Your Call: Why Can’t You Decide About Kids AFTER You Marry?

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your advice in the comments section. 

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Dear Em & Lo,

I was just recently broken up with by the guy I thought I’d marry, over the issue of having kids. We’re in our late 20s and had talked about getting married quite a bit. My thought on the issue was that we would make a realistic, mindful decision about kids when the time was right, taking in all the relevant factors. He was initially fine with this, often saying he’d be happy either way. But one day, a few months ago, he just changed his mind out of the blue and was all of a sudden talking about how deeply he wanted kids. I really don’t think he was lying to me in the beginning — it honestly seems like a sudden change of heart. After this, for a few months he was saying that he preferred to stay with me than to have certainty that he was with someone who definitely wanted kids. But clearly he changed his mind on that, too, as we are now no longer together.

So I have a couple questions related to this. Firstly, public knowledge has plenty to say about the female biological clock — how there’s a time in most women’s lives where it just suddenly blows up and then you MUST HAVE BABY. But what happened to my ex seems to be very similar. It floored me to have him change so suddenly, especially as a guy who has zilch experience being around children, who has little patience for the unexpected, and who likes his peace and quiet. Is this type of change in guys’ thinking/feeling about kids more common than I thought? Are there triggers or causes?

Secondly, after talking to a few close friends about the break up, I came to notice that almost everyone seemed to think that whether or not to have kids is a purely emotional decision. Is there ANYONE out there who shares my stance of the spouses deciding together, when all the relevant factors are in place? When I say “relevant factors” I mean, careers out of the budding stage, marriage going strong, finances strong, health strong, and then assess whether kids is happening or not. I just can’t divorce the idea of having kids from all of the factors that that decision affects; hence my need to wait until I know more about how life is gonna turn out. DOes this make me a freak?

– Kid-Shy

What should Kid-Shy do? Let her know in the comments below.

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5 Comments on "Your Call: Why Can’t You Decide About Kids AFTER You Marry?"

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Belle Vierge
Your feelings on the issue are completely reasonable, but so are his. I’ve known my entire life I want children. I’ve also know for about eight years that I only want one pregnancy (I don’t say one child because jerks like to say “What about twins?!?!” like I’m stupid and also because I’m very open to adopting a second child). Having kids is one of my few nonnegotiables, and at least in my friend group, that’s pretty common. For many of us, we need our partner to be 100% on board with children, or marriage just won’t work out. However,… Read more »
It’d be better if you decided about kids before you get married. If one person is adamant about having or not having and the other is wishy-washy, it’d be better for everyone involved if they decided this before they had to get a divorce. Now, if you end up with someone else who is undecided and willing to make that decision based on life circumstances, that might work for you. But I honestly don’t think that approach is the best one for most people. He definitely knew he was a yes, and you did not. If you weren’t enthusiastically on… Read more »
You are certainly not a freak just because you are cautious. I think more people should stop and think about their limitations before they have children, be it personal, financial or whatever. Breeding is serious business. I have tried to discuss this topic with people lately, since I found myself in a relationship with a wonderful male who says he does not want children, saying the responsibility scares him. Unsettling for me since I hope I will have some later in life but it’s not a deal breaker at this point so we are still together since we are on… Read more »
Firstly, biological clocks run in both genders. However, the focus tends to be on women since, biologically, their reproductive cycle ends before men (thus, the stereotypical older man looking for a younger woman with whom to start a family, or a second family, after the first wife reaches middle age). Secondly, if you do not believe that marriage is disposable, that is, it can be easily changed at the whim of one of the partners, this is one of the issues that need to be discussed and understood before the contract is signed. While attitudes and views can change, some… Read more »
I can say with certainty that you are not the only person who finds external factors (health, money, career) the key to deciding when (or if ) to have a child, because that is exactly how I view the entire process. However, it does seem a bit surprising that your boyfriend had such a wild u-turn on the idea of having kids. I’ve never known a guy that did that, but I’d be interested in finding out if others have seen it happen. As crappy as the entire situation is, it’s likely for the best that your guy figured out… Read more »