Dealing with a Partner that Doesn’t want Another Baby
One of the things people often discuss while dating is if they want to have children, how many, and how close together. You may have entered into one pregnancy with a firm idea of how the rest of your life would play out after, but once the baby arrives people’s feelings can change. A partner that was up for 3 kids may suddenly want to stop at one. It can be jarring and the fall out from the change can make partners feel disconnected.
Baby fever is common and it comes on strong. Even after you’ve had one baby, the drive to have another can show up unexpectedly and linger for a long time. It’s likely that you had a discussion with your partner about how many children you both wanted and how far apart you wanted to space them, but then when the reality of a baby sets in and minds can change.
What do you do when you are ready and willing to have another baby but your partner isn’t keen on the idea?
Starting the conversation
If you’ve already broached the subject and gotten a negative response, it’s worthwhile to hang back a bit and figure out your position before bringing it up again. Why do you feel now is a good time to have another baby? What makes you want another? What changes do you see that need to be made? How will your current life accommodate a new child? Answering these questions for yourself is key before bringing up a new baby as your partner will probably wonder and coming in without answers can just cause more tension.
Once you’re squared away with the who, what, when, and how, make sure you’re bringing it up in a neutral tone during a time of low stress. There is no reason this discussion has to be fraught with emotion from the start. Give your partner ample warning so they can get into a headspace where the productive conversation is possible. If it starts to seem more like an argument than a discussion set it aside for a while. Emotions run deep and you don’t want to have a lot of negativity floating around the subject.
Be sure to listen and affirm your partner’s feelings, even if you have a counterpoint it’s good to make sure they know that you are listening and you understand where they’re coming from. You can learn a lot about people just by letting them talk and you may learn that your assumptions about their feelings were wrong.
Finding the sticking point
It’s important to remember that a growing family affects everyone differently and you can’t assume that you know the reasons your partner doesn’t want another baby so you’ll have to ask. Are they afraid about not having enough time? Is money a concern? Did the change from the first baby affect them in such a way that they are unsure if they can handle it again? Carefully listening and affirming your partner’s feelings can go a long way towards finding out where they are coming from.
When no means wait
Some problems may solve themselves over time, and waiting can be a solution. If, for example, your partner doesn’t feel that they’ve had time to adjust to the new parenting gig waiting a year or two might help them feel better and more capable. Socking away extra money to get a better-funded emergency fund and savings might just be the forward motion your partner needs to feel more secure. One couple might be waiting until things calm down at work if reductions in force have been discussed, while another might be waiting for one partner to finish a degree or get a better job.
There are so many variables that can come into play that setting goals and reapproaching the discussion after they are met can be a great affirming way to move forward. Ask your partner what they feel is missing or what can be changed to make them feel more secure about having another baby and then create a plan together to get there.
When no means no
One of the most popular things people suggest to long-term couples is to learn to compromise. Meeting your partner in the middle can work for many problems in a relationship, but when it comes time to have another baby compromise can seem impossible. You either have a baby or you don’t right? There’s no middle ground. This can make a disagreement in this area especially difficult as you may feel the disagreement is distancing yourself from your partner. If you are 100% on board to have another child and they are 100% not it can be painful.
If you’ve already had the conversation, you understand their position and waiting won’t change the situation or their mind, it can feel like you are trapped. Counseling can be helpful but it is important to respect your partner’s feelings. Don’t look at counseling as a way to further badger your partner into a baby they aren’t ready for, look at it as a way to heal the rift caused by this disagreement.
Learning to adapt
Deciding whether or not to have children and when and why is one of the biggest conflicts you may encounter in a marriage, and even though you might have been on the same page in the past, experiences and feelings can change opinions on the subject.
Remember that you are in this relationship because you love each other and while you may want another baby now, it is important to keep the family you do have as stable as possible. The more you push your partner the more they will pull away, so learning to cope with your own feelings on the subject and how to express them in a non-threatening way is important.
Throughout your relationship there will be many disagreements and learning how to navigate them without anyone feeling cheated, shamed, or forced to comply is an important skill. It doesn’t always come easy though, so don’t be afraid to apologize, take a while to recover, and then listen more. Make sure you speak up for yourself but when you do, try to keep your partner’s feelings in mind.