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

(265 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?

twoyearsandcounting Sat 12-Jan-13 18:58:21

If you stay together one of you Will be in a situation you resent. I agree with so many of the things people have said here that it's pointless saying it again. All i will say is you shouldn't give up your dream for him. It isn't like you can comprise. Good luck.

Nuttybiscuits Sat 12-Jan-13 19:06:48

Yeah, you're all right I'm just clinging to hope that he'll change his mind and this whole nightmare will be over.... I'll get my realistic head back on soon though. I must say Tiredofwaitingforitalltochange your username is very apt, wish I had thought of that one!

I would say though, in response to Greg, that pretty much everyone I have spoken to in RL have said that their own partners didn't really want kids at that point in time and just went along with it because their wives/GFs did. I think that's pretty much the norm in my experience, and of course they're all smitten with their families now, just needed a kick up the bum in the right direction. I am very wary of creating a situation where one of us would resent the other, would need to be pretty sure of things if we are to move forward.

Of course, all of this is pointless to be thinking about at the moment, I'm just clutching at straws. Time to get on with Real Life - have a good Saturday night everyone!

Lavenderhoney Sat 12-Jan-13 19:07:21

Hi there op, how nice you feel at home and content so fast. That should tell you you are ok and perhaps have checked out already and are relieved its all over.

Remember he lied and strng you along. Of course he misses you, but the old you, who didn't know about the v so bumbled along happily then did know and with a slow realisation you were being messed around but still pandered to his dithering.

Now the real you is there, one who wants kids and with someone else who wants to share the adventure with you. So you are not compatible for a very fundamental reason. It would really be better to leave it for a month with no contact and you go out, have dinner parties and behave like a single lady. Not a couple on a break.

Meeting him so soon to go over old ground- not so good. Have the split, let him also get his life together and meet new people. It will be a long time til you can be just friends.

ipdipdog Sat 12-Jan-13 19:20:15

There is a HUGE difference between ambivalence about having a baby and having a vasectomy at 25 and forgetting to mention it for so long. I really think you need to knock this on the head.

Nuttybiscuits Sat 12-Jan-13 19:24:45

LOL Ipdipdog I read that as "I really think you need a knock on your head"... and thought "alright, no need for violence"!

Lavender - good advice there, thank you. Unfortunately, I have to see him to get my stuff, and don't want to avoid talking about things, just prolongs the agony. But I'm not rushing back anywhere, so I'll get my space. Plus, I can't face going over old ground, so bored of talking about it!

dequoisagitil Sat 12-Jan-13 19:45:24

It's easy to say he would put 100% into being a parent if it happened, in the same way that it was easy for him to say he'd forgotten his vasectomy, and that he'd go for the reversal.

Problem is, he doesn't live up to his promises and you have fooled yourself as much as he deceived you.

You have wanted to believe him, of course you have, and you haven't properly listened when he has told you what you don't want to hear in the past. I hope you've really heard him this last time, when he told you he didn't want kids and you left. Let go of that malignant optimism.

As ipdipdog says, there's a huge difference between someone who had a vasectomy in their 20s and has never wanted dc, and someone who is ambivalent.

Don't get sucked back in by promises.

CaseyShraeger Sat 12-Jan-13 19:51:38

There's a significant difference between "didn't really want children" and "really didn't want children", and someone who has a vasectomy at 25 is in the latter category.

wendle70 Sun 20-Jan-13 17:07:27

Nutty biscuits I saw your thread and I couldn't belive it - I am going through exactly the same decision process myself except my boyfriend doesn't want kids because he is recently divorced with 2 kids already. It is such an impossible decision. I saw from your post that you decided to end it and walk away a few weeks ago - how are you feeling now? I also have been thinking of ending it and seeing if that will be enough to prompt him into action but I don't like issuing ultimatums - it doesn't feel very adult. Did you consider counselling?

dequoisagitil Sun 20-Jan-13 17:11:40

It's not about ultimatums, wendle, it's about making sure you want the same fundamental things in life. If you don't, you're better off splitting sooner than later.

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

OP, I hope it went ok today.

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

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.

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

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.

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...

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.

worsestershiresauce Thu 24-Jan-13 21:30:47

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.

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

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 22:14:31

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 ...

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

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.

HaveToWearHeels Mon 28-Jan-13 14:58:29

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.

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.

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.

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