What to Do When You Want Kids and He Doesn’t

A black and white baby stroller against a wall.

Kids are one of the key topics of discussion once you’re in a serious relationship. It’s one of those things where if you don’t see eye-to-eye, it can be a deal-breaker.

So, what happens if you want to have kids, but your partner doesn’t? That tends to complicate things—a lot! Hopefully, you had this discussion prior to getting married but even then, one’s take on the topic can change over time.

Whether you’ve both always held firmly on your stance regarding having children or if one of you changed your mind at some point, this is a subject that needs to be discussed thoroughly and sorted out before going forward. The divide that happens when one person wants to have kids and the other doesn’t will likely harm your relationship if left ignored.

If you find yourself at such a crossroads, remember that communication is key. And before you take the next step in your relationship, you should consider taking some of the following advice and addressing the issue.

Understand the Origin

First of all, it’s important to identify when this issue came about. Since it’s likely a topic you discussed at the beginning of your relationship, the most likely scenario is that one of you changed your mind. If so, you’re likely at an early stage in your relationship and therefore should thoroughly think about if this person is “the one” with whom you’ll want to spend the rest of your life. Although you often hear people say “You’ll change your mind!” when someone says they don’t want kids, that’s not always the case. But if it’s the latter, then there could be some room for negotiation.

Why Yes?

A small wood family with a heart cut-out.

Before beginning the conversation with your significant other, first ask yourself why you want kids (or why you changed your mind that you do). Is it societal, parental, or religious pressure? If so, you may not be aware of the responsibilities that lie ahead. Prior to talking to your partner, make sure your intentions for becoming a parent are genuine. If, worst-case scenario, you believe you can and want to raise a child alone, that’s a major sign you’re passionate about having kids.

And Why Not?

Once you’ve determined that you’re destined to be a parent, have a discussion with your partner and ask them why they’re against having children. In doing this, if you’re the one that changed their mind to “yes,” explain why. There are many reasons why some people may hesitate to have kids—and that’s a good thing. Children are a serious responsibility and the decision to procreate should not be taken lightly.

Some of the most common reasons why someone doesn’t want kids may be finances, the worry of an extra burden, the fear of missing out on the single life, concern that they may not be good parents, or simply the fact that the person’s not ready yet. Most of these worries can be overcome in time, but until you know the root of the problem you can’t move forward to address it.

Consider Compromise

Depending on the reason why your partner doesn’t want kids, sometimes a compromise may be a good solution. For example, adoption of an older child or adoption in general, willingness to hire a nanny, or delaying the process (even if it means freezing eggs) could all be something to put on the table.

Talk to a Counselor

A husband and wife holding hands in therapy.

Professional help can be useful if you’re having trouble discussing the topic. Any therapist or relationship counselor should be able to guide you through a meaningful conversation. It’s worth considering if you can’t manage to talk to your partner on your own and the subject is truly important to you.

Take a Breather

If your partner’s choice to not have kids came as a sudden change of heart—and once you understand why—it’s a good idea to let the topic go for a short while before bringing it up again. Yes, there is always a possibility they may change their mind, but most importantly, both parties need to be sure that their choice at the moment wasn’t made in haste.

Don’t Overdo It

Whatever you do, do not force your partner into having kids if they are not up to the challenge. Not only will that destroy your relationship, but it will create a nightmare scenario for your child. If it comes to the point of an ultimatum, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to stick around or leave and pursue your dream of having a family.

Know When to Call It Quits

A youung woman looking out a window and thinking to herself.

The hardest aspect of this topic is deciding whether kids are a make-or-break point in a relationship for you. If your partner has always said they don’t want kids, it’s unlikely they’ll change their mind. Thus, it’s up to you to decide whether you are willing to sacrifice having kids to maintain the relationship. Therefore, again, it’s important to take some time to yourself to think it through. Imagine your life going forward with just the two of you (and maybe a pet or few). If that picture doesn’t stir sadness or anger within, then maybe eventually you yourself will change your mind about having children.

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