They've been a couple for six years and own a house together. Now she wants kids, but he doesn't. What should she do?
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I've been with my partner for six years. We're both in our late 20s, own a house together and have a pretty relaxed lifestyle.
Recently at a family dinner my partner announced to the table that we were never having children and he'd much rather "have the cash instead". Previously, when we had discussed this, we both agreed children weren't in the immediate future but they were there somewhere down the line.
I've tried to ask my partner if he was serious about not wanting kids but he either completely ignores me or has a meltdown and starts yelling about something irrelevant or bringing up old arguments.
He's fantastic with our friends' children and is often excited to see them.
I love him, but children are an important part of my future and I need to know that we're on the same page. How can I get him to open up and talk with me about this?
Childless and worried
It may be worth thinking of this issue in the context of the entire relationship rather than just a discussion about children. How well can you discuss other serious issues or points of difference? As with so many issues between couples, one of the keys is finding the right time and context to be able to have the 'hard' conversations together. Sharing our fears, values, feelings and hopes works best when we feel really listened to and respected by the other person - and often it takes time to work through the initial throwaway statements like ' I never want kids' to get to what is driving the statement. In many ways finding out how to have the children discussion respectfully and calmly will provide a blueprint for all those other tough conversations you will need to sustain a long-term relationship, so good on you for seeking help now.
This is a big issue and your partner may not know why he is feeling so strongly about not having children, or he may know but not know how to tell you.
Deciding to have children is often a strong statement about committing together, and it is also possible there are some things in your current relationship that are concerning him.
You have said you need to know you are on the same page and that you want him to open up and talk with you about this. If you really want him to open up he needs to be given space and get a sense that it will be ok to talk about the issue even if he isn't on the same page as you. Pick a time when you are confident the two of you are comfortable together and feeling good about each other - let him know how much you enjoy being with him.
Rather than asking if he wants children, you could ask what he wants for your future together - is it travel, lots of fun, adventures, having lots of money? Let him know you understand that he doesn't want children and you are not going to pressure him into having them but would really like to understand his thinking about that. Be prepared to listen and not fight back or get defensive. Stay as calm as possible and just thank him for sharing his ideas with you. Your aim is to find out what he is thinking and feeling and for him to get the idea he can let you know without you trying to change his mind. Once you are more clear about what he really thinks then you will both be in a position to decide what that means for your future.
If you don't have a history of having in depth conversations you may need to build up slowly and go onto our website to find some more ideas about how to build communication together.
We'd love to hear your take on this week's issue. Before you comment below, though, remember that this is a real-life situation. This reader has bravely shared their personal life with you; please show them respect by refraining from hurtful or abusive comments.
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