"I Want more Kids but my Partner Wants to Stop at Two"
My partner and I are pregnant with baby number two. It’s a little overwhelming, but I still have this picture in my head of us being a family with at least four kids. I know my partner doesn’t want any more kids, though.
So far, we’ve had this discussion many times, and both of us make light-hearted jokes about how we are going to have our way no matter what the other person thinks. It’s lighthearted and doesn’t mean much, but lately, I have been having this sinking feeling that we are going to need to have a serious conversation and soon. Baby number two will be here in a few months, and we are either going to have to stop there or try again for numbers 3 and 4.
The topic of what to do when you and your partner want different things when it comes to the number of children you are going to have is not a new one. In fact, a lot of couples disagree about how many children they should have. This is one of the most difficult decisions you will have to make in your relationship. So how can you make it in a healthy way that will leave your relationship stronger?
What to do when you want different things?
Because this issue has been eating at me for several months now, I did a little research to find out how my partner and I can work through it. What I discovered was very interesting, and it has worked wonders for my own relationship. I thought I’d share the lessons with everyone here:
📌1. Talk about it
The first thing you want to do is create a safe space to talk and open the lines of communication. Communication is key if you want the other person to understand your perspective, and for you to understand theirs.
Your partner should also feel safe when they enter the discussion. Initiate it when they are in the right headspace for a chat. Do not start this conversation after a fight, a bad day at work, or a hard day at home.
Initiate the conversation like this, “I have something I’d like us to talk about. Is now a good time?” This will allow your partner to decide whether or not they want to have that conversation at that time. If it is not the right time, schedule a different time to talk.
📌2. Understand the why
What I discovered in my conversations with my partner is that there are deep underlying reasons why he does not want to have other kids. There are also reasons why I want more kids. You want to understand what each person's reasons are.
Do you want more children because of your upbringing? Does your partner want fewer kids because he is worried he might not afford to provide for more kids adequately? Whatever your reasons may be, you will both get an insight into each other’s frame of mind after having this conversation.
📌3. Patience is key
Do not go into this conversation thinking that no one is going to change their mind. Change your point of view and try to see things from the other person’s perspective. Also, when the conversation has no pressure, and no one feels manipulated or challenged, you will be better able to absorb and explore each other’s feelings. Seek only to understand and you will find common ground.
📌4. Practice gratitude
I realized that I often overlook the positives that we have in our lives now when I desire to have more. It clouds my judgment and all I can think about is what I am missing out on, not what I already have.
Spending some time acknowledging the good that you already have will open you up to opportunities for more. Be grateful and appreciate your current family and your current relationship.
📌5. Couple’s therapy
Sometimes, no matter what you do, the other person might refuse to change their opinion. Or perhaps they simply cannot see your perspective, no matter how hard you try to convince them. Perhaps the conversation somehow turns into an argument, no matter what you say.
If you have hit the point where you cannot have a respectful, rational discussion, it might be time to get some professional help. Through couple’s therapy, you and your partner will be able to get your thoughts out in a safe space.
📌6. Should you leave?
When is it OK to leave? This is not an easy decision. However, deciding to forgo the importance your idea of a family has on your happiness is not easy, either. Ask yourself this, “Can I stop resenting my partner and focus on having a strong, loving relationship with the family I have now?”
If you want another child, and your partner doesn’t, and neither of you is willing to negotiate, it might be an easy decision. Sometimes, you might choose to find other ways to be fulfilled in your current life. Other times, it might be worth it to move on from that relationship if the number of children you want is a deal breaker for you. The most important thing, though, is to ensure that your partner knows what is important to you and you know what is important to them.
How to talk about having another baby?
So how exactly will you have that difficult conversation with your partner? After following the tips outlined above, here is how to broach the subject, the expectations you need to have, and what to do afterward:
- Determine why you want what you want. We touched on this a bit earlier. What’s your motivation for having the number of kids that you want? Is it because of your assumptions of what a family should look like, pressure from your parents, trying to “fix” your marriage, wanting more time and money for your current family, or some other reason? As you are honest about why you are pushing for what you want, also be caring about what your partner’s motives are.
- What are your assumptions or worries? What are you afraid of? Fear can make you make poor choices. Some common fears include the fear that no one will take care of you in your old age, the fear of getting into debt, the fear of losing your freedom, and so on. When talking about your fears, do not assume anyone’s perspective is correct. Instead, work through the underlying causes of that fear together.
- Listen to your partner. Be fully present as you talk to your partner, and focus on what they have to say. This will make them feel safe enough to open up to you. Suspend all judgment and try to believe that whatever your partner has to say is coming from a good place. Ask questions as well. If your partner is worried that another child might drain you financially, you can ask them something like, “Where would we need to be financially for you to be ready for another child?”
- Be united. You need to make this decision together. Avoid manipulation tactics or pushing your opinions on your partner. Decide to be OK with the decision you make as a couple. Be willing to compromise, and agree that you will go along with any decision you make together as a couple, even if neither of you is getting exactly what they want.
- Grieve or let your partner grieve. No matter what you decide, one or both of you will have to let go of a dream that you had of what a family should look like. They’ll need to go through a grieving process, and will need kindness, support, and compassion before they can finally accept it.
- Get professional help. If you find that you are dealing with depression or anxiety, or you and your partner are having to deal with a significant mental burden because of this issue, it might be wise to seek professional help by getting couples therapy.
Parenthood is a difficult thing for anyone. For some partners, it is something that they cannot see themselves doing all over again. If you are the partner who wants more kids, it might sound like an exciting thing. But to your partner who wants to stop, having more kids is terrifying.
Personally, I learned the hard way that avoiding the issue does not help. Even if the topic ignites negative emotions, it is good to talk about it. Avoiding that conversation only causes resentment to build while not solving a single thing.
So what can you do when the two of you have such contrasting opinions on this important life decision? Well, we hope that with the tips and tricks outlined here, you know where to start to work through this. Hopefully, no matter what you decide, you’ll both find that you are stronger in the end because you came to that decision together.
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