Rather out of the blue, my husband of 7 years brought up the baby question, about 5 years after our last conversation on the topic. I came back to him later that evening with one "neutral" (and sufficient) class of reasons why I was not interested in forming another babby: I don't want to give up my current freedoms to go back to the baby/preschooler parenting lifestyle. But behind that there is a big pile of more emotionally charged reasons that I didn't mention, and I don't know if I should.
posted by drlith to Human Relations (38 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
For starters, we are in therapy. Communication issues are one of the items on menu; I have a hard time opening up about my feelings, in part because of my innately reserved nature and in part because when I have delved into deeper and more painful emotional territory with my husband I have rarely gotten a supportive or productive response.
I am 44, and this is my second marriage; I had 2 children from my first marriage, a daughter who is 14 and a son who would be 17 now if he hadn't committed suicide this spring. And that, of course, is really huge. It has been a long, hard row with both kids due to mental health issues --therapy, hospitalizations, medications, etc. for both--and it has been emotionally exhausting for me. And then to lose my son just when things were feeling like there was some payoff for all those years of turmoil...my spirit is still crushed. I go through the motions of my routines pretty well, but I still feel pretty awful on the inside much of the time. I loved my son so deeply and so purely from the very start and all that love was still not enough and...you know...no way no how can I see myself in that position again.
Then there is the issue of my husband and my marriage. When we were engaged/newlyweds, things were all happy happy joy joy between us and we had discussed possibly having a baby sometime in the first couple of years after marriage. My husband has no bio kids. I had a serious health scare within the first 6 months of being married, and this was also the period when my kids' mental health/behavioral situation went from "they're a little difficult to manage" to hospitalizations, meds, social workers, IEPs, etc. The last discussion I remember having on the topic was with a trusted social worker present, and it was basically agreed that my kids needed so much of my focus at that time that it would be a very bad idea to add a new baby to the mix, and possibly not even safe.
My husband's response to all this was to withdraw emotionally from me and the kids. His drinking amped up to drinking problem/alcoholic level, and he neglected/abandoned projects, hobbies, and most household chores. During this period I realized that not only was it a bad situation to bring a baby into, but that I did not see my husband as able to be the kind of involved father/equal parenting partner I wanted.
In the past couple of years things had calmed down to manageable levels with the kids, although there was still more tension and accommodation to mental health issues than you would expect in a "normal" household. My husband has made strides in addressing his drinking issues (but has had multiple relapses this year, after a year of sobriety, both before and after my son's suicide). He is making an effort through therapy and there is some progress in the areas of engagement with the family and household responsibilities, but I think there is still a long way to go in terms of both emotional intimacy and in terms of reforming from his former slacker/bachelor ways. I'm sticking the course for now, but while our marriage is not "on the rocks" it feels like it is still in very rough seas, to me.
In sum, there are two large areas of reasons I don't want another child that I have not shared with my husband: one concerns my unhealed emotional wounds from raising two very challenging children and losing one; the other concerns ongoing and unresolved difficulties in our marriage and my view of my husband as being still behind the curve in terms of my expectations of him as an responsible, engaged husband/partner/stepdad/homeowner. And ever since my husband raised the question of having another child, those issues have been rolling around obsessively in my head.
I don't know if I should discuss either of them with him, or how. I would file "I don't want to have a baby with you because I am worried you would leave most of the work to me and none of your pending projects would ever get done" on the list of things that could be very damaging and unproductive to tell your spouse, even if it's true. But even with the first set of issues, which is really just about me, I am worried it would come out in a way that accuses him of being so completely blind to my current emotional state and how the hell could he not even touching on the issue of Simon's suicide during the two times we talked about this on Monday (which indeed is part of the reason this keeps rolling around in my head).
This is my communication problem at work--I don't know how much to say, or how to say it, so I default to saying nothing. Is there anything to be accomplished by piling onto the very valid reason I've given him for not wanting a baby? (FWIW, I don't think he feels strongly MUST FORM BABBY, so it's not like I need to provide additional reasons to sway his position. Also, we are both aware of the health risks and probabilities of success involved, and that's not the question at issue here).