Desperately want a family...but not with husband
November 18, 2015 3:04 PM   Subscribe

Going on three years of marriage after a tumultuous two years of dating and an even more tumultuous engagement. I got married because at the time I was 33 and I thought my time was running out. I wanted to get married and start a family right away. Then I realized I don't love or even like my husband very much at all.

He is shiftless, hasn't held down a steady job, doesn't have a real career. He won't go back to school. He doesn't have a car, takes the train everywhere, to his nickel and dime waiter jobs. I pay for pretty much everything. He lashes out when asked about his plans for the future. He curses and breaks things (hasn't physically abused me but has torn up everything around me.) I don't feel compatible with him in any way. The crazy thing is he knows this but seems content to stay with someone who's not in love with him. He often asks me why I haven't left yet but he knows the answer: I keep waiting on things to change. It doesn't look they are going to and I'm at an impasse. I've contemplated this situation ad nauseam to the point it's making me crazy so I need some outside input. I am especially looking for input from "realists," people who have had to make non-ideal decisions in life and how things turned out for you once you did.

At 36, the chances of my getting out there and finding someone, dating long enough, etc. to even get to the marriage stage much less the baby stage are slim to none. Even the thought of it overwhelms me. So I have to make a hard decision. I have to resign myself to living what will almost certainly be a miserable life with this person forever, procreating with him, and just making the best of a bad situation or procreating with him and leaving but still be tied to him because of a baby or of course, option three, leaving and facing the great abyss out there. I just don't know what to do. This could be my only chance to be a mom as time is not on my side anymore, and I don't want to look back ten years from now and regret letting the opportunity go.

Have you ever been faced with a situation like this? Every angle seems like a bad road, but you made a decision, not the ideal one but a "real" one and you are living to tell about it. I need to hear these kind of stories. I need to know that while for some inexplicable reason, most people seem to get it right or at least semi-right, as in they marry people they are compatible with enough to have some semblance of a life with and they make it work to a respectable degree, there are some who don't get it right, whose life is messy and stressful and they still make it through. I don't know what to do and most of my peers went the "normal" route and have moved on with their normal lives and I'm stuck here having to contemplate living this unfulfilled life with this loser who is unfortunately the best prospect for becoming a mother. I need some advice! If you have a messy story, please share so I can feel not so alone in this mess. Thanks in advance.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (79 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Things won't change. Having a baby with someone who is irresponsible and violent is not fair to you or (especially) to the child - you'd be better off having one on your own (via a sperm donor or whatnot) then doing that with this man.

Leave. There is literally no upside to staying. None. Get out, and do it now. This relationship is a sunk cost and that sucks, but staying won't make it better, it will make it worse.
posted by brainmouse at 3:08 PM on November 18, 2015 [133 favorites]

I was a bit younger than you. Divorce sucked and it was really hard, but being alone was way better than the alternative. And then I became a happier person and I met someone and life continued and now I have a great husband and two perfect children. But I had to be happy on my own before the rest could follow.
posted by stowaway at 3:08 PM on November 18, 2015 [23 favorites]

Do not have a baby with this man. I have a 3month old and it is SO stressful. Thank heavens I have a solid foundation with my partner and we can weather this. I can't imagine having a baby on top of your current ills. The stress would be toxic.

If you want a baby as bad as you say you do (and really examine this - babies are HARD), then dump the guy and have one on your own. Save up for 3 months leave, pay for child care and enjoy your baby.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 3:10 PM on November 18, 2015 [37 favorites]

I met my husband when I was in my late 30s and we had a baby when I was 41. So it can happen. You can also decide to have a child on your own without being tied to this guy. I have many friends who have chosen this route to motherhood, either through adoption or through IVF. Don't give yourself artificial limitations. And honestly if you feel like this about your husband now, I wouldn't even CONSIDER having a child with him, however frustrated you are right now, a baby / toddler / small child is going to multiply those tenfold.
posted by yogalemon at 3:11 PM on November 18, 2015 [26 favorites]

You know, you don't necessarily need a husband to have a baby.
posted by chatongriffes at 3:11 PM on November 18, 2015 [96 favorites]

I have several friends - women - who have met, courted, and got married in their 40s and all but one of them is either now pregnant or just had a baby. A few of them were married to other men previously and got divorced.

Move on. Do it now.
posted by The World Famous at 3:12 PM on November 18, 2015 [10 favorites]

i agree. it's time to move on. and you can have a baby on your own. people do it, every single day. divorce your husband, take a little time to get comfortable with yourself, and then enjoy your future with your eventual kid.
posted by koroshiya at 3:14 PM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

DO NOT HAVE A BABY WITH THIS PERSON. Get out of the relationship. You know that's the answer even if you don't want to hear it.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 3:15 PM on November 18, 2015 [20 favorites]

There's "being realistic about the choices you've made" and there's "living with someone violent enough that you have to stop and specify - he breaks stuff, but not me!" It sounds like bringing a baby into this situation and tying both you and the baby to this person permanently is the worst possible of the options you've laid out here.

I would strongly recommend you get your ducks in a row to leave safely, and leave. You can figure out, once you have some distance, whether you want to pursue baby-having another way (via finding a new partner, via single parenting, or whatever), or how to live a fulfilling life without being a parent if that's how the chips fall. You sound totally capable of doing either of those things, once your husband is out of the picture.

Good luck, and take care of yourself.
posted by Stacey at 3:17 PM on November 18, 2015 [7 favorites]

At 36, the chances of my getting out there and finding someone, dating long enough, etc. to even get to the marriage stage much less the baby stage are slim to none.

I hate to tell you, but this could be very true. My messy story is that I (now 46) wanted, wanted kids more than anything. Desperately. But no one wanted, or wants, to date me. Sure, there were a few losers looking for a meal ticket/domestic slave, but I couldn't bring myself to go out with them more than a few times, never mind sleep with them every night and love them. And I had to ask myself, ok, do I want to have a kid by myself via donor? That is an option. But for me, given my finances and the amount of work involved, I decided that I would rather give up the dream rather than risk getting into a car accident due to being so tired from taking care of a baby alone without help. It was, and is, an incredibly painful decision, and I live with it every day. But the alternatives were worse. You only have bad choices, I'm so sorry; you need to make the least bad choice for you.
posted by Melismata at 3:18 PM on November 18, 2015 [37 favorites]

You sound like you feel trapped, which is a truly miserable feeling. But the truth is, you're not trapped. You don't have to be tied to your husband in any way if you don't want to be. And you can still have a child without him. I think you must realize this. Don't look for ways for happiness to elude you and use those as an excuse to never even attempt to find happiness.
posted by a strong female character at 3:18 PM on November 18, 2015 [5 favorites]

Why the fuck would you knowingly saddle a child with a shiftless parent?

Leave. Conceive and parent on your own.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:18 PM on November 18, 2015 [34 favorites]

Wow, you're even considering this guy as a potential father of your children? You want him to teach the next generation his ways? You're considering living forever in a life you describe as miserable?

That you even think that this is a acceptable option tells me that nevermind him, YOU are not in a situation where you ought to be having children.
posted by mollymayhem at 3:19 PM on November 18, 2015 [23 favorites]

Please don't have a child with someone who is already abusive. It is certainly not going to make him less abusive.
posted by desjardins at 3:30 PM on November 18, 2015 [18 favorites]

it's also a shitty thing to do to the father (have a child knowing you will then leave).
posted by andrewcooke at 3:38 PM on November 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

There is a lot to unpack in your question but the most relevant thing is:

If you "don't love or even like [your] husband very much at all" having a child with him is a shitty thing to do to yourself, to your child and to your husband. If you decide you want a child, with or without a husband, don't have your husband's child because [long complicated legal things, assuming you're in the US] essentially mean you are doing the really shitty thing of having a child with a person you know you dislike and don't respect.

Leave your husband, sort yourself out. Then worry about becoming a parent.
posted by crush-onastick at 3:44 PM on November 18, 2015 [6 favorites]

Option 1, staying with this person, is obviously a total non-starter. You sound like you really hate him and he's not good to you. Bringing a child into that would be foolish and wrong. And if you're not going to have a child there's no point to stay, so get out posthaste.

I'm single and 41 and its waaaaaay better than the relationship you're in.
posted by MsMolly at 3:45 PM on November 18, 2015 [5 favorites]

Girl. GIRL.

Step 1: Get divorced from this dickhead.
Step 2: Research options for becoming certified as a foster parent in your state.
Step 3: Research options for artificial insemination.
Step 4: Become a happy, if somewhat stressed, single-parent family via one of these methods.
(Step 5: Date if you want to)

One of my BFFs found herself in a similar situation at 36 and became a foster parent and fostered-to-adopt two children. (It was manageable financially as a single parent of special-needs infants partly because the state pays for daycare.) When she was 38 and HAD TWO FOSTER CHILDREN she started dating the man she eventually married, who she knew was a keeper when he went through the foster parent vetting process as a preliminary to proposing. They had a biological child together when she was 40. But she already had a happy, permanent family before he came along. She said she realized she was dating shitheads because she was so desperate for a family, and it slowly dawned in her that YOU DON'T NEED A DUDE TO MAKE A FAMILY. (She also considered insemination but for various health reasons ruled it out and opted to foster.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:46 PM on November 18, 2015 [93 favorites]

Go for the great abyss. Give up this idea you have about a stand-in husband & 2.5 kids and a busted-ass picket fence being better than a self-determined life. It's true that being single isn't always a cakewalk, but throwing your lot in with the wrong person - for the rest of your life, if you have kids with them - is far, far worse.

Other people's stories, and statistics, have no bearing on how things will turn out for you in your particular life.

If you want a kid, barring medical obstacles (although, there are other options, of course), you can make it happen without a partner - 36 isn't "too old". You might be poorer that way, and it'll be harder. Or, you can let it go and live differently.

Yes, sometimes you have to choose one thing over another. This marriage shouldn't be on the menu.
posted by cotton dress sock at 3:47 PM on November 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


I did this. You will find someone before or after your first baby. It will be OK. Divorce this guy.

The sooner you leave, the quicker your real life starts.

PS, and with kindness.... What you describe is abuse. You can not stay in this situation. Courage. Take care of yourself and be well.
posted by jbenben at 3:54 PM on November 18, 2015 [15 favorites]

Oh boy. What a terrible, terrible idea to consider having a kid with this guy. What a terrible thing to do to a kid.

I could write a 500 page report about how shitty this will turn out but just know this would be a very bad thing to do and it would be your fault. Every time your ex horribly disappointed your kid you couldn't be mad at him. You'd have to be mad at yourself.

There are so, so many better options.
posted by ReluctantViking at 3:54 PM on November 18, 2015 [10 favorites]

The sooner you are rid of him, the sooner you'll be able to see clearly and make clear decisions. Right now, what you see is totally messed up by your current stressors.

I divorced. No kids. I paid alimony for 6 years and while it bugged me to pay him for every reason on god's green earth, whenever I started to get angry about it, I would stop myself and think about how much being rid of him was worth. It was worth every penny and more. And from the moment we began living apart, it was like an enormous weight lifted from my shoulders. No longer did I need to worry about him, no longer was my life ruled by his moods, no longer was I walking on eggshells because I didn't want to deal with his tantrums. It was fantastic.
posted by janey47 at 3:54 PM on November 18, 2015 [12 favorites]

Being a mom is about, in part, tough choices. It's often about setting aside your own goals...I myself have had to miss out on a big work thing because my kid was in hospital, among a zillion other moments.

Your tough choice here is, do you bring a human being into a bad relationship and a family with violence (his) and contempt (yours.)

I don't think you should have a child with this man. Get out today, take a few months on your own, date hard. I don't know how hard that is but I do know how important it is to provide kids with a secure and loving base.
posted by warriorqueen at 3:58 PM on November 18, 2015 [5 favorites]

This could be my only chance to be a mom as time is not on my side anymore, and I don't want to look back ten years from now and regret letting the opportunity go.

It may well be and I'm truly very sorry for that but staying with him and having a child is a way worse option. You don't want to look back in ten years and realise you've subjected an innocent child to years of life-destroying stress. Growing up in a seriously dysfunctional family affects every aspect of a child's life and leads them to a lifetime of struggling to overcome that past. Just think back to all the ask me posts here.

Leave him. Make your own life. At 36 it's by no means assured you'll be alone and childless forever. There's still time. If it doesn't work out for you you'll still have *your* life to dedicate to doing what makes your heart sing. Maybe that will be fostering. Maybe you'll be the best aunty ever to your friends kids. Whatever it is I can assure you that being away from him will be life changingly positive for you.
posted by kitten magic at 4:08 PM on November 18, 2015 [19 favorites]

At 36, the chances of my getting out there and finding someone, dating long enough, etc. to even get to the marriage stage much less the baby stage are slim to none.

Do you know your actual reproductive stats? Did you go to a doctor and find out that your chances are slim to none? You may have done this, but I find a lot of women in their 30s (me included) just imagine what their ovaries are doing when you can actually find out. Because you're married, you'll get a lot less side eye for asking questions about your fertility, so that's a bonus. So do this before taking any divorce action.

Then, get out of your marriage. Your relationship is not a good place to raise children. Does your husband want to father children? That's not clear.

I've contemplated this situation ad nauseam to the point it's making me crazy

The contemplation is what's making you crazy. Take action. Don't worry about never dating anyone or having kids on your own until you at least get a handle on your fertility and get out of your marriage. Those are your top two priorities, along with therapy.

Also, WRT everyone but you having figured this out, read How To Pick Your Life Partner.

You are going to face a deafening roar of disapproval getting out of a marriage at your age while still wanting children, but I have seen so many people get married and have kids because they are sure they have no time left and no one else would ever have them.

Everyone's imagining all of this, telling themselves these dark fairy tales. Stop contemplating, take action.
posted by sweetkid at 4:16 PM on November 18, 2015 [11 favorites]

Go see a lawyer (discreetly) ASAP. (IM not a lawyer and have never been married, but I'm a little worried you might be stuck paying alimony for this guy.) definitely don't have a baby with him.
posted by discopolo at 4:19 PM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just go. It sounds like he wants you to go, and being single is better than being miserable. Even if you don't end up with another husband or a child, being happy is better than what your situation sounds like now.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:20 PM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, what about option 4: Having a much happier life without your husband? Become a foster parent, adopt, or get a sperm donation - none of these things require a husband.

I know that the idea behind having a 2-parent household is that the work is spread out between you two, but honestly it doesn't sound like this guy would be an asset at all with a child. More like another child to take care of.
posted by chainsofreedom at 4:24 PM on November 18, 2015 [13 favorites]

My mother stayed with my father because she really wanted a kid. They were more compatible than it sounds like you two are, but it was still a terribly unhappy marriage--two people who shouldn't even be friends, IMO, let alone partners or parents. But my mom was completely focused on being a mother no matter what.

It fucked me up. Badly. For life.

I have problems that I won't enumerate here (but there are a lot). I have zero relationship with my father. I can't stand my mother.

Please don't do this to yourself or your future children.

By the way, my mom had me several years after your current age, and that was a few decades ago. Keep in mind that a) you probably don't know whether you can have children at all b) if you can have children, you may have time to have them c) there really is more to life; I promise.

Please get a therapist, get a divorce, get to know yourself, and then get a new and awesome relationship.
posted by kutsushita nyanko at 4:27 PM on November 18, 2015 [22 favorites]

Well, my mom married someone she thought was going to be a good provider, but he turned out to be a violent "loser". By the time this was obvious, she had already had me by him. She did not divorce my father, who now approaching retirement age, never did much other than leach off her and mope around. However, his violent temper has mellowed somewhat and he now apologizes to her for making her do all the work. Not that it makes up for what he did, or what she could have had had she left him. But she did have us (me and my brother).

To her, that was worth the sacrifice. Having such a father did inestimable damage to my psyche, and I dated incompatible "losers" until I finally learned not to at 33, but I'm not as badly off as some others who've had worse parenting. A lot of that is due to my mother being a steady and loving presence in my life. I guess what I'm saying is having one bad parent won't necessarily kill a kid, but you don't know of course. Or should I say, you know him better than we do. I wouldn't stay with your husband after having the child. But biologically, being almost 35 myself and childless, I understand your urgent feelings.
posted by Sa Dec at 4:27 PM on November 18, 2015 [5 favorites]

Nthing having a child with a bad husband is the ultimate hell. Divorce and sperm donor is one billion times better. Nononon do not even consider having a baby with this man. Omg no. No father will be easier for you, happier and baby for the kid than a scary non-functional father.
posted by Kalmya at 4:37 PM on November 18, 2015 [7 favorites]

Whatever is waiting for you on the other side of this relationship is way better than what you have now. Take care of yourself. First, by leaving, then by figuring out why you feel doomed to have a shitty life. You're not, regardless of the parenting piece. Go learn to love yourself, a lot. Because if you do become a mom self/love and self-care are among the most important traits to model. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 4:45 PM on November 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you have a good job, and a good support system with your parents, you can totally raise a child by yourself (whether it's his or not). My friend did this -- not easy but she did it without the father of the child in the picture at all. If you don't want to be tied to this man via your kid, divorce and donor sperm is the way to go.
posted by Sa Dec at 4:45 PM on November 18, 2015

You've got to get out of this relationship. I think the Murphy Brown strategy is a better path than having a child whom you will share with a shiftless, marginally employed angry person you plan on leaving. If you'd rather not be his wife then you shouldn't want him to be your kid's dad. Spoken from the shoes of someone who wound up single-parenting kids produced from a crap marriage/crap dad. Single parenting isn't easy, but parenting isn't easy period.
posted by drlith at 4:46 PM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

being a single parent is hard. Being a co parent with an abusive ex is triple the stress and there are zero advantages. There is no upside to starting a family with someone you want to divorce. If you could amicably separate, maybe, but you are afraid of this person.

My ex has offered to have another much wanted child, and I said no because I'm afraid of him. It's taken too much just to get to being able to co parent neutrally, and while I don't regret the children who are here now, looking back I want to yell at myself "run! Pack your bags and run!"

You have choices. Protect the children waiting for you from being raised by this man.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 4:51 PM on November 18, 2015 [11 favorites]

I have to disagree a little bit - your husband is not a loser and is not shiftless. He has a job as a waiter, right? But it doesn't sound like you guys have the same values and you already know you don't like him. So let it go. You can have a baby by yourself or with someone else. Don't plan on living your whole life with someone you don't like.
posted by gt2 at 4:57 PM on November 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

Based on what you describe, I doubt this marriage will get any better. (I say this as someone who has never been married, but your mind sounds pretty made up.) I know maybe these aren't ideal options, but if you really want kids, you could consider:

1) Having a kid on your own. I know of women who have done this and seem happy, but it is not without its own challenges and complications. If a child is needed to make your life complete, it may be worth it.

2) Freezing your eggs or embryos to buy some time. This can be expensive and not 100%, but it may be a worthwhile investment in your future so you don't focus so much on the clock and instead focus on finding a guy who makes you happy.

Like I said, I know these wouldn't be your first choice. And I offer this ideas as someone who actually does not want children. But sometimes refusing to settle means thinking out of the box a little bit. I wouldn't reject these possibilities automatically without maybe looking into them.
posted by AppleTurnover at 5:01 PM on November 18, 2015

Just anecdotally: my bestie divorced Wrong Guy in her late thirties, met the right guy a few years later, got pregnant (with no medical intervention) in early forties, had a baby and is HAPPY. Go now and get started on your brand new life.
posted by BlahLaLa at 5:12 PM on November 18, 2015 [5 favorites]

Being a parent requires prioritizing your child's health and well-being. One of the best things you can do for a future child is to partner with a supportive person who will be willing and able to co-parent OR to nurture yourself so that you are able to financially, physicallyand emotionally parent a child alone. If you want to be a mom, start being a good mom now. Do not have a child with someone who would be a terrible father.
I'm sorry. Since you asked for anecdotes, I can tell you I have a good friend who split up with a long-time boyfriend when she was 37. It was a really difficult decision because he was a nice person, but she didn't feel passionately that the relationship was strong enough. I recall being surprised they broke up. I feel like many people - probably myself included - would have decided to "stick it out" because of sunk costs. She was courageous! She was single for a time and then met her now husband (on fwiw, they went dancing together on their first date. Her ex hated to dance). They are a wonderful pair and complement each other beautifully. Their wedding was so much fun! They're in their forties. If they want to have children, I hope they will find a way to have them. Right now, I believe they are content being a Big Brother/Big Sister, continuing her amazing work as a literacy tutor, and being aunt and uncle to an adorable niece. (She also had these things when she was single, btw). They have a beautiful life together. I wish the same for you! This reminds me I should really call my friend and tell her how I admire her.
posted by areaperson at 5:19 PM on November 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

Would you want this guy as your father? A guy who can't provide for his kid and may be at risk of hurting the kid?

NOPE NOPE NOPE. I'd rather not exist if it was me, thanks.

You may or may not be able to have children at any point in your life (as Melismata pointed out), but hell, you already know better than to have a kid with this guy even though you're desperate. You might as well get rid of him! Being miserable alone and without children is probably still less bad than being miserable with him and no kids, or with him and a kid who's going to be in therapy for the rest of their life because of him. Choose who you have kids with VERY CAREFULLY, especially if it's likely that you'll have to deal with joint custody with someone shiftless.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:31 PM on November 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

I married at age 35 after less than a year of dating my now husband, had a baby at age 36 and another at age 39. There are men out there who are looking for a woman to have a family with. Be systematic and focused on your goal, and you will find one. There is still time. Take action today! You will not regret it. (but if you do nothing, you will)
posted by hollyanderbody at 5:40 PM on November 18, 2015 [8 favorites]

Also, stop beating yourself up about this! lots of people find themselves in situations that aren't ideal. Before I went on my quest for a worthy mate, I wasted 10 years with the wrong person. Forgive yourself, and now get back out there.
posted by hollyanderbody at 5:53 PM on November 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

Joining everyone else's suggestions.

Your major fear here is that, if you get divorced, you won't be able to find a partner before the (arbitrary) time limit you've placed on your biological clock.

But you've already established that you don't want to parent with your current husband. Every day you spend waiting for things to change is another day you've wasted by failing to pursue the life you want.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 5:54 PM on November 18, 2015 [10 favorites]

In my profession (diplomacy: where it can be hard for women to meet men willing to follow then around the world), a surprisingly large number of women become single parents through artificial insemination from an anonymous donor. I know at least half a dozen women who have done this. All well educated, financially stable, and mature enough to successfully do the single parent thing. Think about if this might also be you.
posted by whitewall at 6:12 PM on November 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

I am going to add this, your child may resent you for placing them in an abusive situation. Storytime, my girlfriend, like you, wanted children and chose a man and stuck it out with him with the same issues you have with yours. She is now divorced with four children, alimony for shiftless dude and four strained relationships with children who "blame" her for not leaving sooner.

You can walk away from your situation and avoid a worst one, your children can't.
posted by jadepearl at 6:12 PM on November 18, 2015 [11 favorites]

My heart aches for you that you're with someone who breaks your things. I'm so sorry that you've been so poorly treated over these last few years by someone who promised to love you. But there are worse things than getting divorced in your mid-thirties, such as growing up with a dad who breaks your toys and swears at you. You must leave this man if you want to have children.

There are lots of men out there who are hitting 40 and wanting to get married and have kids pronto. There also really fantastic guys who may have been married before and will understand where you're coming from. If they have a kid from a previous relationship, all the better! You'll be able to see what kind of dad your boyfriend makes and have a frank talk about having more kids.

Also, as others have mentioned, you may have a limited amount of years to get pregnant, but not to adopt.
posted by Pearl928 at 6:26 PM on November 18, 2015 [5 favorites]

oh my god, do not have kids with him. You understand that if you do you will be tied to him for at LEAST 18 years? And probably paying him child support when you finally do kick him out (but still have to co-parent with him and that means he'll get to be a decision maker on where you live, what you do, just about everything in your life?)

Get out, get out get out. Immediately, because your timeline to have a baby is short, and divorce takes a while. And then assess. Sperm donation is cheap. Babies are hard, but this husband of yours won't make it easier. And yeah, there's no reason to think you won't meet a nice man who can be a husband to you and a father or stepfather to your kid if you are single. But you can't find him if you're married to this albatross!
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:37 PM on November 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

My stepmom got together with my dad when she was a bit older than you are now; they waited until my mom had custody of me to try having kids, so she was just shy of 40 when my brother was born.

This was infinitely preferable to my mom's path of marrying my dad because she Had To Have A Baby Before Turning 30. They both realized it wasn't working by the time I was born, they started working on the divorce when I was around 2, and then it was about 17 years after the divorce was finalized before they managed an actual conversation with one another (the divorce was done using notes and a mediator.) Which was extremely not fun from my perspective; at one point I was telling complete strangers (on cross-country airplane flights, as an unaccompanied minor) that while other kids blamed themselves for their parents' divorce, I blamed myself for them even having to know each other.

Never have a baby with someone you aren't OK working with, please. It's a lifelong commitment for all three parties.
posted by SMPA at 6:48 PM on November 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

My sister is single. She wanted to have a kid. She picked out sperm and went through IUI. If you read my question history, you'll see that it has not been an easy road. But now she has a beautiful little girl who roars like a dinosaur on command and is generally the best.

You don't need a husband to have a family. In some ways, it's probably easier but based on what you said about your husband, I'm not even sure that would be the case for you. Why wait any longer to take steps toward living the life of your dreams? It won't be perfect but whose life is?
posted by kat518 at 6:50 PM on November 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

He's only your last chance if you mess around trying to decide what to do for too long. You already know what to do. I absolutely adore being a parent. It is fantastic, beyond anything I ever dreamed of, but it would be terrible if I was with someone I didn't respect, someone who didn't pull their weight. Take a big breath, give yourself permission to choose the best thing for you, and make the big change you need to make.
posted by The Monkey at 7:14 PM on November 18, 2015

There are lots of men out there who are hitting 40 and wanting to get married and have kids pronto. There also really fantastic guys who may have been married before and will understand where you're coming from.

This is actually really true. I'm around OPs age and sort of spoiled for choice. I have to limit how many people I agree to meet up with over a given time period. I actually wrote it down as a deal with myself, because I was getting overwhelmed.
posted by sweetkid at 7:50 PM on November 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

If you have a baby with this man, he will be in your life forever, even if you later divorce. You will always feel the weight of him like a cinder block hanging from a chain around your neck.

You can get pregnant from a stranger, or from artificial insemination, or from a male friend. You can parent a foster child, an older child, a young adult, and stepchildren. You can build a family in so many ways, and you don't have to include this husband.

Imagine having that much-wanted child and watching him or her be treated like absolute shit by and frightened of this man for 18 years.
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 8:05 PM on November 18, 2015 [6 favorites]

What happens if you have a baby with this man and then something happens to you. Do you want this man to have full custody of your child?
posted by jaguar at 8:31 PM on November 18, 2015 [13 favorites]

There is a great quote that I heard second-hand from someone's Irish grandmother:

"Better an empty house
than a bad tenant."

At worst--worst case scenario--your "empty house" [heart] would be better than living with someone you neither love or respect, someone who themselves can't even believe why you are still with them.

1. see a lawyer,
2. rent an apartment,
3. move out and serve your husband with divorce papers
4. start living your new life, free to pursue the goals you want

(The idea that you should have a baby with someone you don't love or respect... I can't think of a much worse "gift" to give a child than that. Wait, and either have a baby raised by a loving single mother, or with a loving partner you meet down the road.)
posted by blueberry at 8:39 PM on November 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

My entire life, my mother, who learned this from experience, taught me, "It's better to be alone than to wish you were."

And I know from my own experience, this: do not condemn a child (especially one who has not yet been created!) to having an unsupportive and (some flavor of) abusive parent combined with a household where there is neither love nor respect.

Yes, being alone can be awful, but you absolutely do NOT know you will be alone. You DO know what your life will be if you stay. Miserable, because you are miserable now. Have a child or don't -- on your own or with someone else -- but don't shortchange yourself or a potential tiny human because the idea of looking for something better is wearying.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 9:28 PM on November 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

I have no idea how this is even a question in your mind. But in case you're waiting for a minimum number of internet strangers to tell you that it's OK to leave, you can add me to the tally.

You may think your chances of finding the right person to have a baby with are slim at your age but they're ZERO if you stay with your husband. Extricate yourself from your failed marriage ASAP so that you're free to meet Mr. Right.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:33 PM on November 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

+1 Get a lawyer

Have you ever been faced with a situation like this? Every angle seems like a bad road, but you made a decision, not the ideal one but a "real" one and you are living to tell about it.

Yup. Although in my version of the story, the abuse got a lot worse, and my only regret is that I didn't leave sooner.
posted by Little Dawn at 10:05 PM on November 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

Honestly, if the love is gone, eventually he will leave you. Please, don't wait for that to happen.
posted by superfish at 10:44 PM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Leave, do not have a baby with someone you feel this way about. The sooner you end it, the sooner something enjoyable can replace it.
posted by ead at 10:58 PM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sperm donor. I have many examples of women who went that route and couldn't be happier. One of my old professors had a child via sperm donor at 40 and then met her boyfriend after she had the kiddo. They're very happy.
posted by quincunx at 11:02 PM on November 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

Then I realized I don't love or even like my husband very much at all.

So leave him.

And for the love of whatever you hold sacred, do not let your desire to have children overcome the necessity of providing a safe and loving home environment for them--an environment that will not exist if this person is in the picture.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:13 PM on November 18, 2015 [11 favorites]

Things won't change for the better. Having children with this man will amplify your problems and man, that poor kid. I don't think I'd want to do that to a kid or myself.

If I were you I would leave, no question. Even if what I wanted more than anything in the world was a family. Because I'd know that while what I wanted more than anything in the world was a family, it wouldn't be without conditions. I wouldn't want a family if it meant having an otherwise miserable life.

Because you've been stressing so much about the time you have left to get pregnant, I'm assuming that you don't just want children but you also want to give birth. If you're open to children that you haven't given birth to, though, there are lots of single men who already have children who are also looking for a partner.

But if you want to give birth you do have time if you get out now. Women give birth in their 40s and it's not unusual. And if children are more important than anything else, you do not need to wait for a man to come along to realize your dreams. You can have children without depending on someone else. It sounds like you already are responsible for everything in your current situation, financial and otherwise, so I'm not sure what your current husband adds to your family that having children on your own would lack. This would also take the pressure off you to find a partner ASAP and potentially make decisions that aren't entirely the best for you (like marrying your current husband).
posted by Polychrome at 3:39 AM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

You describe two tumultuous years of dating, then a tumultuous engagement, and the results are a tumultuous three-year marriage. That's over five years of turmoil into which you're considering bringing a child. Why would you do this?

If you had asked internet strangers during those first two years whether you should date, let alone marry someone who is shiftless, lashes out, and breaks things, you would have received just as many resounding warnings as today: "Do not do this." Yet here you are pre-emptively asking for real life stories from people who also made bad decisions because you are considering making another one. This is deeply flawed thinking. Please consider, among the overwhelming advice to leave this man, getting therapy.
posted by Elsie at 4:01 AM on November 19, 2015 [5 favorites]

Just to add to the chorus of voices saying GET OUT, you say he is not directly violent to you, but the statistics (here in the UK, anyway) say that about a third of domestic violence starts in pregnancy.

Do not wait for this man's rage to escalate once he has a new rival for your attention and care.
posted by stuck on an island at 4:01 AM on November 19, 2015 [5 favorites]

Please leave this man. Please do not have a child with him.

I know women who've had children at 40, 41, etc.
posted by bunderful at 4:48 AM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

So, story about a non-violent version of this guy. My grandmother was the youngest in her family and had to have a shotgun wedding. This is not the story. Her older sister was like "OH NO MY SISTER IS WED AND I AM WILL BE A SPINSTER FOREVER MUST MEET A MAN." So...she met a dude and was like "bro, we are gonna be married."

Bro was not dumb, or especially mean, or especially anything except not very useful or practical or functional or competent or responsible or emotionally adult in any way. And didn't care to try to be any of these things. No self-awareness. Anyway, my great-aunt married him and they had kids. One kid is great. The other kid is....Bro, Jr. He takes directly after his father and not his mother. My aunt did not believe that was a possibility: she assumed the kids would take more after her. Nope. I can't even with my cousin. No one can. The family can't even. He doesn't have close friends or a partner. He is just that hard to deal with. The most generous, compassionate so deeply kind and trusting in the universe and that there is a meaning to what we have here that she became a pastor member of our family can barely handle him. He is an exercise is generating compassion for people because humans deserve compassion simply for being human.

Biology isn't destiny, but for a few reasons (biological and environmental), your odds of having a child who turns out substantially like your husband are greatly increased by having a child with your husband. That sounds like a child who would have a hard time in adulthood. My cousin sure has had a hard time living as himself. It is honestly a shame.
posted by Naamah at 5:10 AM on November 19, 2015 [4 favorites]

If you feel this trapped now, imagine how much worse it would be if you had a child with him. It would put him in your life forever and you don't even like him. Your life will get worse if you procreate with him. Don't do it. You're not really trapped at the moment, it just feels like it because of that damned biological clock. You've still got time for other options. What you're considering now should not be one of those options. You'll regret it so much. Give yourself a chance at happiness by starting something new. Having a child with someone you don't like is almost guaranteed to put you in a worse situation than you are now.
posted by h00py at 5:55 AM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Please listen to everyone telling you not to have a child with this person.

I pay for pretty much everything. ... The crazy thing is he knows this but seems content to stay with someone who's not in love with him.

Well, of course he's content to stay: He has a meal ticket who will put up with his sorry ass. But that doesn't stop him from being abusive -- and make no mistake, screaming at you and breaking your things is abusive behavior even if he hasn't hit you yet.

A child will not fix him, and the stresses involved may well make him worse. DTMFA, pronto. There's plenty of good advice in this thread about how to do so. (Get a lawyer, definitely.)

Now the good news: I agree with others that you may be too pessimistic. My lovely wife and I married when we were both older than 30, and it was the first marriage for each of us. As others have said, you need not have a partner to have a child -- if you can support your slacker husband, I'm sure you can afford to raise a child. I wish you all the best.
posted by Gelatin at 6:44 AM on November 19, 2015

I still resent my father's complicity in my mother's abuse. If you deliberately have a child with this man and he mistreats your children you can expect they will blame you, too.
posted by winna at 7:28 AM on November 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

I was in a shitty, dead-end relationship and got out when I was 38. At 41, I have a husband and a 6-month old baby. So, it's possible but you have to get out and see what's going on out in the world and find a new path for yourself. PLEASE don't stay just because you don't think you can do any better. You'd be better off going to a sperm bank and raising a child alone than staying with this man just to have kids. You'd be better off even if you left and never found someone and never had kids! You deserve happiness.

Don't discount younger men, either. My husband is 12 years younger than me and already knew that he wanted the whole family package when we met.
posted by cabingirl at 8:21 AM on November 19, 2015 [8 favorites]

he is not your last chance at a family. I broke off an engagement in my late 30s knowing it maybe was one of my last chances at having a marriage/family before the biological clock ran out. I met my now husband shortly thereafter. We have a toddler and another baby on the way. I am so glad I listened to my gut which was to get out of that bad relationship. even being alone would have been much better than tied down someone you are not compatible with. just chiming in to say there is hope and options.
posted by SanSebastien at 9:16 AM on November 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

This is absolutely not true: At 36, the chances of my getting out there and finding someone, dating long enough, etc. to even get to the marriage stage much less the baby stage are slim to none.

Don't let that myth stop you from getting a lawyer and starting divorce proceedings immediately. And, pleasepleaseplease, don't let that myth make him the father of your child. You already know that this marriage is dead. Don't delay on moving forward toward the new life you can have with a man who is both a great partner to you and a wonderful father to your child.
posted by quince at 10:45 AM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

A couple of anecdata points: one - I was you only three years younger when I left my ex. I left my ex because when I decided I MIGHT want children, my whole being rebelled at having children with HIM. When I pictured him having a temper tantrum while I try and explain to a two year old that 'that's not how you handle your feelings when you're angry' - I just wanted to run. He was not violent or abusive, just had a habit of throwing a hissy fit and breaking stuff when he's angry, and had poor emotional control in general. Picture trying to teach a child how to live in this world, and picture the example your ex would paint. And the contempt I would have shown him in front of my child would be no better. Do not do this.

Second point - within six months I was dating a wonderful, amazing guy that I sincerely hope will be the father of my child one day. We are trying as we speak. He will be an amazing father, and had I not met him, I might not have considered children. And we had a potential pregnancy moment a few weeks ago. And my very first thought was a jolt of very primal fear - what if I tell him I'm pregnant and he leaves! It was a quick, irrational thought - he would never ever do that, but it was a primal reaction all the same. And many of my friends had the same one. There is a moment of pure vulnerability that I did not expect when I theorized about pregnancy. I'd hate to have that scared moment with my ex.
posted by tatiana131 at 12:02 PM on November 19, 2015 [4 favorites]

"Why haven't you left me yet," is pretty much as far as you can get from, "what do we need to do in order for a child to be a good idea?"
posted by rhizome at 12:19 PM on November 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

I sure have had to make this decision. Life took a complete 180 in the right direction. I'm about your age and just had my first kid last year, and she is amazing.

My second husband was in the same boat, too. Our relationship is based heavily on how grateful we are not to be stuck in dead-end situations anymore. It's so great.

And even if you don't end up being able to have kids in a relationship, and you don't want to adopt or go the donor route, you can foster kids who need you very, very much. Or you can work with them as a tutor or mentor. Of course it's not the same as giving birth or caring for a kid 24/7; only you can determine what's right for you and your individual situation. But there are many ways for you to build lasting, meaningful relationships with young people that make a difference in their lives.

Get out there. Be free. There are so many wonderful things awaiting you -- you and all of the life experiences you bring to the world. Don't be ashamed of what you've gone through; be happy that you can have another chance.

You can ALWAYS have another chance. Might not have the same result, but you can ALWAYS do things differently.

(P.S. feel free to MeMail me, if you'd like!)
posted by St. Hubbins at 1:06 PM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

I fully know the feeling of time not being on one's side. People say "Oh, but women are having babies well into their 40s!" Yes, all well and good, but you feel what you feel.

I split up with my fiance when I was 34; we were very bad for each other, even though we both wanted kids. I took about a year off dating, then met my current partner when I was 36. We had a child together at almost 39, via IVF. If I hadn't met my partner, I would have gone down the parenting path alone, as hard as I know that would have been. In fact, I had just done an (ultimately unsuccessful) IUI a month before we met. I was also looking into adoption and fostering. At the time, I felt pretty alone in doing all this research, all this WORK to have a family, but now that I am immersed in the world of parenting/kids, I am meeting all kinds of families: fostering, single by choice parents, step parents, etc. There are many paths to having a family.
posted by medeine at 1:43 PM on November 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

You have to leave. You have to work with what you know for sure, in the now, and that is you are in the wrong marriage and need to leave.

Who knows what the future will bring. But right now, you need to leave, because every day more you spend with this man is preventing you from meeting the man you'll want to have children with.
posted by NatalieWood at 3:47 PM on November 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Get out ASAP, and then you have possibilities. Stay, and all you guarantee yourself - and any children, intentional or accidental, if they happen - misery.

You know what to do. The sooner you do it, the sooner you can get to what's next.

And I sympathize. I turn 39 next week, I've spent the last 7 years living with a guy that I finally broke things off with last week. The relationship had no future, just more of the current misery and possibly worse. He's totally packed, a truck will be here in the morning to help him move out, and I am SO incredibly relieved I finally found the guts to tell him to go. I have hope and potential again, not more of the same unhappiness. I wish you luck.
posted by stormyteal at 9:11 PM on November 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

Maybe you'll find this Dear Sugar column helpful. While the LW's situation is different from yours (she got dumped, therefore dashing her hopes of ever having a baby, or so she thinks), I think Sugar's answer about unpacking the man + baby dream, and answering some practical questions about having a baby on your own will be helpful to you.

I agree with the chorus here: get a divorce, find happiness, because it's pretty much guaranteed you won't with this guy. Don't knowingly consign yourself to a life of misery when you have tons - TONS! - of other options. Some you don't even know about yet, which is the scary part, but you won't ever know about them if you stay with this guy. You're right - it is leaping into an abyss if you divorce him. But in that abyss you can create your life, a beautiful one.
posted by foxjacket at 5:27 AM on November 20, 2015

« Older Fixing a crockpot meal.   |   Where's the airbnb for cat owners who travel? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.