In an ideal world, you would always want the same things as your partner. In reality, however, differences of opinion occur, so compromise is an important part of every relationship.
You may be used to compromising on which take out to have for dinner, what to watch on television, and even more serious things like what you name your child, but what if you disagree about how many children to have? Tension may arise when one partner wants more babies and the other does not.
Perhaps you didn’t decide ahead of time how many children you’d have, or maybe you discussed how many children you’d have, and one partner changed their mind.
Life happens, and unexpected situations with health, finances, fertility issues, or careers can put us on a different life path than we’d planned.
These can all affect the decision of whether or not to have another baby. Whatever the reasons for the difference of opinion, 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?
- Family time – you may already feel short of time, and another child could exacerbate this. Do you have enough time for children you already have, your job, your partner, and another child?
- The demands of pregnancy and/or birth – if the pregnancy, birth or recovery were particularly hard on you or your partner, this could cause some reluctance to experience it again.
- 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 how much they can love their next baby.
- 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, one of you may be reluctant to re-enter the baby stage.
- Having a challenging firstborn/subsequent child – if your first child could be described as a handful, you may be nervous about the idea of having another child and experiencing those challenges again.
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 discussion you are on, make sure you keep an open mind. 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 have a closed mind and don’t attempt to understand your partner’s feelings, you’ll make it difficult for your partner to open up to you. Perhaps they blame work or money pressures, when in fact they’re missing couple time and intimacy with you.
Keeping an open mind will increase your chances of finding the root cause for both yours and your partner’s feelings.
#2: Figure out your own feelings
Before starting a discussion, you should try to figure out why you feel the way you do.
If you’re the reluctant partner, is it because you’re scared of going through the first year again, worried you won’t love another baby, or concerned about the financial implications of another child?
If you’re the partner who wants another baby, are you trying 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 think about the reasons behind your feelings before starting a discussion with your partner.
#3: Create a safe space
Tell your partner that you’d like to discuss the issue, letting them know that you want to hear their side first.
Set some ground rules for the discussion. Both partners should know that it is safe, to be honest, and feel able to express their true feelings.
Equally, respect for each other’s opinions must be given.
#4: Make time for the discussion
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. Set aside a few child-free hours, and avoid alcohol – you need to be clear-headed to talk about your family’s future.
#5: A chance to talk
Start the discussion by asking your partner how they feel about having another baby, and why. Listen to all of their points, don’t interrupt, and try to see things from their point of view.
Once they’re finished, it’s your turn to explain how you feel. Address any concerns that were voiced, and calmly express your own feelings about this issue.
Do you have different learning styles? Utilizing tools as simple as a pros and cons list or a book that explains certain risks could help you to understand where each other is coming from.
#6: Look at it as for now, not forever
If you cannot reach an agreement now, skip back to step 1.
Try to keep an open mind and remember that you are a team trying to navigate a common problem. If you made some progress during your discussion, you could put aside some time the following week to continue the talk.
If you weren’t able to make any progress, it might be a better idea to discuss it again a year from now, and in the meantime, try individual or relationship counselling.
This can be a divisive topic and may leave you feeling disappointed, hurt or even resentful towards your partner. Remember, your partner isn’t trying to hurt you, he or she is just being honest about how they feel.
Remember why you fell in love with each other and spend some quality time as a family, as well as a couple. It’s important to remember the kids are watching and learning from everything, including relationship dynamics.