#parent | #kids | My Husband Doesn’t Want Another Kid, so I’m Considering Divorce

I have told him that if he really decides to not have any more children, I think it would be in both of our best interests if I leave, because I don’t know that I would ever be able to forgive him for taking this away from me. He’s told me that if he were in my position, he would get over it, and he thinks I’m being ridiculous.

If he thinks that I could just “get over it,” then this decision means more to me than it does him, and I don’t understand why he’s so adamant to both stay in a relationship with me and get his way to not have another baby. I don’t want to get divorced, but I also can’t accept his decision. Am I irrational for considering divorce over this?


Dear Anonymous,

The biggest challenge here isn’t the decision itself—though it’s clearly a hard one—but the way you’ve set up the situation. In your mind, there are only two possibilities: If you have the third child, you’ll be happy and your husband will be resentful. If you don’t have the third child, your husband will be happy and you’ll be resentful. But there’s a catch: Because you believe that having this child means more to you than not having this child means to your husband—and because he had originally agreed to three kids—your suffering trumps his.

A marriage, however, isn’t the Pain Olympics. As you’ve seen, this line of thinking keeps you stuck. Pain is not a contest, and suffering shouldn’t be ranked. Spouses often forget this, upping the ante on their suffering—I had the kids all day. My job is more demanding than yours. I’m lonelier than you are. Whose pain wins? In this kind of setup, both people inevitably lose. If your husband gives you a child and it destroys your marriage, is he really giving you a gift? If you give up on having a baby but resent your husband for life, did he really get what he wants?

What will help you move forward is to think of yourselves as teammates rather than opponents. This means that instead of trying to get your partner to agree with your perspective, you should work together to understand yourselves and each other better. Only then can you make a thoughtful decision about the path forward.

Let’s take your view first, and see if we can broaden it a bit. You say that you love your husband and that there are many reasons you enjoy being married to him. You also say that when you got pregnant soon after meeting, you would have ended the relationship had he not agreed to having a third child. I want you to imagine your life had he said no to a third child at that point. Perhaps you would have ended the relationship, but there would have been no guarantee that you would have found someone you loved as much who also wanted three children during the window in which you were able to have them. Maybe you would have shared custody with the child’s father, who, instead of becoming your husband, might have met someone else and been happily married to her instead of you. You would have seen less of what would have been your first and perhaps only child than you do now—again, with no guarantee of your having more children later on with a different partner.

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