What to Do If Your Partner Doesn't Want Kids?

 What to Do If Your Partner Doesn't Want Kids?

What to Do If Your Partner Doesn't Want Kids_ichhori.webp

It's understandable if this has become one of the most essential concerns in your romantic relationships as more and more people ponder whether or not having children is the right path for them.

To examine how long-term and short-term couples can effectively deal with this issue. Anita Chlipala, LMFT, is the founder and licensed marital and family therapist of Relationship Reality 312. "She'd worked with clients who didn't have those in-depth chats about what it would be like to have a child," Chlipala adds. "Couples who avoid conflict can go years without having important chats, and often time alone won't assist with clarity or answers."

Chlipala breaks down the ins and outs of couples who disagree on this essential topic to assist with these important discussions.

If You’ve Just Started Dating

This is one of those rare cases when there is a simple answer: if you know from the start that you want children and discover that the person you're seeing doesn't, end the relationship.

That's correct! Even if you feel like you've connected in every other way, no one deserves to be resentful of their partner's basic goals for their future family.

"There's no middle ground here," Chlipala argues. "You'd be wasting your time and would be better off finding someone who shares your goals."

If You’re In a Long Term Relationship

This is an issue that, according to Chlipala, is far from rare. Having said that, it is very typical for couples to put off the difficult conversations that are required to resolve the situation. "I've dealt with people who didn't have in-depth chats about what it would be like to have a child," Chlipala says.

These discussions dig well beyond the fundamental desire and into the financial, familial, and social implications of having a child.

"While you don't have to have every detail sorted out," Chlipala adds, "you both need to have these sorts of conversations to determine how close or far apart you are in terms of expectations."

Reasons Why Your Long-Term Partner Doesn't Want Kids

Long-term couples, according to Chlipala, may have numerous reasons why one party is hesitant to have children.

She recommends consulting a therapist for each of these situations (described below) because it is often difficult for couples to have these difficult conversations. A therapist can also assist in mediating these issues.

Chilipala frequently claims that these issues can be resolved if both parties are more precise about what having a kid would entail.

Here are some of the most common disagreements between partners:

Financial strain: This is a common problem that can typically be addressed once the couple has examined the various obstacles in greater detail. If approaching that topic feels overwhelming, it is OK to seek the assistance of a therapist. This can include topics such as the cost of child care during the workweek, family assistance, and even needs such as diapers and formula.

Partner trust: Chlipala frequently says that when caring for a child, couples may be apprehensive about the engagement of the other partner. This is generally resolved once things are discussed in more precise terms, such as who will take charge of what elements.

Repeating unhealthy family patterns: For persons who have endured abuse at the hands of their parents, these anxieties may seem plausible, but they are not. While the person facing the issue may need to address it alone, couples can usually benefit from counseling as a unit. As a result, both members are aware of the problems and special sensitivities that may arise as a result of a less-than-ideal childhood.

Bodily changes: According to Chlipala, one of the subjects that frequently comes up between married couples who have been together for years is prospective body changes. She believes that honesty is essential for this and that if this is difficult, seeking treatment is always an option.

Loss of friends and/or social life: While it is natural for a robust social life to decrease, especially while a kid is young, this should not be used as an excuse to avoid having children. This anxiety alone may produce a distorted perspective of what parenthood can entail. Couples working with a therapist can often work through a more realistic view of social interactions after having children.

Additional reasons why folks may not want or be extremely hesitant about having kids:

  • Unpredictable and major changes in/impact on lifestyle (for example, sleep, disposable income, trips/vacations, spare time, and so on).

  • Concerns about population growth and socioeconomic issues (i.e. inequality, bullying, racism, etc.)

  • Children's dislike

  • unable to accept responsibility

  • Fertility problems

  • No maternal or paternal instincts or desires

  • Interest in pursuing and prioritizing career objectives

  • It is not part of their life plan.

Many people may just refuse to have children. They simply do not want to for no apparent reason. For such a personal life decision, no explanation or reason is required.

What to Do If Your Partner Changes Their Mind

When one spouse decides not to have children, it can cause feelings of surprise, shock, wrath, sadness, loss, heartbreak, and resentment. As a result, the individual who changed their mind may be filled with shame, regret, or dissatisfaction.

This can be one of the most challenging subjects to discuss, especially if you've invested years in a relationship.

It can be beneficial to investigate each person's level of certainty. There is a significant difference between "I'm not sure" and "I've made up my mind and will never have children." Instead of asking why your partner does not want children, discuss how they came to that conclusion.

"Why" questions frequently force the other person to defend, explain, rationalize, justify, and "prove" their choices. An inquiry such as, "How did you come to this conclusion?" or "What pushed you to make this decision at this time?" is less combative and allows you to examine the issue with love, curiosity, and compassion.

"I've worked with clients who changed their minds because they didn't want to lose the relationship, but they ended up breaking up nevertheless years later because Partner A just couldn't bring themselves to follow through on having children," Chlipala explains. "I also want to make sure that either spouse did the work to own their decision; otherwise, this might be a fertile ground for animosity down the road."

To avoid future animosity, she urges couples to discuss their non-negotiables early in the relationship. Then, on both sides, certain concessions can be made.

For example, if you decide to have children, Chlipala recommends making quality time for each other, such as going on vacation without the kids or prioritizing friendships. If you both decide not to have children, a compromise could be investing the money you would have saved for a kid in a new property.

When one partner decides not to have children, it can lead to a breach of trust and conflict. If the pair agrees to go with this new information together, it will necessitate attention and care.

When to Call It Quits

Warning signs that it's time to call it quits:

  • Staying together and not having children may result in unhappiness, depression, despair, regret, guilt, and resentment if one partner desires children and sees having children as central to their life purpose. It will be difficult, but ultimately it is best to separate so that the partner who wants children can realize their desire.

  • If there is no place for discussion, negotiation, or consideration of any compromise

  • If the problem is causing severe mental/emotional anguish, continuing as it becomes more detrimental than helpful.

  • If an ultimatum is issued for a decision and the deadline passes without a decision (although ultimatums are not recommended in relationships).

If you're having trouble deciding what's best for you, and this is especially important for people who aren't sure they want to have children but want the option, Chlipala recommends going out of your way to getting a sense of what parenthood might be like.

Consider babysitting your nieces and nephews over the weekend. She mentions that doing so may help you decide if you want to be a parent. However, it is crucial to remember that babysitting nieces and nephews may not be a reliable indicator of whether or not you want to be a parent. Being the entertaining aunt/uncle is a very different role and experience than being the responsible father/mother.

If you've never spent extended periods with children, babysitting can be an eye-opening experience, but it's not the same as full-time parenting your own children.

However, if your partner is undecided, she highlights the need of obtaining clarity through further conversations or going to counseling.

"I've had clients tell me that they kick themselves in the buttocks for not coming in sooner to complete the work to obtain the clarity that they needed," Chlipala says. "Address fears and, if necessary, develop an action plan for each worry. This will also indicate whether you and your companion have comparable ide

Above all, she emphasizes the need of making a decision sooner rather than later and of obtaining clarity.

When to Keep Going

Even if your partner does not want children (or if you do), this does not mean that you should end your relationship. Examples of where you might want to continue to include:

  • If one or both of you are doubtful but not adamant about having children in some way,

  • If the relationship is going well, with outstanding communication, mutual respect, care, and attention, you can schedule a time to resume the conversation. If you are in your 30s or 40s, this could mean shorter times in a few months, or longer times if you are in your 20s.

  • There is a willingness to examine other possibilities such as later-life adoption or fostering, adopting an older kid if one partner does not want to parent a baby, or egg freezing for extra time.

A Word From Ichhori

​​While this might be a difficult topic to discuss in a relationship, try to take solace in the fact that there is one area where you can obtain a definitive answer. You may be confident that if you do what is best for you, you will find serenity in the end.

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