How do I talk to my boyfriend without giving him an ultimatum? You don’t want to store up heartache for the future, says our elder. Talk to him before it’s too late.
My boyfriend and I have been in love for over five years, and have discussed being married. Although we have worked through many hardships as a couple and determine that we can overcome any obstacles through communication, honesty, and compromise, I have one issue that has been pressing in my mind for many months: He hates children. He actually behaves very nicely around kids, but he demands that he never wants kids of his own and actually refuses to come with me to parties if kids are going to be there. Although I’m not ready for kids right now, being a mother has always been a lifelong dream of mine. I feel like I’m not allowed to share my happiness with him when my friends tell me they’re expecting, and I feel awkward asking him to meet more and more of my very large family because kids are everywhere! It may not be important at this very moment, but I don’t think I’ll want to spend the rest of my life with him if it means giving up the chance to be a mother. How do I bring up the topic without scaring him off? Or at least discuss it without, “It’s either kids with me or no me at all?” I love him. I love his family. Everyone around us (including us) would love to see us married. But if I don’t have children, I’m afraid I won’t be able to look forward to anything.
I’m so glad you wrote to us. You definitely have quite a dilemma on your hands. Whether or not to have children is a very crucial topic to address (and agree upon) before you even think about getting married. You sound as if you really want to be a mother, and I don’t think that feeling ever goes away. If you give in to his demands that he “never wants kids of his own” and marry him under these conditions, I think you’re setting yourself up for a lot of heartache in the future. While it’s true that some couples choose not to have children, it pretty well has to be a mutual decision.
I do understand that people who don’t want children generally feel they would not make good parents, or children would not fit into the lifestyle they’ve planned, but I do not understand how your boyfriend can actually “hate” children and why he seems to avoid them. All children are different, just as all adults are different — after we are all just grown-up children — so it’s not really fair to lump them all together and hate them all!
I wonder if he has a good reason for feeling the way he does — perhaps something from his past? I think you definitely have to address this issue with him — and I agree that the “either kids with me or no me” is not the diplomatic way to go. I think you have to ask him why he feels like this about kids, and if he thinks he could ever change his mind. I hope you’ve already let him know that you would like to have a family, but you could reiterate that and ask if there is some way you can compromise on this, because you love him and don’t want this to be a deal breaker. I wonder if his parents are aware that he doesn’t want kids — they’d be missing out on a chance to have grandchildren, (unless he has siblings who have children.) How would your own family feel about you never having children?
My son’s first wife did not want children. The marriage was not a very happy one and ended in divorce. He remarried and now has a little girl who is the light of his life (and ours) and I’m just so glad he got the chance to be a dad.
I think you could suggest to him that you have a few sessions of couples counseling. I think this is always a good thing for young couples to do before marriage (in fact I believe some churches insist upon premarital counseling now.) In your case I think a good counselor would be very useful in helping you both decide if you have a future together when you disagree on such an important issue. If it turns out to be a major, unsolvable road block, better to find out now rather than later.
I know it would be very difficult to walk away from this five-year relationship and the man (and his family) that you love, but I think you have to keep that possibility in mind if you can’t reach an agreement on this. You say it’s your “lifelong dream” to be a mother and you certainly deserve that opportunity. As you said, this may not be an issue for you now, but if you delay talking about it until you’re actually planning a wedding, that may be too late.
I wish you the very, very best and hope it will all work out for you. Please feel free to write again any time.
Letter #: 442138