Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: Husband and I got married under the agreement that neither of us wanted kids. In the past six months or so, I’ve started to question my feelings. I’m going to talk to my husband this weekend. This is my working script:
“We both felt X, now I’m starting to feel Y, for Z reasons. I want you to know that I don’t think kids are necessary for me, but I’m getting to the point where I think they could be nice – and I wondered if hearing about my perspective shift might cause you to think any differently about the matter. If it ultimately doesn’t, I'll be a little sad, but I know we can still have a full life and I love you.”
Are there other things that are important to add? I’m 33, so we have a couple of years to ruminate on this, but not endless time.
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My Uterus Changed Its Mind, Sort of
Very nicely done. But.
Because this is triggered by a change of heart on something of which you thought you were certain, and because this is what I do all day, I have to ask whether you’re sure you can promise that you’ll stop at sad-but-accepting if he doesn’t also want kids.
Just for the exercise of it, try writing out emotional contingencies just like the one your uterus pulled on you. Some thoughts from readers might help:
• My uterus changed its mind, too. And it was quite a shock to my husband. It took him about half a year to come around to the idea, and it was slow going. We have two boys now, and I’m not going to lie — sometimes we miss the childless life we’d planned. But we love each other more than we loved our childless life.
• Pay attention to everything you thought when you thought you didn’t want to have children. Those are valid, true, non-uterus-influenced feelings and thoughts. There is no right answer; child-full lives and child-free lives both have great advantages and disadvantages.
Went through the same with my partner. He’s still a firm no. Now I’m in the agonizing position of deciding whether to give up all the good we have for some future family that may or may not be out there. There’s a blog called “Childless by Marriage” that hashes out a lot of these issues – lots of kindred spirits there.
Carolyn: Thanks for your thoughts. I really am fairly sure that I could remain at sad-but-accepting. I work a great but long-hours job, we live in one of the most expensive cities in the country, and having kids would likely involve giving up things that I love and would miss.
Changed Mind, again
Jobs and cities and your affinities for them can change, too, for any number of reasons. Before you decide anything, make sure (to the extent you can) that the sources of satisfaction you’re building your life around are enduring ones. Make liberal use of hypotheticals: what if I got laid off, what if “blank” died, what if what if what if?
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at washingtonpost.com.