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My Husband Doesn't Want Children

Dear Dr. Ellen,
My husband of 9 years has confessed he never wants to have children. He is very happy the way things are now. I always assumed that he wanted children, but just wasn't ready. He will admit that he may have led me on for fear of approaching the situation. I'm just as much to blame since I also never brought up the subject seriously. My problem now is to decide if I want children enough to leave my husband. How can I make that decision? I know and love my husband, and the other option to me is unknown. His mind won't change about children, so this is all on my back. Please help. No one seems to know what to say. Thanks.
- Shelly

Dear Shelly,
I have always told people that there are only 2 deal breakers that you can't compromise on - children and religion. Many men do not want children but for the sake of their wives' happiness agree to have a baby or visa versa. Even in my case, my husband would have been happy either way, if having children wasn't something that was important to me. Now, he couldn't imagine his life without our 3 grown children and 5 grandchildren.

You'll notice that even in Hollywood, the older men who marry younger women, wind up having a new family with their young brides. For example, Michael Douglas, who already had grown children by his first wife, married Catherine Zeta-Jones. She claims that when they met in Deauville, he used the line "I'd like to father your children." Tom Cruise married Katie Holmes and they now have a daughter even though he already has 2 adopted children. Joan Lundon, who was in her 50's, had second set of twins using a surrogate mother because her younger husband wanted children. She has grown children from a previous marriage.

I know a woman who has 2 sons and really wants a daughter. When she and her husband went to a gender fertility specialist, the doctor said that most women feel unfulfilled if they don't have a daughter and are the ones who drag their husbands to see him. The husbands are very happy having sons but simply go along for the ride!! Then they wind up feeling that this is the biggest miracle of their lives as well. I know another woman who has 2 children and wants a third. Her husband does not want anymore children but here is what he said, "Honey, you know that I don't want any more kids and how strongly I feel about that, but if you are going to feel unfulfilled for the rest of your life, then we'll have a third." They did and he is a proud dad!

My definition of true love is when someone else's happiness is just as important as your own. Obviously, your husband's happiness is important to you but is the reverse true? This is not something you can take a survey about. No one can tell you how much you either do or don't want a child. I can tell you this with absolute certainty: If you are starting to think about having a baby, that feeling is not going to go away. It will get stronger and stronger as more time goes by. The question you will have to ask yourself is, "If I give up having a child, will I resent my husband for the rest of my life?" If the answer is "Yes," then eventually your marriage will end. On the other hand, if your husband agrees to have a baby, will he resent you for the rest of his life?" Now, you can see why I feel that having or not having children is usually a deal breaker for long term fulfillment in a marriage. This is something that has to be discussed by every couple before marriage. In your case it has to be discussed after the fact. Sometimes two wonderful people are simply not a match for each other. I have seen many men change their minds once they lose the best thing that ever happened to them. This is a decision you and only you can make.
- Dr. Ellen




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