…but I want a baby – now!
Hello Rabbi Daniel and Susan,
I really could use your help on this problem. I got married last August, nearly a year ago. I had always told my husband that I want to be a young mom. I am 26 now and my husband is 31. I really don’t want to wait till I’m 30. I feel I’m so ready and in such a good place to start trying to conceive. He says I’ll still be young even when I’m 35 or so but that makes me so, so mad! He has a job and makes most of the money but I do about 98% of housework.
Both our families are encouraging us to have a baby but my husband says he wants to wait till the perfect time, when covid is over and the world somehow is in better shape. I don’t think there is such a thing as the perfect time to have a child, the future is so uncertain and right now we both are young, healthy, have the time and energy to raise a family. We own a beautiful house with a lovely big yard.
I really try to respect his opinion but it’s getting so hard and it’s even ruining our private life. He is so obsessed with using BC and avoiding me during the time that I am “most fertile” that it is starting to turn me off. I know we’re newlyweds, and should be just having fun and stuff but I kind of feel I don’t want to do it unless we’re trying to conceive or at least not avoiding it.
Plus he says things like “WE don’t want a baby right now” when he knows very well that it’s the only thing I really want in my life. He says I should focus on my career. I’m a designer and I don’t have plans to leave that behind 100% but I would be more than happy to stop for a while if it means I’ll be taking care of my baby. I don’t have much ambition towards my career but don’t see that as a bad thing. Our families really want us to have a baby but his friends (all over 32) say it’s too early and we should travel the world and stuff. I have absolutely no interest in that, he doesn’t either. He enjoys our lifestyle as much as I do, we don’t party and like staying at home, reading, going on walks, harvesting (we live in the country). His friends don’t really get it but my friends do even though they are younger than his.
I would really appreciate some guidance. I feel as if I’m going insane and I feel anxious everyday about me suffocating him by my pressuring. I know also it’s not all on him but I’m so afraid to keep waiting (even though we’re practically just married). Also I don’t want this to ruin our relationship, he truly is who I always dreamed of marrying.
You and your husband both sound like good people who care very much about your marriage. Sadly, a clear conversation that needed to take place before you were married, didn’t. Now we have a problem.
Every guide to marriage will tell you that communication is key. Part of communication is knowing that words mean different things to different people. It is also knowing that people are not always in touch with themselves. This means that even when they are sure they are speaking truthfully, they can be mistaken.
When you told your future husband that you want to be a young mother, that word ‘young’ needed a definition. You could both agree on the concept, but if one of you thinks that 26 is young while the other thinks that 32 is young, you need to talk more. (Including discussing biological realities about fertility.) Other words that need expanded explanation before marriage are “financially comfortable,” “close to my family,” and words like large, small, or shared in whatever connection they are used. We are sure that readers can identify dozens of more words and phrases that mean different things to different people.
As to our second point about not being in touch with oneself, we cannot tell you how many couples we know who married with the agreement that they didn’t want any children, or only wanted one or two. Sometimes it was a second marriage for a man and he already had a family and didn’t want to add to that family. Down the road the woman (98% of the time it is the woman) who much earlier had been so sure that she did not want to give birth, became desperate to have one or more children.
Here are a few more points that you touched upon in your letter that we will comment on.
- You say, “Both our families are encouraging us to have a baby.” You also mention friends more than once. We cannot stress this enough: Leave your families and friends out of this. Not only are their opinions utterly irrelevant, but this is a private discussion between husband and wife. Of course, your decision has family and community repercussions, which is an idea that springs out of the pages of the Bible. However, you and your husband should not be talking to or quoting any family members or friends on this subject. It is disrespectful to your marriage.
- You say, “He has a job and makes most of the money but I do about 98% of housework.” It is time for you to communicate, first with yourself and then with your husband. Are you saying that since you do most of the work, a baby will barely affect his life? Are you upset at how little he helps you and is that bleeding into this issue? What does this have to do with anything? We have no idea but we think you should figure this out. What we hope you mean is that you both realize the fullest implications of the marriage partnership. He understands that without your manning the home front he wouldn’t be nearly as successful and you, in turn, love and appreciate him for making it possible for you to build a warm and welcoming home.
- These words ring alarm bells for us: “He is so obsessed with using BC and avoiding me during the time that I am “most fertile” that it is starting to turn me off. I know we’re newlyweds, and should be just having fun and stuff but I kind of feel I don’t want to do it unless we’re trying to conceive or at least not avoiding it.” Physical intimacy has two functions in marriage, and ignoring either one is tremendously damaging. (We usually do not mention specific resources we have in our Ask the Rabbi column, but we have spent much time lately focused on this very topic since it is front and center in our newly-released video course, The Gathering Storm, and also in our upcoming video course on the book of Ruth.) It sounds to us like you and your husband are each focused on only one of these functions: 1) sexual pleasure that is unique to marriage and 2) having children. The problem is that you’re each focused on a different one.
This is setting you on a dangerous collision course and young marriages are extremely vulnerable. While it would have been helpful for you to discuss and settle these issues before getting married, both of you are going to have to put on your grown-up clothing and deal with the reality before you. Our guess is that you will need outside help to ensure an affectionate, respectful and productive conversation. This outside individual must be chosen with great care so that he or she does not do more damage.
Had it been both you and your husband asking for help in resolving this problem, it would be a bit easier, but it is only you. So although we wish we could help him understand what his dear wife is going through, we can only help you understand what is going on in his male mind.
Mainly, he is thrilled to be living with his beguiling wife and is hoping to have much more time with you alone before he has to share you with someone else with an even more compelling call than his. However, your husband needs to learn that asking you to ignore the cry of your body and soul isn’t going to work. He got married expecting one thing and real life is proving different.
You need to learn that getting mad is not productive. Consider it practice for being a mother – we guarantee that you will not be able to control those you love and bully or guilt them into submission. You are going to have to master your emotions until this is resolved. Meanwhile, the best thing you can do for your future children is to build your marriage, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
We hope that your experience can serve to help educate other Happy Warriors. Not only are men and women quite different but life throws curve balls at us. Before getting married, learn to speak the same language when discussing major issues. Do not assume or hope for the best.
Moyra, this can be a tremendous building block in your marriage or it can be dynamite. You will know that it is a positive experience when you and your husband come to an agreement that lets your marriage win, rather than one of you defeating the other.
Praying for your success,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin
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INTRODUCING A BRAND NEW ONLINE VIDEO COURSE
We are proud to publish and share this wonderful new mini-course by Rabbi Daniel Lapin:
The Gathering Storm:
Decoding the Secrets of Noah