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Boyfriend doesn't want kids - I love him, my heart is breaking - should I leave him?

(234 Posts)
Nuttybiscuits Wed 09-Jan-13 15:14:10

I'm having a meltdown, I hope the lovely people of MN might be able to help me.

My wonderful, loving, gorgeous boyfriend of nearly 3 years doesn't want kids, and we are on the brink of splitting up over it.

A bit of background - He had a vasectomy when in a previous marriage. He has never wanted kids, and has never regretted his decision. Unfortunately, he didn't tell me this when we first met, and actually waited until we had been together over a year before he dropped this bombshell, despite me making it clear I wanted kids in the future.

At that time, he told me that he might be prepared to get it reversed, but needed a little time to think about it. That was a year and a half ago, and since then we have talked, argued, agreed to think about it on and off every few months. We have researched vasectomy reversal surgeons, and I have had to come to terms with the fact that we might be infertile forever (I'm 34 so we don't have a huge amount of time to get things sorted either). In the meantime, we have fallen completely in love, and have had a very happy time together. I can honestly say, I have never been so happy with a partner (apart from this very large problem), and having been through plenty of rubbish relationships, I really don't want to let this one go.

Crunch time has arrived - a few months ago, he told me he was ready to do it, thought he did want kids and would have the reversal operation in January. He saw his GP, and chose a surgeon. I begged him to get it booked so that we didn't argue about it over Christmas... but of course he didn't, and so the subject came up again. He completely melted down, said he didn't want to do it and that if that meant that we would have to split up then so be it.

We have spent the last 2 weeks evaluating our relationship, trying to decide what to do. We love each other, make each other so happy and want to have a future together. But he still doesn't want kids. We have faced the prospect of splitting up, but it makes me so sad to think about it, I basically refused to leave him when it came to it. He is trying to persuade himself to do it, realises what he stands to lose and occasionally thinks he might want kids, agrees that it could be lovely.. but then panics and says he really doesn't want to do it.

I have been trying to persuade him - he'd make a wonderful father, we are financially secure, no issues at all. We have a great life which would only get better with children. He is scared of the usual stuff - losing his freedom, having responsibility and thinks he might resent the child in years to come.

I have to decide whether I stay with him regardless and give up on my dream of ever having a family of my own (something I find very hard to contemplate), stay with him and hope he changes his mind once the pressure is off (difficult, would require a lot of strength and I'm struggling to be patient after 1.5 yrs), or leave the love of my life to take my chances that I might find someone else who wants a family with me.

I'm trying my best not to bring it up with him, to give him the space to think - but it's so hard to try and carry on a normal life when all the while I'm thinking that we could split up next week - hence me venting my thoughts on here I guess. What would you do in my situation?

penguinplease Wed 09-Jan-13 15:42:45

The thing is the hope he gave my friend misled her to believe if she waited long enough he would change his mind. The reality was that children didn't exist in his head for him with her.

When he met his now wife it felt right for him in a way it hadn't before and he is now one of the most doting dads I have ever seen.

For him to have had a vasectomy that is pretty definite.

He is the latest in a long line of rubbish relationships.

I would take a good and hard look at your own self and work out exactly why you are choosing such unsuitable men to be with, this man being just the latest. He has been dishonest with you from the start.

nickelbabe Wed 09-Jan-13 15:45:27

you have to decide one way or the other.

i spent 8 years with someone who didn't change his mind.

i left my ex when i was 33, moved in with DH and got married when i was 34. had dd when i was 36.

bbface Wed 09-Jan-13 15:45:39

My dh was exactly the same. Did not want children. I was 8 yrs younger than him, both worked in the City, high earners, lived a fab life. I knew I wanted children, but sort of thought that I would confront him about his views later on.

Then... I fell pregnant. Genuine mistake, I was floored. Told him, he reacted well, very well, but clear he was worried.

Turns out he is a frickin awesome father! And I am now expecting my second and, if Dh had his way, we would have three. He is naturally a very impatient quick thinking sharp man. With our son, he is the most patient, loving, caring father I could imagine.

I am absolutely NOT suggesting you 'accidentally' fall pregnant. Rather, I think that you should push. Really bloody push it.

Dahlen Wed 09-Jan-13 15:45:50

While it's possible you may never meet someone else and have children with them (though sperm donation or adoption is always an option), you've answered your own question by realising that resentment will kill your relationship anyway if you stay.

This isn't a compromise situation. Either you give in, he does or you split. Sorry. It's an awful situation to be in. I feel for you.

crispsarenotoneofyour5aday Wed 09-Jan-13 15:46:28

Sorry but I agree with the advice here to call it a day. My younger sister was in exactly this position - desperately in love with her partner who just didn't want the responsibility and said his love for her should be enough. I should point out that my sister always wanted children and made this clear. She left, having given an ultimatum, but then went back a few months later when he pleaded with her saying that he had changed his mind. Eighteen months later he was back to saying no and this time she left for good. Was absolutely devastated at the time but is now happily married with 3dcs. Mind you, we heard that her Ex had died recently and she was very upset to hear that he had never really managed to move on after her. My view is that he made his decision and the situation was his to command. He refused the possibility of a devoted wife by refusing to budge. Harsh, moi?

bbface Wed 09-Jan-13 15:48:03

Of course my post is based on the idea that you and he have a very good really relationship, which you say you do, and that you think he would make a good father.

Attalia's last post has thrown me somewhat though.

I left when in this situation.

PandaOnAPushBike Wed 09-Jan-13 15:49:26

Could you compromise? He gets the reversal done ASAP on agreement that it does not mean he is agreeing to actually having children, just leaving the door open. Plus all talk of children is dropped for a period of time, eg a year, to give him space to breath.

(And 15 years later he has no kids, I have 3)

Doingfine Wed 09-Jan-13 15:49:38

How sad your DP had a vasectomy before you met. I cant help wondering how it would have been if he had not had it or had it successfully reversed. Would he still not want a family? Relationship counselling could help you talk about each of your hopes & expectations for the future in a safe environment. if at the end there feels like there is no way forward together they can help you end the relationship in a positive way with both of you having futures to embrace. I get a sense of your future seeing really foggy right now. I don't agree its right to split with him now, but if you cant work through this together it doesnt bode well for any other life changing issues.

Nuttybiscuits Wed 09-Jan-13 15:49:41

Larry - it's nice to hear a man's perspective (I'm assuming everyone else on this thread is female, I might be wrong sorry!) and yes, going to the GP was a major step for him. But I think you're right - leaving will give him the kick up the bum he needs to either take the plunge, or accept it's over.

Attila I realise it might seem like I'm choosing rubbish men. My last long term relationship was with a total commitment phobe. He left me when he finally decided he'd never commit. This one was different - he has always told me he wanted to marry me, and we have just been incredibly happy from the word go. The kids thing was a total shock, and I did think "oh no, not again" but I feel that I was so completely in the dark on this one that I can't blame myself.

Or maybe I am just rubbish at picking men.. confused who knows!

CailinDana Wed 09-Jan-13 15:51:59

I wonder if your views are being clouded by your previous bad relationships? The reason I ask is because you keep saying how wonderful your relationship is and yet he withheld extremely important information from you, about the vasectomy, for over a year, and since then has strung you along and messed with your feelings in a really cruel way. That doesn't come across as a great relationship to me, it comes across as a relationship that probably has lovely moments but which is fundamentally flawed. In your shoes I wouldn't really trust him - I would wonder what else he could lie about.

Another anecdote for the sake of it - a friend of mine was with a guy who didn't want children and she convinced herself she was ok with it for 10 years before finally calling it a day. She was 38 at that stage but very luckily for her she met a great guy very quickly and within a year they were married and had a lovely daughter. She is still resentful of the years she spent with the guy as she felt she wasn't true to herself and even though the relationship was basically good, it wasn't what she really wanted and she hung in there because she felt she couldn't throw it away. I suspect that's the position you're in at the moment.

The fact is, the issue of having/not having children is a massive one, and does determine the success of relationship, no matter how good other things are. Ironically if you give up your dream of having children to stay in the relationship then that's probably what will kill the relationship in the long run. You will associate the loss of your dream with your DP which over the years will become harder to bear.

Pipsytwos Wed 09-Jan-13 15:54:25

I think he's been unfair and cruel. How heart braking for you. I think you need to leave. If you stay and sacrifice having your own family with him and then for whatever reason you broke up imagine that resentment! Even if you do stay together you'll probably resent him. I'm really sorry that you're going through this. It's an impossible situation that I don't think will end well if you stay with him sad

FreckledLeopard Wed 09-Jan-13 15:55:14

My cousin wasin this predicament. She had worked for years as a nanny, loved children, wanted them. She met her partner - they had a wonderful live, travelled the world (working as nanny, he was a scuba diving teacher), he adored her. But, she made it clear she wanted children. He couldn't bear to sacrifice his freedom and lifestyle.

So, in the end, she gave him an ultimatum. She took a job in another country for six months and left him on the other side of the world to decide what he wanted - to stay with her and therefore have a child, or to split up. At the end of the six months he decided he loved her so much that he would have a child. Their daughter is now six and he is a very good father.

If you do have the strength for something similar, then at least you'll know categorically what the deal is.

Nuttybiscuits Wed 09-Jan-13 15:57:15

bbface - we do have a lovely relationship, we both agree that we are the best thing to ever happen to each other. He has had a rubbish marriage, so he knows how crap things can be, and has always commented how good we are together.

Panda that compromise is something I have suggested (in desperation). I think the immediacy of it all has pushed him away. I have suggested that if he agrees to have it done, we can then wait until we're both ready to TTC like a normal couple. Because truth be told, I don't want a baby now - but I realise that the issue needs to be tackled now and can't be swept under the carpet for another year. In an ideal world, I'd be happy to wait a few more years for a baby - but that nasty biological clock together with the decreasing chance of his reversal working the longer we leave it makes it difficult.

Am in a somewhat similar position to you. Same age, have been with wonderful BF for 3 years. He is 'not sure' whether he wants kids. However, he has been absolutely open about this with me from day 1 (as have I been that I DO want kids), nor has he undertaken any such radical contraceptive measures as your BF.

I have a deadline in my head (it's actually looming pretty large...) and if he's not prepared to get onto the same page as me by then, I know I will have to put into practise my 'dealbreaker plan' and end it. No matter what the pain.

I'm afraid from what you've written your prospects of a family with this man don't look good at all. I know how hard it is to have to make this decision - sympathies.

This happened to a dear friend of mine....in the end they split and he went on and had a baby with his next partner very quickly, and then another. She in the meantime struggled because the relationship had used up most of her fertile years and ended up after years of struggle with one, much loved child, and regrets not having been able to have more.

So I wanted to say...this might just be a sign that he's just not that into you after all.

Hoŵever much you leave each other, this IS a deal breaker. Walk away now.

Weird ipad thing there...However

ChristmasFayrePhyllis Wed 09-Jan-13 16:03:14

Sorry but I think this is a no-go. To have actually had a vasectomy means that he definitely, definitely doesn't want children. Coupled with the fact he was happy with misleading you for a year about something so obviously important (a lie of omission is a lie), it does not augur well.

The um-ing and ah-ing that is going on now is about him realising that he is going to have to sacrifice something from a set-up which suits him. It is not about your best interests.

Leave him - and don't let him suck you into dragging the break-up process out.

spamm Wed 09-Jan-13 16:04:29

Try and imagine yourself in 10 years or 20 years time. Can you come to terms with the idea of not having children?

Obviously being with somebody does not guarantee that you will have children - there are many other factors. But being with somebody who does not want children certainly guarantees that it is highly unlikely to ever happen.

Two close friends are now suffering the results of this situation. He was clear that he did not want children, he was careful to never mislead her, but because he changed his mind about getting married, she thought he might change his mind about DCs. They are still married 16 years later, but she is very unhappy and drinks too much, and he is very conscious of how it makes her feel. I hope they get through this, as they are great together, but it is so sad to watch.

NotActuallyAMum Wed 09-Jan-13 16:08:08

I've only read the OP because I'm at work, no time to read the rest at the mo

Please let me tell you 'my story'

I met my DH when I was 33 and he was 36. He was divorced, had a child and had had a vasectomy. I was happily child free - had never wanted children and honestly believed I never would, but once he and I started getting close I realised that what I had actually meant over the years was that I had never wanted children with the abusive twat I used to live with

Cue the worst year of my life so far...

I told him I'd changed my mind, he made it clear he didn't want more children. It was such a traumatic time and I went to hell and back. You really do have my biggest sympathies OP. At one stage I couldn't watch adverts for nappies/baby food/prams etc. etc. without sobbing uncontrollably. Mother's Day that year was almost unbearable

I realised that I couldn't live like that, I had to make a decision: it was either him or children - I simply couldn't have both

After much soul searching and countless nights - weeks even - without sleep, I chose him

I'm now 41 and my life is FAB. We do what we want when we want, we don't have anyone else to worry about (well, family of course but that's not the same). We spend every weekend watching football and more football (heaven for both of us), we get pissed most Saturdays, we have sex a lie in almost every weekend morning, and every few weeks we decide at the last minute that we're going away for the weekend. We wouldn't be able to do most of that if we had had children

I'm not saying, of course, that this would happen to you. Just wanted to let you know that you can have a happy life without children, if that's what you decide you want to do

I wish you the very best of luck OP, I really do feel for you

dequoisagitil Wed 09-Jan-13 16:08:26

But he hasn't been straight with you from the off, about something so important. The relationship might be great in other ways, but this is such a massive thing to withhold for a year into it, not to mention all the farfing about for the next 18 months. This was really bad of him. And echoes your previous commitment-phobe. There's a big old lie of omission at the very heart of your relationship.

Consider it as a choice between him and having dc. I think you have to.

He couldn't make the jump to having the reversal and your chances of dc together are slipping away all the time while he dithers.

Nuttybiscuits Wed 09-Jan-13 16:08:42

by the way bbface I had read forums from people in a similar situation to yours, so I asked him "Imagine you'd never had the vasectomy, and I accidentally fell pregnant - how would you feel?". He said it would be fine, because we'd have to be, we would just get on with it.

So I know he would deal with it if it happened. The tragic thing is that most men only have to decide to agree to try, then the woman can stop birth control and let nature take its course. He has already got to that point - he has previously agreed that we would do it sometime in the future... but because of his (self inflicted) situation, he has to take much further action to make it happen. And he just can't make that desicion..

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Wed 09-Jan-13 16:09:30

Actually, are you sure that you want children? Really, really sure? The pressure on people to breed is intense anyway - and it shouldn't be. A natural, healthy balance is for some people to remain childfree while others have several children. Yet people who are determined that they don't want children are regularly nagged, asked rude questions by near-strangers and face a barrage of criticism for their 'selfishness' and 'immaturity'. Actually, it's far more selfish and immature just to breed because it's what other people do, only to find out too late that you are a rotten parent.

I am asking this because you a) have a track record of choosing men who don't want a committed relationship and to breed with you and b) after all the pressure you have put on your partner, you are still saying that you don't actually want DC yet. So I wonder if you are driven more by a wish to conform and do what's expected of you than from an actual desire to reproduce.

It's fine not to want children and to prefer a childfree life. Plenty of people remain childfree; some never produce their own genetic children but may, later on, foster or adopt. THe world is, after all, full of unwanted children in need of homes, and there is actually an argument to the effect that going through repeated medical intervention just to have a child or children that's genetically 'yours' is selfish in the extreme.

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