My wife wants to be a mom and I don’t. If we were a straight couple and could have kids the old-fashioned way, we would probably already be parents.
But the work involved in two women having a baby — finding a donor, insemination, legal issues — has made me stop and think about what we’re actually planning to do. And I realize I don’t want to turn my world upside-down.
I love my life as it is, including the freedom to sleep late on weekends, travel whenever we want, eat out and spend money without guiltily contemplating a college fund.
Babies do not excite me. In fact, I find them annoying, especially when they cry or scream. Likewise toddlers with their constant chatter and repetitive questions.
When we were dating, we did agree to have kids. It just seemed to me like the thing you do. But the more I think about it, the less I want to.
I haven’t told Lisa about my reservations because her heart is set on becoming a mom. But she is thinking she’d like to get pregnant within the year, so I have to figure out what to do.
Am I being silly? I keep hearing from friends that parenthood is the best thing they ever did, even if they were apprehensive. I love being married to Lisa and want to spend my life with her, but this is a big problem. I wonder if I should just get over myself and go forward with this?
Becoming a parent will make huge demands on your time, your patience, your sanity and your wallet. So it’s smart to be thoughtful before you make this life-long commitment.
Yes, many people who are apprehensive beforehand find that they love parenthood, despite the challenges. And many people who aren’t crazy about kids are grateful to discover that they profoundly love their own children. But that doesn’t mean you would be one of those people. And you can’t know that in advance.
You’re going to have to take a chance, one way or the other and there’s no playing it safe — the stakes are high in either direction. If you decide you absolutely don’t want to have a child, you may lose Lisa. And if you decide to take the plunge, you may find yourself deeply unhappy.
Here’s the challenging aspect of your situation. The risks are obvious, but the rewards less certain. There’s no way to know how you will feel when you look into your child’s eyes. You have to decide if the possible joys of raising a child make it worthwhile for you to tolerate the downsides.
Because you aren’t inherently drawn to parenthood, making your decision might well be a no-brainer, if you weren’t married to someone who wanted kids. But because you are, it’s not so simple. You are facing the question we all face with our partners: we want two different things, but can only choose one.
Here’s a principle you might consider: If something is important to your spouse, one option is to lean on her direction unless you have a strong reason not to. I like this principle because it leads couples to understand each other, to collaborate, to be generous whenever possible rather than keeping score and to discover how to be both two individuals and one couple.
If you’re interested in pursuing this line of thinking, ask Lisa to talk with you in depth about why she wants to become a mother. And you need to talk with her in depth about your ambivalence. The aim is not to try and convince each other, but simply to know each other well. Not incidentally, this is the definition of intimacy.
You may discover that it means more to Lisa to have kids than it does to you to remain childless and that the satisfaction you would get from seeing her fulfilled as a mother would help make parenting a gratifying choice for you as well, even if you would not have chosen it on your own.
Then again, you might decide that you aren’t willing to live a life with children, even if this means profoundly disappointing Lisa and possibly costing you your relationship.
Good luck. Decisions don’t get much tougher than this. Know that you are being handed an opportunity to clarify what is most important to you in your life.
Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with gay couples and individuals 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.