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.
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