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How do I tell my OH I don't want children?(117 Posts)
I am looking for some advice from others and especially those who have experienced similar to me as I am curious as to the outcome.
Basically, me and OH are just turning 28, been together 4 years and living together 2.5, friends since we met at Uni aged 18. I got pregnant 4 months into our relationship, and ended up having an early abortion as everything was wrong at the time- new relationship, living 200 miles apart at the time at other ends of country, but more importantly I was struggling with bulimia after recovering from anorexia some 4 years previous. The termination was the worst time of my life- and the 1.5 years after that when I became quite depressed and obsessed with baby names..I became very broody perverse enough, and always thought that one day, when the timing was just right we would have a family.
However, fast forward to today, I have a 2 year old nephew and 5 year old niece who I adore, but I do not think I want my own anymore. I just keep thinking about the lifestyle change and what my life would be like either way, and I see more negatives of having children than I do positives? I see myself happier without- I think. In part its to do with wanting to have freedom to do my own thing and earn my own money, I have never been very independant and struggled for money with low paid jobs, but I am due to graduate with a masters in December and I want a new life for myself. One where I can afford to treat myself to a nice moisturizer or theatre ticket when I want/need it, instead of waiting for a birthday to come round or my OH to treat me. I want a career. And I dont want to be an 'older' mum. I will be starting my career at 29 probably, and kids seem incompatible with that.
Also, with my history of eating disorders I cannot cope if I am unable to exercise. Atm I go to the gym 3 times a week, sometimes 4, sometimes 2 depending on uni deadlines. It kills me if I have 3 gym free days in a row- 2 is all I am comfortable with. Please dont tell me I need counselling- had that for 5.5 years with a consultant psychologist and I have reduced exercise from its worst at 5 hours a day, before and after every meal, to 3 times a week. I am ok with that.
But I want be ok at not doing that with children around.
I worked out that, to get my pre preg figure back I could exercize whilst new born was sleeping and should be back in shape within 12 months, but for the 2nd DC I would need the gap to be quite short so that the first will still be taking afternoon naps whilst I exercize in the lounge. See, its very important to me. But what happens when they are at school? They have to be up at 7am to get to school and me work- I cant go gym before then- and after work if I go to the gym by the time I'm home I will have missed out their evening meal and they will be in bed! Plus my relationship will suffer.
I am focusing on the exercise and weight as its so important to me and I cant change. I have had to miss the gym for numerous days lately and its made me wonder how I would cope with kids. I dont know if I could
Has anyone had experience of a. telling your oh you dont actually want children (oh really really wants them) and how did he react? and b. how on earth do you fit formal exercise into a daily routine with children? When I think about the future, all I can see is me being utterly miserable and trapped (oh, and fat to boot). Exercise helps with my mood, and I use it instead of anti-deps. Also with my weight as I now tend to overeat, especially when emotional or stressed.
Realise this is completely selfish and prepared for abuse, also not gone into much detail about OH which I will later, for now I have to shoot but thanks for listening xx
Springy, thank you for the OA suggestion, yes I have heard of it and maybe should take a look. I have books on similar topics which could help with that side.
I have seen so many different people over the years; private therapist, counsellor affiliated with a Women's charity, self-help groups, NHS professionals- Clinical Psychologist, family therapist and a Nutritionist. I do feel like I have a deep understanding. And yes your's and others suggestion that I am in denial does get my goat but I'm not going to bother defending myself, that wasnt the purpose of the post.
My OH knows I am ambivalent about having a child; and it isnt on the radar anytime soon, so I dont know why I think I need to decide either way when I dont. Logically, I can see the pro's and con's of each, and could be happy either way. OH has given up somewhat entertaining me with talk of babies, as I can be very fickle and change my mind. not in a superficial way, but with lots of things in life I'm a bit 'Phoebe from Friends'
The reason for my urgent original post was that I had read yet another DM news article about pregnancy and a few comments said that they regretted their children.. I panicked and thought, OMG I do not ever want to live with that regret, how do I tell OH if I did decide that? I think that when I am in one of my strong 'I dont want them' moods, it is very strong and maybe he doesnt realise how so, but then it dissipates and I perhaps warm to them again/positively want a child. So its hard swinging between the two- how does anyone ever decide which one for sure????
Erm, from your last post, this is your current OH? Are your concerns about not having DC at all, or not having them with him?
Thank you Bears, and I didnt take it as patronising. I guess this is what I am hoping for, to know for sure as I get older and in the meantime to have a career first. It just goes against what I envisioned regarding having a family (when I was younger-early twenties). I didnt want to start a family in my mid 30's, I wanted to stop by about 30 and be a youngish mum! Obvs that isnt going to happen, and I need to get my head around that but it wasnt right for that to happen either. I have to remind myself that, although I am 28, I probably lost about 3 years of my life to the ED, whether that be in bed depressed, with my head down the toilet, or chained to the gym. Now however, I am free of those things its opened up possibilities (and a heck of a lot more time!!!) so I feel like I want to extend my youth and live a little for me before DC.
I have mentioned not having them to OH, he doesnt know how he would feel.
If I have them, it will be with him
The point is - you don't ever get to decide 'for sure'. Life isn't like that. You do the best with the info you have at the time.
In my view, what makes life worth living are the connections you forge with other people as you live it. Children are an obvious way of forging a deep emotional bond with another human being, they can make you feel connected to the next generation, you can look forward to sharing their lives and experiences.
I do think some people have children because it is simply the 'next thing to do' and some people think it odd if you don't. Why I don't know, the world has more than enough children in it already.
But what ever you do, please don't be influenced or guided by stuff you read in newspapers or magazines. My own theory is that if you tend towards regret and bitterness, this will flavour your life whatever path you take, whereas if you can find joy and comfort around you in various things, no one life decision leads you down a path marked misery.
You don't have to have children to be happy or fulfilled, but it may be that it makes you happier. The problem with this decision however is that it does have a time limit - you can learn to drive whenever but you can't kid yourself that after 35 getting pregnant will just happen.
Re: money, I should also add, we have a kind of reverse situation, DP was a student when we met, so I earned £20k more than him, and there was no way I was having kids until we were financially secure! At 29, you have at least 5 years before you really need to make a decision, and a lot can change in that time. Honestly, at your age if someone told me in a few years I would be debating DC2 I would never have believed them, but I knew when it was right to have DC1 and have honestly never regretted a thing.
he insisted we split the bills 50:50 despite him earning 20k more than me a year (don't start me on this point, I will fume!) which essentially meant I had no spare money and all our leisure money had to come from him. This is not healthy.
This is the bit that worried me though. Is this still the case? What if you have DC and you want to cut your hours, do you think this will be an issue?
he insisted we split the bills 50:50 despite him earning 20k more than me a year
what do you think would happen if you had a baby and weren't earning? would he support you or insist you live off your savings?
this really doesn't sound good to me.
OP, can you resolve to think about it in a year?get started in your new career and see how that settles down with your life. You've been through a lot - have some breathing space. Tell OH you're not sure yet.
I wasn't sure at your age - but by 30 I was and now have two DCs.
OP, what you say about your OH making you pay half even though he was earning £20,000 more than you in very, very worrying. He loves you and wants a child with you, doesn't he? So why does he treat you so very badly? How could he enjoy having that extra money when he knew you were struggling? And you'd have to ask him to bail you out? There's a big difference between asking your parents for help and asking someone who's living with you.
If you did have a child together, how would that work financially? No wonder you worry about security and money. Would he then dole out money to you and ask you what you're spending it on?
You say you were spending 80% of your salary on rent and bills - what proportion was that of your OH's?
I have to tell you, from that piece of information alone, I think you'd be better off not having children with him or even staying with him.
If you don't want children, you don't want children. Full stop.
I'm sure you'd love a child and be a great mum if one came along. Blah blah blah.
Letting your partner know asap is the best step forward, it will be tough and there'll be tough choices to make. Having a baby to keep a relationship is never the best choice.
I know, it makes me too..
His reasoning was that its 'not fair' for us to do anything but split the bills 50:50, since we both live there and have an equal share of the house too (we are just renting atm). No matter how many times I tried to argue my point, and boy we really came to blows about it, he was steadfast and that was it. He also argued that he's on 'not that much more' than me when you take out the fact that he is paying back £500 per month to credit card debts and a loan from his Nan to buy his car years ago.. plus it takes a lot of petrol in his (3 litre) car, so all in all it was just a couple of hundred pound more per month. I dont know if I believe him. He is very irresponsible with money and just wastes it/buys extravagant things. I came home 6 months ago and he had bought a 52 inch TV for a grand. Now he wants a cordless hoover for £260. Its just ridicuous. He does treat me though, and bought me £200 worth of white stuff clothes last month as I have no clothes, plus he buys me special moisturiser for my eczema, and regular flowers for me because we like fresh flowers in the house. He will buy all my drinks when we go out, and picks up the tab at every meal out. So my outgoings other than bills dont have to be neccessarily high, as he's footing the bill, but I dont like it all the time. How do you explain to him that the rent money should be spilt proportionately? I think that is only fair, but he truly and honestly thinks it is completely unfair. It is infuriating. He is a very logical person also, he works in computer programming, and thinks in numbers and code, he's always working out the probability of things, how much %age time was lost stuck in traffic, how much each meal costs, etc etc. Our mutual friend, a Psychology graduate and now Assistant Head Teacher at the age of 27(!) jokes that he has Autistic tendencies. But actually, its not really a joke, he does have some sort of issue. He can be hard to live with, but so can I. We support each other in different ways, and my strengths make up for his weaknesses and vice versa. E.G When he needs to write a letter or birthday card, I do it, whereas he helps me with technical things!
He also said that, when we are married we will have a joint account everything goes into and we each can spend from, as thats what married couples do. Maybe he just has a rigid idea of how you manage money/life when you are just a couple compared to a married couple? He is extremely traditional in that regard, brought up in a village with rose tinted specs on the world (and children), and he is very rigid in his thinking. We went through a rocky patch a year ago and I decided that I had to empower myself so that I could support myself financially if I needed to, and wouldnt feel trapped in a relationship- hence I went back to Uni. I made the decision one weekend he was away, and when he came back I was telling him I wnted to do it, writing my letter of application, handing in my notice at work (before knowing if I got in uni) and 3 weeks later I was starting on the course, 200 miles away and lived on my own for 5 weeks before he could move up to join me. Because I had 'made the decision' on my own, and it hadnt been a joint decision, he decided that he wouldnt support me financially with the decision, though he eventually decided yes he would move up with me, we again spilt this house 50:50 despite me being a student who doesnt work. This means that my Dad foots my half of the rent, the bills, the groceries, everything. I did ensure that on the rental agreement, OH name is down for 100% of the rent, should it go belly up so my dad isnt legally responsible.
I understand the feeling of not wanting to trap yourself at home holding the baby when there are other things you still want to be able to do. As, let's face it, many men still do, relying on their wives to pick up the slack.
So I made very sure that dh was going to be hands on. I was happy to drop to part-time work, but dh did
more than his share of nights and baby-care and I could go out and do other things as much as he could.
As long as your OH is on board with sharing the load, parenthood is largely what you make it to be (barring ill-health I suppose).
And what you're leaving out of your imagined scenarios is the overwhelming love you will have for your child, which makes everything seem much less of a sacrifice.
But you certainly need to sort out the finance issues!
'When you're, say, 45 or 50 years old and someone asks you why you chose not to have children, what will you say to them? (People do ask, my friend is 51 and hasn't had children).'
My honest answer is always 'I just couldn't be arsed'. It sounds terrible- but like the OP I love love love the freedom of my life- and just don't have that 'thing' inside me that would enable me to be an unselfish parent. I work with children, and find them endlessly entertaining and loveable but am always glad to go home!
I like to think that through my work I have helped more children than I could have been by being an indifferent and resentful mother.
Lolly I think before thinking about kids, you need to work on your relationship.
Food issues aside, he seems very selfish financially, and although you've tried to rationalise and explain it, it doesn't make it okay. Your dad pays for your half of everything because he won't? That's terrible.
I wouldn't tie myself too him, personally, and I definitely wouldn't ever consider having children with someone with that mentality.
He sounds lovely and supportive in other ways, but if the finances aren't right, it won't last. You'll end up resenting him for keeping you in poverty because he thinks 50/50 is the only acceptable way, under any circumstances.
Just tell him you don't want kids, or that you do -when you have decided. Not much point discussing it till then.
"I am hoping that in a similar way I will 'know' when/if its the right time to have a baby and start a family, and not give in the peer pressure or family opinions. I can only hope that it wont be when its 'too late' for me, if I do decide thats what I want. And I think probably I will decide that. I would like to be persuaded to that view anyway."
So you DO want children??
It is fine to have them or not have them. You don't have to decide yet. You DO have to be honest with your OH about your thoughts on the matter.
I think I could be persuaded either way. A fence sitter... OH and hormones may pull me over the edge to one side, or future career/financial freedom may pull me the other way..
I guess its nice to try and seek opinions of those on both sides of the fence so to speak
P.S To those who mentioned about it not being 'normal' to think about exercizing when DC are here, I dont think theres anything wrong with trying to plan things, even if plans dont work out the way you want, at least you can aim for something and be flexible if it does change/doesnt happen. I like to organise my life, and the thought about DC 1 and DC2 naptimes came about just once, a couple of days ago laying in bed listening to the primary school children opposite our house at drop off time 8.30am I entertained myself by working out what time those people would have to get up, what happens if they are still at work when school finishes, wondered how late after school clubs run till, whether my work would be flexible and let me pick them up and whether I would prefer this or work normal time and OH get them (he works from home) Pondered it would prob be me getting up to get them ready for school and take them, worked back in time to when I had them and wondered what would work with getting figure back. My SIL didnt really get her figure back, and shes the only person close to me with kids so its made me think you have to make a conscious/concerted effort to do so.
Since you are blowing so hot and cold about the idea it would probably be better to wait.
The logistics of childcare can be complicated, but they are the details and infinitely less significant than the fact of another living human being.
if you can't make a decision, don't.
things very rarely stay the same. and the best way forward will become clearer.
although I am 28, I probably lost about 3 years of my life to the ED
You're still losing years, and may lose having children, as you bow before your ED.
I know I'm going in for the kill but read your OP. You spend an inordinate amount of time discussing the ins and outs of exercising after having children. YOu don't want children now because you won't be able to exercise and you can't cope with that. You know and I know that that is part of an ED. yy you've got it down from obsessively all week at every opportunity, but it's still there, still dictating your life choices.
If an alcoholic said they'd got their drinking down to only 3 times a week, instead of every possible opportunity, you'd recognise that the alcoholism wasn't sorted at all.
I am truly astonished that in your long line of various therapies, no-one suggested you get on with your recovery yourself - instead of having it 'fed' to you - by engaging yourself with the relevant 12-step programme.
Oh right, so then the only option is to not exercise at all springy? Unlike alcohol, exercise is actually good for you. I dont see how you could compare the two. I find your second post entirely insulting and I shall not be engaging with you any longer. You have absolutely no idea what level of recovery I personally took upon myself- which was a hell of a lot, thank you- and have no place telling me, or anyone how they should recover from an eating disorder. Unbelievable.
I think your main issue is wanting to control every aspect of your life OP , the thing about having kids is that sense of control goes completely out the window , I struggled with it in the early days but you soon just adjust to it and you accept that body/ finances / time etc aren't a given.
It's not bad just different and the good makes all the bad aspects of parenthood seem very minor.
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