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

(266 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?

NotActuallyAMum Wed 09-Jan-13 16:43:47

"how did you get past that urge to become a mother?"

Once I'd made my decision and I knew it would never happen it really wasn't that difficult, I told myself that I had decided it wasn't to be and that I must look forward, not back

thanks for you Nutty, I know how hard this is

Nuttybiscuits Wed 09-Jan-13 16:43:59

Yeah, maybe being a mother is more important to me. I don't know - I do love him, he does make me so happy... argh I dont know.

As for feeling outraged - yes of course I did at first, but I have honestly forgiven him, he made a mistake and I can accept that. What I was angry with him for was not the forgetting - it was the stringing me along for so long. That is harder to forgive. But to be honest, if he agreed to have the operation, I would forgive all of that in a heartbeat.

Kiriwawa Wed 09-Jan-13 16:46:34

If he genuinely forgot (which I doubt) or had put it entirely to the back of his mind so that it was in the 'not important' box, he really, really doesn't want kids.

He lied to you for a whole year. I spent my 30s with someone I didn't believe when he said he didn't want kids. I'm a single parent now but I was lucky I could conceive. I've seen many of my friends go through the heartbreak of fertility treatment (and as Hatpin says, that's likely to be what you're looking at anyway) and it's heartbreaking.

Only you know whether you want children more than you want him but I do believe that's the choice - I don't think you should stay with him if you want children.

sleepyhead Wed 09-Jan-13 16:48:40

This is probably way, way off.... but do you have any evidence he actually had a vasectomy? Because to "forget" about it when you enter into a new relationship and for it only to come up when you talk about children (rather than in a normal conversation about contraception - were you using condoms to protect against STIs originally?) just seems a bit unlikely...

CailinDana Wed 09-Jan-13 16:49:16

Nutty seriously, I think you need to look closely at your relationship in a more honest way. Do you seriously believe he forgot that someone cut open his penis, then later tested his sperm on two occasions? Seriously? Are you that naive?

He lied to you, then lied about lying, then strung you along and now you say he won't talk to you, because he's gone into his "cave". He sounds like a total dickhead and I worry that past relationships have made you accept bad treatment and believe you deserve it. He clearly thinks he can just piss you about and you'll take it.

Ragwort Wed 09-Jan-13 16:50:01

I'll give my point of view 'from the other side' - DH & I married in our 30s, I was very clear that I did not want children, and explained fully before we married, DH agreed and we had (mainly grin) a very happy 10 years - then DH changed his mind and said he really regretted not having a child and 'persuaded' me to have a child (I take full responsibility, I could have refused, I could have left him) - I sort of hoped assumed it just wouldn't happen as I was early 40s however I did have a DC when I was 43.

It has not been easy, of course our DC is a delight and we love him very much but it is not the life I would have chosen - DH is a wonderful father and is clearly happy but yes, I do have regrets sad - and nothing to do with money but just lost opportunities.

So my advice to anyone else would be, if having a child is so important to you, then leave and make that your priorty.

Nuttybiscuits Wed 09-Jan-13 16:52:37

Hatpin - Yes, the potential for failure and what that would mean is another thing that adds pressure. Because we know that if we go down the route of VR, it could be a very long and difficult road. That is why he says if he decides to do it he wants to be 100% committed to it rather than just having a reversal and seeing what happens. We know that we could face years of disappointment and difficulty, so we have to be 100% on the same page on that.

LeChat as for practising with other kids - yes I have 2 wonderful nephews who I adore. He likes them, and enjoys being around them. We have even had them for a few sleepovers. To be honest, what bothers him isnt the kids, it's the parents - he looks at them, how stressed they are, how they just bicker and don't have time for anything and that is what puts him off. I try to tell him that we would deal with it in our own way, but how do I know what it would be like?

It really comes down to how much you want children. If you long for them, if the thought of never having them leaves you distraught, if you know that you would regret not at least trying for them, then you have to separate. If you can put the longing aside, and he can be enough, then stay with him and put the idea to bed. Only you know which is preferable.

AmandaPayne Wed 09-Jan-13 16:55:19

Ok, I'm normally fairly reluctant to judge. But he told you he forgot a vasectomy? He didn't. He lied. Lied horribly to you. Repeatedly. Every time he saw you taking a pill and didn't tell you he lied.

Probably he lied out of fear, because he knew he didn't want kids and you did. So he buried his head in the sand and hoped it would go away. Maybe he lied for another reason. Either way, he lied. Deliberately and repeatedly, by omission.

I would leave. Even if he agrees to try, you may have a long road ahead of you, as has been said. You would both have to really want it for that to be possible.

I think it is possible to decide to choose a relationship over having kids, but it is a very difficult call. I know a man who did it 30 years ago and there is still an obvious hole in his life.

dequoisagitil Wed 09-Jan-13 16:56:20

I lean towards CailinDana's interpretation of his behaviour. I think you're too eager to forgive some extreme lies.

Nuttybiscuits Wed 09-Jan-13 17:01:35

sleepyhead I did delude myself with that thought for a while - his GP has promised to find his file to show how it was done for the VR surgeon.. but I have to believe it happened...

Kiriwawa I think the 'not important box' is more likely, it has just never been an issue for him.

CailinDana I know how ridiculous it sounds, and I would be saying exactly what you're saying right now if I was reading this. I know. When I say he's 'gone into his cave' I don't mean he's not talking to me - on the contrary, we're getting along just fine. I mean that he is reluctant to talk about this issue, and clams up whenever I bring it up, and starts to panic.

Bleurgh - sometimes I do wish I could be just like NotActuallyaMum and just get on with my life. I must admit, when contemplating starting the whole TTC / IVF scariness that we would have to go through if we agree to do this - I do feel a slight panic and wonder about all the foreign travel I have yet to do, and perhaps I could fill my life sufficiently to not get too upset about it....

LeChatRouge Wed 09-Jan-13 17:03:05

You know people are all different. What some people would NOT put up with at ALL, you have been able to live with, and that's ok.

Not one person embarking on the journey of parenthood knows what's in store for them. You dont know what it will be like....^but neither does he^. He is projecting the future based on something, his childhood experiences maybe? His observation of other parents? How he imagines it will be.

If he is as keen as you are on saving your relationship, would he consider having some therapy to explore his deep rooted fears? They are coming from somewhere and may be something that could be addressed with sensitivity and patience. At least then, you would maybe feel like you had tried everything.

Chipping in with vasectomy reversal experience here... my DH had his vasectomy, and then (for reasons I won't go into) had it reversed only 18 months later. However it still didn't work... best chance of success is when it is done sooner rather than many years later, but it didn't work. His brother also had a reversal when he remarried but his was over ten years since the vasectomy and that also failed.
Sometimes reversals DO work but the surgeons make it VERY clear that it is as likely to fail as succeed, and even if your dp did have it done it might not give you the baby you long forsad

dequoisagitil Wed 09-Jan-13 17:05:52

Yes, but by shutting you out, refusing to discuss and being 'panicky', he's also opting out and expecting you to keep hanging on. So he's keeping you busy worrying about his emotions, not your own future.

You didn't want to tell us about his 'forgetfulness', because you know it doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

Nuttybiscuits Wed 09-Jan-13 17:05:53

Thank you all for your advice - it really is helping, both the good and bad stories. It just helps to 'talk'

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 09-Jan-13 17:07:12

You have not necessarily failed by he has failed you from the beginning by not being fully honest about his desire not to have children. Having a vasectomy at 25 is quite definate an intention, I would not fully believe him either when he says that he forget he had a vasectomy!.

You are his partner, does he want to marry you or does he want you to remain as boyfriend and girlfriend?.

Think he has strung you along throughout and this time you have ended up with another commitment phobic man, this one this time does not want children. Perhaps this is actually why his first marriage broke up., you perhaps only have his word for it that his wife did not want children or that the pill disagreed with her.

I would certainly reassess your whole approach to relationships, I think you have learnt a lot of damaging stuff along the way that needs unlearning.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 09-Jan-13 17:09:51

Also he had the vas op done 14 years ago; a reversal if that did happen is highly unlikely to work now.

bringbacksideburns Wed 09-Jan-13 17:10:32

I don't think you can just 'forget' you had a vasectomy. He also made the decision to wait a year to tell you, when he could have told you so much earlier, when it would have been far less emotional. It seems like he is the one in charge of the pack of cards here.

The fact he is really struggling with the idea of having the OP reversed, that he had done at such an incredibly young age, makes me think this is never going to happen. I had a friend who already had a child from his first marriage and had the OP reversed because they were desperate for kids in his second marriage. They tried for years but never had any children.
So it's not like even if he went ahead and had it done there's a guarantee you'd get pregnant. He seems to be finding it hard to even reach that compromise with you.

It's an incredibly hard decision to make OP. Either way.

CailinDana Wed 09-Jan-13 17:13:38

I'm sorry to harp on, but you are making so many excuses for him and I really wonder why. You say he will talk to you, but not about this one issue that is so incredibly important to you. Do you not see how unfair that is?

Nuttybiscuits Wed 09-Jan-13 17:13:56

LeChat yes he is projecting, and imagining the worst. Occasionally he imagines the nice stuff, but then gets scared again. I try to help him imagine the nice stuff, but it's exhausting. A while back, we went away with some friends with older kids, and it really opened his eyes as to how good it could be. He actually said if he could have one like that (our friends 10 year old), he would - I really don't think he has much imagination and just sees frazzled parents of babies and thinks "yeuch"

Medusa - Yeah, I know the chances aren't good, especially since it has been 12 years since his original V. We did consider going straight for ICSI, but he wanted to try the natural way first (but obviously has changed his mind again!). It could still be an option.. but he said he didn't want to put me through that since it was all his doing....

dequoisagitil Yeah, you're right. By not talking, he's forcing me into this limbo. I know it's a crappy way to behave. And yeah, I know the forgetting sounds so ridiculous I don't blame anyone for being incredulous - believe me, I've had plenty of people in RL tell me the same! But he's a good good man, I love and trust him. I can't expect anyone else to have the same faith I do.

JustFabulous Wed 09-Jan-13 17:17:59

Dealbreaker for me too.

The fact he kept it from you for a year despite knowing you wanted children is just plain indefensible imo. The offering to get it reversed was just something to say to keep you hanging imo.

I am sorry for you.

There is other men out there for you who won't lie, deceive or break your heart and who will want children but if you stay with your current boyfriend there will be no children.

I also find the comment about so be it if we have to split over it to be very blackmailery.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 09-Jan-13 17:19:35

Hello Op

All I can say is both dh and I were adamant we didn't want any kids. We both had careers that were incompatable unless we hardly saw them.

We ended up with 3 and dh is a fantastic father. So I don't think you both need to want kids at all let alone 100%

However, if I had wanted dc and he didn't / reverse/ I don't think it would be possible to continue the relationship, no matter how much we loved one another.

He kept it quiet for a year, he doesn't want children. You have to let go and find somebody who does. This is not an insignificant part of a persons belief you can compromise on. You will never be happy or feel fullfilled.

I am really sorry for you, but there is some very good advice on here. I wish you luck, best wishes and a huge hug.

ledkr Wed 09-Jan-13 17:21:04

Think you have to leave tbh. My cousin married a girl who didn't want kids he put his desire to one side but they broke up a few years ago.
He is now with his new wife and they are pregnant and delighted.
His x wife is equally happy with new guy and they have no children.
I think his desire not to have kids is a strong as yours to have them so there really is no middle ground.
Do you really want a child with someone who resents every night feed or shitty nappy?

Nuttybiscuits Wed 09-Jan-13 17:22:14

CailinDana it's ok, I understand why you are saying what you're saying. Yes I can see how unfair it is - I guess i'm just scared to push the issue too much for fear of creating an argument and the whole thing crashing down around us.

I suppose I'm treading on eggshells around him, hoping he will come round to the right decision.

And yes, I have learnt bad relationship habits I guess - I had an extremely commitment phobic ex (Still had clothes in a bin bag after years of living with me, and a full set of kitchen utensils packed in a box at his mothers which he never moved in to my house, ready for when he finally walked out... oh the stories are endless!) and I pushed and pushed him to talk about commitment until he finally walked (which was of course, the best thing he ever did). So yeah, I suppose since then I have been extremely scared of pushing for commitment of any kind.

NotMostPeople Wed 09-Jan-13 17:22:37

I would say that you have two options either decide it's over and walk or go for a trial separation. I had to leave my exH because he didn't want children (and yes a few years later he had some with wife No2). If the relationship is right then it should all fall into place, but it's not is it?

He kept this a secret from you, that in itself is not an indication of a good person nor is the way he's behaved recently. Even if you do persuade him he is going to throw it back at you when you are exhausted with a new baby, when you can't go on the sort of holidays you used to etc etc. Trust me having a baby is hard on a relationship, it has to be something you are both absolutely sure of.

I'd walk away, it may be that he realises what he's lost but if that does happen it needs to be totally his decision not influenced by you begging.

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