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Is our relationship strong enough?

(73 Posts)
ganford Thu 28-Nov-13 13:06:25

Hello everyone

I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this so please do point me in the right direction if not.

I am desperate to have a baby, my husband is not. We are fairly comfortable financially and both have good careers. We are healthy and in our early 30s. We have a very sharing relationship and both do our bit around the house. I love the thought of bringing a little version of 'us' into the world and sharing all the excitement/challenges/joy that would entail.

But my husband isn't committing to anything. When I first brought up the subject he said he really wanted a baby but that we couldn't afford it. I then saved up £3000, which I think is plenty to get started with. When I brought up the subject again, showing how our financial situation had changed he said 'I'm not sure our relationship is strong enough'. Now, in a way I think this is very responsible of him. Yes, of course a relationship should be strong before you have a child. But I thought it was. We have moved country twice in three years with our careers. We once bought a house, moved country and both started new jobs within three months. Those things are all stressful and we got through them. It wasn't easy but we did it.

The last thing I want to do is bully/manipulate him. I can go for months without mentioning anything baby related, even though it is on my mind constantly. But we are now at the stage where most nights I silently cry myself to sleep. In the evenings I say I am going to the gym when really I get there, sit in the car, and sob my eyes out. On the rare occasion I do break down in front of him, he just stares at me and does nothing. Sometimes I try to have a calm, adult conversation about his fears/worries/concerns and politely ask how he thinks our relationship could be stronger. But he offers nothing concrete and it makes me scream inside. Now I think the baby issue is undermining the relationship and we are in a catch 22.

How can I get him to open up? Am I being a mug? Is he just coming up with excuses? How do you know if your relationship is strong enough? Is it unreasonable of me to ask for some sort of timeframe for when he might be ready? Does the phrase 'our relationship isn't strong enough' actually mean he doesn't know if he loves me enough? How can he watch me be so deeply unhappy and do nothing?

Sorry this post is so long, I desperately needed to get it off my chest.

Thank you

This does sound like a stalling tactic to me. Has he answered your question about how your relationship could be stronger?

SandyDilbert Thu 28-Nov-13 13:11:57

I think he is avoiding the issue by not talking about it - sadly I don't think he wants a baby but for some reason won't tell you that. I find it heartbreaking that you get so upset and he either doesn't know or doesn't comfort you at all.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 28-Nov-13 13:12:27

I think he's being really cruel. Quite honestly if your relationship isn't strong enough for a child, what's the point of being together? Early thirties you're hardly spring chickens.

monniemae Thu 28-Nov-13 13:14:01

Didn't want to read and run; I was in a very similar position to you a while back, at the same age. I tortured myself trying to predict the future - should I gamble and leave, or gamble and stay. I did stay, and in the end we did manage to have sensible conversations in which I got him to commit to having a baby one day, followed eventually by a timeline I was happy with.

I knew, and explained to him, that it was him I wanted (rather than him for sake if having a baby); but I would walk away if he wasn't going to have children with me because longterm I felt that would destroy us / how I felt about him.

We now have a 2month old baby, which is great. But it was a very big risk I took, waiting for him. My friends thought I was crazy. I certainly have to face more stress if I want a second! Only you can decide if he will eventually choose to commit to parenting - and if he's worth it. There's an argument to be had about whether someone who is so far apart from you in what you want currently will be right longterm.

Fwiw I don't think they have any clue how much this can eat away at you. My partner still doesnt get it.

HawtChocolate Thu 28-Nov-13 13:15:41

You arent youngsters. You are a woman in your thirties who wants a baby. And your long term partner wont even discuss it in an adult manner? It doesnt bode well.

Is this a dealbreaker for you? It would be for me. I cannot see what you have to lose if you were to sit him down and say calmly that the time has come for yot to discuss having a child, properly, honestly and with time frames. If he cannot do that...what is the basis of the relationship? No meeting of minds...no honesty...poor communication.

I would move on...

digerd Thu 28-Nov-13 13:19:55

He said he didn't think your relationship was strong enough? hmm.
Ask him what he means by that.

Twinklestein Thu 28-Nov-13 13:29:51

I would ask him to answer the following questions honestly:

1) Whether he ever wants to have kids.
2) What he means by your relationship not being 'strong enough'. Is he considering leaving it?

If he does want to have kids then he needs to show it by ttc soon, otherwise, you may consider leaving the relationship to find someone who does.

I would beware of him reluctantly consenting to kids to avoid a split though, because if he's not 100% committed he may throw that back in your face at the slightest hardship. "I never wanted one anyway!"

ganford Thu 28-Nov-13 13:38:00

Oh you're all so lovely, thank you. This is just what I needed. He hasn't satisfactorily answered the question, 'how can we make our relationship stronger?'. When I ask he says vague things like 'I want us to communicate more', which frankly I find unbelievable. We eat breakfast and dinner together every night without distractions and have long conversations. But when I try to talk about feelings, our future or anything else of substance he just blabbers on about things that are in the news and boring work stuff. I don't call that communicating. In fact I find it deathly boring - we both work in politics, I'm sick of the blooming news! Once he said he wanted us to enjoy more time as a couple, but as you have all pointed out our biological clocks are ticking. We have been together for 5 years now, which is quite a lot of 'couple time' in my opinion.
In terms of deal breaking, it's very hard to say. I do love him and he is a very kind and generous man in many ways- just this morning he phoned to say he has made a donation to a local charity for Christmas. I find it hard to imagine life without him. But I find the thought of life without a child even more unbearable. But of course if leave him there's no guarantee that will happen.....

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 28-Nov-13 13:42:57

There aren't many good outcomes to this. Ideally, he'd retract the statement and agree to children enthusiastically. Or you stay together and you always feel resentful. Or you split up and meet someone new to have children with. Or you split up and never have children.

It sounds to me that maybe you communicate too much. All head and no heart IYKWIM? Very few children would come into the world if people debated all the pros and cons. It's an emotional decision. Giving money to a charity is not an emotional decision.

bellablot Thu 28-Nov-13 13:49:47

Could he be gay? Does he fulfil your emotional needs? Do you enjoy a healthy sex life?

CailinDana Thu 28-Nov-13 13:52:41

You need to resolve this urgently or face the likelihood that your relationship will be damaged beyond repair. Carrying on as you are now, with you so deeply upset and him sticking his head in the sand is a recipe for massive resentment. You need to sit him down and say you are going to talk about the children situation and he needs to listen and respond honestly. He has to at least give you a realistic timeframe. Lame ass rubbish about communication is not good enough.
Did you discuss this before you got married?

ganford Thu 28-Nov-13 13:53:57

You are so right, it is an emotional decision and his heart has to be in it, otherwise resentment will certainly kick in further down the line. Funnily enough I once said that we talk too much, that we are too sensible and practical, and he didn't react at all. I am definitely the emotional one in the relationship and he does struggle to express himself.

I think I will have to have one more shot along the lines of twinklestein's post and go from there. I can't carry on being this miserable all the time and if he really doesn't want kids it's not going to be fair on either of us in the long run. It is just so frustrating because in the past he said on many occasions that he wants kids, just not when! Maybe he has been lying. Maybe he did't want to lose me. Maybe he has changed his mind. Sigh.

MerryMarigold Thu 28-Nov-13 13:58:57

I think it's fairly simple. He doesn't feel ready, but is either not able to say this or is unaware of it. He sounds fairly emotionally detached.

It is very important to you, and he needs to know. I would set aside a time to chat. Tell him how it's affecting you. All the tears etc. My dsis went through this for many years with her dh, lots of long conversations and tears and heartache, and in the end (after 10 years of marriage) they had a child. He refuses more. There were times she thought of leaving, but stayed committed to him.

It's not easy at all. But he needs to face up to this issue and deal with it, and I'm afraid you're the only person who can show him how important it is to you.

FluffyJumper Thu 28-Nov-13 14:07:11

I would take 'our relationship isn't strong enough' to mean exactly that. He doesn't love you enough, or he doesn't see things going the distance with you.

You don't seem concerned about that. You only seem concerned about what impact it will have on his desire to have a baby.

That kind of makes it look like he is right.

ganford Thu 28-Nov-13 14:11:15

I don't think he is gay judging by the porn I've stumbled across! Our sex life used to be healthy but I find sex generally quite uncomfortable (physically) and even had a laparoscopy to see if I had endometriosis a few years ago. I did't but still haven't got to the bottom of the problem. It has been the same with all my partners. Husband has been very sensitive and understanding about it throughout our relationship. Needless to say our sex life hasn't been great since this baby issue started eating me up. I find it hard to be physical with someone who isn't on the same emotional page as me.

As for emotional needs, well yes, except for this massive one which really is my only need right now!

Merry marigold, it think you are spot on. Thanks.

MerryMarigold Thu 28-Nov-13 14:14:26

Ganford. I am similar in terms of pain. I have found lubricant to be my best friend. HTH.

ganford Thu 28-Nov-13 14:18:21

Fluffy jumper - no this terrifies me! It breaks my heart to think he doesn't love me as much anymore. But without any clear idea of what specifically is wrong I find it hard to know how to go about fixing it. Or if he simply doesn't love me anymore then I think he needs to be honest and say so. But really everything seemed fine until I mentioned babies, which is why I'm so confused!

ganford Thu 28-Nov-13 14:19:42

Yep, lubricant is the only way!

FluffyJumper Thu 28-Nov-13 14:34:47

But he has said so!

I don't see why you would interpret 'our relationship isn't strong enough', as 'I'm not ready for a baby but I might be in the future'. Surely it means 'our relationship isn't strong enough.' confused

TheAwfulDaughter Thu 28-Nov-13 14:44:58

Have you let him know about the trajectory of a woman's fertility?

Surprising how many men think they can stall until 43 and conceiving will be as easy as when you were 21.

Worth mentioning. But the 'not strong enough' comment is worrying.

ganford Thu 28-Nov-13 14:46:23

I think I see what you mean. It's just he has only ever used the phrase in baby discussions. The rest of the time he is all 'I love you, let me take you out for dinner, you're beautiful, you're the only person who makes me happy' etc etc. I suppose I find it quite inconsistent. We don't fight about anything else. We laugh and have fun (when I put thoughts out of my mind). I just don't see what's wrong.

TheAwfulDaughter Thu 28-Nov-13 14:49:14

The only way this can go is if you tell him that you want to start TTC now or you are leaving to find someone who wants the same things as you. He either agrees- or he doesn't. If he doesn't, well...that's it really.

A wealth of women will emerge who were in your situation and met the father of their children within a year or two of leaving.

MadBusLady Thu 28-Nov-13 14:52:55

I had the same thought as FluffyJumper, that line would have devastated me irrespective of the children issue. He married you while being less than convinced about the strength of the relationship? So where does he draw the line? Illness? Financial problems? Redundancy? Any/all of those might crop up in the average marriage, and not all marriages survive them, but it seems a bit pointless to doubt you can handle life's challenges together from the outset. You're seeing it as a stalling technique, well, maybe it is, but it's also a bit of a hand grenade under the whole thing isn't it? I think you probably need to get a bit angrier about this than you are.

When you say he has difficulty expressing himself... Are you sure he actually wants to express himself emotionally, or are you reading an intention into his behaviour that isn't there at all? Is that becoming a convenient cover-all for behaviour that just isn't very nice? If I broke down into tears I would find it very cold and odd to have a partner just standing and staring at me. You can be pretty emotionally cack-handed and still spontaneously attempt some clumsy response to the person you're supposed to love being upset.

Twinklestein Thu 28-Nov-13 14:57:01

I do love him and he is a very kind and generous man in many ways- just this morning he phoned to say he has made a donation to a local charity for Christmas

I'm sure he's generous and he may be great with fluffy animals, but he is not being kind to you.

I've seen two guys, one a friend, one my cousin, both highly intelligent, highly educated, nice, kind, generous men, waste the fertile years of two women while they 'made up their mind about kids'. The women are no longer able to have kids, while both guys both went on to get married & have kids with other women. Don't let this be you.

If your husband had real integrity he would see that he is wasting your childbearing years and say either: 'I don't want kids right now, but I don't want you to end up without, so we need to end this', or:
'I'd rather wait a few years but I'll man up & get on with it now.'

Everyone is right he is simply stalling. Whatever criteria you need to fulfil, he will simply move the goalposts when you achieve it.

I do not think you should hide your distress, he should not be protected from the consequences of his approach. You need to tell him exactly how unhappy you are and how much time you spend crying, and if he doesn't get a grip you're off.

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