My Partner Doesn’t Want Another Baby! Navigating Disagreements About Family Size

By JustMommies staff

Disagreements about family size are very common among couples. Even those who have discussed it repeatedly before having children often find that, after having one or more, one partner’s desires change. How can couples work through such a disagreement?

Discussion

In your discussions, it is key to understand where your partner is coming from. Just as you know why you want another child, your partner has reasons why he or she does not. Talking out these reasons may give either partner a new perspective, or can help you both figure out where to go if concrete information is needed.

Determine why one partner wants another child. People want children for many different reasons—they might want an only to have a sibling, have dreams of a perfect large family, want to try for one of the other gender, fondly remember their own large family, or not so fondly remember their own lonely childhood. Talk out the reasons behind one partner wanting another child.

Determine why one partner does not want another child. Again, there are many reasons why someone might not want any more children—health issues (their own, their spouse’s, or an existing child's), money worries (near-term or long-term), parental age, having kids too close together or too far apart, the sleeplessness and everything having to do with an infant. Talk out these reasons.

Once you have determined the root of each partner’s side of the discussion, there are several ways you can continue to talk out the issues.

Roleplaying

Each partner discusses from the other’s perspective. This is not meant to change anyone's mind, but rather to give each partner a stronger understanding of the other’s perspective and concerns.

Outside Specialists

If one partner is especially worried about health issues—whether a previous pregnancy or delivery was extremely difficult, or one of your children has health issues, or a parent has chronic health issues—it may be best to discuss these worries with a medical professional. Find out if past complications are likely to recur; if a child’s medical issue are likely to worsen over time, or if they will become more manageable; make a health plan for yourself or your spouse if there are chronic issues that may affect family life. Fears may be unfounded, or they may be very legitimate concerns—but find out before letting those fears guide your family planning.

Similarly, if one partner’s concerns are largely financial, there is no reason to not meet with a financial planner and estate planner to determine where you truly stand finance-wise, and to set up education accounts if you haven’t already. Discuss your financial goals with the advisor—early retirement? Additional education? Travel? A good financial advisor will help you determine your priorities and possibilities and will work to make them happen.

Couples Counseling

If you have reached a stalemate, or one partner is not willing to discuss at all, couples counseling is your best bet. You may be able to find a sliding-scale-fee provider, or talk to a religious advisor if you feel that might help you. If your partner refuses to go to counseling, go alone. A neutral third party can help either or both of you examine your feelings and desires.

Re-evaluate

When you and your partner have discussed and done any necessary planning, take a break. Decide to re-evaluate at some time in the future: 6 months or a year is a good amount of time to implement any changes you are considering to better a medical or financial situation. Six months to a year is also a huge amount of time in the lives of the child or children you do have—in a year, two kids in diapers may be none in diapers, and sleep problems may have resolved. As kids get older they may be able to help with a new baby—or you might decide that the baby-free life is great.

Remember, this isn’t about “winning” an argument. This is about trying to plan what’s best for your family, so you can, to the best of your abilities, live your best lives. But life cannot always be planned, even when couples work through their disagreement. A pregnancy might not come or might come unexpectedly, or the baby you get might not get the baby you “want”, or there could be twins! In any case, do not resent, do not complain, do not nag—these can permanently affect your relationship with your spouse and your child or children.