The biggest issue in my marriage for the last 2 years has been family size. As a quick background we got pregnant unexpectedly and lost the pregnancy. After that I became wrapped up in starting a family, shocking my husband and myself since I wasn't even sure I wanted children. DH agreed to try for one month and I found out later that he was not ready, did not want a child yet and only did it because he thought I would leave him. Of course I got pregnant and we had our little girl.
As soon as I had her I knew I wanted another child. We started trying for another baby almost right away but it took 10 months before I had a baby that stuck. Midway though my pregnancy with my son I knew I was not done. I knew I wanted at least one more child and when I told my husband he told me that he was done. Done done done and he wished we'd waited at least 3 years before getting pregnant in the first place and he somewhat resented me "forcing" him into it. He said he did it to make me happy but he cannot do it again.
I have no interest in bringing a child into a family where it is not wanted and all of my DH reasons for wanting to stop at two make sense on an intellectual level. But I am really struggling to let go. After coming the closest to a separation as I ever want to get he made an appointment for a vasectomy and I could barely get out of bed for 2 days. I was devastated that he wanted to close the door so permanently. I begged for more time to come to grips with the idea my family will remain incomplete in my eyes and he gave me until he is 30, so another 18 months or so.
I want to feel the done-ness that people talk about, I want to be ok with a vasectomy and I want to feel good about the whole thing but I just don't. I feel like not everyone is home. The idea that I will never feel a baby squirm in my belly, give birth, nurse a newborn, watch the first steps and first words, see my children with a little sibling breaks my heart. How can I let go of all that? How can we move past this as a couple? I am really at a loss here. I've been with my husband for 10 years and this is the first time that we have been unable to find a solution to an issue and it scares us both.
This is a very difficult issue you are grappling with. When a woman feels the longing that you describe it is guttural, instinctual and has no relation to rational, intellectual thought; it is coming from a place deep inside where hormones meet destiny, and to ignore it, override it or leave that impulse behind does feel near impossible and that you would always wonder, always feel a longing when around bigger families, and perhaps carry a sadness, which could metastasize into grief and depression.
That said, for a non-child bearing partner to agree to another child when they feel adamant that it is not a good idea, also tempts grave consequences; this partner can feel disrespected on a core level, that it's never "enough," that you always get your way, that his voice doesn't matter, and once the baby comes, this partner can further withdraw. Having a new baby has inherent stresses anyway with pulls on time, sleep, space, volume, the pocketbook and daily life; handling these stresses when you felt strongly against it can be a recipe for a deeper chasm in the relationship.
So, where is my expert answer?
I know couples who have chosen both routes. For the couples who have the "extra" child, generally: the partner loves the additional CHILD but does still resent the SPOUSE for the extra stress, expense, and energy, and more, for the feeling that the other partner "got their way" and overrode them.
For the couples who went the other way and don't expand the family: the other partner generally makes their peace, happy with their two children, but always wondering, and still experiencing strong longing and a feeling of incompletion when around a family of three kids.
So, you are at this crossroads. I suggest:
- Explore a feasible compromise of a potential "contract" with regards to division of labor and work, and alone time without kids, etc, that would make a your husband feel more wiling to expand the family.
- Make two charts: a diagram showing your life with each path; look at these charts together and talk about how they each make you feel. Take turns, speak in "I" statements, and let each partner finish their thought.
- Make a "grief list" and a "gratitude list"; imagine you each get your way, and each write what you are grieving from this decision and what you are grateful for; read each list aloud and get a sense of who will suffer more.
- Sit knee to knee and pray and meditate for the "answer" as to your family's destiny; see what comes to you and discuss this from a purely "feeling" place.
- Engage in 6 months of couples counseling to resolve this issue; see if there are any underlying issues affecting your ability to come to an aggreement.
These are my thoughts on the matter. I hope you are able to see your way through this impasse.
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