‘I want a baby and he doesn’t – what should I do?’
We sympathise if you and your partner are arguing about whether to start a family. There’s no easy answer, but men do have a few common fears that you may be able to address together. Understanding what they are, and knowing how to respond, will help you to understand each other’s points of view and make a decision that suits everyone.
However, it’s important to remember that his opinion is just as valid as yours, and under no circumstances should you consider ‘tricking’ him into getting you pregnant. If you’re feeling desperate for a child, it may seem very tempting to just ‘forget’ to take your pill, especially if you think he’ll be a great dad and just needs to be ‘pushed’ into action. But no matter how you try to justify it, you would still be lying to him, and a healthy family foundation should be built on trust, not deception.
Here are 8 of the most common reasons your partner might not want a baby, and how to respond…
‘I’m too young to settle down. I want to have fun’
Solution: How old is he? Maybe he is too young – maybe you both are. Ask yourself if he could be right? Are you trying to hurry him without good cause? Could you afford to wait a few years?
If you’re concerned about your fertility and really do think that time is running out, calmly explain why. Men can still have babies in their seventies so perhaps his biological clock isn’t ticking quite as loudly as yours. Remind him that the older you are, the more difficult it can be to conceive – but imagine the fun you could have trying!
‘I’m too old, I don’t want to look like a grandfather’
Solution: Point out the advantages of being a more mature parent. Reassure him that children don’t care how old their dad is, providing he loves them and takes an interest in their lives. You don’t have to be 25 to push a swing or read a bedtime story.
Older dads are often wiser and more patient with their children – that’s far more important than being able to run a marathon with them.
‘My mates have put me off’
Solution: New dads like to frighten their mates with horror stories about babies. The sleepless nights, the endless crying, and the lack of sex are real enough, but they don’t last forever. However, he’s not going to take your word for it, so let his mates put him straight.
Tell them to cut down the stories (they’ve scared him enough) and ask them to bring a few baby photographs along the next time they meet up. Pictures of other dads holding babies are often cute enough to get him thinking…
‘I’m not ready yet, stop nagging me’
Solution: Tell him you know that having children is a massive decision and of course you don’t want to rush him into it, but you need some sort of time-frame, otherwise you’ll think he’s just stringing you along. He’s right about nagging though, because it really doesn’t work.
You can’t nag him into having a child, so now that you’ve made your point, promise to stop talking about babies for a couple of months. In return, he must promise to sit down and talk seriously about it again, once the agreed time has lapsed.
‘I’m happy as we are. I don’t want to share you’
Solution: Tell him you love him and are happy too, but having a child would make you even happier and bring you both great joy. Try to see his point of view though. Having children does change your life completely and the changes can be tough at first. He’s probably scared that you’ll be so preoccupied with the baby you’ll forget about him. Explain that although a baby may keep you busy, it won’t stop you loving him. Reassure him that love doesn’t run out – you will have enough for both of them.
‘We can’t afford it. Children cost a fortune and money’s tight already’
Solution: This is a fair point, so don’t dismiss it outright. Instead of saying ‘oh don’t worry about money, babies don’t have to cost very much’, tell him you’ve had the same thoughts too but feel you could make it work. Then sit down with him and explain carefully how you think you could manage it, without going into debt. If he can see that you’re taking the practical issues seriously, he will take you more seriously too.
‘I’ve got kids already, I don’t want any more’
Solution: Have you known this all along? If he has children from a previous relationship and has always been open and honest about not wanting any more, there’s very little you can do. You can explain how much you would like to have a baby together, but expecting him to change his mind, isn’t fair. Instead, focus on what you already have. His children may not be your flesh and blood but you still have a very important part in their life. Step-children can bring great love and fulfilment, but if you’d always secretly be wishing for a child ‘of your own’ you might not feel those positives. Trying for a baby can impact your whole relationship, so you need to have a frank conversation about where you both see your futures going, and whether you can find a compromise that won’t leave one of you unhappy.
‘I’ve changed my mind – what’s wrong with that?’
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Solution: Everyone’s entitled to change their mind, but you are also entitled to be disappointed, especially if he had previously led you to believe he DID want children. You need to be honest with him and let him see how upset you are. Tell him you have some serious thinking to do. Unless you can completely accept his decision and see yourself living quite happily together without children, then you may need to think about how far you can realistically progress as a couple. Ignoring the disagreement can lead to feelings of bitterness and resentfulness towards him in the future, when it’s too late to go back. However, you should take your time making this decision – if you need more help, contact a relationships charity such as Relate, who can help you work through your emotions.