Q: Meredith and readers,
My husband and I have been married for 10 years. We met our freshman year of college and were inseparable. We are in our late 30s.
I know it sounds cliché, but we really are best friends and soul mates. We complement each other perfectly and have a wonderful relationship. We both have successful careers, a great group of friends and, up until recently, we agreed on everything.
My husband's father recently passed away suddenly in a tragic accident. My husband and his father were very close. He is an only child and his mom passed away a few years ago. This loss has left my husband reeling.
We both agreed very early on in our relationship that neither of us wanted to have children. With the loss of his father, he now feels the need to have a family. I am at an age where it would still be possible to conceive, recognizing the possibility of infertility, birth defects, etc. that come with have children at an older age. However, I just do not want to have children.
I've told him that while his grief is still so raw, that it's likely what is prompting his change of heart and that in time he will likely change his mind again. He says it's unlikely that he will change his mind. He has started to see a therapist to work through his grief.
I don't want to have a child and resent him for it. I don't want to prevent him from having a family if that is what he really wants. I don't want to lose him either. We have both shed many tears over this, realizing we are at a crossroads. Do you have any advice?
– Childless by Choice
A: Let him spend some more time in therapy and then ask him to see a professional with you. That's a lot of therapy time, but you both need it. If it becomes clear that he must have children, it would be nice to have a third party around to help you figure out what to do next.
Your husband could change his mind. Many people get the temporary urge to make big decisions right after a loss. (After my mom died, my sister had a big plan to quit her job and live on my couch. Not surprisingly, she no longer wants to do that.) Most people will tell you to wait a year before making big life choices.
It is possible, of course, that he's grown into someone who needs a family. My question to him would be: What kind of family do you need? If you can get to therapy as a couple, talk about how he defines family as opposed to community. That's an important distinction.
Readers? Is this fixable? Is his desire to have kids about the loss? Will he change his mind? Help.