Parenthood, we’re told, is the greatest joy a person can feel.
For many years, it was expected that couples would have children shortly after marriage. For many years, a mom, a dad, 2.5 kids, a white picket fence and a dog called Rover made up the idealized family.
Times have changed. Today, as more and more young people are entering relationships and getting married, one of the most common issues that arise is children. What happens if one partner wants a child and the other doesn’t? It’s a complicated question, with no definitive answer. It depends on the couple, the individuals and a few other factors that are difficult to quantify and vary wildly between each specific case.
The Next Step
At the start of every serious relationship, there are questions that need to be asked and topics that need to be addressed, such as finances, insurance and housing.
The discussion about children is probably the most important, and all too often, people shy away from it or dance around it. “We’ll talk about it later, when I have a stable job, or when the mortgage is covered, or when the economy settles down.” Whether you want kids or not, it can be a deciding factor in how long a relationship lasts and it needs to be addressed when the relationship starts getting serious.
Dr. Harriet Lerner, author of “Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up,” covers some of these issues in her book. In an interview with The Huffington Post, Lerner believes that: “The party who wants children needs to get clear about whether the wish for a child is greater than the wish for the relationship—or vice versa.” This is a difficult question for most couples, potentially requiring a great sacrifice for either the parent who wants a child or the parent that doesn’t.
Divorce OR Children. What Comes Next
So, we return to the question. If you can’t imagine having children with your spouse, should you consider getting a divorce? There are a few questions you need to ask yourself in this situation. How important is having children to you or to your spouse? How important is your spouse and your relationship to you? How much are you willing to sacrifice for the relationship?
Many people enter a marriage or relationship thinking that they can change their partner’s mind, but, if you force it, this could lead to frustration and anger in the relationship, either on behalf of the person who may feel forced to have children, or the spouse who feels denied.
Writing with The Globe and Mail, doctor John Gottman believes that: “forcing the issue of kids if your partner is strongly voicing he doesn’t want them is a no-win situation,” which could lead to emotional issues, intimacy issues and, if children are in the picture, poor parenting. People do change, and someone who was opposed to children before could rethink their stance, but it’s important to remember that it must happen on its own, you cannot force the issue.
Unfortunately there is no single answer. If it is becoming an issue within the relationship, it could be a sign of on-going or even future issues that will need to be addressed.
Do You Need Legal Help for Your Divorce?
As experienced divorce lawyers, we’ve seen and heard it all, and we want to help spouses that are going through divorce learn from the common mistakes of others in the same situation. Take our advice: the kinder and more considerate you are, the more likely it is that your spouse will return the favour. Anger only makes a tough situation more difficult.
If you’re looking for support and expert legal representation during this difficult time, our team at Galbraith Family Law can help sort things out, and get you results. Contact us today for a consultation.