I’m ready to start trying to have a baby and my husband isn’t: how can I move the conversation forward?

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It’s time to get serious about talking about babies, brought to you by this serious baby. By: Vinoth ChandarCC BY 2.0

My husband and I have been married for seven years. We’re both gainfully employed and in our mid-thirties… and I think that 2014 should be the year we make the decision to start trying for our first child. Full disclosure: some of my motivation to procreate stems from a place of fear (will we regret if we wait even longer? What if I’m infertile? What if he is?), but I’m there. I’m ready.

But here’s the thing: while I’m ready to start trying to bake a kid, my husband isn’t, and I’m at a loss as to how I should tell him that I feel like it’s time for us do this thing. I fear waiting will cause me to resent him, but also that if I push him before he’s ready he’ll resent me. Everytime I bring up the conversation about when we should try or even gently just start up the topic of a family, I get a “we’ll see.”

I do not feel like I can say “we need to start trying” without pushing my husband away, but I know that I am a ready to start trying. I also know I cannot ask this of my husband if he is not truly there with me on this. So tell me: how can I talk about having a baby with my husband and actually get some kind of result?Melissa

Deciding when to seriously start thinking about attempting to conceive a child is HUGE and the conversation is different for everyone. Over on Offbeat Families, we regularly discussed this tricky topic. Here are a few of our favorite discussions from the archives:

For those who have traveled down this road: if you wanted to have a baby before your partner did, how did you get serious about at least discussing the possibility together?

Comments on I’m ready to start trying to have a baby and my husband isn’t: how can I move the conversation forward?

  1. I was ready to start trying in 2011 – my husband was not. I sat down with him and talked about my concerns and life timeline, and then we compromised and agreed to wait a year. We started trying in2012, and he was still not 100% behind it, but understood it may take awhile to conceive and once I was pregnant, we had 9 months to adjust and get ready. In the end, it took us 13 months, a miscarriage, and the beginning stages of an IUI to conceive our son. I asked him to trust me to make this decision, and compromised a bit by waiting an extra year.

    • I have been married to my husband for 4 years. I was ready for marriage and kids from day 1. He was not. I have been waiting for 4 years to have a baby. Year #2 in our marriage we found out he was infertile with zero chance of ever having a biological child. Still, he decided he wasn’t ready for options such as IVF, IUI, anything, he just said he wasn’t ready… it is year #4 now. I am still waiting. We have begun to pursue an embryo adoption and we are currently in the matching process which can take anywhere from 2-4 months, without a guarantee of ever being matched and we will not get a refund. I found this choice financially NOT SMART, because I would never pay that amount of money for nothing in return… I feel like he chose this option to give the impression of us moving forward with the possibility of failure or delaying ever having a baby. I’ve talked to him about it but all he says is ‘we are trying.’

  2. My best advice would be to simply say clearly “I’m ready to have a child with you whenever you want” and leave it at that. Then he knows what you want, but you don’t push this idea on him.

    I’d be wary of coaxing/persuading your husband into baby-making. Even though you might only want to discuss his view on the topic, it could very well feel like you’re only trying to get him to give in. I’ve been there, it’s frustrating for both parties involved (we both felt the other wasn’t respecting our point of view).

    • Yup. Just want to second this. Let him know, in no uncertain terms, that you are ready whenever he is. That in and of itself may be enough to get the wheels turning so he thinks about it a little more actively. If most conversations up till now have focused more on “when do you think we should we start trying?” he might think you’re not quite there yet either, so giving a more vague response might seem appropriate.

      Also, I know my husband tends to think in terms of “I’m not ready for X right now” instead of “I might be ready for X in three months.” I tend to keep an internal calendar that I constantly update and use to plan my life, and he just doesn’t think like that. Not sure if that’s true of your husband or not, but just something to keep in mind. πŸ™‚

      • My guy is the same way…he’s a “No” until “Yes” type whereas I’m more open minded at the start and calendar oriented. These things are good to keep in mind during big conversations.

    • From experience I would be cautious using this approach.

      I reached the stage where I was ready to marry before my partner.
      I found it difficult to get him to speak about it and eventually I told him “I’m ready to marry you whenever you are ready. ”
      He seemed happy with this but it left me in a horrible limbo – I didnt know where he was in our relationship and I began to think maybe he was having second thoughts about us , maybe he was only staying because it was easier than leaving etc.etc. (completely unfounded)

      Eventually I broke down crying because of the emotional stress from concern about us – at this point I didnt care about marriage, I just wanted to know if we still had a loving relationship… then we talked. We talked about his fears and the fact he wasnt there yet… and I was ok.
      Once I knew where he was at then we could move forward – I didnt understand his feelings but I got his perspective and I could respect that.

      I recommend that you talk – if you dont then you may be plagued with concerns which can eat away at you.

      (by the way: We’re now happily engaged!)

      • This is exactly how my fiance and I were. It took a really, really long conversation about what we were ready for and what marriage even meant to get us on the same page, but it was well worth it. I wish it hadn’t come to all of that panic and stress first.

    • I wouldn’t just put the ball in his court so freely. I told my husband that I am ready when he is, three years ago. He is still full of fear and my heart feels hopeless, and resentful. We have talked about it, but nothing changes. If you want to go about it in this way, then id how long you are willing to wait before you give him the power to push you off for years.

      • I essentially told my husband this 5 years ago. He gave me his reasons why back then was a bad time (military family here). Then it was that he didn’t want to have kids while he was deployable. Then it was that he didn’t want to have kids until I finish getting my RN (I have 2 other degrees and 2 well paying jobs that I can utilize without the nursing). I’m 27. I’ve had “baby fever” for nearly 10 years. We have been together for 8 years. The whole “ball in his court” thing…might not work. It will just get you more excuses. Work, school, finances, house, etc.

  3. Here is how I would do this, if I were in your shoes. I would say to him “We need to sit down and have a serious discussion about when we are going to have a baby, because I feel ready and I need to know where you are at. I need more information than just ‘we’ll see’ because without it I may start getting restless or resentful about this. This doesn’t mean I need a yes or no to trying right now, it just means I need to know specifically where you are at and why, and I need to tell you specifically where I am at and why. We can’t come to any kind of agreement on this until we know exactly how each other feels about this.”

    Then you need to have that talk. Schedule it, if you have to. But neither of you can figure out what to do without having a very open discussion about what your needs and wants are.

    It’s important you express to him that having this talk is important to you, that you are starting to feel bad because you’re not having it. It’s also important to let him know that the talk doesn’t mean you are going to pressure him into having a baby right now, it just means you want to know when he’s thinking it should happen, and you want to let him know what you think. It is from that point that you two can start working towards a compromise that works for both of you.

    Good luck and congrats!

    • These would have been my words:

      “We need to sit down and have a serious discussion about when we are going to have a baby, because I feel ready and I need to know where you are at. I need more information than just ‘we’ll see’ because without it I may start getting restless or resentful about this. This doesn’t mean I need a yes or no to trying right now, it just means I need to know specifically where you are at and why, and I need to tell you specifically where I am at and why. We can’t come to any kind of agreement on this until we know exactly how each other feels about this.”

    • Yes, Yes, Yes to scheduling a time to have the conversation. Scheduling the time to have a serious conversation is the only way I can get my husband to think through something I need to talk about. I call it “Planting the Seed” and it usually goes something like this for us.
      I will say to him, we need to talk about “X” and I know you need to have time to think about “X” so I would like to make time for us to talk about it this Saturday afternoon, in the mean time can you think about it.
      It works really well for us. I tend to make snap decisions and he needs a spread sheet and hours of research to make a decision about anything major. This way we both know we are going to talk about it so my stress level goes down and he has time to process it.

      • My husband and I did this too. I realized that I felt ready to start a family about a year ago, but I knew we weren’t ready at that point. We relocated about six months ago, both have good, stable jobs, and I thought that we were ready. The hubs didn’t yet, and it became this whole messy issue that resulted in me sobbing and him getting frustrated and angry every time the topic came up. So, we tabled the discussion for a few months and then scheduled a date and time to talk about it. We decided to go out for dinner and discuss it then, because discussing it in public would give us further incentive to keep our emotions in check. It was absolutely the best thing we could have done. We had an open, honest discussion about it, and decided to create goals to achieve (i.e. savings and income) rather than a timeline. I definitely encourage you to schedule a talk, because if you’re anything like me, it’s such an emotional issue that your hormones are your own worst enemies sometimes.

    • We had the same serious discussion.

      I asked when we got married (a lot). Once I saw he was getting the pressure-annoyed, we agreed I’d ask him again in 3 years. After he said he wasn’t ready yet 3 years later, we sat down for said serious discussion. I aknowledged that he wasnt ready and stressed how important having children earlier (rather than later) was to me. I then asked what it would take for him to BE ready.

      After some serious thought what he / we wanted to include, we made a small (yet important!!) pre-baby list. It turns out he was more thinking about space (we have a small house), so some fixing up & re-arranging was what worked for him to be ready (which overall over a year) . I thought this open serious discussion worked so well we should have tried it years ago! πŸ™‚

      Good luck.

  4. Our best talks happen when we go for a hike in nature. When I want to talk about something, I’ll try scheduling a hike. When we are walking in the woods or at the beach, I’ll bring up the subject. Introduce the subject by saying ‘I have been thinking about this for some time now, and I want to discuss it with you. Please listen and I want to know where you are at’. Because serious talking tends to happen naturally when hiking, this will generate a thoughtful response from my partner. It is not about pushing, it is about making clear that this subject is an issue for you and that you want to discuss it.

    So my advice would be to create the environment where you both are comfortable and where in depth conversations usually happen. Other ideas than hiking: going out for a fancy dinner, special Sunday morning breakfast. Then bring up the subject and make clear that it is important to you to discuss it and think it through together.

    This approach will not magically make your husband go ‘let’s make a baby now’, but hopefully it will trigger him to think about arguments pro and contra and hash out his feelings on the subject. In the end, you both need to be ready! Communicating your needs and desires can speed up this process. Good luck and have some beautiful conversations!

  5. Does your husband have any specific concerns you can perhaps try to address together? In our case my husband didn’t feel ready because he was concerned he would have to give up hobbies, interests and travel and that having a child would involve more of a lifestyle change than he was prepared for. Luckily around the same time we were starting to think about this we met several couples with babies and children who were happy and seemed to be making it all work reasonably well, and that eased my husbands concerns somewhat. I don’t think my husband felt quite ready all through my first pregnancy, but he slipped effortlessly into fatherhood the minute our daughter was born, in a way that I really wasn’t expecting, and I’m not sure he was. And although life has certainly changed we are still able to enjoy everything we used to.

    • Second to getting your partner to articulate specific concerns, rather than just “not ready yet.” It’s so much easier to hash something out when there are more details. We’ve had so many “Ooooohhhh” moments when we are able to share more information. Sometimes we actually say “Use more words” to each other if we find one of us repeating the same phrase over and over again. I don’t know, it works for us!

      A rogue part of my brain thinks that I should have a baby NOW. The rest of me, not so much. This was perfectly illustrated when my husband made a joke about “throwing a baby in you” and tried to hug me, and I ran screaming from the room. My husband and I had discussions with this part of my brain and figured out a time that would suit the three of us.

      • This makes me smile because I tell my husband to use his words all the time. I don’t have a problem with it as I’m super verbose naturally, but it often helps me get him past a default answer.

  6. Oh this is a hard one!

    I think you absolutely need to sit down with him and talk about how you are feeling, and find out what are his concerns or fears that make him so hesitant about becoming a father.
    It’s probably also a good idea to get it out in the open that you are worried that his “we’ll see” perspective will end up making the choice for you, as infertility is a quickly-increasing risk for women from their mid 30s. Fertility also starts to significantly drop for men, contrary to popular belief. Tyranny of biology and all…

    I was in a somewhat similar situation. I can’t tell you definitively that your husband would enjoy parenthood: everyone is different. But I can tell you that my husband was initially very hesitant about the idea becoming a father. A lot of that was fear about his own ability to cope with the stresses and demands of being a parent, and worry that having kids would suck the joy out of his life (he might not like the kid, he might resent the time and energy they need, etc. etc.) – compounded by having not a single decent (let alone “good”) older male figure in his entire life to give him an idea of what a good father looks like. Tricky, given how the idea of father is not a very rich one in our society!

    Anyhoo… so we tried to conceive for a bit, and then we agreed to stop trying for a little while, only to find that we had succeeded! We had nine months to get used to the idea, and while it has not been smooth sailing (babies never are), and during the pregnancy he was still very worried, since our daughter was born he is absolutely and utterly thrilled to be a father, and wishes he had had the confidence to start having kidlets earlier.

    • Yes, decreasing fertility for both of you is a risk to consider on your pros and cons list when you guys discuss this. Another thing is (and I’m sure you know this, but I’m going to say it anyhow) that both increased maternal and paternal age is more highly associated with complications and having a high needs child. Increased paternal age is highly associated with autism, for example. You guys aren’t there yet, and of course an increased risk factor doesn’t mean it WILL happen, but it’s something you might want to think about. The longer you wait, the more you risk a more expensive and difficult parenting journey.

      Also, and I hate to be the one to point this out, because it is such a bummer and it makes us think about some harsh, and quite frankly sexist, realities of the world and society we live in, but while a man’s fertility does decline as he ages, it doesn’t decline like a woman’s does. And in the incredibly sexist world we live in, a man in his 50’s, especially one with a good job and education, can easily go out and find a twenty year old to have a family with. Now, I’m not saying that your husband is that dude who says he’s not ready, he’s not ready, he’s not ready, until suddenly you’re menopausal and he leaves you for a 25 year old to have babies with. But those men are out there, and in case any woman is reading this and is with one if those guys, I would caution them not to give up their dreams waiting on someone who’s values do not match their own. Every good relationship requires compromise and sacrifice, but when only one person is compromising, and when you are giving up core values and your most important dreams, something is wrong. Having kids is a big one. If couples can’t come to an agreement on it, it might be time to find a relationship that better suits your values and life goals. No person should be pressured into having a child they don’t want, and no person should be forced to give up having a child they did want.

      • While I agree with much of this, and am struggling with the I’m-ready-my-husband’s-not issue myself, I think it is also worth pointing out that if your marriage is great besides the having kids issue, it is big gamble to discard an otherwise compatible life mate for the idea you have in your head of your future child. Children don’t always turn out like parents think they will. I have aunts and uncles whose kids moved away and never visit or became criminals, or are just plain selfish and don’t care about their mom now that they are grown, and her husband is still the one at her side.

    • How did you address all of these concerns that your husband had? These are my husbands concerns and issues as well. He’s not good with emotion, especially love, and has had a traumatic and distant childhood. The fear and stress are what keep him behind his safe wall of what he knows and can control. I don’t know how to talk him through these issues.

  7. Make a timeline, working backwards. What’s the absolutely latest you’d be willing to be pregnant, (35? 41?)? Then work backwards, how long the pregnancy would last, including a year of trying, to get your last-chance scenario. Then figure out how many kids you’d like and how much of a gap you’d want between them to get your ideal scenario. If you’re not near that number yet, give yourselves both a chance to breathe and chill out and enjoy time with just the two of you for a while, you can’t get this time back again.

    But if you’re getting closer to that timeline than you’re comfortable with, you need to figure out what your non-negotiables are. And if he’s never going to be ready within the time you want, you need to be ready to walk away and find someone who wants to be a partner and a parent, not everyone wants to be both and being responsible for a new life being brought into the world isn’t something anyone should have to compromise on.

  8. I had always been the one insisting we would have children, then when we got the the window of time I’d labeled as “the baby window” I wasn’t ready. 1+ years into the window, my husband stated to ask questions about when. I realized I wasn’t ever going to be able to make the huge decision that “now” is the time, so instead of trying , I agreed to quit preventing pregnancy. I left it up to chance. I only opened up my period tracking app twice a month to indicate the beginning and end of my period, so I wouldn’t pay attention to when I was fertile. After a few months I did get pregnant (due next week). My reaction when I found out was “oh, f**k!” and I still have days where I worry we aren’t going to be good at this, but I have a feeling (hope) that might be the trait of a person who winds up being a good parent.

    • This makes so much sense to me–neither myself nor my husband were “ready” to have a baby when we discovered I was pregnant either. Although I did always want to have children, and we had both agreed we wanted kids *someday*, the thought of actually taking that step and changing our lives so drastically was terrifying. I don’t think we ever would’ve sat down & said, “okay, let’s do this.” Luckily for us the way it worked out was the best way it could have–we were surprised and excited (along with the fear!) but were in it together. Once you’re pregnant and it is a reality, you get ready much quicker than you would have otherwise. And you do have the whole duration of the pregnancy to prepare for it. Looking back I can’t even express how grateful I am that we were blessed with this surprise before we missed our opportunity by thinking too much about it, and parenthood is more amazing than I had ever dreamed. Best of luck to you, Corley, I’m sure you’ll be a great mom.

      And to the original poster, best of luck to you too–there’s some great advice here but honestly the best I can say is try not to overthink it. Maybe too much planning & timeline-ing is what is scaring your husband from even wanting to discuss it seriously… I like the idea of stopping to prevent pregnancy instead of starting to try to get pregnant. Maybe this concept would be better for him as it isn’t so definitive? There’s still the element of chance and “we’ll see what happens” instead of “we’re doing this NOW.” Everything that scared me about the idea of parenthood (from all that I didn’t know about babies to how would we manage daycare & those expenses) have worked out, in some cases surprisingly easier than I would have thought. You learn as you go. As long as you and your husband are honest with each other & share the responsibilities, you’ll figure it out.

      • I would be hesitant to use a “stop trying not to have a baby” policy unless you are willing to accept the non-insignificant chance that you will get pregnant right away. We stopped using birth control and were proceeding as normal, not paying attention to my fertile window… I missed my next period and baby is due in August. Taking the casual approach may help force the issue, but it could also create a freakout if indeed someone is truly not yet ready.

  9. It sounds like this is a really difficult thing for you and I hear a lot of panic in what you have written.

    I think what you need to do is have a completely open ended conversation with your husband about what you both feel about having children and when (don’t scream, I have a tip for how in a minute). From that conversation, when you have digested what you’ve each said, you then have another conversation about when.

    This means that you have to go in not expecting an immediate result, ie ask for a conversation and work out a time when you will both do it, don’t ask for a decision right now. If you can let him know that you all you are asking for is a commitment to a conversation he may feel relaxed enough to really start thinking about it – it would seem like he’s not relaxed about thinking about it now. There is a conversation that needs to happen here that is being avoided and that is forcing you into a role which looks like nagging him about it, making the conversation even harder to have and him more likely to avoid attempts. It doesn’t really matter how it started it’s here now.

    I think the trick is to try and short circuit that loop by asking for that conversation directly but in a different way. Try something like “I would really really like to talk to you about having children but this doesn’t mean I want you to given me a decision on having children straight away. I’d just like to sit down sometime soon and for you to tell me what you feel about it and when you think we should do it and I would like to tell you what I feel about it. If it goes well and we agree maybe after we could have a conversation where we make a decision. You don’t need to say anything now but please think about having this conversation with me, it is very important to me. I love you.”

    It’s asking a lot of you to be this casual about it when your feelings are clearly not casual, but this might just open things up. Maybe your husband isn’t ready right to try right now but he might be ready for an open ended conversation but has been scared by your strength of feeling and assuming there is only one thing you want to hear (not a criticism btw). It is highly unlikely he’ll go from not talking about to “yes lets do it now!” in the space of a conversation, but you might be surprised how good a commitment to begin trying in a year’s time could feel. Good luck!

  10. So funny that this came up today. I literally just had a discussion (read: tearful argument) with my husband about having a second child this morning. I want to have one as soon as I finish school (next Spring) and he doesn’t even want to start TTC until I have a full-time job again (which would definitely be later). He’s worried about money (as if anyone can EVER afford a child) and I’m worried that having my children too far apart will make it harder for them to bond and develop the close relationships I had with my siblings growing up. But maybe he’s right and maybe kids being 5 years apart isn’t as big a deal as it feels to me right now.

    I wish I had some solid guidance on this conversation for starting the family. With my first child, my husband was “ready” from the day we married and I was the one holding us up. It took an epiphany to get us started, and my husband was just very patient with me. Now we’re reversed and I don’t know how to get the conversation past “But we just don’t have the money.” πŸ™

    • Money concerns I cannot speak to, but as the older sibling who is four-years-and-change older than my sister: it’s not a big deal. I got lucky because my younger sister is incredibly smart and mature, but even when we were little and having sisterly fight-like-cats-and-dogs moment, I adored her.

      • My kids are almost 5 years apart, and it’s not a bad split. They still play together, which surprised me, and it’s really cool how much my daughter learns from watching my son! I mean, wow, she is picking things up a lot faster than he did, and I think it’s just because he inadvertently teaches her. It’s really cool.
        I can see how having them closer together would be easier in some ways too though. I had forgotten a lot of baby care stuff by the time she was born, and my son’s needs and hers are so different, changing gears can be tough. But also he helps me with stuff and doesn’t need as much attention as her. But also it’s easier to forget he needs attention still , that he’s still a little boy and not totally independent.

        Anyway, I think they both have their pros and cons, you know?

    • My 2 younger siblings are 4 and 5 years spaced apart. I’m still pretty close with my sister, even though there’s a 9 year difference. It was awesome when I was a teenager and could DRIVE her places for special sister outings. We weren’t just along for the drive, we could plan what we wanted to do together, and we had a lot of great experiences.

      It does get a little weird, sometimes, when you become an adult. Your relationship changes with your parents, where it’s a smaller percentage of parent/child interactions and a larger percentage of friendship interactions. I do sometimes feel split between if I’m supposed to be a child-sister or an adult who is a sister to a child…if that makes sense. But she’s almost an adult now, and I can already tell the relationship is shifting again to a pretty awesome place. I think overall there was less fighting between us, partially due to the larger age difference. Also, awesome not having more than one kid in college at a time.

      • I have read that the best spacing a to avoid sibling rivalry is less than18 months apart, or more than 3 years. I wonder if that is true. My sister and I had terrible rivalry, we were 18 months apart.

        • Oh, that’s interesting. My sister and I are 22 months apart, and in some ways it was very hard. When she was born I know my parents did a lot to make sure I didn’t feel too jealous or neglected. I don’t really remember, but it might be a hard age to process going from being doted on to suddenly there’s this crying thing that takes up a lot of your parents’ energy and time.

          In school it was hard too, because she was stuck with teachers who remembered me and expected her to be similar (and we’re very different people). Not fun for her. We were close enough in age to conceivably hang out with each other’s friends, but both of us got annoyed and jealous whenever the other tried to do that. We fought a lot, sometimes very bitterly. We’re starting to have an easier time with each other in early adulthood, but things are still hard sometimes.

          Basically, I’ve known people who are super close to siblings that are 2 years younger or older, and those who have been close due to a larger gap or felt detached because of it. I think it just depends on the two people involved, and shooting for a particular age gap between your children is no guarantee of anything.

    • My husband is 6 years older than his brother, and while they don’t have as close as a relationship as they would have had they been only 1 or 2 years apart, there was little sibling rivalry, and as adults they’re closer then they were as kids.

      The only rivalry my husband’s talked about is fighting over playing video games, as there was only one game console in the house. Their parents’ rule was that they had to take turns playing, and had to switch turns when the character died. Which is how my husband developed his love of long RPGs because it took hours and hours for the character to die, so he got to play for long stretches of time. His brother took ages to figure that out, and would always pick action games where the character died frequently, so was always frustrated!

    • I don’t have any specific advice, but I can tell you that my family was in a similar situation when I was young. I was the first born and my father really wanted another baby, but my mom was hesitant and so they didn’t start trying until I was 5 or 6. Then after a miscarriage and more waiting and more trying, my sister was born when I was 8 years old. 8 years is a big gap and sometimes it made our relationship a little odd (I was more like a parent sometimes than a sister) there were some really awesome benefits. For example, I got to be an “only child” for 8 years, and then my sister got to be an “only child” for 8 years when I left for college. Being far apart meant that we were never quite into the same things at the same time, so very little competitive overlap. Speaking of competition, my little sister is much more conventionally attractive than me, more academically successful, more talented musically and artistically…if we were close in age I probably would have hated her growing up! But because of the age difference its always been a point of pride to have such an awesome little sister. We have different world views for sure, seeing as I grew up with my parents together, pretty poor, and dealt with my family’s crazy divorce and whatnot, and she grew up with step parents and more money and was spared most the craziness. But I honestly can’t imagine it any other way. This is the first year that we’re both adults and I’m loving getting to know my sister as a grown up person. She’s one of my best friends and one of the most amazing people on this planet. And I’m so glad we’re 8 years apart.

    • Just to add one more comment to the age gap conversation…I’m 6 years older than my brother and we weren’t always best friends growing up because we were always in different life stages but we still did a lot together. My mom was chronically ill from the time I was about 12 so I spent a lot of time being a substitute maternal figure for my brother…I registered him for both middle and high school, helped him walk his schedule, drove him to practice/rehersals…stuff like that. Now that we’re both out in the big wide world I don’t even notice the age gap. So I wouldn’t worry about it too much! My daughter is 5 years older than my son and while I wish sometimes she had a closer in age sibling to play with I’m also thankful that she was old enough to be a little independent/helpful when he was born!

      I know friends with close in age siblings who never got along and I know people with 10 year age gaps who are close. It all depends on personalities and how much you guys do as parents to foster the relationship.

  11. I think the conversation will change depending on whether your husband “wants kids but just not right now” or “doesn’t really want kids.” If you know he wants kids, I think you should be more upfront about the timeline that you’re thinking of. My husband and I knew we wanted kids, but after three years of marriage he was ready to start and I was the one responding “we’ll see.” He would bring kids up every so often, casually but still making it clear that he wanted kids in the soonish range (for many of the same reasons you give) and asked me to re-think my concerns. I was about to start gradschool and was worried about doing my studies while being pregnant/having a kid so I talked over my concerns with my spouse and my supervisors, I read a bazillion blogs about making parenting work with school, and I have a really great support network who help us with childcare when we need it. I got pregnant at the end of my MA, had the baby in the first semester of my PhD and I’m taking another mat leave to have our second, 20 months later, in the spring.

    So even though it is a huge discussion, it doesn’t have to be a bad/combative discussion. Try to find a way to get him to be part of the game plan, rather than trying to work it all out in advance on your own.

  12. I think one thing that’s important to add is that when you have this kind of conversation, you must prepare yourself for disappointment. Your husband might not be ready to have a child now, or possibly ever. If this is what you hear, can you deal with it? Would it hurt you? My mom is fond of saying “Don’t ask the question if you truly don’t want an answer.” Only you can answer that truthfully. If he’s not ready now, how long are you willing to wait? What realistic timeframe are you willing to live with? And what happens if he’s not willing to work with that timetable?

    If you’ve adequately prepped yourself, I think the best way to go about a conversation like this is to let your husband do most of the talking. What are his reasons for feeling the way he does? It’s helpful if you can speak about specific concerns he might have. Are his concerns financial in nature? It would help if you can talk about concrete ways to save money or change your spending, so that the baby doesn’t seem that expensive. Does he worry it would change the relationship between the two of you? There are ways to reassure him that the marriage would survive (or ways to strengthen the relationship prior to the baby arriving). My husband was very afraid of what would happen to us after a baby, so we agreed to attend some counseling sessions prior to the birth to “shore up” the marriage. Does he have concerns about his ability to be a father? This is a conversation where you need to do a ton of listening. Let him get every possible concern and fear out in the open. Don’t critique or shoot any of them down. If his concerns are major or serious in nature, a therapist might be a good choice to guide you through the process.

    It’s possible that your husband will never be ready (or not soon enough for you). You need to be honest with yourself about whether you can continue in this relationship if that becomes the case. Would you resent him? Would that hinder your relationship? Those are questions only you can honestly answer. If this is a deal-breaker in the relationship, there isn’t anything wrong with that. But I think you both deserve some honesty here.

  13. My partner and I found that we were getting stuck in this discussion when we were talking about times. I would say “Let’s start trying in July!” And they would say, “No, wait a few more months to a year.” It felt arbitrary.

    After a big fight, we started talking about the things we both wanted before having a baby (childcare plan, work plan, house plan, money for midwife, etc) and had a super productive conversation that helped us reach a mutual understanding.

    I guess my advice is to try conversations a few different ways. If you feel really stuck, a counselor or family theorist might be a good next step.

  14. It sounds to me like what would be really helpful right off the bat is just to receive more than a “we’ll see”. I would say it’s totally fair simply to let your husband know that you respect whatever he has to say, but that it’s becoming frustrating to you to feel like you can’t really engage with him on the topic. I won’t say “what you’ll hear may surprise you!”, but at the very least it will give you a much clearer idea of the conversation you need to be having. Also, I think the way you’ve already expressed yourself here – that you want to start trying but you don’t want to push your partner into something they’re not ready for – is a very reasonable way to start a conversation. πŸ™‚

  15. I am currently navigating this sensitive situation as well. I have a 12-year old daughter that I gave birth to when I was 21, uneducated and single. And no matter how awesome she is and how great her relationship to my husband is (and it is really great!), he came into her life at the beginning stages of puberty. Unfortunately, I think this has coloured his vision of what parenting is! He doesn’t get it… and I know that. He now says he doesn’t know if he wants kids… ever. He says he’s not sure he has the patience for it. I say that he is so awesome that it would be an amazing day for our community if he were to reproduce and create another human to be as awesome as he is (and I really, really mean that!).

    Anyway, the other day I said something that seemed to be the first thing that I’ve said that gave him a look of “oh… interesting… maybe you’re right and having kids ISN’T so bad of an idea.” I let him know that no matter how hard it was to have my daughter young, living on welfare and then struggling through university, and then struggling as a single parent when she developed a life-altering/life-threatening illness… I have never, ever regretted my decision to bring her into the world. I said that in life, there are so many choices that we might make and then regret. The only choice we have in life that one is guaranteed to not regret is to have a child.

    I don’t know what it really is that makes guys like my husband and yours so nervous about diving into parenthood. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that their biology doesn’t really have a deadline. If someone has an idea, let me know.

    • “The only choice we have in life that one is guaranteed to not regret is to have a child.”

      I have to disagree with this. It may be the case with you and your child, and that is awesome, but my mum has four kids and frequently advises me not to have any. She enormously regrets becoming a mother. I think your generalisation is unhelpful, there are a lot of people who love their kids but still regret their decision.

      And of course there are also ones who don’t even love the kids. But that’s another issue.

      • Yeah, by grandmother has also been very open about never having wanted any of her children, and how if she could go back she never would have had any. She always advises people not to have any, or if they have one not to have anymore. When I got married and got pregnant with my daughter, she was so disappointed that I would have a second child. And on purpose too! It’s one thing if it was an accident (all of hers were), but to intentionally do such a thing … the horror!
        I’ve learned to chuckle at my Grandmother. She’s a good person and she loves her kids, grand kids, and great grand kids. She just never wanted them. I think she felt like she compromised too many of her dreams to have them, it’s hard for her to see that what was required out of mothers when she was becoming one in the 50’s is not what is required of us now. Having kids doesn’t mean being doomed to a life of domesticity now.
        But yeah, it’s true that lots of people regret having kids. I don’t think most people do, but certainly some do.

        • Hmm… Okay, I revise my statement completely then. I hadn’t thought about it beyond the context of my relationship with my husband. I truly believe HE will not regret having kids and that he would be a fantastic dad. And that we would be great parents together – as we currently are for my pre-teen. I also over-simplified the situation of course… Anyway, thanks for the added perspective!

  16. I think the fact you’re been indirect and tenatative is allowing your husband an “out” to avoid a difficult conversation. If you can waffle, then he can waffle.

    I think if you’re married to someone that gives you the right to bring up any difficult conversation that’s important to you, regardless of how uncomfortable it makes the other person. I’m not suggesting you harangue or nag your spouse but if there is anybody in the world you can be forthright with, surely your partner is that person.

    Time really is of the essence, especially if you’re planning for multiple children. You are probably already in the “high-risk” zone. I have to assume your husband is as cognizant of this fact as you are which makes his cryptic “we’ll see” problematic. He might not want children after all or he might just be nervous and need reassurance. Whatever the case you absolutely have a right to an explanation on his feelings about this very important topic.

    So, if I were you I would be very clear about my needs: “I want to have a baby this year. I feel ready and I don’t think it’s safe to wait any longer. But you seem hesitant. Tell me what you think.” ( Please, no wishy-washy language like “start trying” or “thinking about trying”. )

    • I agree with not being wishy washy, but you might not be ready for ultimatums yet either. That’s why I think a “This is what I want. This is why. Tell me specifically what you want. Tell me why. Now that we understand each other, let’s think about what WE want to do.” Is a good approach.

      Eventually, you might want to make an ultimatum. Or you might not. I have a life philosophy though, never make an ultimatum you aren’t prepared to back up. Especially with kids. They will call your bluff every time. Lol.

  17. I recently thought I was pregnant, before either one of us were ready. I’m not pregnant but while we waited to find out for sure, we talked a lot about it and my husband says he really wants a baby. I always thought I would be in your shoes, that I would be ready to become a parent before my husband. Who would have guessed the situation would be reversed. Hubby told me he’s terrified to become a parent but he thinks that it’s the right thing to do and it feels right (this is also how he talks about deciding to get married).

    There are some things I’d like to do before I get pregnant, including getting in better health. We have since been talking about our “before baby bucket list” and things we want to do before we become parents, one of which is purchase a newer, safer car (hubby’s car is older than I am). We are working toward crossing items off that list. Does your hubby have a list like this?

    We adopted a dog last year and my husband wasn’t really crazy about the idea. He was raised with cats so a dog was very foreign to him (just like a baby will be). He expressed all of his concerns to me, a dog chewing on his stuff, having to clean up poop, the added expense, etc. I tried to address his concerns the best I could. He still wasn’t crazy about the idea but felt better about it. I also knew that he has a big heart and has completely fallen in love with our dog since then. Obviously a baby is a much, much bigger commitment than a dog but I always think of that when I think of my husband not being on board with something and then later really glad I wanted something.

    Good luck with this journey!

  18. My mom had the exact same problem with my dad and her solution was honest, elegant, and it worked!

    She simply informed my dad that he was in charge of birth control for a while. Honest because she *was* off the pill and didn’t try to hid it. This also gave my dad *the power* which was pretty elegant, because lets face it -if you’re not already a condom household it’s a tricky thing to change. And it worked because she did get pregnant, and there was nobody to blame for that but my dad.

    In the end my dad was super grateful that my mom did things the way she did. I think the key to her success was that she was honest. “I’m ready to have kids, but I understand that you’re not. That’s ok. But I’m done taking the pill for a while. So if you’re serious about NOT having kids, make sure to use a condom…”

    Best of luck to you!!

    • That seems a little coerce-y, but I like it. Partially because it is pretty sexist that women are expected to handle all the birth control. And how unfair is it to ask that of your partner because you don’t want to have a baby?

      • I also thought it was “A little coerce-y” the first time I heard the story but my dad didn’t feel that way at the time. He thought it was reasonable…for the exact reason you came up with. He was the one who didn’t want kids, so he could be in charge of making sure things went his way.

    • That’s basically what I did as well. I didn’t want my IUD any longer and wanted to track my BBT and cycle for a bit. My husband, although I gave him the option, chose not to use birth control.

    • I actually love this. As long as you’re honest about it, why not? I heard someone on a different site describe it as “I really resented putting chemicals in my body to prevent something I didn’t want to prevent. So I stopped.”.

      Logical and sensible. And hopefully, inspires a conversation.

      • It is an interesting way to handle it. It is a way to force the non pill taking partner to think about contraception and children in a more immediate way. Taking the pill can become a mindless daily habit. Switching to a barrier method that requires thought every time for a bit can bring the conversation back to the forefront at least.

        We’d talked about kids as an “if” rather than a “when” for a couple of years with me always being more pro baby than him. In our case, what I think went the furthest to getting us on the same page was when my pill was switched to a new generic that gave me all sorts of unpleasant side effects so I stopped taking it and went back to my doctor for a “no substitutions” ruling.
        During that month that I was not taking the pill, we had to switch back to condoms. While I was dutiful in making sure there was a supply on hand, my husband had to be involved in a way he hadn’t been for ages. So he also had to determine how much it mattered to him one way or the other at our current stage in life. One night we were not as careful as I thought people who didn’t want to risk pregnancy ought to be and I brought it up. The response I got was “well you’ve talked about wanting kids so I figured we’d be okay either way.” We weren’t pregnant that month but that definitely changed the “ifs” to “whens”

        There are definite ways that playing with the Pill can be deceptive and manipulative but there are also men out there who really don’t want children and they are truly compulsive about contraception in whatever form – sometimes insisting on multiple forms at once.
        If he is completely aware of the situation and fully educated on how babies are made and is kind of lax about it when he knows he’s got an active role in preventing it, he’s either deep in denial or is open to having a baby if it happens.
        Either way, bringing up a desire to take a break from the pill is a way to open the conversation and noticing how he handles contraception being his thing again, is a good indicator.

  19. I think the most important thing here is to determine whether your husband wants to have a child at all. For him to continually answer with “We’ll see” and not further clarify his position is pretty unfair to you. Is it simply a timing thing? Related to finances? Fears about lifestyle changes? Or is there something larger going on?

    From my perspective, we had the big discussion before I even considered marrying my husband. I told him what my general timeline was and why (it was a 5-year window, so not like WE MUST HAVE BABIES TOMORROW or anything). We talked it out. If we hadn’t agreed, I don’t think I would have continued the relationship. I know it’s harsh, but having children has always been one of my life goals, and I would not have wanted to get serious with someone who didn’t share that goal.

    Have you ever had a productive discussion on the topic? It sounds like you’ve tried a lot of different approaches, with the same (unsatisfying) result. I personally would have a come-to-Jesus meeting (sounds funny coming an agnostic) about the topic. You may not like his response, but better to know in my opinion.

    • I agree. When I started dating again after having my son (I was young and single when I had him) I focused on making sure that my potential partners wanted the same thing out of life as I did. I would have never wasted my time on someone hoping he might come around to wanting the same things as me eventually, that kind of info was info I wanted early on in dating. Honestly, I’m a little flabbergasted that anyone can marry someone without knowing whether or not they want kids, or a basic idea of when or how many. That seems like big info you might want up front. It never ceases to amaze me how people can date for years before deciding to get married, and still not know that kind of basic, crucial information about their partner. My husband and I only dated a year before he proposed, and I never lived with him before the wedding, but I guess being up front about our values, life styles, and goals in life saved us some time.

      I think the topic came up for me and my husband on our seventh date (which, incidentally, was the first date we slept together, lol). Had my husband said he didn’t want kids, or only wanted one, there probably would not have been any more dates. My husband has told me that had I said I didn’t want any more, he would have moved on too. Over time, we both discussed these issues and agreed that we would both like a large family, we both had similar parenting styles, we both had similar ideas about what kind of house to live in, what values to teach our kids, how to involve our families in our lives, how to handle money, etc. Knowing these things is what made me confident in my “Yes” to his proposal. Knowing how much we share also makes him even sexier to me. It’s been four years now, and I feel the same about him as I did when I first fell in love with him. I hear that feeling fades after 4 to 5 years, but not for me! I think our open communication and the fact that we’re well matched on a values level has everything to do with that!

      • My husband and I decided to get married when we were both UNSURE of whether or not we wanted kids. It was a little scary, but we were 100% honest with each other about the reasons why. And it was nice to lay out all our concerns right then and there, so we at least knew where each other was coming from, even if we didn’t know where we would end up. I’m not saying this will work for everyone, but it worked for us to make the decision together, and now we have a plan, general philosophies for how we would want to raise a child, and what we want to do if we are infertile.

      • People change. Before we got married, my husband and I were super gung-ho about having kids. Then, right after we were married we both realized that, to varying degrees, we were both unsure.

  20. I’m sorry, but men are clueless, and many times really don’t realize the realities of a woman’s biological clock. You really do need to sit him down because already in your mid 30’s the chance is very real that it could be too late already. I am not yet 35, but I have a blocked tube (found out through a dye test) and my eggs are nearly gone. Check your AMH level. It doesn’t vary and gives a good idea of how many eggs you have left. If that test comes back good, then yes, you might be able to wait a little, but honestly you can’t wait very long. If that test comes back low, then you know you already waited too long and may very well be looking at expensive fertility treatments right off the bat. Menopause is strongly hereditary, so if the women in your family hit menopause around 40 or before 45, you may be in a bad place already. If the women in you family (on your mom’s side) are able to have kids later and don’t go through menopause till later (after 50 at least) you may still have some time on your side. It can be hard to take, this dose of reality. You see celebrity moms popping kids out past 40, but what no one tells you is they very likely had to use donor eggs or IVF (which they of course keep to themselves). Women’s bodies are made to have babies earlier rather than later. It’s a simple fact of biology.
    Your husband shouldn’t resent you for stating the facts, but it’s very likely he doesn’t know them (like many men). They don’t have to deal with it so they don’t pay attention to it.

      • Which only makes me feel worse, knowing I’m going to hit it around 42, when my mom did. These things are strongly hereditary. Just because MOST women do that, doesn’t mean that’s the case for her. In any case, she admitted to being in her “mid-30’s” already which is already at a point when fertility starts to decline rapidly, even in women who don’t hit menopause early. If she is over 35, then when they do start trying, the standard advice is to only wait 6 months before seeking help if it doesn’t happen. Time is of the essence the older you get. If she knows how old her mom was before mother nature put an end to things, it can help her out, even before she and her husband start trying. If mom was older, then she can wait. If mom was younger, then by all means she needs to lay it out there for her husband. No one told me how strongly hereditary these things were. I wish they had.

        • Oh, I know there is a range, and of course fertility does tend to decline past 35, I just don’t want anyone out here to be overly scared about timelines either. Most women will not be anywhere near menopause by their early 40’s. That doesn’t mean something is wrong with you if you are, it just means that you are on one of the far ends of the bell curve.

          It can be very hereditary, yes, but it’s good to remember that you do inherit two sets of genes, and that genes are very complex. In very simplified terms, you only have a 50% chance of taking after your mother’s side. Chances are equally as good your hormones will mimic the women on your father’s side. In more detail, the genetics that caused your mother to go into menopause when she did are created by a complex and random cocktail of genes she inherited from her mother and father in different quantities, and in theory you only got half of what she got from her mom and half of what she got from her dad, and who knows how those quarters of what your mom had will express in you, now that they are mixed with what you got from your dad as well. It’s very complex. So no one really knows when it will happen to them. They can take a guess based on what the women in both sides of their family have experienced, but the genetic combos present in you are totally unique. Genetics are not that predictable.

          But I do 100% agree that time is of the essence. There are a limited number of years in which women can have babies, and if you see in my earlier posts, I point out that both increased maternal and paternal age increase the risk of not only fertility problems, but pregnancy complications and having a high needs child as well. I’m totally with you on that point.

      • Sort of. Perimenopause starts before that and can start in your early 40s to early 50s. Menopause is when the periods stop. Perimenopause is when it all gets irregular and and hot flashy and feels like teen years again in many ways (I’ve been in perimenopause for about 2 years and I’m 45 and my doctor says this is completely normal). Perimenopause can last 5-10 years. In our society we often think of perimenopause as menopause. They aren’t the same. Fertility can drop drastically in perimenopause as estrogen levels fluctuate.

  21. My husband has been pretty off-standish about discussing baby plans. (I’m not ready yet either, so we’re not rushing, but we do talk about it.) Recently, it has turned out that he’s not sure about a baby because he didn’t know any babies. He’s never had babies in his life. And that unsureness really freaked him out.
    Perhaps part of the “We’ll see” discussion needs to be understanding where you’re partner is coming from, but also *educating* your partner about what making a baby takes.
    Maybe he just needs to meet some babies πŸ™‚

    • Haha, Mr. Mints says things like that too. His family didn’t include him in baby watching, and he hasn’t really had much adult experience. He’ll occasionally see a baby do something weird (like babbling) and he’ll be like, is that normal? Kids sound like that? Watching documentaries was a good idea, it was a nonthreatening way learn more

  22. My partner is the kind of guy who avoids making decisions until the options start to run out and the decisions end up making themselves. To turn the “kids or no kids?” decision that required conscious action for either decision, we agreed that if we didn’t start trying by a set date, he would have a vasectomy. That way we would have to debate and choose ‘no children’ just as consciously as ‘let’s have a baby’!

    When the date was coming up, we were still struggling – he thought he wanted kids “someday” but wasn’t sure when “someday” would be. That didn’t work for me, as career-wise and biology-wise, waiting has a much bigger impact on me (as the female who’d carry the child) than on him. So he went with me to see my therapist, and she teased out that he never really re-set the story of himself as the irresponsible screw-up who nearly flunked out of college (completely justifiably due to medical issues, but he was still hard on himself) and that he should acknowledge the successful adult he’s become.

    She also asked him to just take a month (during which time I didn’t push him to make a decision) and imagine what things would be different if we had a kid. I knew it was working when I was teasing him about an annoying noise he makes when he’s still waking up, and he said, “I’ll have to teach the kid to make that noise!” Sure enough, two months later we were pregnant and now we’re 4 weeks from the due date! I might be biased, but I’m pretty sure he’s the world’s most supportive and excited dad-to-be.

    Counseling is great if you have access, but you can try the “Imagine if…” exercise on your own, too. I wish you all the best!

    • Second the “Counseling is great if you have access.” My husband and I went to marital counseling (for a non-baby issue). During counseling we talked about our plans for the future, and that did include talk of children. He thought I was “baby crazy” and I thought he was just too scared. It turned out that we were both setting up unreasonable timelines, and once we relaxed our “rules” for having kids, the issue got much easier to discuss, and we’re pretty close to the same page now.

  23. We have 1 child. He was a happy surprise well before we had started trying (but a few months after we had stopped preventing), and we’re now in the same conversation about whether we want to try for #2.

    Last summer we tried and I realized that we were trying to hard to bandaid over issues that were present, so I made the decision to take control over my body and got an IUD. Playing ‘russian baby roulette’ wasn’t going to work anymore, and so I talked with him, but took steps for my body.

    Then, we looked at finances and he firmly believes we should wait another year, though I think we should try again this summer. While this isn’t quite the same boat you’re in, since you know you want at least 1 child, I have told him that we can talk about waiting or holding off, but that I don’t feel comfortable having more than a 5 year gap in age between our children, and I do not want to have a baby after 35. So it is helpful because it feels like a real give and take. I think what’s hard is hearing that you’re ready, but then he gets to decide when, and it feels a little like you’re just having to sit around and wait. I like all the suggestions for a concrete timeline to help you really see. And maybe a conversation about a thoughtfully planned baby, rather than a hole-in-the-condom or missed-pill-that-day baby, ya know?

  24. This might not be the most conventional aproach, but when I hit 30 (prior to being married) my want to have a baby turned into a NEED. I was even having an issue taking the pill. My boyfriend at the time (now husband) was not really ready to have a kid, but he was also not ready to talk about it either. Two children later, and he still is not ready to talk about it.

    What I did was I told him that I was going off the pill, and if he did not want to have children then it was up to him to prevent them.

    The ball was left direcly in his court, and I did not have to feel guilty about what if I got pregnant becuase I was not taking the pill effectively anymore.

    He is under the impression that all of our children happened because they just happened. Meanwhile I have been tracking and charting and planning. He LOVES his daughters, and is one of the best stay at home daddy’s out there. We have never discussed having children since that day I told him I was going off the pill.

    Sometimes you don’t really need a big talk.

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