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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?

Finney2 Thu 03-Oct-13 23:15:08

What a lovely update. Good luck OP XX

wendle70 Thu 03-Oct-13 18:36:22

Ahh I am pleased that sounds great! Wishing you lots of luck and keep us posted. Also agree, the fact he went through with the op and you are TTC speaks volumes about what a great guy he is. Fantastic!

Nuttybiscuits Tue 01-Oct-13 17:04:58

Oh and I should add that I have come to terms with the possibility of it not working. We have a long road ahead of TTC and possibly ICSI if it doesn't work.

If that doesn't work, then I know we will have given everything we have to trying together, and at the end of the day I'm with a wonderful man who I love, and we have lots of great plans for our future with or without DCs.

Yes, being childless will break my heart. But I won't resent him if it comes to that - he has tried his very best and we are lucky to have found each other.

Sorry if that sounds puke-making....

Nuttybiscuits Tue 01-Oct-13 17:02:05

Hi Wendle!!

That is wonderful news, I'm so happy for you! I've been meaning to update this thread for a while, but was holding off...

My relationship with DP has gone from strength to strength. He had the vasectomy reversal operation, and although it's early days and we still don't know whether it was a success, we are currently TTC.

We are very happy, and he genuinely does want this. I too agree with posters who said that he would never change his mind. I didn't force his decision, it was his own to make, and we have never looked back. And he's a wonderful man, and would make a wonderful father if we are lucky enough for it to work for us.

I was holding off on updating as I wanted to end it with the happy news of a BFP or at least a positive result from her SA, but we haven't got there yet. I will be sure to let you know if we do smile

wendle70 Fri 27-Sep-13 18:45:46

Hello NuttyBiscuits...I was looking on Mumsnet as I am now pregnant and I was wondering whether your situation had improved. I do hope so. I updated my post but suffice to say time and some counselling worked for us and now I am pregnant and we're both v happy (though it is a little earlier than either of us were anticipating!) Such a difficult place for women to be in though..I guess there's no magic answer but I disagree with the men never change comments. Of course people can and do change. I guess a lot of it is to do with the reason behind the fears about kids in the first place though.

gettingeasiernow Sun 26-May-13 22:45:37

It's hard to see from where you are standing now, but the love you feel for a child would probably far outweigh the love you have for DP now. So even if, years from now, you reach the point where you go it alone, you'd probably feel okay, the heartbreak would be mended by the love for the child. Depends how much you want children. Obviously you may meet someone else and it may all work out.
I also see that if you stay, he may begrudgingly have the operation in a moment of "weakness", to buy time if you like, then there would be the wait to see if it's successful, then there may be years of reduced fertility but just enough to keep you hanging on, or he may suddenly find his libido gone because he feels pushed to something he's not really convinced about, that will erode his self confidence and in the end he'll go because the pressure's just all too much for him - I'm just saying if he's not sure, he'll probably never be sure and the future looks bleak.
I'm sorry but you just can't make him want what he doesn't want. It's a huge huge deal.

SugarPasteGreyhound Sun 26-May-13 22:06:44

Er isetan, try reading the whole thread before you climb up on your high horse hmm

stargirl04 Sun 26-May-13 11:58:06

OP, remember those books written by Greg Behrendt - "He's just not that into you" and "It's called a Break Up because it's broken"?

Can't remember which (I've read every self-help book going!) but in one of those he tackles this dilemma, and concludes that "not agreeing on kids is a biggie. Better to leave and find someone more compatible with your life goal", or something to that extent.

I know of five other couples who went through this exact dilemma - in all cases the woman wanted kids, the man didn't.

The first broke up with her bloke outright, and is now married to someone else with a much-loved DD. Their arguments about it created huge resentment and anger and brought the relationship to a head.

The second got pregnant by not taking her Pill and not telling DP, which she told me she was going to do "by accident". They married after he realised she was pregnant.

But after DD was born he was a terrible father, would not help with night wakings and early morning feeds etc and took little interest in the child. My friend was virtually a single mother and their relationship deteriorated to the point where she divorced him when their DD was still a toddler. Even now, he barely bothers to see his DD, which has caused my friend no end of heartache on her daughter's behalf. Life has been tough, and lonely, for my friend as a single mother with a young DD.

Ditto the third case, almost exactly. And post divorce, he can only be bothered seeing the child on his terms rather than on a regular basis.

(Both these blokes though were real losers.)

The fourth "persuaded" her reluctant DH to have children, got pregnant, had the baby but they split up when the child was a toddler.

The fifth was told by her partner when she got pregnant - "it's either me or that baby. I want you to have an abortion."

It was a very difficult decision for her because she told me that she was "besotted" with her DP. It took her a while to decide and she said it was a gradual decision, "like light coming under a door".

She chose to keep the child and they split up. She resigned herself to life as a single mum but shortly before she was due to give birth, DP got in touch and said "the three of them needed each other". They remained together until my friend sadly passed away (from cancer) a couple of years ago. Her son is now in his 20s.

I do know of another woman who resigned herself to her DP's wishes not to have children, married him and as far as I know, they are very happy.

I feel for you OP. I don't think you should try to persuade him. Either stay and truly accept that he doesn't want kids, or leave while you are still young enough so that you have a chance of realising your dream. But if you do leave, get a move on - or get your eggs frozen!

Isetan Sun 26-May-13 10:15:33


Take off the rose tinted specs, your so called perfect relationship was founded on a big lie. You are both being selfish, he for lying and half heartedly wavering and you for pressuring someone whose mind has been made up for a very long time.

If you really want children then this is the wrong relationship, leave now because you may not have time.

CC813 Sun 26-May-13 06:14:17

Hi Nuttybiscuits, I just came across your post and your story is almost identical to mine except I have not yet left but have official said its over. It's such a difficult situation to be in. My boyfriend of 2.5 years always assured me he wanted children but decided to tell me the week we were suppose to be engaged that he had been struggling with the decision and had decided that he didn't want children. It was crushing to say the least. We went to therapy and he wants to want kids, whatever the hell that means. It's exhausting and I've been a mess since (this was 3 months ago). I realized that he doesn't want children and he doesn't want to want them what he wants is me. He wants to have his cake and eat it too. It's just this crappiest situation to be in. I too like yourself have never had a better happier relationship but then again if I think about it I was lied to. As much as I try to make excuses I just can't. He knew all along, this is why it was taking so long to get engaged, to move house etc. I hope that you see this and I'd love to know how things ended up going for you and your partner. Hope to hear from you soon.

Nuttybiscuits Tue 29-Jan-13 00:40:54

Wendle I so feel for you - everything you've written is how I was feeling a few weeks ago. All I can say is that space worked for us, but everyone's different.

DP keeps surprising me with just how much he has changed his mind. He's still scared, but he's also looking forward to starting to try, says he doesn't want our lives to stay the same forever, he's looking forward to how our life will evolve as a family.... and that the reason he couldn't see any of this just a few weeks ago is that he had worked himself into a hole and couldn't see out of it.

I love that this thread has ended up with some really encouraging positive stories. Keep smiling.

I was the same as worsestershiresauce always made it clear I never wanted children. One failed marriage (not due to children issue) and I met the most lovely man when I was 35 and he was 32, he made it clear he always wanted children. So I sat down and had a long hard think and decided I loved him and I would give it a go. I wasn't getting any younger and I had a lovely life but felt lacking in something. I feel pregnant and was terrified, then lost the baby. I was so devastated it made me realise how much I really did want a baby. We now have DD who is 3.4 and the light of my life. No more babies though unfortunately, I am 43 this year and lost another one last year. But I am so thankful DH twisted my arm.

Chesntoots Sun 27-Jan-13 21:11:32

I have never wanted children and have made it very clear at the beginning of all my relationships. Maybe part of your confusion is that he lied to you at the start, let you fall in love with him and dropped the bombshell when it was too late to easily emotionally disengage from him. He has dragged his feet thereafter. If he had been honest at the start I doubt you would have got so involved and so the decision whether to leave or not would have been easier.
Sorry - that was a ramble! Hope it makes sense.

wendle70 Sun 27-Jan-13 16:33:33

Nuttybiscuits I am so happy to read that (and almost made me cry - man I must be hormonal)! I so hope it all works out for you smile

Things have progressed since I last that they have worsened. I can't seem to be able to put this issue to one side any longer (although I agree I wish I could give it a year more). We are both trying to find counsellors asap. This weekend has been ruined like the last by this issue.

I've spent today in tears not being able to understand if what I want is OK to want and the sensible thing is to cut my losses and leave (which breaks my heart like you said) or whether I am ruining my otherwise lovely relationship due to impatience. Awful. What I do know is that we can't carry on like this so miserable for another 18 months. I also know he needs space as do I probably. I think I need to suggest that.

He mentioned today how his sister got pregnant at age 40 after not wanting kids and how she didnt originally want to have the baby but then was talked around (and is now a very happy mum of two) - and how he appreciated things can change and may change in months/years from now. It's just such a risk for me to take coming up to 36 with the fertility results I have to just wait some more.

I think we both need a bit of space and calm thinking. xx

Nuttybiscuits Thu 24-Jan-13 22:14:31

Yup, he knows that he's on probation until I see those stitches wink

I feel so relieved to be able to get on with the rest of our lives now. Just hope I don't get obsessed with ttc ...

meditrina Thu 24-Jan-13 22:04:51

I'm wishing you luck.

But suggest you make it clear (if you can) that he's on probation IYSWIM until the op has actually taken place.

Nuttybiscuits Thu 24-Jan-13 22:00:24

Thank you, that really made me smile (and almost cry). There is a lot of (totally understandable) scepticism on this thread that he can change his mind and mean it. Your story proves it does happen, and I'm not a total mug for having faith in my DP. Thank you for posting.

Really happy for you, good luck with the baby

People can change their minds and mean it. I never wanted kids, ever. I knew that from a very young child. I explained to DH before we married that this was the case, and he accepted it. Only he didn't really, and spent years desperate for a family. After 13 years together I changed my mind. It was not a ruse to keep him happy, it was about me. I am due my first very soon, and believe me this baby is the most important and wonderful thing that has ever happened to me. Thank god I didn't leave it too late.

Good luck OP, I hope your future baby means as much to you both as mine means to me and my DH.

bestsonever Thu 24-Jan-13 16:24:19

He must have had strong reasons for having the V in the first place, so be careful. It really does take the shine off things when having a child with someone who really is not keen and just going along with it. Not all men get suddenly smitten, my son's F didn't and couldn't bond at all, he predicted quite rightly that he would be crap as a parent.

Nuttybiscuits Thu 24-Jan-13 16:07:33

I have seen his doctors letter proving he had the V - it was good news actually, as it turned out he had it 2 years later than he thought, so not as bad as I thought!

The VR appointment is a consultation and operation on the same day - only one appointment. But I'll be there to drive him home.

I think one of the clinchers for me, when he told me he had changed his mind - I asked him, if we split up, would you still want kids with someone else. He said yes. He really did turn a corner.

I hope to be posting on the pregnancy board soon too, but I'll probably be residing in the 'trying to conceive' threads for a while...

Nuttybiscuits Thu 24-Jan-13 16:01:28

Yes - I know the success rates of VR, and we are both prepared for a long TTC journey. DP is actually more optimistic on this than I am, but we are being realistic. His attitude though is that he wouldn't be putting himself through this if he thought it wouldn't work, and he is full of positivity about the whole thing. We have agreed that we will try IVF or ICSI if necessary, and he agrees that it is up to me how many cycles we try for.

What I'm doing is essentially agreeing to be with a man who, in all likelihood, will be at best sub-fertile. I can accept that, if we face it together and try for the best. We are looking forward to TTC for a year or so, before facing the next step if necessary.

His agreeing to the VR of course doesn't cancel out what he did before - but I have a choice here - do I hang on to negative feelings and bear a grudge, which will damage our relationship even more? Or do I put it behind me, accept that he was an idiot and made some bit mistakes, forgive him and get on with it? I have forgiven him, and feel confident that I'm doing the right thing. People have forgiven far worse - bearing a grudge won't help me or him.

As for talking about how our lives would change - yes of course, we talk about that every day! It's exciting, scary, daunting of course - but in that way we are no different to any other couple facing that for the first time. As for him being someone prepared to make sacrifices - yes, he did say himself that he was worried that he would resent giving things up. But I am 100% confident in his ability to be a good father, I have no doubt about that. It's true he didn't have a good father figure, and people can either follow in the bad example of their parents, or recognise their faults and do their best not to follow them. Plus he has a good relationship with his mother, and there are plenty of men out there who have had bad fathers who have gone on to become excellent parents. They're not all doomed to repeat the same mistakes.

Forgiveness and optimism - not blind misguided optimism, but careful considered positive thinking - are the aim here. I believe we are strong enough to pull it off, and if we aren't lucky enough to conceive, we are strong enough to deal with that.

MyHeadWasInTheSandNowNot Thu 24-Jan-13 15:41:46

I hope it all works out for you and you are posting on the pregnancy board before we know it smile

My own story along those lines didn't end so well. He's still not had kids though, 20 years later, and it was the right decision for us to separate, even though it was hard at the time.

I wouldn't move back in until he's had it done if it were me and I'd be going to his appointments just so I could be 100% sure he'd had a vasectomy in the first place and the reversal - or I'd always have that little niggle. 'Forgetting' you've had a vasectomy is just a little bit too odd for me to take on face value.

Good luck

FairPhyllis Thu 24-Jan-13 15:22:55


Are you comfortable with the fact that the vasectomy reversal may not work? It's very possible that it will not after such a long time. Will he be prepared to undergo IVF if it doesn't work? Or is he saying he'll do it in the knowledge it is unlikely to work?

Does him agreeing to the reversal cancel out the knowledge he thought it was fine to string you along and lie to you for a year?

Have you actually talked about how your lives would change as a result of having a child? Because the impression I have developed of him here is of someone who would resent making the sacrifices that you have to make if you are a parent. He doesn't personally have a good parental model from his own family either.

Nuttybiscuits Thu 24-Jan-13 14:48:04

Hi all - wanted to give you an update.

After posting this thread, the overwhelming support on here helped me to make up my mind to leave BF. It was heartbreaking for both of us. 4 days later, he came to me and told me that he could finally see things clearly. He loves me, doesn't want to lose me, and has realised that having a child would be lovely as well as scary. In his words, he was blinkered by all the pressure, and once the pressure went, he could finally see clearly. Ironically, he told me he had been reading internet forums (maybe here?!) and realised that all the fears he had about having a child were totally normal, and it really helped him realise that he was being silly.

We had lots more talking, with me wondering whether this was real, whether I could trust him this time. He really has turned a corner - and last night, he booked the vasectomy reversal. We are having it done in March, and he is really positive about it!

I still feel a little shell shocked from the whole thing, and struggle sometimes to trust the strength of our relationship - he let me leave, and that has shaken my faith in his love for me. BUT, leaving was the best thing I could have done. I have never really understood men's need for 'space to think' before - I always thought that it was better to talk things out. But I have seen that a little space can give time to reflect and think about things properly. It saved our relationship. I haven't moved back in with him yet, taking some time for myself and my family before I do. But I am thrilled to be able to look forward to TTCing 'like a normal couple' soon!

Wendle - I too was wary of 'ultimatums', and it really wasn't like that. We had talked this through for 18 months, and we both came to the agreement that if we stayed together, I would come to resent him in the long term if he never tried for a baby. So when I left, it wasn't a case of "do this or I'm leaving", it was more "You really can't do this, so we both agree that we have come to the end of the road". I didn't do it to shock him into action, as I really genuinely believed that he had made up his mind and there was no other option. Obviously I still had a glimmer of hope that he could change his mind, and in my case I was right. We still loved each other and couldn't let go. But I would strongly advise you to talk things through with your DP, and consider all options.

In your case, could you compromise and wait a year or so? He may feel very differently once the divorce is further behind him. Be careful not to threaten anything you aren't willing to see through, it will only undermine your argument in the long run. If he loves you, he will see sense. Good luck xx

And thank you MNers for all the advice and support! thanks

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 20-Jan-13 18:53:46

OP, I hope it went ok today.

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