It’s Not Fair, She Changed the Rules!


They agreed not to have children when they got married, and 5 years later she changed her mind and wants a baby.He loves her and doesn’t want to lose her, but doesn’t want more children. What should he do?

 Transcript: Welcome to Let’s Get Real! Today’s episode is about what to do when your partner changes the rules.

Noah from Nashville writes: “I’m married for the third time to a woman several years younger than I am.  I have two wonderful children from my first marriage who are now adults.  I was clear with my current wife when we talked about getting married that I did not want any more children and she was OK with that.  However, now after 5 years of marriage she wants to have a baby.  I haven’t changed my mind.  This is causing a big problem and I fear she may leave me.  I don’t think it’s fair for her to change her mind when I was very clear with her from the beginning.  I love her and I don’t want to lose her.  What advice can you give me?”

Noah, one thing for sure, change is inevitable.  We make choices based on the information that we have today.  But when things change, it can really threaten the vision we held for our life and for our relationship. And that means  we have to make new decisions.  Noah, we really feel for you because this is a very personal and very difficult set of choices that you have in front of you. But let’s see if we can help.

So Noah, let’s get real.  Relationships are messy and they’re complicated, and they don’t follow the rules that we want them to follow.  People change, needs change, agreements change, and so the rules in a relationship change.  You’re on your third marriage.  We’re sure you understand this really well!

And you’re right, it isn’t fair.  But unfortunately life isn’t fair.  Life doesn’t work the way you want, or you need, or you expect.  It just works the way it works.  Choosing to have children is a serious commitment.  The drive to have children is  just that. It’s a drive. It’s deep in our DNA for survival of the species.  If someone experiences that drive, it’s a requirement for their happiness.  Which means if she doesn’t have children, your wife and your marriage will become unhappy.  And you’re married for the third time, marriage is a commitment,  supposedly a lifetime commitment.  You may not want another child, but do you want another divorce?

So, some strategies to consider in this situation. First, get the facts.  Do some research together about couples that have gone through something similar.  Believe it or not you’re probably not the first one ever.  And, how did it end up for them?  A lot of guys have been in your position and when they had a baby, were they happy?  Or when they left, was their life better?  So do some research and get the facts.  Whenever you have a decision to make, if you’re feeling unsure, it’s probably a good place to start.  Just get the facts.  Get more facts.

Now’s the time to have a serious and nonjudgmental talk with your wife, without the “it’s not fair”.  Explore what this really means to you.  What would be the benefits of having another child?  I’ve known people who have had children with their second relationship who thought that it was so much better the second time around, that they were in a more mature spot emotionally.  They could handle things.  They were more relaxed.  They’re more financially able.  So having the second child, or second set of children, sometimes is a better experience than the first.

And what would be the undesired consequences of having another child?  Certainly, it would change your life, change your marriage, change your future tremendously.  What about that is really a problem for you?  Be very specific, even write it down.  We know it doesn’t feel fair.  We know this isn’t the life you planned for yourself, but quantify the undesired consequences. What specifically is it that’s a problem for you about it? What would happen do you think in the situation that you don’t like?

And, in what ways would your life be different if you got a divorce?  So how do you think it would be different if you had a child, how would it be different in a good way? How would it be different in a bad way or ways that you don’t want?

But also how would your life be different if you got a divorce? Keeping in mind this is going to be your third one.

You also want to explore what this means for your wife.  What exactly is important to her about having children?  Does she have a nurturing desire that maybe could be met in a different way?

Talk about all the options with your wife and what each option would mean to you.  Having a child, could you be happy?  Explore your needs with your wife and ways that they could be met with the addition of a child in your family.

Assume that it’s possible for you to be married and have a child. And if that were possible, what would need to happen for you to be happy in that situation?

Also, explore what would it mean not to have a child.  Could your wife be happy and fulfilled?  But would she be unhappy and regret it for the rest of her life?

Could her need for a child be met in a different way? Could you guys be foster parents?  Could you adopt an older child? You wouldn’t have to deal with the baby.  You could become a surrogate grandparents to a friend or a neighbor’s child.  Babysit, let them have a weekly date night.  They would love that.  It would be a win for you and you’re supporting your wife to have children in her life.  And maybe she could find a volunteer opportunity in the community, working with children.

So explore this with your wife fully, all the options and the consequences.  If the outcome of your discussions are that she requires a child of her own to be happy and having another child would make you unhappy, then you need to explore if you need to leave the relationship behind in order to honor each of your needs.

This will be a huge decision, and we highly recommend that you seek a professional to help you become clear and help guide you in this decision.

So if you have an idea, a suggestion or a comment for Noah, please enter it in the comment box below and let’s help him decide what to do when his partner changes the rules.

And please do remember that telling the truth has consequences.  It’s the only way to have a fulfilling relationship but not all relationships can handle the truth.  So if this is your situation, please do get the support you need from a qualified therapist, counselor, or coach.  Thanks for watching and bye for now.



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