Marcy and I met when we were both 22, right after college when we were new to D.C. We’ve been together for seven years and got married three years ago. We have all the good stuff in place — shared interests, close connection, rewarding jobs, friends, family support, decent home, a cat. In my view, all that’s missing is the baby.
I have always wanted to become a mother and we were on the same page about having a child from the time we met until about two years ago when I wanted to look into getting pregnant. At the time, Marcy said she was on board but nervous and I agreed to wait a little. But whenever I have brought it up since then she seems less excited about us becoming moms.
We talked recently and now she tells me that she’s questioning if she really has a strong desire to be a mother. Also, she’s concerned that if we had a baby she would get sidelined in her career, which she loves. She says she wants to get a little higher up at work before considering taking the motherhood plunge and also says she’s hopeful that she’ll feel more like doing this when her career is in a better place.
In the meantime, my biological clock is ticking and I don’t know what to do. I love Marcy but I’m starting to get angry and pull away. I’m afraid that if I stay with her she may never want to parent with me, and I know that it would break my heart not to become a mother.
Facing a potential deal breaker, avoid the temptation to retreat into your own corner. Instead, you and Marcy should figure out your next steps collaboratively. Doing so will honor your loving relationship and may lead to a solution that you both can accept.
Have you done your best to help Marcy really understand why it means so much for you to have a child? Sometimes when two partners disagree about a big issue, appreciating the importance of one partner’s wish can help the spouse agree to the request, even if she has a different preference.
Supporting a partner’s desire to realize a cherished dream may generate a lot of warmth and goodwill in the relationship. However, if a spouse drops her own wishes and goes along with her partner out of fear or with resentment, the relationship will suffer. So be careful not to try to guilt or subtly threaten Marcy into having a child with you.
Because you say you’re committed to becoming a mom, Marcy does need to decide if she is willing to parent wholeheartedly even if she is not as enthusiastic as you. Given the tremendous responsibilities and costs of parenthood, it makes sense to be apprehensive about having a baby. Please speak with couples that have kids about how they made the decision. Both Marcy and you may get some clarity and reassurance, and will certainly learn a lot.
Questions for both of you: How did you determine which one of you should become pregnant? Does Marcy worry about where she would fit into the picture if you were the biological mother? I sense that you don’t have the whole story about her concerns. Do what you can to encourage her to share more with you. This may help both of you move forward.
If Marcy says yes to parenting, the two of you will have work together to ensure that she can continue advancing in her career after becoming a mother. If she decides that she does not want to have a baby with you, you will have to make plans to pursue your dream without her — unless you change your own mind and decide that you would rather stay in a childless relationship with Marcy than parent without her.
One of the toughest things about being in a committed relationship is that you won’t always see eye to eye. While differences over direction may sometimes be significant enough for a couple to part ways, remember that in any relationship you aren’t going to get everything that you want and that honoring your partner’s important request can benefit you both.
Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D, licensed psychologist, specializes in LGBTQ couples counseling and individual therapy in D.C. He can be found online at personalgrowthzone.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to Michael@personalgrowthzone.com.