For some couples, deciding to have children is a no-brainer. Of course they will, it’s just a matter of when and how many. Once you decide on the “when” and have your first baby, what do you do if the “how many” is different for each of you? How do you negotiate one of life’s biggest decisions when your fantasy of the perfect family is different from your partner's vision?
1. Determine why you want another baby.
Why do you want another baby? It might sound like a crazy question, but sometimes it helps to consider your reasons. Someone who is an only child might have fond memories of that experience, while someone else might have hated being an only and not want that for their own child.
“I come from a big family of five kids, so the idea of having only one child made me really sad,” says Rebecca, a mother of two. “I wanted four, but my husband really only wanted one. We compromised and had two.”
There is no perfect number when it comes to having kids and we all bring our own emotional baggage to the table when it comes to family planning. Knowing why you want another baby and being able to explain that to your husband will help you make the decision together.
2. Discuss your reasons for wanting a baby, but listen to your partner's reasons for not wanting another.
It’s important to have a discussion about why you each want something different. It’s not enough to just say you want another baby—or for him to say he doesn’t—you really need to talk about it. Yes, accidents happen, but that’s not the best way of convincing your spouse to have another baby. Listen to his concerns. Is it financial worries that are impacting his decision? Or is it emotional?
“I had a lot of health issues with my second pregnancy and an emergency C-section, so my husband was terrified of something happening to me if I had another baby. We talked to my ob-gyn, who convinced me to wait another year and convinced my husband that I would be monitored very closely and the risks would be minimal. We have our three now and we’re both happy,” says Ellen. Knowing why he is against expanding your family will help you understand his point of view.
3. Weigh the impact of another child on your family life and your marriage.
In hindsight, I wanted something positive to focus on when it seemed like so much else was going wrong.
It’s hard to put logic ahead of emotions, but when it comes to family size, things like finances and housing are often important considerations. Can you afford another child? Will your other child(ren) be able to adjust to another sibling? Would another child put an unreasonable strain on your marriage? Be honest with yourself and each other about what it would mean to have another child.
“We were struggling, but I couldn’t shake this need for another baby. In hindsight, I wanted something positive to focus on when it seemed like so much else was going wrong. It wasn’t the right time for us to add to our family and my husband made me realize that. It’s been two years and things are better in every way, but now I don’t want another baby,” says Rachel, mother of two.
4. Wait a year, then revisit the subject.
They say timing is everything and maybe that’s never been more true than when it comes to planning the size of your family. If you are set on having another baby and your husband is convinced he doesn’t want any more children, maybe your timing is just off. For Rachel, time (and improved circumstances) made her less interested in expanding her family while for Ellen, time gave her husband peace of mind. A year can seem like a very long time when you’re aching to get pregnant, but it can also offer some clarity and give you a chance to resolve whatever issues are causing your spouse’s reluctance. There’s no guarantee that waiting will change his mind—or yours—but it might help you see each other’s perspective better and let you find a way to compromise. So take a break and give it time.