Ask Erin: Is It A Dealbreaker If My Partner Doesn't Want Kids And I Do?

(Artwork: Tess Emily Rodriguez)

She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to… Ask Erin is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions about anything at all.


Q.

I’ve been with my boyfriend for two and a half years, and we’ve lived together for about two. We’re both in our late 20s, and we’re about to buy a house together.  

The first time the topic of children came up, everything was super positive, but then a few months later he kept hinting that he wasn’t sure whether he wanted children at all.

We talked about it. His position is that he *probably* does want children, but isn’t 100% sure, and doesn’t want to feel like he’s forced into an ultimatum. I’ve said that’s okay and it is — having children isn’t like the be all and end all for me — but it is still a pretty big deal!  

I’d be fine with it if one or both of us were infertile and kids just weren’t an option — but if he decides he doesn’t want them, I don’t know how I’d deal with that. And part of me is like ‘if you decide you don’t want them, please break up with me in time!!’ — though I haven’t said that. 

The idea of breaking up with him over something that may just not be an issue is also awful. I love him and think he’d make an amazing Dad.  

Help?

 

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A.

Neither of you are in the wrong here. That said, you have a gut instinct. And you’re struggling to listen to it. But, you should. 

Being on the same page about kids is a big deal. 

Before you buy a house together, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE have an open and honest conversation about what you want in life. Making that level of commitment is akin to marriage, and you really need to be sure that your values and goals align. I have had relationships in the past that I tried to hold on to, but ultimately what we wanted out of life wasn’t in sync. 

What do I believe needs to be in sync? Religion. Kids. Life/work balance (This includes quality of life issues — i.e., is earning money more important than ample downtime, etc.). Politics (YES, this one is important, too.).

I believe you will find yourself struggling to be content if these values and goals are out of sync. 

You said, “I’ve said that’s okay and it is — having children isn’t like the be all and end all for me — but it is still a pretty big deal!” And you’re right; it is a pretty big deal. 

I understand that you may not be 100% sure if that’s your path either. But one partner taking it off the table entirely forces the conversation to happen now. So, please do just that. 

Before my husband and I got engaged, there were big-picture issues that we discussed. We knew we had to be on the same page about this stuff; we wanted to give ourselves the best possible shot at a happy marriage.

Marriage or long-term partnership is not just about love; it’s about creating a life together…

A life together that is built on shared values and goals. You will be much happier down the road if you figure this stuff out now. And, as you indicated, you don’t want to waste time and energy on a relationship that is likely to unravel when you find yourself at a crossroads later on.

Talk about it now — maturely, openly, and honestly. You both deserve that. 


The information within Ask Erin should in no way be interpreted as medical advice because I'm not a medical professional. But I am here to help — to share with you the wisdom I've gained after years of making mistakes. If you have a question for me about relationships, addiction, dating, friendship, depression, sex, consent, what I’m reading, Tiger’s Eye, or anything at all, use the contact form below or email me at askerin@ravishly.com. As always, your anonymity is golden. Lastly, I’m so excited to share my Ask Erin Self-Care Guide, free when you sign up for my weekly newsletter. xoxo
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