Relationships

Can a relationship survive if you disagree about having children?

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This is often seen as the next step in a committed relationship that wants to have children. You may indeed feel a little out of place if you don’t want to have children.

It can be difficult for women who do not want to have children to feel judged as this goes against their role as caregivers and nurturers. Some view it as “not natural”.

It is no longer possible to view procreation as the ultimate goal of life. The current Australian birth rate is 12.4 births to 1,000 people. This was a decline year-on-year from the 1950s when it was 23.1 births.

If they do have children, they will likely have them later. Time spent on a career, learning, and experimenting with relationships and other goals may be just as legitimate ways to spend the years that were once devoted to “settling down” and finding someone.

If time is on your side

You don’t need to make a plan for your 20s about having children. There is still time to make a decision. You might still be making your decision even into your thirties. You might be in a relationship where you agree that you don’t want children for a lot of the time. However, even if you do this, there is still an “out” as long as you are willing to consider other options.

Perhaps you know that one of you doesn’t want to have children while the other is open to having them. As long as your relationship is fulfilling and you have time, it’s tempting to go on. However, it’s not central to your decision-making right now.

Ambivalent partners might be unwilling to accept the reality of their partner’s decision not to have children. The relationship is too important for them to let go. Perhaps they secretly hope that their partner will change their mind.

The person who doesn’t want children doesn’t need to confront the other because they have enough “no” to continue the relationship. Then comes the hard part.

Factors that make the issue

The biological imperative often drives decision-making. Women must decide to get pregnant before their time runs out. Women can wonder later in their thirties if there is enough time to find another partner, fall for someone, and then have a baby.

This could also impact whether or not to accept the current relationship, even if it isn’t with children.

Even though men don’t follow the same timelines, they tell us that they worry about being “old dad” and don’t want to give up on making decisions.

It is important to have children at the same age as your peers to support and connect during this phase of childhood. If friends start to create a family, it can help couples who have been putting off the decision.

If you live in a society that encourages children, it is easy to feel defensive and explain your reasons. Different life stages can present new challenges.

You might lose your friends in their families, have fewer people to go out with and have concerns about the future. These are the things you will need to deal with in a society set up for procreation. It will be easier to make a decision together.

Navigating differences and attitudes

Many challenges can be faced if one partner isn’t interested in children, but the other is. If this isn’t resolved well, it can cause significant resentment.

Couples will have problems in their relationships all through their lives. The person who considers herself “sacrificing” children might find additional problems that add to the fundamental inequity. If the woman feels she has suffered more from separation than her partner, it could be that she is now unable to have children.

If a parent agrees to let their child go even though they aren’t interested in it, it can also be resentful. This could have serious consequences for the children. It is possible to assume that a parent will fall in love with the child once a child arrives and take on more responsibility. However, this assumption can be dangerous. If the relationship fails, the parent can hold the baby.

Tips for working it through

  1. Pay attention
    Take it seriously if your partner doesn’t want children. Don’t assume they will change their minds or “come around”. You might be able to wait to find out if they do.
  2. Be honest.
    Do not hide your desire to have children. You might feel that you need to keep it low-key in the beginning stages of a relationship so it doesn’t stress the other. Both partners need to be clear about who they are and what they want. This will help them get off to a great start in their relationship.
  3. Talk openly.
    This could become the elephant in the room, and both of you can make assumptions about each other’s position on children. You can review positions. Take advantage of opportunities to say, “Where are you up to on that?”
  4. Responsible for the “no.
    Consider what this decision will mean for your relationship in the long term. While you can’t live your life trying to make up for the loss of your partner, you should be aware of it and consider what it means for both you and your partner. It is better to end a relationship if you feel ambivalent about it or whether having children is in the picture.
  5. Accepting the “no” is your responsibility.
    If you agree with “no,” even if you are ambivalent, you must take responsibility for your actions. It will quickly unravel if you know it will be a burden, and you perceive your partner as “owing you” for your sacrifice.
  6. Discuss your decision openly and make plans
    You must decide what you want, even if you don’t agree to have children. Are you pursuing other goals? Are you looking for friends with children or childlessness to help you decide?

A couple with one partner who wants children is at greater risk than one who does not want them. It is biologically true that women may miss the chance to have children, while men can have them later with another partner.

While it might seem like being in love and a committed partnership is sufficient, this may not be true for someone who wants children from a young age. Negotiating a path forward requires honesty, openness, and accountability.

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