – that there’s plenty of men who look forward to having a family one day… but this is the man I’ve chosen… I don’t want to choose anybody else.

Tags: children, family, marriage

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You can't imagine life without him, yet he's not interested in fulfilling one of your deepest desires. Why, pray tell, does he not want children?
That is a very good question Zach... one of which he has given me many answers.

He says he doesn't like kids... that they're loud and annoying, and he usually gets irritated when they're near. - neither one of us have spent much time with children... each of us only has one older brother, and they do not yet have children either.

He has a really bad attitude about the whole thing... when our friends with small children tell their exaggerated "horror stories" about being pregnant, going through labor, how hard it is with a small child, how tired they always are, etc... Pete says "who would put themselves through all that - it sounds terrible!" even when our friends follow their stories with "I wouldn't give it up for anything" and "yeah.. I'd do it again." He thinks they just say that at the end because they're "supposed to".

Pete never used to be this way though... he used to light up at the thought of being a dad. He'd talk about wanting to coach little league and getting his kids into old cars, etc. I'll give him that he's never been into the idea of a daughter though - he's always been scared of that.

But then there's also the other part - he says he thinks he'll be a terrible dad. That he's made some big mistakes and thinks that he's incapable of being a good role model. That he'd just screw the kid up. He says he thinks he'd probably be an awesome dad 70% of the time, but that the other 30% he couldn't live with himself for screwing up.

He doesn't want to do it unless he can do it perfectly, and of course that's impossible, because no one is perfect - so therefore he doesn't want to try.

I don't know how much of that is actually how he feels, or if that's just what he tells me. He knows children are something I want, and I do believe he feels badly for not sharing my feeling.
Sounds like Pete needs to man-up.

As a single guy of 21 years and nowhere near being a father, my advice may not be worth much, but all of Pete's reasons sound immature. Children are loud and gross and will cramp your style. They will also give you the kind of joy and fulfillment that nothing else can provide. After all, the children are your legacy. And in regards to Pete thinking he'd be a bad father, every guy thinks that. Every father I've talked to was scared shitless at the thought of being a dad, and worried that he would do everything wrong. But somehow, most of us turn out alright. The key is that no one really knows how to raise the perfect child. My parents have had five, and they're still figuring things out.

Now that I've dealt with Pete's nonsense, we need to talk about you. Thinking about leaving him? Why? Let's say that Pete is adamant about not having kids. At the end of the day, you still love him. You need to figure out where your priorities are. Are you more concerned with being a mother to your unborn than you are with being a wife to the man you love? Children are a gift, but your spouse is your first love. As much as I think it is Pete's duty as a man and as a husband to provide his wife (and himself) with a child, I also believe that you two should stick together even if no child will join your marriage.

Now, I'll lie in wait until a real father comes to correct all I've said.
Just a quick chime in, but it's most easily said this way. Are my children gross? Mostly yes. Less now than before as they grow older. Are they loud? All the time. Are they obnoxious? Can be, yes. We're working on that. Do they make messes? Hourly.

Why in the world then would I want to have children in the first place? Why do I tolerate all the hassle?

Easy. They're mine. They're my kids. They're whole people that I have been given the HONOR of raising into responsible adults. When I walk in the door from work and they run all the way from their room to hug me, it's like the world stops turning.

Much like Zach said, I was petrified at the prospect of being in charge of a whole person. The first time I changed my daughter's onesie in the hospital, it scared me to death when I realized that she couldn't even help me put her arm through. I also quickly realized that changing that onesie was more rewarding than anything I had ever done in my personal or professional life.
I'm curious as to why you are thinking of leaving him. From reading this post, my impression is that your friends are the ones that are telling you to leave him. Would you have thought that if they didn't tell you? Are there other things that you don't want to mention?
To answer your first question - I don't know.
There aren't other things really. Every relationship is complicated, but this is just something you can't compromise on. I feel like I've been given a terrible choice: To stay with the man I love and married letting go of my dreams of a family, or (ugh... I'm having a hard time just typing it) move on and find someone else who wants to start a family.

I hate the fact that the second option is even there - and yes, I hate the fact that I feel like I even have to consider it.

This didn't just come up yesterday - I'm not just thinking of this on a whim. We've discussed it many times. I just don't know how long I can afford to wait. How long I should wait.

The LAST thing I want is to look back 10 or 15 years from now and feel resentful that I've missed out on an enormous part of life. And I certainly don't want him to feel resentful if he does something that he doesn't want to do just to make me happy either. That wouldn't be fair for either of us.
I assume you've talked with Pete about it right? I mean really talked. Have you mentioned the fact you feel like you're faced with these two options?
Yes, of course. Several times. His take on it is that he doesn't know how he'll feel in the future, but he knows he feels this way now. And he doesn't want to say he'll change his mind just to keep from losing me, because he knows that would be unfair to me should he not change his mind in the future.
It's just a shitty situation to be in. For both of us.
I agree, and as a 24 year old single guy I have nothing of value to offer you in the way of advice. If it were me, I'd be praying a whole lot. I wish you luck in your decision. I hope that you can find the advice you seek. I am interested to hear more when you find out more.
After a 10-year relationship with my first wife, we were faced with the same problem. Well almost. In our case, it was me who wanted a family, and it was my wife who didn't! We divorced, and went our separate ways. She remarried, and never had children. I remarried, and we have two wonderful sons.

You may love Pete, but there IS life after a love like that. I just want you to consider what your girlfriends are telling you. Good luck, in whatever you choose!
I'm going along with "thehuhman" on this one.
If you're writing in this forum and asking for advice, you've already made up your mind. You don't really want advice...only encouragement. You want kids, he doesn't.
Start looking!
Sorry to be blunt but sometimes it's called for. Good Luck!
I'd like to chime in with another of my long-winded responses, if I may, and give some perspective from the other side of the fence.

My wife and I have been together for over twenty years now; ten years of practice from high school through to the day I decided to man up and make her a honest woman, and ten years of slightly psychopathic marital bliss.

During our first ten years together, we repeatedly stated to each other that we wanted kids - it was what was expected of us from both of our families, and the societal pressure to become parents was enormous, especially in our circle of peers.

However, we continually delayed our decision to begin a family, and over the course of the next few years we discovered that we had gotten married to each other for each other, and that when we talked about our future, be it five years down the road, ten years, or fifty years down the road, we saw ourselves together but no children. The more we meditated and contemplated having kids, the less sure we became of our assertion that we wanted to start a family together. Ultimately we had a discussion when we both turned 30 wherein we agreed that if we still didn't want kids when we turned 35, we'd take care of the option and move on with our lives.

Two days after I turned 35, I was sitting in a doctor's office waiting to get neutered.

Why am I sharing these intimate details with you? Because this kind of a life decision is so incredibly crucial to your happiness and your partner's happiness that to be at odds with one another is a nail in the coffin, as far as I'm concerned. My wife and I have an incredibly happy marriage because we are on the same page - but if she had turned to me at 35 and said 'I can't live without children - I absolutely must have them' and I felt the opposite way, part of loving someone so deeply is the realization that perhaps you are not the best thing for them and their happiness. Having said that, I do firmly believe that marital vows are a sacred bond, but they have to be measured against one's feelings and root desires on such an important matter. To suppress your feelings on a decision of this magnitude - one that can define you and your life upon this planet - can lead to misery, resentment and depression. The short term pain that you might feel upon the dissolution of your marriage would be negligible (in my mind) compared to the pain of feeling unfulfilled as a mother and nurturer for the next 50 years.

However, one thing that you had mentioned in your original message has stuck with me - "But the last year was a bit rough, and Pete has since changed his tune...". Is it possible that, given the current state of the economy, Pete is scared about his ability to provide for you and your children? The inability to provide for one's family is a primal, emasculating fear - Pete may be attempting to stave off starting a family because he feels incapable of weathering this storm or any future similar events without appearing weak or ineffectual. Just something to consider...does Pete have any strong male role models in his life with whom he could counsel on this subject?

Just so everyone knows where I'm coming from - I often have to deal with the aspersions and condescension of people who assume that just because I don't have children, it automatically means that I am anti-kid whereas nothing could be further from the truth. I love my nieces, my nephews, all of my friends' kids who call me 'uncle'...I just don't have the desire to have any myself, and believe that my decision doesn't make me any less of a valued human being in the eyes of my family, friends, and peers. I'm one hundred percent comfortable in my decision - you should be one hundred percent confident in yours.

Best wishes to you - I know it's not easy to throw this out to a group of perfect strangers. Luckily you've picked a forum wherein you'll receive excellent advice from a wide spectrum of experienced gentlemen. We may not always agree with one another, but we do so politely and respectfully.

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