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Boyfriend doesn't want kids - I love him, my heart is breaking - should I leave him?(265 Posts)
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?
You're going to have to make a 'deal-breaker' I'm afraid. Changing his mind after seeing GPs and reversing operations is bloody cruel. Wonder why he's really so panicky?
Sounds to me like he has given you an "out" and I think you would be unwise to try and wear him down to change his mind. IME having a baby has been the most challenging part of our relationship as well as the hardest thing I have ever done individually (and the best) so I would never encourage someone who didn't want it 100% to do it. In low moments you need to remind yourself that it's what you wanted, I think if you didn't want it there would be a lot of resentment/blaming the other person (because you can't reasonably blame the screaming non-sleeping baby!).
At 34 you have time to meet someone else and build a relationship and hopefully the next one will be more upfront about their wishes.
Good luck x
How old is he? I would say that u probably have to split up, it isn't something u can compromise on. I would say that your dp has been unfair to your feelings in waiting a year to tell u he didn't want children and then changing his mind about the vasectomy.
Oh dear. I think you have to listen to him, believe him and think about the future as being child-free if you stay with him. I don't think vasectomy reversal is anything like guaranteed anyway.
Problem is, if he keeps delaying and changing his mind then the decision will be made by biology (ie you don't have forever).
You need to choose - possibility of children or life with him. Neither of them are guaranteed to end in hapiness.
You might not meet someone else, you might not be able to have children in any case.
You might split up with him over something else eventually but be too old to have children, you might find that you stay but don't reconcile yourself to childlessness, but it's too late to have children.
It's very, very, very hard
I would leave. Do not give up your own dreams of family life.
He will not change his mind re having children. He was not honest with you from the beginning either, he is another in a series of rubbish relationships.
Cruel is one word for it, I feel like I've been put through a steamroller repeatedly and have no fight left in me.
I tried the deal breaker.. but he just panics so much he says "I'm hurting you too much, I can't deal with this. I think it's best we split". But then he agrees that he loves me too much and doesn't want it to be over, and I refuse to let us break up. I'm scared of pushing it too much, as I think it will push us over the edge.
I don't know why he's so panicky - he had a rubbish father of his own, and has never interacted with children, has no family or friends with kids. He has just always seen kids as something other people do, and can't picture it for himself.
Is there anything I can say or do that could help him see that having kids would be wonderful, and not awful?!?!
My friend had pretty much this entirely. They were inseprable for three years or so. Was heartbreaking but she gave herself a date (think month before her 32nd birthday iirc) amd left him.
Two years on and she has a three week old baby and is crazily happy with her new man.
A cheering anecdote anyway?
What if you leave and never find anyone you would like to father your children?
What if, by the time you find someone who you want to be the father of your children and who wants kids too, you are unable to have them?
Only throwing out some.potential situations here. Yes, staying with him.may well mean accepting you wont have lids of your own, but leaving doesnt always mean having kids.
How would you feel about single parenthood? If crunch time came would you look at insemination to get pregnant outside of a relationship?
Even if you do stay together and have children, he will be bitter that you 'made' him do it.
I would suggest you leave. Resentment will simmer forever otherwise.
Re your comments:-
"I don't know why he's so panicky - he had a rubbish father of his own, and has never interacted with children, has no family or friends with kids. He has just always seen kids as something other people do, and can't picture it for himself".
I think you've actually answered your own question here.
"Is there anything I can say or do that could help him see that having kids would be wonderful, and not awful?!?!"
In a word, no. His attitudes are too entrenched.
Sorry, cross posted. Don't think ultimately it is going to be a matter of persuading him by showing him how fab children are. Whilst I dearly dearly love my daughter we have had times of finding it tough and people are very unhelpfully keen to share sleeplessness/no life horror stories too if he is in the market to hear them. My guess is that you'd maybe persuade him for a few days and then he'd swing back again- might just prolong the uncertainty.
Feel for you, good luck
I think your first step is to accept that he doesn't want children. It sounds to me like you still think he'll come round. He won't. He doesn't want children. It sounds like the only reason he ever sort of wavered on this was because it's what you wanted to hear. It's still what you want to hear, which is why you're not listening to what he's really telling you. He doesn't want children. You cannot change this.
All you can do is make your decisions accordingly. Do you stay with him and have no children. Or do you leave and try to meet someone who does want a family. They are your only choices I'm afraid.
He is 39. Yes I think I might be wrong to try and wear him down,and I understand that there might be resentment either way - i.e. from him if it's not what he really wants, from me if we never have kids...
Caramelgirl - it is encouraging to hear that others have had happy outcomes. Trouble is, I don't know if I'll ever find that perfect person. The trouble is, I have had rubbish relationships before, and when I found my current BF, I just couldn't believe my luck that we were SO happy together. That is difficult to let go of.
I just don't know if I'm brave enough to leave him when we are so happy together
Sorry to hear this, similar happened to my friend. Her DP kept putting her off and off about it until finally they split up, she is now 38 childless and a bit bitter about the time she wasted with him (9.5 years in total)
... he went on to get married and have a baby with his new wife less than a year after splitting with my friend and baby no2 is due in 4 months.
If you want children and he doesn't then it is surely a deal breaker.
Thank you everyone for the quick responses by the way, it's great to 'talk' this through with people.
Panda I think you're absolutely spot on - all the wavering has been because he has been trying to force himself to do this to save our relationship. I am wrong to force him into it, I know.
Can I stay with him and have no children? No, I don't think so. I might be happy for a few years, but not forever.
I am totally heartbroken - I love him, we have a wonderful life together. We are happy in every other way. Am I really going to leave all that?
Leave. He doesn't want children. He won't come round. You do want them.
Having said that, I think I should point out my situation. I've been with my husband for 15 years. He too was adamant that he didn't want children. I was sad but accepted it because being with him was more important to me. Until 2 years ago (when I was nearly 40) when it suddenly dawned on him that actually he would quite like to be a Dad. I thought the boat had sailed because of my age but we're due in May and I think he's more excited than I am.
I hope it works out for you, whatever you decide to do.
Leave him, it will focus his mind and make him poo or get off the pot. If he doesn't come back to you within 2/3 months then you know kids are definitely a no-go with him. You can then accept him for who he is or move on.
Penguin - that is awful, I really hope your friend finds someone soon. Someone asked a while back whether I would consider parenting alone - yes, I would if it came to it.
He doesn't want children and you do. I have known men who were a bit indifferent as to whether or not they wanted children but turned out to be great fathers. However, actually not wanting them is different. I don't think getting him to meet great kids is any way forward. If you really want children this might affect you more and more as the years go on. And you will look back and say if only I had done this or this. So I don't think you should just accept you can't have children because he doesn't want them.
You're asking for an opinion and based on what you have written I think you should break up - this is the type of 'dealbreaker' scenario where its impossible to compromise and I think the long term repercussions for you would be very high if you gave up your dreams of a family that includes children.
Some examples from my life - I never was massively driven by the desire to have a family. Met my DP at 34 and for the first time ever I wanted a family and I was shocked at how strong that feeling was - it was huge and I feel like suddenly everything made sense - had met a good man and the most natural thing for me was to want to build a family with him. Practical reasons meant we didn't start TTC till 36 and its been scary thinking I may have already left it too late. If I had that feeling of wanting a family and had to quash it to stay with my partner, well I can't see it ending well because it would be so difficult to get over the resentment that he prevented one of my dreams.
My half brother eventually split up with his wife and they divorced over a similarish issue that she wanted children but he didn't. (I never probed as to why it wasn't discussed before they got married though!) She has gone on to meet a lovely chap and start a family. They have both remained on good terms as exes, and I have heard my brother now express regret because maybe family life wouldn't have been so bad after all. He realises that there was nothing she could have done in hindsight and he's had to learn a hard life lesson, but there's nothing that could have been said or done to avoid that for him.
Good luck with whatever you choose to do - i can see how difficult it is for you at the moment.
I think you're all right - it's make or break time.
Molly "make him poo or get off the pot" really made me laugh! You're right though.
Panda your situation sheds a new light on things - I think if it wasn't for his vasectomy, I would do the same as you. I would accept it, get on with our life together and see what happens. Trouble is, the chance of a vasectomy reversal working gets lower the longer you leave it. So as soon as we 'decided' (ahem) that we were going to have the reversal, the pressure was on to get it done as soon as possible. Added to that the time pressure of me being 34, knowing that it can take a few years to conceive IF the reversal was to work, and I just thought we would have to do it ASAP.
If things were 'natural' for him, I would happily wait a few years, in which time he might have got used to the idea and feel less pressured. Unfortunately because he messed with nature, we don't have the luxury of time.
I think the fact that he actually saw his GP shows that at that point in time he was serious. Most men (including me) avoid docs unless --on the point of death--absolutely necessary. On the other hand, the fact that he has not followed through shows that he is either frightened of the operation or really really doesn't want children.
Agreeing on children is really the sine qua non of every long term relationship. Given that you don't have much time, I would tell him that you are leaving and actually split up. If he wants you above the fear of the operation and children, it may kick him into going ahead. If not, you have your answer. I would not worry about how he will be as a father, though. There are plenty of fantastic fathers that I know who were very ambivalent about children before having their own. My brother was totally against children until he had one, now he is completely obsessed!
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