We both want a baby - but can't agree on when
May 5, 2014 12:03 PM   Subscribe

My fiancee and I are getting married in August 2015, next year. We have had all the big talks about our future, including children. Previously, we were happy to wait until we were married to have children, but recently she has been changing her mind. What gives?

My fiancee and I are getting married in August 2015, next year. We have had all the big talks about our future, including children. Previously, we were happy to wait until we were married to have children, but recently she has been changing her mind.

She now wants to start trying for children immediately (since about a month ago), for the reasons below:

1. She will be turning 30 a few months after the wedding, and doesn't want to be "an old mother"

2. She doesn't want to be pregnant during the wedding, so it needs to be before.

3. She feels that if we agree on having children (which we do) then why do we need to wait.

On the other hand, I want to wait until after we're married for the reasons below, that previously we had both agreed on:

1. She has 2 children from a previous unmarried relationship, and she wanted her next child/ren to be born in wedlock

2. My job will be requiring me to go away a lot during the next year, so I won't be around much before the wedding (therefore missing out on the pregnancy - this will be my first!)

3. I was brought up with the idea that you had children after marriage. This is a personal hangup to me, but it is difficult to shake off.

4. We're still saving money to pay for the wedding, we didn't think we'd be financially stable enough for a child as well

After we're married, my job will calm down, and we'll have more money behind us

I love her lots, and we have a good relationship. We agree a lot about things, and I value her judgement. This time, I can't understand her point of view - and why it has changed.

Are her reasons justified? Is there a middle ground? How is best to respond to her? Can you help me to understand her better ( and yes, we have talked about this lots over the last month)

Thank you.
posted by Petrot to Human Relations (36 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This is not a paint chip you can hold up to a color wheel and say, "Yes, this is definitely Blue." And there is no middle ground on having kids. If both people don't want kids, you shouldn't have kids.

But that doesn't mean she's not "justified" in wanting them now, and if you can't understand that people sometimes change their minds -- on things large and small -- then I have to ask whether you're genuinely ready for marriage. I'm saying this from personal experience: Precedent is for courtrooms, not for bedrooms.
posted by Etrigan at 12:12 PM on May 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

You could always scrap the "wedding" and go to city hall this week. That would solve numbers 1, 2, 3 and numbers 1, 3, 4 on your lists.
posted by melissasaurus at 12:13 PM on May 5, 2014 [56 favorites]

This is probably emotional. So it's "justified." In case it is not, here are my thoughts...

But 30 is no longer considered old, especially if it's not her first child. I would say that having a child at 40 is probably considered an older mother now.

As for number 2, there is no guarantee that she will get pregnant within x months after you start trying. What if she's actually really pregnant for the wedding? Or still on bed rest, especially if there are complications? If she does not want to be pregnant for the wedding, then she should wait until after the wedding. Besides, how is she going to find a dress (if she's into that) if she's going to be pregnant? How is she going to predict her body shape post-pregnancy? (Especially if she plans to breastfeed.)

As for number 3: Wedding planning is stressful! We are generally practical and steady people who just recently had a 38 people (read: small) wedding and it caused a ton of stress. Hormones going everywhere. Not getting enough sleep. Eating poorly. That kind of stuff. She probably does NOT want to be pregnant or dealing with a new baby WHILE ALSO trying to deal with vendors (we had our table/chair/flatware/silverware rental reservation randomly canceled by someone calling in!) and relatives wanting this and that and dealing with last minute details.

Also, weddings are expensive. And babies are expensive. Financially, it's probably better to space them apart.

If you want to compromise, tell her you can start just a bit before the wedding, so the baby bump won't show yet. BUT that is also largely dependent on her not retaining water even during early pregnancy, and not having morning sickness. Remember that each pregnancy is different, so even if she hasn't experienced something before doesn't mean she won't now. (And does she really want to have to deal with morning sickness while inched into a beautiful and expensive wedding dress?)

So I think it's just better to wait, like your original plan.

(But in case she really wants to start trying now, tell her that you'll elope at city hall. And maybe have a large reception with the family later. Saves money and gets rid of your objections.)
posted by ethidda at 12:14 PM on May 5, 2014 [10 favorites]

I don't know your fiancee so this is all surmise, but here are some thoughts which might be helpful as you think about this.

She might well be scared; she's turning 30 and there is a lot of talk about lower fertility rates for women around that age. Also, getting married, while potentially wonderful, can also be a very frightening experience and it might change the way you think about things. My guess is that she is currently feeling uncertain and anxious about the future and also very excited about getting married to you and starting/continuing a life together and this is one way in which these feelings are manifesting themselves.

In terms of her point number two, it can take a while to get pregnant and there's no guarantee if you start now she won't be pregnant during the wedding.

Very very best wishes to both of you -- this sounds like an exciting time but also one with a lot of changes for her and it seems like maybe in some way she's looking for some stability and assurance as things move forward.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:15 PM on May 5, 2014

The fallacy of the missing middle. Get married now.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:17 PM on May 5, 2014 [16 favorites]

This is something you need to talk to your wife about instead of soliciting the input of people on the internet about whether her desire to have kids now is valid or justified. Why not say, "I love you and am excited about our future together, and the thought of starting a family makes me really happy. I feel like we've gone in a different direction about timing and I am not sure I understand why. What's going on for you? I want to be on the same page because I love you."
posted by Hermione Granger at 12:17 PM on May 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

She will be turning 30 a few months after the wedding, and doesn't want to be "an old mother"

I think she's having an 'I'm turning 30' freakout.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:19 PM on May 5, 2014 [47 favorites]

Oh, and when she gives you her reasons, don't refute them. Ask more questions, like, "Tell me more about why being 30 and then having a kid makes you uncomfortable.", "You seem stressed out. Is something else going on? How can I help?"

Her feelings and concerns are valid to her, and therefore as her future partner you should have a vested interest in validating and dialoguing with her. Don't shut her down. She needs you on her team right now and always.
posted by Hermione Granger at 12:20 PM on May 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

I think you two need to have a deeper, more complete discussion about this. To me, her reasons don't seem logical. But I don't mean that in a pejorative way - often the decision to have children is an emotional, rather than logical one. I just wonder if there is more going on with her than she's telling you. Maybe she fears that she won't be able to have kids if you start trying when she's 30 (if so you should point her to this article). Maybe she has a strong sense of her biological clock ticking, or maybe it's something else entirely. At any rate, I think this goes deeper than what you've listed out.

Your reasons seem more logical to me, but this isn't one of those circumstances in which logic always prevails. I really think you need to sit down and actually create a plan for each of three different scenarios:
1. You start trying for a baby now
2. You move up the wedding (maybe having something much smaller) and then start trying for a baby
3. You wait until August 2015 to get married and then start trying for a baby
For each scenario, you should create a realistic baby budget, a plan for baby care and prenatal support for her, a timeline and budget for wedding planning, and the pros/cons you each see in each arrangement. You should talk openly, honestly and respectfully about each of these options, and you need to come to a decision together. It doesn't matter if everyone on Metafilter thinks you're right - if you can't come to a compromise about something like this, there is still work to do in your relationship before moving forward.
posted by leitmotif at 12:21 PM on May 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Is there any stress in the relationship, where she may be feeling that you might not go through with marrying her? I don't know...it could be an "I'm turning 30" freakout, but I wonder if this is a, "I'm worried about you getting cold feet about the wedding" freakout?
posted by xingcat at 12:22 PM on May 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

I'd be sitting down and having a long conversation about why the sudden change of mind. Frankly, a lot of her reasons seem really illogical (from my perspective). In today's society 30 isn't an "old" mother, there is zero guarantee that she'd be able to get pregnant in the short period of time she is looking for (plus having the pregnancy making doing all the normal wedding stuff like finding a dress a lot harder), what if she had post-partum depression during the wedding, and as for "why wait"... well, you listed them all yourself.

Something else is going on here. Maybe it is a "turning 30 freak out", maybe she's worried about fertility, maybe she's worried about how old you'll both be when you have an empty nest, maybe she is already pregnant by someone else and is looking for a way to make it seem like it could be yours, maybe she feels being pregnant and not "alone" would make your being gone and travelling for work easier for her, or maybe she just really wants to get pregnant right now for no specific reason other than that it feels right.... Her change of heart could be a thousand things. You need to talk to your fiance.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 12:23 PM on May 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Unless you are independently wealthy, saving and spending for a wedding is a total waste of money if you already have children and want more .

I can think of a million ways you could have a meaningful wedding without spending heaps.

I've done both ways and I have a child. The wedding/party is ENTIRELY over-rated and frivolous spending is frightening when you are supporting a family.

I'm sorta wondering what your family and financial situation is here. I feel like your fiancé can have one or the other - but not both at the same time.

What kind of child support is she getting from her co-parent? Is it possible she just doesn't "get" it?

Why would she want to go through with a pregnancy mostly alone?


As a woman of 44, I entirely remember the pressure of turning 30. I think this is hormonal, mixed with strong strong awful negative societal pressures.

Be gentle. She's not entirely thinking things through and it isn't really her fault.
posted by jbenben at 12:24 PM on May 5, 2014 [20 favorites]

There's basically a laundry list of anxieties probably involved here. Turning 30. Getting married. Planning a wedding, separate from the marriage part. Having a baby. Your upcoming travel. Anxiety isn't rational--but it is normal. It seems like the first course here should be a lot of heavy-duty reassurance that you guys are both still young, some research into what this would mean as far as your finances and such, some talking about your own concerns about not being around, a lot more reassurances, and so on. And then decide after you're both feeling slightly more relaxed.
posted by Sequence at 12:25 PM on May 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you both want a wedding with all/some trimmings, I think having to deal with a baby/breastfeeding/post-partum stuff would be a good-sized additional amount of stress on you two and her kids.
I'm a lot more brusque than other posters here, as I don't think 30 is remotely old to be having a 3rd pregnancy, and I tend to agree with you about the marriage, then baby chain of events. Does she really want to deal with wedding plans and pregnancy while you're traveling? I understand that logic might not carry the day, but it sounds to me like she's trying to cram a lot into a limited amount of time.
Have you thought of pre-marital counseling? I'm not one who suggests therapy in every answer, but this might be a good use of your time.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:43 PM on May 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

If she wants to start getting pregnant, then skip the big church wedding, go to the Registry Office, and then have a baby instead of a big wedding.

All the rest is noise. If you're in love, ready for marriage and children, then whether or not you have a big floofy party is the very least of it. Get married, and have children.

Planning children is great in theory, but pregnancy happens if and when it happens. You can't schedule it. So you have all these things you want to tick the boxes, but that only works if you can bend the universe to your will.

Both of your opinions matter. Do YOU want to speed up the time table? If not, you get a vote too. If she has anxiety about being pregnant after the wedding, schedule a doctors appointment to get professional input.

For some people, having a baby isn't just a logical decision, it's emotional and for some women, hormonal. But that doesn't mean you have to go along with the program.

The big question is, do you love each other enough to scrap your original wedding plans to do a quickie wedding, and have a baby earlier than you origianally planned, so that you can both be pleased?

If the wedding is a sticking point for her, and if being married is a sticking point for you...then think about an intermediary to counsel you on this.

I always suggest some sort of pre-marital counseling, so you can discuss everything, get on the same page as your partner, and really solidify your committment to each other. If you're religious, does your church/synogogue offer such a thing? It should be easy to find.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:44 PM on May 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

Sorry, but none of her reasoning makes any sense at all. Is it possible she's just afraid you'll get cold feet about the marriage or about having kids? Because " She doesn't want to be pregnant during the wedding, so it needs to be before." So is she wanting to get married sooner rather than later and feels that a pregnancy would seal the deal more? Or is she afraid you might change your mind about the kids so she wants to make sure you're serious about that before being legally tied to you?

"She will be turning 30 a few months after the wedding, and doesn't want to be "an old mother" From what you've told us though she already a young mother to two other kids so that doesn't make any sense either.

"She feels that if we agree on having children (which we do) then why do we need to wait." Again I am left believing that she is afraid you'll back out of either wanting a kid or wanting marriage so she wants some insurance.

This is the only reason that makes sense to me. Her reasons can't possibly be the real reasons. She's scared of something.
posted by manderin at 12:52 PM on May 5, 2014 [10 favorites]

maybe she is already pregnant by someone else and is looking for a way to make it seem like it could be yours

that's a horrible thing to say, and kind of out of left field given his question.

Talk to her but my guess is its the OMG BABIES AFTER 30 YOU'RE DEAD!!!! fear mongering that is pushed at women.

I think your reasoning for wanting your life to be more stable before a baby arrives makes sense and is good planning. But something is clearly bothering her so just ask, and reassure her that you'll try for the behbehs once things settle down. Pick a month if that makes it better and reference it often; We'll start the night of August 2015 so don't take pills that month darling!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:53 PM on May 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

I agree with everyone that says ask her if she's willing to skip the wedding, and go down to City Hall tomorrow. It doesn't fix your job situation, but if she's willing to possibly be pregnant and with three children including a newborn on her own, then okay.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:57 PM on May 5, 2014

I don't have much to add that others haven't covered. This is really something you have to work out with her (her concerns, your concerns). BUT please use condoms or another form of birth control for the time being while you are working this out. If she's currently on birth control pills, she may become less diligent about taking them if she wants to get pregnant now.
posted by amaire at 12:59 PM on May 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's a little strange that you're framing this question as one about "having" children. You already have children! Two of them (I'm assuming they live with her). Children are not your "future", they're your present. She birthed them but if you're getting married, they're yours, too. So really, you're talking about having a third child, which doesn't seem like such a leap to me if you already have two. She took care of them before you came along, why would it be that much harder to throw a third into the mix when you're still in the relationship and just traveling? I do get that saving for a fancy wedding and planning for a third child could definitely be incompatible financial goals, so the two of you should probably discuss which of those is more important.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:24 PM on May 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

I knew before I clicked on this that your fiance would be right about thirty.

Her biological clock is ticking. That's not something that can be explained away in terms of black and white rationality. Personally, in my late twenties, I went from not wanting children at all to thinking BABIES PUT THEM IN MY UTERUS every time I saw my husband be the least be affectionate to a small child or animal. Now, not every woman feels this, or feels it in the same way, but it's not stupid or crazy. She likely has hormones sloshing around in her and is also feeling quite a bit of the societal pressure described above. Further, this is likely better understood in the context of her society and family. If among her friends, women just generally don't have children after thirty--if her mother had children young, and if many women of her acquaintance do--the pressure is intensified. I know other women who felt as she does, though I, personally, don't.

(But then, I'm friends with grad students and New Yorkers, who often have children later, and my mother had me at 35.)

I think the advice to consider moving up and scaling down your wedding is a good one, but if that doesn't work for you, I think the best approach is one of understanding and empathy not, my god, what you're saying is sooo irrational why would you think that. This is how she feels, and those feelings are valid even if you don't feel the same way.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:42 PM on May 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have known couples who have had birth control failures, where she asked him in the abstract whether he would want to be a dad, and kind of pushed him on it when he said he wasn't ready, and only based on his answer was she ready to tell him she was already pregnant (his child, of course).

If there's any possibility that she has already had a birth control failure that she is still working up the courage to tell you about, very strong opposition to "immediate" pregnancy might be more hurtful than you know.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 1:48 PM on May 5, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'll add to the idea that this is a Turning 30 thing, and also potentially a reaction to the fact that your wedding is set for a long, long way in the future. August of 2015? That's almost a year and a half from now. If she's feeling the hormonal pull of Baby Crazy*, and she's feeling worried about turning 30 and fertility, and she feels like the wedding is a long way off, this is all coming to a head to send a flashing BUT WHY NOT JUST DO IT NOW light into her brain.

I agree with you that the logical arguments are on your side, here -- you want to play an active role in the pregnancy, and also money is tight.

However, it's pretty clear that her arguments are not coming from a practical standpoint, and just reducing all this to a math problem most likely will not work as a way to have this conversation in a non-adversarial fashion. What you need to be doing here is reassuring her that you have all the time in the world to have a baby together, and it's all going to be OK, and maybe being willing to compromise on some things that would make her feel better about it.

The first compromise that comes to mind for me is moving the wedding forward. As someone in my 30s who eventually wants kids, I'd be antsy putting it off for after an expensive wedding that is 2 years away, too, and I feel like I'm pretty rational about all the fertility hysteria noise that tends to go around. I'm not saying you've got to go to the courthouse tomorrow, but late 2015? Really? If having a kid soonish is more important to her than engraved invitations and a $5000 dress, why wait so long?

*Total guess: does she have friends/family who are pregnant or have new babies right now? I feel like that sets something off in people, especially if her kids are older. Super especially if she's a stay at home mom and her kids are now school aged.
posted by Sara C. at 1:51 PM on May 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree that your fiances' biological clock is ticking and with 30 approaching it probably lit a fire under her regarding the issue of children. But her reasons for wanting to hurry things just seem selfish. -She- doesn't want to be an 'old mom' (30 is not even close to 'old mom'). - She- doesn't want to be pregnant for the wedding (understandable, but why can't it be after the wedding?). She feels if you agreed to have them, you should just have them (so...screw any/all planning?). None of her reasons seem to have anything to do with you or you, as a couple.

So you could certainly take the advice of scaling back your wedding and having it much sooner, but that doesn't really address the biggest obstacle: that you'll be gone frequently in the next year. And that alone seems like reason enough to hold off on trying for babies. I could be wrong, but I'm getting the impression that you'd really like to be a part of the pregnancy, so I would make sure you really convey that to her - if you hurry the issue of having children, you don't get to participate in ANY of the pregnancy - and as a first-time dad, that'd be a damn shame.

Also...yeah, weddings and babies are expensive. But if you have a wedding first, you can easily start to save back up again. If you have a baby first, it's unlikely you'll ever get the chance to save back up for that wedding.
posted by stubbehtail at 2:03 PM on May 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you need to just weigh the priorities -- what's more important, the baby or the big party? Perhaps you could scale back the shindig and have it in early fall. I planned my wedding in the space of three months, and it worked out fine -- having the great big party wouldn't have made us any "more" married.

30 is not in the "old mom" territory, either, but milestone numbers like that freak some people out. Be gentle with her.
posted by Ostara at 2:09 PM on May 5, 2014

It's probably not worth the drama that you will get waiting to have a proper wedding next year with all the trimmings if she wants a baby right this second. Just elope and have the "renewal of vows" after the baby's born if you have to.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:13 PM on May 5, 2014

Because you mentioned she has expressed worry about being an "older mom": does she have friends/family who are experiencing primary or secondary infertility? (I know she has already given birth to two kids, but secondary infertility=difficulty conceiving subsequent children.) If so, she might be worried that it will take longer to conceive another child and thus knows starting to "try" now doesn't guarantee she'll be pregnant by your wedding. However, by starting now, if there are problems, she'll be able to investigate fertility issues with specialists before too much time has passed.

This might be something to listen for when you talk to her about her change of plans, and give you some insight into where she's coming from.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:28 PM on May 5, 2014

So, she is apparently 28 and has two kids. Presumably, she has custody (or shares custody). I don't think I have seen this touched on:

How old is the youngest kid currently? Did that kid maybe start school full time this past year?

I was a military wife. Military spouse's typically have about a 30% unemployment rate compared to the typical 6% or whatever for civilians. So you see more fulltime moms in the military than outside of it. And a fair number of them get the baby bug again once the second kiddo starts school full time. My experience was that after both kids were in school, I had too little to really keep me fully occupied but also too many responsibilities to really seriously pursue a career full time. I didn't get the baby bug again (instead, I began trying to go back to school), but it did occur to me that a third kid would have filled my life without conflicting with my current responsibilities. (I have also heard of a few women who suddenly wanted another baby when the youngest got be about 17 or 18 and they were facing possible empty nest syndrome.)

You say you will be mostly gone for parts of the foreseeable future. If she is used to having two high needs little kids AND male attention and now they are older and you are gone, even if she is working, she may be feeling an absence of something in her life and wanting that filled. I had a very hard time adjusting to baby #2 who was essentially healthy and happy and not the bottomless pit of need that my first one had been. I commented on that in some way to the mother of a friend one time and she replied "It sounds like MOM needs more attention" or something like that. For me, that was an epiphany. "Um, yeah, I feel like baby doesn't really love/need me" or something.

So I am wondering if she is getting imposed on less than she is used to and suddenly feeling very needy, like her life is "empty", instead of feeling relieved at being less imposed upon. And age of the kids might be a factor, as well as whatever is going on with your schedule.
posted by Michele in California at 2:49 PM on May 5, 2014 [7 favorites]

I don't know, I think that if both partners aren't 100% on board with having a kid, then you shouldn't have a kid. If you're not ready yet, you're not ready, and that's fine. I really think she will have to be the one to compromise here, unless you have a major change of heart.

I noticed that you said she is turning 30 after the wedding that is planned for 15 months from now... so she's 28 now? She'll be just as fertile in 15 months as she is now.
posted by Asparagus at 2:55 PM on May 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree she's having an 'I'm turning 30' freakout, and that's fair enough. What's also fair is for you to say "Having a child is something we're doing together and it's important to me to be present for as much of it as possible. I can't do that now, and I don't want to miss out."

Everything else can be argued with. That, not so much.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:07 PM on May 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

This is an emotional issue with a fair bit of nuance.

That said, I would say that a) 30 is not that old at all and b) trying to have the kid before the wedding could be extremely unpredictable. Conception doesn't always happen instantly, plus life obviously becomes more complicated, and not less, after a new baby. Planning a wedding with a new baby (or toddler) sounds much more stressful than taking care of the wedding first.

But, that's only responding to the surface logic of things.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:36 PM on May 5, 2014

I don't have kids but I know my body started feeling more tired after 27. I started getting back pain and pinched nerves and weirdly more painful PMS. My boobs grew two cup sizes out of the blue. And I hadn't even ever had a baby.

Maybe she feels like doing it as soon as possible might feel better for her. She's the one carrying the thing for 9 months and experiencing the wear and tear
posted by discopolo at 4:53 PM on May 5, 2014

It doesn't really matter if her reasons are justified, it's more whether the two of you can determine a middle ground and stick to it. If she is really, really set on starting to try for a baby now, and you are really, really set on sticking to the original plan, there's not a lot of room there. How strongly does each of you feel about the timeline?
posted by sm1tten at 5:06 PM on May 5, 2014

Also, I think that "old mother" is highly culturally dependent, and I suspect MeFi skews towards older parents. So while I personally don't think thirty is "old" to have a baby, I also know my kids were born more than ten years after many people I grew up with had their kids-- thirty may indeed feel very old to her, depending on her surroundings, and it's a little dismissive to just invalidate her feelings based on the MeFi cultural norms.
posted by instamatic at 6:43 PM on May 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

Many people have mentioned the quite plausible "turning 30 freak out", but I am curious about her other relationship(s) that her current children came from. You are about to be more absent for the next year due to work...are there some abandonment fears there? She may not even realize that's what is going on. I think you should talk to her on a more emotional (not logical) level. Ask her what she might be fearful of, but don't put words in her mouth. Let her talk and see what comes out.

And getting married now is always an option. It just depends on what the higher priority is...a big wedding or a family/baby. I sense she has some emotions that need sorting through first though...
posted by MultiFaceted at 8:31 PM on May 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for all your help and advice guys. Turns out it was a hormonal thing - for which she apologised (not that she needed to). We talked about it a lot, and we've agreed to move the wedding date closer, and to make it a smaller affair.
posted by Petrot at 8:13 AM on July 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

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