Ask Cynthia: My husband wants kids and I don't. What do I do?

My husband and I have been together for seven years. When we first met, we both agreed 100 per cent that we didn’t want kids. Over the last two years, he’s started to open up to the idea. Yesterday, he told me he wants two and he wants to have our first within the next few years. I respect his decision because choosing NOT to have kids is also a big decision, however I still don’t want them. He’s a great person and my best friend and I respect the fact that he wants to be a father but I stand by my decision not to have them. What do I do?

There has been this long-standing idea that women want children more than men. However, there is a lot of evidence that increasing numbers of women are ambivalent or firmly against becoming mothers.

According to a 2015 article in The Cut, a survey in 2011 showed that more men than women wanted kids. Another poll in 2013 showed that 80 per cent of men reported the desire to become a father someday while only 70 per cent of women said the same.  

You can find a compromise for most things that come up in a relationship. Unfortunately, this is not one of them.  You can’t have half a child.  And you can’t have a child “for him” if you’re absolutely sure you don’t want one.

You don’t say your age in your question but I will say for me—something shifted during my mid-thirties. After years of being deeply unsure about motherhood, I found myself increasingly curious about pregnancy and often hanging around with kids at dinner parties. Eventually, I became fairly sure that I at least wanted to try to have a child. It’s possible that a similar shift could happen for you.

But it’s also equally possible that will never happen. Life is a bit like a choose-your-own-adventure book: each decision will send you down a different road and that road has all kinds of built-in highs and lows. One path is not necessarily better than the other. 

My best advice for you is to get yourselves into couples therapy to try to work through this.  You may find that in the end, he really just wants to be with you even if that means no kids (because as you know, that could be the end result even if you decided to try). On the other hand, he may feel that he can’t imagine a future without kids in it. If that’s the case, a good therapist will help you navigate all of that and hopefully bring you to a place where you can either move forward towards the same goal, or amicably separate so that you can pursue separate paths.

Cynthia Loyst is our resident relationship expert and a passionate advocate for healthy sexual information. As a sought-after relationship coach and columnist, she’s known for giving advice and opinions on the joys and complications of love. She has received awards from SSSS (Society For The Scientific Study of Sexuality) and Planned Parenthood in Toronto. She is also SAR (Sexual Attitude Reassessment) certified, a member of SIECCAN (Sex Information and Education Council of Canada) and holds a Sex Education Certificate from The University of Michigan. Cynthia is also the founder of For legal disclaimer, click here

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