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. A year ago, I was in exactly the same situation you are now. I don’t have any great advice, but I do want to second the idea of exposing your husband to other guys who are really enjoying being fathers. My husband didn’t have a strong father figure when he was growing up, and we don’t have any local friends who have kids. I think it was really hard for him to see how he could ever be a good father. Then his sister got pregnant, and her husband (who is a close friend of my husband) was over the moon. I think it help my husband realize that he could figure out this fatherhood thing. He even held his niece un-coerced when she was about 5 days old. Babies aren’t actually *that* scary when you’ve seen them in action. Now I’m 13 weeks. 🙂

  2. I think there’s a couple different things you can do, and what will work best for you and your husband depends on your personalities and relationship.

    OPTION ONE! One thing that worked for me with babymaking was the backwards timeline that other people had mentioned. Do you have any feelings about how old you want to be as a grandparent? Assuming your child has children around age 30, is there an age that would feel “too old” to be having your first grandchild? What about when your youngest child graduates college? Are there things that you want to do as an empty-nester such as travel that you wouldn’t want to do after a certain age? Like others have mentioned, fertility is also a good thing to bring up on a timeline. If you and your husband have discussed wanting to have multiple children, what’s the oldest age you would want to be when you’re pregnant with your youngest? If you have difficulty getting pregnant at age 40, would your husband be open to fertility treatments? Adoption? Would you?

    What I did was say, “Okay, we’ve discussed wanting to have at least two children. The oldest I would personally want to be when pregnant is 35. I would like at least two years between children. That means I would like to get pregnant for the first time no later than age 32. What do we need to do before then to both feel comfortable trying to conceive at that point?” That kind of timeline made a lot of sense to my husband… what I didn’t realize before then is that women have just been hammered with this “biological clock” information most of our lives, while men honestly just don’t get that information. I needed to provide that information so that he could make an informed decision.

    OPTION TWO! Completely non-judgmental, open ended conversation. Have a conversation where the ONLY thing you do is ask him questions. No sharing about your feelings or what you’re thinking, only trying to understand where he’s coming from. For some men, it works better to schedule a conversation like this rather than surprise them with it–my husband needs to think before he speaks, and needs the preparation time of a scheduled conversation to be able to tell me what’s going on for him. Some open ended questions you could use: What are you thinking about when we might have kids? What are some of the things you want to do before we have kids? What are some of your fears about becoming a parent? What are some of the things you’re looking forward to about becoming a parent?

    OPTION THREE which is the exact opposite of option two: share your feelings without asking him to share any of his. I did this when I was itching with baby fever and my husband was just plain not ready. This would look something like, “Look, I don’t want to pressure you, but I’m also feeling these strong emotions I need to share. All I want from you is to hug me and pat my back while I share this, and tell me that you love me when I’m done. Okay? Okay. I really want a baby, and I’m sad we don’t feel close to being ready, and I’m scared about being infertile, and I’m scared I’ll resent you if we don’t have kids, and I’m scared you’ll resent me if we do. Okay, that’s it, now tell me that you love me.” Sometimes just venting like that can be a huge relief.

    • Option 2 and 3 are both examples of “holding space” in my toolbox. Holding space is such a great, effective, amazing relationship and therapeutic strategy! Sometimes you just need to be HEARD.

    • Oh, and I totally forgot one other thing that worked for us. My husband was not only not ready for kids when I was, he wasn’t ready to talk about whether he was ready to have kids. So the first thing we did was set a timeline for the timeline. We decided that in six months, we would talk about what our timeline for having kids was. It turned out we wanted to start officially trying about six months after that conversation, but I went into it completely open to hearing that he was ready right then or that he’d be ready in three years.

      tl;dr If he’s not ready to have the discussion now, schedule a check in date.

  3. My partner and I have been through this too. I told him I wanted to discuss having kids. He said he wasn’t ready, and wasn’t sure he wanted them ever. We decided to leave it at that and re-evaluate in 6 months time. Then we reevaluated again when we had a change in life circumstances. After 2 years, we realized that we would never get to the point where we felt ‘ready’ to have children, even though we wanted them. Now I’m 6 months pregnant, we are both in our 3os and very excited, but we still don’t feel ‘ready’. The turning point for us was when we stopped trying to wait until we’d had that one last adventure vacation, that one last exciting work project, that one last mega-party… and came to terms with the fact that you are never young and single and carefree for long enough. We couldn’t wait until we were ready, we just had to wait until we were ‘ready enough’ to give things ago. Also, reading posts on offbeat families reminded us that we don’t have to sacrifice *everything* to have children. Our lives have changed already, but we are still the same people inside.

  4. These posts are really interesting to me because I seem to be going from having no interest in having kids whatsoever to realizing that I might, some day, actually possibly want a child. I don’t think my partner is interested in having children, and we have nowhere near the economic stability to consider it at the moment, but I am filing away these tips for future use. Being unsure if *I* want kids is scary and confusing enough as it is. If I knew I wanted kids, then I’d have somewhere to start.

  5. Funnily enough, my husband has done a complete turn around on this topic from “I want to plan this carefully” to “maybe just do it and don’t tell me”!

    We both know that children are in our future, but he wasn’t ready for a few years and had a list of things he wanted to do first – buy a house, travel, professional development etc. He didn’t want any surprise children and wanted to be able to plan thoroughly with me and come to a mutual decision about “when”. When I mentioned to him that maybe this could be the year that we start thinking about “when” and possibly swapping from hormonal contraception to the Toni Weschler natural fertility method he told me that I should just do it and not tell him! It looks as though he is now ready in a general sense but still nervous about making such a big decision. He has been talking about children lately and what he wants to teach them and his ideas about parenthood so I know he has been thinking a lot about it.

    I think what has changed for him is seeing some of his friends and his brother start to have their children, and realising you don’t have to give up who you are and what you enjoy. He just needed a few more years than I did to feel ready. I was worried that he’d make me wait for so long that we’d then find it hard to concieve, but he just turned 31 and I’m 30 so we’re still in the zone.

  6. With me I talked with my husband about my fears, and my concerns about having a baby before thirty( my family has endometriosis and usually has their uterus out by thirty) I found out that he was afraid that he might be a bad father. We had ours October 31, 2012. He has been a wonderful father, and has actually started talking to me about having a second. Forcing him will make him resent you and the baby. Like i said talk about it and your worries.( oh don’t trick him about trying to get pregnant, he knows your ovulation schedule better than you do.)

  7. My fiance and I ended up getting into an argument due to as he put it,”a prego scare” and as I put it, “A huge letdown”.. I told him that he was leaving to go out of town for 4 days, I needed him to Seriously think about what exactly it is that he wants in terms of having a baby. I told him straight up that I want to start trying.. I have fertility issues and that there is a 25% chance if we even tried that it would happen. I told him that I love him and that I would never leave if he decided he didnt want to have a baby with me, but that from our first date he has know this is something I have wanted, I want it with him, and I need to know where he is at with it. He went away, thought on it, and when he arrived home, we spoke. He has a child from another relationship and is not sure if he wants to put himself out there like that again , he is scared because we are older (mid thirties), but he is worried I will eventually hate him if he doesnt. We decided to think on it, separately for the next month or so, then talk again on October 10th. I told him that I can appreciate where he is coming from, that I love him regardless, but that I can not keep in this emotionally conflicted confusion.. its not fair to me and its not fair to us. I told him he knows where I am at, my feelings on wanting a baby will not change, but I love him enough to let him think on it and make up his mind on what he wants.
    Am I happy about this, that he is hesitant to have a child with me because of the bad experience from before.. no… but, I am willing to deal with what he wants because I love him. It may sound stupid, but its just how I am.
    If you want to say something, say it. Be straight up about what you want and reassure him you love him, that you are not trying to pressure him, but that You need to talk about it and find out where he is at on the idea for Your Own Sanity… it will drive you crazy if you dont speak with him.
    Good Luck

  8. Hi, off the back of this article I could do with some advice…
    Im ready to start trying for a baby, my husband isn’t. We speak about it regularly and he has often said he wouldn’t mind if we never have a family. which obviously bothers me because I worry one day he will stick firmly with that! anyway.. here is my side of things: were both in good, stable jobs that allow a lot of flexibility. good salaries- over 70K a year between us. have had a mortgae for three years now, house is all decorated and finished for now. Weve been married for around 2 years (together for about 6) so were as stable and secure as we can be. Im ready to be a mum, and when I see others with a child or pregnant I am jealous. my biggest concern is that last year I had 9 months of treatment for stage 3 cervical. doctors said I could likely struggle to conceive and would need closly monitoring throughout the pregnancy which has made me think a lot more seriously about doing this sooner rather than later.
    now, for my husbands point of view- he feels young still (both around 30, he is 30+) so for him he see’s no rush. he sees things very practically, and his concern is a credit card which we have that has a balance of around 5K on it. ive already drawn up plans for it to be down to about 1K by the end of the year. but he wants it completely cleared before he would even consider starting to try. I don’t see it being that big of a deal…
    Despite numerous chats I don’t feel we’ve come to any real agreement, in Dec we agreed mid year, but now hes delaying again. (Credit card is the cause of this delay.) Ive wirten down the reasons why I feel our situation is perfect (or as close as it can be!) and explained that there will always be a reason (or ten) to delay a family if you look for one.

    anyone any thoughts?

  9. I never thought I’d be writing this message but after 4.5 years of and nearly lost my marriage due to not be able to have a child, severe endometriosis and scarring, I was told that IVF was the only option. This was something we could not afford and had almost given up hope of becoming parents. A friend of mine recommended native doctor iya basira to me and persuaded me to contact her, she did a spiritual breakthrough for me to make me get pregnant, within 3 weeks I was pregnant (naturally!!!) and gave birth to our son in april. I am writing this message for those women who are at the stage I was at.depressed with no light at the end of the tunnel. give iya basira a try to help you solve your problem, and hopefully you’ll have the same success that I have had. Here is her email address [email protected] . wish you all happiness in your marriage.

  10. We don’t have children. There have been times I have wanted children and felt a very strong need (33 seems to be an age when all the women I know, even those who never wanted kids, suddenly want kids). And even though I felt so strongly about this at that time, I had to look past my biology and consider that coming into marriage, I knew neither of us was sure and that if my husband was never ready I married him first and want him and had to accept that I had changed, not him. So we talked about it, I looked past my biological need and the feelings that brought up and accepted it. At this point, I’m super glad we chose not to have kids but it’s never as easy as just saying “yes” or “no”. I think knowing what you discussed before marriage and where you each are now is very, very important. Did he change? Did you? And how do you love each other through this discussion? Good luck!!

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