People often write to me and ask what they should do if they don't want kids but their boyfriend / girlfriend / fiancé /spouse does.
This issue can really tear a couple apart, and with good reason. Deciding to have children is a very serious choice to make, and should never be taken lightly.
Sometimes one of you changes your mind. Maybe you thought you wanted kids when you first got married, but now you are content with your life the way it is and you’ve decided you really don’t want children.
Or maybe your spouse said he or she didn’t want kids, but secretly thought they could change your mind about it.
Or maybe you are planning a wedding and never really talked about it before, and you just found out you and your fiancé aren’t on the same page about the “Baby Question.”
When people ask me what to do next, they probably don’t like my answer.
If you find yourself having this kind of disagreement with your significant other, the first thing you must realize is that your desire not to have kids is just as valid as their desire to become a Mom or Dad. That does NOT mean that you have to change your views for the other person. But it also means that they do not have to change theirs for you.
There is no compromise on the Baby Question. Either you have a child or you don’t. It’s as simple as that.
Dr. Phil is fond of saying that it takes “two ‘yeses’ to have a baby and only one ‘no’ not to.” This means that if both partners are not absolutely certain that they want to have baby, then they should not have one. No child deserves to be brought into this world if one of the parents does not want him/her.
What you need to determine is if the Baby Question is a “deal breaker” for you. Is this something that you will absolutely never change your mind about and is so important that you would rather pursue a relationship with someone else who shares your view? Conversely, is having a baby so important to the other person that they would rather choose someone else for their future?
You can't change someone else, and you shouldn't try to.
If you aren’t already married, and you go ahead and get married under the assumption that “she'll come around” or “he'll change his mind,” then you are setting yourself up for a life of heartbreak.
There are plenty of married couples out there who are contemplating divorce over this issue. If you haven’t made a serious commitment yet, maybe you shouldn’t…
If you give in and have a baby when you don’t really want one, you better get used to resentment, because it will be with you forever.
Ultimately, the answer may mean breaking up. That can be extremely difficult when you are in love, but if you are both firm on the Baby Question then you have no other choice. It is difficult – and sometimes even impossible – for each side to understand where the other is coming from.
The only reason to have a child is because you want one. Not because your partner wants one, or because society says you should, or because your mom wants to be a grandmother. A baby deserves to be wanted by both parents. If you can't agree with your mind, and your heart, that a child is for you, then you just shouldn't have one.