Here is a Valentines Day post for couples who are struggling with the important desire of having a baby.
I want to preface this post by saying this is not a how-to article to convince your partner to want a baby. There will be no manipulation in this post. Instead, I’d like to examine what you can do to start an honest dialogue with your partner about your desire to start a family. Some couples find it difficult to communicate that they want a child. These are some bullet points to get you started in the right direction.
Before you begin discussing children with your partner…
1.) I’d like you to examine why you want a child. Do some soul searching and see if you can list the reasons why raising a child means so much to you. Was this a sudden urge? Or has it been something that you’ve been considering for some time now? Write these reasons down and reflect on them.
If you have “baby-fever” remember that you’re not just having a baby. You’re raising a child, a teenager, a whole other person to adulthood. Only a small part of their time with you will be spent in “baby form”. Make sure you’re prepared for the responsibility of the entire package.
2.) Second, I’d like you to look at your relationship with your partner in great detail. I talked about the importance of looking inward at how you treat each other in my last post, “the right time” to have a baby. So, how do you two relate to each other? Do you have shared goals and common interests? How do you fight? How do you make up? Are there a lot of resentments or detachments built up between you both or can you share flaws about the other person (and hear flaws about yourself) without a huge blow-up?
This is just a beginners list to get you thinking about how you relate to each other on a personal level. You should use this as a starting point while you dig deep and examine the good things about your relationship along with the flaws. Some couples prefer to sweep things “under the rug” so to speak, which breeds resentment and contempt between two people who are supposed to love and cherish one another.
3.) Third, look at the information you’ve gathered. Now ask yourself, are there things that need to be worked out in your relationship already? Are you expecting a child to “fix” your relationship for you? If so now is not the time for you to be thinking about having children. Now is the time for you to work with your partner on getting your loving relationship back. Children need a safe, secure, loving space to grow and blossom into healthy adults. You owe it to your future children to be honest with yourself and work with your partner to better your relationship now before you add the stress of children to an already strained arrangement.
As someone who has been in abusive relationships before, it goes without saying that if you are in a relationship where you feel worthless or are made “less than” because of your partner you should leave immediately. If you are being physically abused you should leave immediately. There are organizations out there that can help you leave safely. Please do not raise children with an abusive spouse. I speak from personal experience when I say that staying with an abusive spouse “for the sake of the children” can be very damaging for your kids. Instead, leave and find someone who genuinely cares for your wellbeing. Then come back to this post when you’re in a better place to start a healthy family.
Ok. Now we can begin. Creating a family is an important endeavor. It will change your life in ways you never imagined. So this is not something you should rush. By doing the “internal homework” listed above, you’ve set yourself and your partner up for success in future discussions about parenthood. Now, how to tell your partner you want a baby.
If this is something you’ve discussed before…
- Remember to be respectful when you bring up the conversation again. Respectful communication goes a long way in relationships, particularly when sensitive topics are being discussed. Let your partner know that you respect them and want to give them space to think about this important life decision.
- Follow the guidelines in the following section for “first-timers”. Brevity and timing are important every time you discuss kids. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t have an in-depth discussion on whether or not to have children. Just be careful that in your enthusiasm you don’t overwhelm your partner with too much information all at once. Initially they will hear more if you speak less and give them a chance to talk.
- Examine the reasons why your partner wants children, or why they might not. Let your partner have the floor. Chances are they’ve had some time after your initial discussion to think about what children mean to them. It’s important for you to listen to what they have to say, since parenthood is a 50/50 endeavor.
- Set a “follow-up time” for further discussion. Maybe your partner needs more time to think about having kids. Maybe they’re not sure what that means to them exactly. Ask them when they’d feel comfortable discussing the idea of children again, then shelve the topic until that time rolls around. In the meantime, take some time to really think about what they’ve told you and where they are coming from regarding kids. Focus on building and improving your relationship together while you two make a decision.
If this is the first time you’re considering it…
- If possible – discuss this early in your relationship. Ideally if having children is important to you then you’ll want to discuss kids with partners early in the relationship. This helps you choose partners who have similar interests to yours. That way you can build a life with someone who cares about kids as much as you do and not, say dogs.
Maybe you didn’t start your relationship wanting kids. If this is the case, I’d recommend that you discuss the issue shortly after you start thinking about it. It’s important to be honest about the things that mean a lot to you.
- Pick a good time to discuss “kids”. You might be very excited to discuss the issue. Or nervous about how your partner will react. It’s important to remain calm while you talk so you can keep your partner at ease. Even if they want kids too, chances are they’ll want to discuss it with you further if the discussion is calm and relaxing.
Choosing when to discuss “kids” doesn’t have to be difficult. Let your partner know that there’s something important you’d like to discuss, then ask them what time would work for them. They’ll be more receptive because they’ll be expecting a conversation. They won’t be hungry, tired from work or cranky. The conversation won’t come from “out of the blue”.
- Don’t beat around the bush. When you are direct with someone, it’s easier for them to understand what you’re asking them to talk about. For example, if you begin the conversation with “My friend just had a baby. What do you think about that?” and your partner responds with “Good for them” you have no idea of knowing how they feel about babies. Furthermore, they have no idea what you really want to talk about. They can’t read your mind.
It’s a much better idea to sit down at your chosen time and say something along the lines of, “How do you feel about having kids?” That’s a direct statement your partner will appreciate.
- Say little. Listen often. Please don’t list a paragraph about why you want children. You shouldn’t expect your partner to either. After you ask you partner how they feel about kids, be quiet. And listen. Give them time to answer. It will help them feel less pressured.
This will probably be the first of many conversations you two will have over children. It’s important to let your partner figure things out in their own time with you. This may be the first time they’ve considered kids. Be prepared to give them time to think about what parenthood means to them.
Here is a sticky situation. If your partner is adamant that they DO NOT want children now or in the future…
- Remember that you cannot force someone to want children. This is a tricky position to be in. No matter how much you want to be a parent, you cannot force your partner to want kids. Trying subversive methods like withholding affection, badgering and nagging them, will only break your relationship apart.
- Consider outside help. As a last resort you can both try couples counseling to improve communication on the topic of kids. Make sure that your partner understands that this is not an attempt to pressure them into wanting kids. Rather, couples counseling is a way to examine your relationship and the topic of parenthood with the help of a neutral third party.
- If all else fails, consider the choice between not having children and finding another partner. Early communication is so important in relationships. I was in a relationship for six years. I was almost engaged (sort of) and my partner at the time had always been adamant that he had no interest in children. When I began to honestly realize that I wanted to become a mother it was difficult for me to discuss that desire with him. We turned to couples counseling, and after a few eye-opening sessions it became clear that I really did want children and he really did not.
I decided that being a mother was more important in my life. We broke up and many years later I am married to my wonderful husband with a baby on the way. It would have saved both my previous partner and I so much hassle and grief if I had been honest with my feelings from the start, but I was young and childish. When I met my husband I made sure he wanted a family as much as I did. As a result, I am a very happy momma and he is an excited dad-to-be!
If you are faced with the decision to end a relationship or to not have children, it is a personal one that you must make with your partner. All I can say is be honest with yourself and examine what will be best for you both.
How have you navigated the desire to have children in your relationship? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below! Happy Valentines Day!