In an ideal world, you would always want the same things as your partner. In reality, however, compromise is an important part of every relationship. You may compromise on which take out you have for dinner, what you watch on television, and even what you name your child. But what if you disagree about how many children to have, can you compromise on that?
You may have discussed family size before committing to your partner, but that doesn't mean you can't change your mind. It's easy to decide how many children you will have without really knowing what it is like to be a parent. Health, finances, fertility and careers can also impact on this decision.
You may not even have discussed family size before committing to each other, or perhaps hoped you would eventually agree. Whatever the reasons for the disagreement, this can be a tricky subject to discuss.
Why Doesn’t He/She Want More Children?
Common reasons for not wanting more children include:
- Finances – with more children, comes greater financial responsibility. Can you afford to have another child, and how would you make ends meet?
- Family time – you may already feel short of time, and another child could exacerbate this. Do you have enough time to spend with your current children, at your job, with you partner, and could you find extra time to spend with another child?
- The demands of pregnancy and/or birth – some people are put off by pregnancy and birth. If the pregnancy, birth or recovery were particularly hard on you or your partner, this could be causing some reluctance.
- Love – some parents worry they wouldn't love a second child as much as their first. This worry is easily disputed by talking to parents of big families. Many second time parents are surprised at just how much they can love their next baby. Check out BellyBelly’s article, Loving Two.
- Couple time – if you are just emerging out of the baby stage, and have finally reached a time where you are able to enjoy each other again, that could explain resistance. You may finally feel like a couple again, and be reluctant to lose that valued time again.
- Having a challenging firstborn/subsequent child – if your first child could be described as a handful, you may be less keen on the idea of taking on another child
So, what should you do when one partner wants more babies and the other does not?
1. Keep An Open Mind
Whichever side of the disagreement you are on, make sure you keep an open mind. Listen to the other person's feelings, and explain yours as best you can. Instead of feeling like you’re on opposite sides of a fence, focus on the fact that you need to work through this issue together. If you keep a closed mind and don’t attempt to understand your partner’s feelings and reasonings, you’ll make it difficult for your partner to open up to you. In which case, you may never find out the real reasons behind them not wanting to have more children. For example, they may blame work or money pressures, when in fact they’re missing couple time and intimacy with you. Finding out the root cause and then having a chance to address it can really make a huge difference.
2. Take Time To Talk
This is not the kind of conversation you can have while putting on a load of laundry, making dinner, and calming down an excitable toddler. This is an important discussion that deserves both time and space in order to be properly resolved. Create some child-free time to give yourselves chance to talk. Set aside a few hours, and avoid alcohol – you need to be clear headed to talk about your family's future.
3. Have A Safe Space
Set some ground rules for the discussion. Both parties should be honest, and feel able to express their true feelings. Equally, both parties should listen to what the other person has to say, and avoid reacting emotionally.
4. A Chance To Talk
Start the discussion by asking your partner how he feels about having another baby, and why. Listen to all of his points, don't interrupt, and try to see things from his point of view. Once he's finished, it's your turn to explain how you feel. Address his concerns, and identify your own feelings about this issue.
5. Work Out Why
You should each try to work out why you feel the way you do. Are you scared of going through the first year again, worried you won't love another baby, or concerned about the financial implications of another child? Or are you try to replicate your own childhood, worried about your biological clock, or feeling less needed now that your children are growing up? Take some time to discuss the reasons behind your wants, and see if this helps to find a compromise.
6. Look At It As For Now, Not Forever
You may find that one of you changes your mind in the future. If you cannot reach an agreement now, you could set a date to discuss it again a year from now. In the meantime, you could try individual or couple counselling to try and get to the bottom of your feelings. It may help you to deal with any feelings of resentment building up as a result of this decision.
This can be a decisive topic, and may leave you feeling disappointed, hurt or even resentful towards your partner. Try not to dwell on it. Remember, your partner isn't trying to hurt you, he or she is just being honest about how he feels. If you feel you need to, spend some time repairing your relationship and building intimacy and connection. Remember why you fell in love with each other and spend some quality time as a family, as well as a couple. It is so important to remember that the kids are watching everything… including relationship dynamics. They will one day walk in your footsteps as they enter relationships of their own and will draw on what they saw growing up. Seeing a relationship as something that requires its own special time to nurture, as well as a being a place of teamwork, love and great communication, will help them choose great partners who are capable of the same.