I Want More Children-My Husband Doesn’t

October 20th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 14 comments

Question:

Hello, I am 41 with 2 children ages 8 and 10.  I have been begging my husband for a third child for nearly 3 years now and he will not allow it. He says he does not want another child, and I am so upset, angry and heartbroken. I feel like it’s unfair of him to steal my right to procreate and that this is not really his decision. Why does he get what he wants and I am left without?

Please tell me how I can get him to change his mind. I am furious and grieving all at the same time, and it is destroying our marriage.

Marianna

Answer:

Dear Marianna,

You sound very desperate and suffering as you long for another baby. If this has been going on for three years, then we can understand that your marriage has suffered.

Please, please, please get some outside help. Make sure, that whether it is pastoral counseling or short-term therapy, the person you are trusting values and reveres marriage.  Either go as a couple or else start individually. No one can tell you how to change his mind and no one can tell him how to change your feelings. Someone competent can help you both strive to a peaceful resolution. Granted, you can’t have half a child, but you can save your marriage.

It is so important not to see this issue as either you or your husband “winning” or as an issue of “rights.” It is not a case of his stealing your right to procreate any more than it is a case of your forcing him to have a child against his will.  There are no individual winners or losers in marriage; the couple wins or the couple loses. When the couple loses, so do the children. Is it possible that by being so angry you are not being the best mother you can to the two children for whom you are already responsible?

Your husband probably does not understand the depth of your feelings, making it hard for him to empathize. What started as a disagreement on one issue, no matter how profound, has now evolved. In your eyes, your husband probably doesn’t care about you or else he would acquiesce. Of course, he could make exactly the same claim.

While we fully understand your desire for another child, you neglected to tell us the reasons behind your husband’s refusal. A wise counselor will discover that. Perhaps his worries are financial. If so, the issue now is not about not wanting another child but about being concerned about the costs. Perhaps his concerns are about another baby taking your attention away from him and depriving him of a wife or maybe he feels that you are already struggling to give your two children the attention they need. Is he worried about both your ages and the possibilities of birth defects? Each of these concerns can be approached once they are acknowledged.

We applaud you for not conceiving behind your husband’s back. You are aware that children should have the gift of two loving parents.

Anger and bitterness tend to breed anger and bitterness. They are often a substitute for sadness and grieving. We pray that you get through this difficult period and find joy in whatever size family is right for your family.

Wishing you serenity,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

 

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14 comments

Cheryl Way says:

Good advice. How would this woman feel if she did not want a child and her husband kept pushing her to have another? She could be overwhelmed and just trying to make the best life for her family while her husband is pushing for what she conceived as chaotic sleepless nights and being torn between caring for older children and having all her time and energy taking up on the baby. In today’s world, feelings are often given greater priority over logical decisions. A good counselor would help them navigate through all of this.

Susan Lapin says:

All of us sometimes get so wrapped up in our feelings that we can’t imagine anything other than that we are right. I know I can be guilty of this.

Carl from South Carolina says:

WHAT, are we human?…..GR8 answer….U2ROCK and big HUGS2u2….

Susan Lapin says:

Aw, thanks.

“A couple wins or a couple loses”…I love it.

Susan Lapin says:

It’s so true, isn’t it?

Jay Inman says:

I Once told one of my Captains in Iraq several years ago, in a similar situation, that he should passionately enjoy his wife unto conception. Otherwise, she would make that choice, anyway, and he might not be there when she makes a baby…

Susan Lapin says:

Well, that’s an interesting way of putting it.

Jay Inman says:

My soldier brain was plugging in with another solder – Encouraging him to romance and invest in his relationship with his wife. I told him that God made them one and His desire is for Godly Offspring. They have since had two kids!

Susan Lapin says:

Glad you could help them.

Zo says:

“Granted, you can’t have half a child, but you can save your marriage.” Such wisdom with a side of humor. Makes the medicine go down in the most delightful way. Thank you. My motto is: Not funny, not healed yet.

Susan Lapin says:

When humor leaves, you know you’re in trouble.

Tim Mauch says:

My mother had the exact same problem 59 years ago. She told him that she was “safe” when she knew the opposite, and I was the result. In fact, I arrived 6 weeks early.

Susan Lapin says:

I hope it worked out for your parents and you, but we definitely don’t recommend that.

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