What do I do with my marriage?
August 25, 2017 7:27 AM   Subscribe

I thought we were on the same page about having kids. In fact, we have been actively trying since April. He has moved pages. I haven't. What do I do? Extremely disjointed wall-o-text inside.

I'm 35F. He's 40M. We've been married almost one year, and together(ish) for five and a half. Living together since August 2014. We have never had an easy relationship, but neither of us is an easy person, and we are extremely compatible in a lot of ways and usually when he's not around I wish he were. We've had some attraction and sex issues from early on, and are in therapy together about that and about relational fallout from that. One of our assets is that we are very willing to work on problems and to change, and we have done this and continue to do this.

Having kid(s) was something we discussed before getting married, and we agreed we wanted to have at least one. We started trying in April--and trying for us is complicated and the opposite of fun, because I have PCOS and don't ovulate on my own, so it meant lots of ovulation induction medicated cycles and super-romantic timed intercourse.

We never conceived, despite successfully ovulating each cycle.

We've had a rough month that is bad enough to stand out from an overall not-so-easy summer and spring. We had a few really big fights last weekend and the weekend before that, and he has now announced that he no longer knows if he wants to have a baby (this after five months of medicated misery on my body: thanks) and he definitely doesn't want to continue the cycle we're on this month.

Ok. I get not wanting to try to conceive while we're having a really hard time. I get the "this month" thing. I am thrown by the "maybe ever" thing.

As an aside: he has a history of freaking out when big changes/decisions are made in our lives. For example, when we got engaged, he freaked out a few weeks later and changed his mind (which was another awesome experience for me). He later changed it back and we are married.

We stayed up until 3am last night discussing options. We are throwing around the word "divorce," which on one hand seems preposterous to me and on the other hand seems eminently reasonable for a new disagreement about something this big.

His reasons for not wanting kids anymore:
-He feels we're in a bad place
-He's not sure we will ever be in a place that's more than tolerable because of issues x, y, and z
-He feels really unstable right now, with me, with his job, with everything
-He's not sure he ever really wanted kids that much; he states that I have "a stronger personality" than he does so I usually get what I want (this was brought up during the nearly-broken-engagement nonsense a year and a half ago, too)

Issues x, y, and z are things like:
x: we don't always like to do the same things--he loves ping pong and wants to go dancing sometimes; I tried and hate ping pong and never want to dance again [because guilty feet have got no rhythm?]--I want to play scrabble and go on walks in neighborhoods I don't know very well and take pictures of them; he is not into these things (I think this is fine and that couples don't have to enjoy all the same things--we do have many, many things we DO enjoy doing together, like walks in neighborhoods we DO know, yoga, running, watching the same shows, dinners with friends, etc).

y: He said that when we are in groups talking, oftentimes he disagrees with most of what I say and agrees with someone else (he had no example of this but said it's always something really trivial and small, like opinions on a tv show). It is sometimes hard for us to have "real conversations" because we come from really different places in our heads--sometimes this is interesting and novel and I feel it means I will never be bored with him, and sometimes it is alienating. I guess he finds it alienating.

z: He feels "attacked" almost all the time, and like i am "harsh" with him. This may be a this-month issue, since we have been fighting the entire month. I am a harsher, less touchy-feely, more direct person than he is--which is not to say yes I am attacking him all the time, but he is a lot more sensitive than anyone else I've ever been with. Perhaps our communication styles are never going to mesh perfectly, though we have made improvements in this area (though this month has been terrible).


I don't know what to do.

I feel I can't be sitting here waiting for him to magically be ready to have kids, because I'm 35 (though as an aside, I learned through my extremely pleasurable fertility treatments that I have a vast store of eggs for my age, even considering the PCOS angle that results in having high AMH, and was actually advised by my RE that it may be counter-intuitively easier for me to conceive in a couple years--that being said, other complications arise with age and I was ready now). There is also no guarantee I'll have a kid if I leave him. I am unwilling to go to a sperm bank and do it on my own. His position is that he can't take the pressure and doesn't know when he will be ready. He wants us to be getting along better (I support that and it makes sense) and to feel "stable." My counter to that is that he has never felt stable in his entire life, that he has an unmediated mild anxiety/depression disorder he's completely unwilling to medicate, and that there is no hope.

When things are not terrible between us, they are lovely. It's hard to remember the lovely after a month of terrible. I don't want to do anything rash, but I also don't want to sit and wait and wait and wait for no reason, only for him to realize he wants kids when he's 55 and I'm 50, and then leave me for a 26 year old.

I'm not afraid of being divorced and living in a little apartment of my own (though the idea does make me really sad). I dread the idea of ever having to go on a date. I also dread the idea of extreme tension, month after month, waiting for him to figure out his shit. If he would just tell me point blank 'I am 100% sure I never want to have a baby with you no matter what' it would be easier.

I don't know what to do. What do I do? When do I do it?
posted by millipede to Human Relations (40 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Honestly, when I read this, I see your partner as wanting a lot of things from you - for you to change your communication style, to postponing having a baby (despite the physical toll it has taken on you to get this far), to vaguely wanting you to get along better. He's not offering a whole lot, particularly if he wants "stability" in his own life but is unwilling to actually do anything to get his anxiety/depression in check.

He's telling you 100% that he is not willing to do the things to make his life stable, which sounds at the core of his desire to have a baby. I would take that as "he's 100% unwilling to have a baby" myself because if the ground work is never done, the end result will never happen.
posted by notorious medium at 7:48 AM on August 25, 2017 [23 favorites]

You both need to go to marriage counseling. You both should be working on communicating effectively and with love. You need to work on your listening skills and paying closer attention to his emotional state (before he explodes), and he needs to work on taking agency in his own life, asking for what he wants, and having a plan to get it for himself if you're not able or interested in providing that.

Speaking of agency and getting what you want, untangle "husband from "baby". You don't need to be married to or in a relationship with a man to have one, actually. It might be how you want to have one, but it's not the only way, so it could help to have your fallback options clearer to you. Then you can focus on what you want to do about your marriage and tackle the baby thing next.
posted by pazazygeek at 7:48 AM on August 25, 2017 [6 favorites]

Hi, I'm sorry this is happening to you. I think men don't often consider what women put themselves through hormonally in these situations, or even on a normal basis, like taking birth control or dealing with the baby crazy. It's so frustrating!

No marriage is perfect, but I think the coping mechanisms we have make a huge difference in the way our relationships grow and play out. Having a kid will put a lot more stress on your marriage and change it in a lot of ways. Can you look at your husband and relationship and accept that you will have these fights, maybe to the Nth degree, once you have a child? Can you accept the negotiations and mind changing that will happen over and over for the next 18+ years? Maybe you can! Maybe this is all worth fighting for. If it is, I think you should say that. Tell him why you want to fight for this. Tell him why you think your life together with a child will be beautiful and fun. Tell him all the ways it'll be great and acknowledge that it may not always be great, either.

I think it's also normal to think of divorce in hard times. You have to imagine yourself there to know when you need to keep fighting or when you need to throw in the towel. Counseling can really help with these decisions, whether individually or as a couple, but sometimes you just know.

I would personally be afraid to have a child with someone who has flip-flopped so much in our relationship. His mental stability concerns me much less than his stability in your relationship. I know of plenty of good parents who have mental illness, but they also have strong relationships and a lot of experience with counseling.
posted by ancient star at 7:54 AM on August 25, 2017 [5 favorites]

I realize everyone else is gonna suggest counseling, etc. However: I don't feel like your husband really respects you or is full-invested in this relationship. He is not trying like you're trying. And the odds that he'll start doing so are not good. However: sweetie, you can absolutely have a baby on your own. And you can be happy on your own. And, to be brutally honest, having a baby with someone else is kind of like flipping a coin, and on one side of the coin, you get "things work out okay", and on the other side of the coin, you get "you go to minimum-security prison for twenty years". Co-parenting isn't ACTUALLY prison, but it for shit-sure controls where you can live, what you can do, how much stress you have, etc. I would for SURE get married again, but I would never, ever, in a million years have a child with someone else. NO SIR.

PM me if you need. I've co-parented and I've been a single mom and the latter is SO vastly preferable.
posted by julthumbscrew at 8:17 AM on August 25, 2017 [20 favorites]

Oh god, I'm so sorry you're dealing with this.

You don't like to do all the same things. Is this a non-issue to you but a big problem for him? It sounds like you both have enough in common that this shouldn't be a big "questioning the relationship" problem to have.

The part where he sometimes feels like he doesn't agree with anything you say when you're hanging out in a group, even trivial things like opinions about tv shows, and most importantly that this actually bothers him really worries me. This seems to me like it's a few steps away from him holding you in contempt. I think you really need to think about what it would be like to raise a child with someone like this. Having a baby doesn't make anything easier, it makes this stuff harder, you know?

Nobody here can tell you if you should or shouldn't get a divorce, it's a huge decision and you have to figure it out yourself. But I would not be trying to get pregnant right now, if you both want the marriage to have a chance, you have a lot of work to do.
posted by cakelite at 8:17 AM on August 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't see this marriage stabilizing for a couple of reasons:

1. Neither of you seem to be basically compatible with the other - your activity levels, communication styles, social preferences, and self-knowledge are all quite different.

2. Your communication problems have required outside counseling really early in your marriage.

3. He is already, at times, ready to give up.

I wonder if you would have chosen to marry him if you weren't 35 and your biological clock was ticking? Marriage really shouldn't be this tough. I would not expect him to change, so I think you need to decide if you want to continue to live this way and especially whether you want to bring a baby into this unstable situation. (Your answer - especially to having a baby now - should be "No").
posted by summerstorm at 8:18 AM on August 25, 2017 [20 favorites]

I am 46 and have watched many marriages fall apart. Here is my heartfelt advice:

1. He is really right - if your relationship is in a bad place, it is not a good time to have a baby together. Generally speaking, having a baby makes all those things worse, not better. I know several couples who divorced within 6 months of having a child.

2. If you want a baby more than a good marriage, part ways, have a baby on your own. If you cannot handle a baby on your own, see #1, because chances are good you will end up there.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:29 AM on August 25, 2017 [49 favorites]

He needs to see a therapist and a psychiatrist, individually, about whether this is anxiety, depression, or what, and about the fact that it is having a substantial negative impact on huge parts of his life that cannot be allowed to continue this way. This is the sort of breakdown that happens when you've been struggling with stuff for awhile and you wait to talk about it until you're totally at the end of your rope. He needs to be in active treatment for this to work on the way that he copes with those feelings of stress and anxiety. He might actually see a marked improvement with these things, if he can get in to see someone who does CBT or something similar. But this is something he really needs to take responsibility for managing, and if he won't do so relatively promptly... in the end, you can't make it better for him and this will just keep happening if he isn't willing to do the work of getting better.

I don't think he's just being a selfish asshole; I think he's acting exactly like people I know, myself included at various points in the past, who are dealing with anxiety disorders and not managing them until everything explodes. I think most of the compatibility issues here would be okay if they weren't paired with catastrophizing and refusing to communicate until you're fighting. But it's not enough to just know that there's something at the root of it; there has to be a light at the end of the tunnel and he's the only one who can do anything about that. The selfish asshole bit comes in knowing that you have a problem but not being willing to manage it for the sake of your partner's happiness.
posted by Sequence at 8:30 AM on August 25, 2017 [6 favorites]

Based on the marriage research that I've read, the longest lasting heterosexual marriages are those where the husband can read the wife's nonverbal cues (because generally the wives are already reading the husbands') and both partners are invested in "turning toward" their partner in times of difficulty and after conflict. It sounds like he strikes out on both counts; I'd consider conceiving on my own but would very strongly consider divorce.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:40 AM on August 25, 2017 [15 favorites]

His equivocation about the relationship won't get easier to deal with when you have an infant to raise. For now, it sounds like you both need to practise fighting safely - talking about the issues without that big, threatening Divorce word on the table. Put the conception plans aside for a month or two, see if this awful time passes, remember what was good about being together.

You don't have to decide right now. But you absolutely do not have to settle for this if it doesn't change. Your fear about aging alone comes through in your question. If it stays bad, it's never too late to leave a bad thing. Every day free from it could be a day closer to finding a more compatible partner.
posted by wreckofthehesperus at 8:43 AM on August 25, 2017

I've given this advice on Mefi before, but give yourself a few days to think about ten years in the future, let's say: would you rather have a child but no partner, or a partner and no child? I think most people know deep down, if they have to make a choice, which one they would choose. And that will tell you your course of action here. If your choice is a child, I don't think that has to mean "divorce now", but it does mean you have to commit to probably intensive therapy and being honest with him that you know your ultimate choice and, while you're willing to give him some time to work through things, he also has the option to rip off the band-aid now.
posted by nakedmolerats at 8:44 AM on August 25, 2017 [5 favorites]

The past: "the nearly-broken-engagement nonsense"
The present: "waiting for him to figure out his shit"
(Emphasis added.)

He appears to be having some trouble being heard. Possibly because he is actively avoiding clearly saying things and possibly because you are actively trying not to hear him. Possibly because if he said clearly what he had to say and you heard it and then you both saw that it was not nonsense, it would end the relationship, and you are both afraid of that because it would be terribly sad.

The future: "wait and wait and wait for no reason, only for him to realize he wants kids when he's 55 and I'm 50, and then leave me for a 26 year old."

You don't trust him; he feels abused and unappreciated; this is not good for either of you. If it continues like this, it obviously won't be good for children. I would drag this into arbitration and force the moment to its crisis. If the misery didn't quickly and thoroughly resolve, I would punt. I absolutely would not reproduce until this is resolved.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:48 AM on August 25, 2017 [46 favorites]

that he has an unmediated mild anxiety/depression disorder he's completely unwilling to medicate,

Wait, I missed this part. OK, you don't have to be on meds necessarily, but if he's not actively going to his own therapy and working on what kind of therapy is actually successful for him without needing meds, at 40 -- then yeah, I'm sorry but I can't endorse making this guy your kid's father even if he changes his mind.
posted by nakedmolerats at 8:52 AM on August 25, 2017 [3 favorites]

[Small clarification: He's unmedicated but he IS in solo therapy and has been for many years. I feel it has not been effective.]
posted by millipede at 8:56 AM on August 25, 2017

It must be hard to think clearly about the marriage itself with the kids-or-not question looming and feeling like you can't afford much time to sort things out. I think you need to try to separate the two for now. It sounds to me like you there are actually some really good things about the marriage, and if you could get some space from the hurt and panic and anger about the kids question it would be easier to assess whether the good things are indeed good enough.

You're at a breaking point if divorce is on the table. I don't think you should give up on it quite yet but this is a signal that you need to put everything into seeing if you two can fix things. Definitely stop trying to conceive for the next few months at least, maybe for the rest of the year. But you shouldn't just sit around and wait during that time. Sit down by yourself and make a list of everything that you appreciate about this marriage and about him, all the reasons you want to stay in it. Share that with him and ask him to join you in a full-on effort to improve things. It sounds to me like neither one of you are feeling very valued or respected by the other right now, and a good-faith effort to put energy into fixing things might help with that.

Both of you should be in solo therapy and couples therapy. Give it your best shot for a few months without thinking about the kids question, and then re-assess. You might decide at that point that your problems really aren't solvable, or you might have strengthened things and decided that it is going to work with him. I think either way addressing all the other issues will help him make a decision on kids, and will help you know how you feel too.

And if doing all that sounds not worth it, if a few months of intensive work with him isn't something you're willing to do—or isn't something he's willing to do—then I think you have your answer and you should leave now. Good luck whatever you decide to do.
posted by aka burlap at 9:33 AM on August 25, 2017

That does change my answer somewhat, because I think only he can be the ultimate arbiter of whether he thinks/feels therapy is working for him. Definitely you can have your own feelings and reactions to behaviors he still does, but I think that becomes the realm of your marriage counselor.
posted by nakedmolerats at 9:35 AM on August 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

I strongly suspect that the relationship revolves around him and his needs. I recommend paying less attention to his words and more attention to his actions. Is he sweet to you, does he listen, does he do a fair share of the work, at home, emotionally? Leaving the baby issue aside for a moment, are you better off with him or without him? If he's a good person to be in a relationship with, if you're better off with him, then work at making the relationship more fun and satisfying for both of you, but especially don't let his needs dominate. easier said, I know.
posted by theora55 at 9:49 AM on August 25, 2017 [4 favorites]

I agree with Don Pepino that it sounds like your husband is having some trouble being heard, and I would even go a step farther and say that the way this question is written makes me feel like you are contemptuous of him. I'm especially bothered by the way you acknowledge that you're a harsh person and that he says he feels attacked by you, but then dismiss that as him being sensitive.

You say that you don't want to sit around waiting for him to get his shit together, and I 100% agree that that isn't what you should be doing. What I think you should be doing, if divorce isn't the option you want to pursue (and plenty of people have already covered the possibility of being a single mother so I won't repeat that), is to attend therapy on your own to investigate your own communication, listening, and empathetic styles. And I think that should occur conjunction with couples counseling for both of you to figure out better ways of communicating and listening to one another. And yes, he needs to be in therapy that works for him, as well (it's hard for me to gauge what's going on with his current therapy - does he feel it's working, even if it's not doing what you want it to?).

I'm sorry the two of you are going through this, and yes, it particularly sucks that you had to endure all of those fertility treatments before it came out that your husband is no longer certain he wants to have a kid - but do remember that people can have very complicated feelings about whether or not they want to be a parent, and it might not be easy to know what you want. When the stakes are as huge as they are here - after all, it's going to affect not only your life, but the life of any potential child the two of you are having - it's far better that he be honest with you and with himself now about his reservations. And it's far better that the two of you work on having a loving, healthy relationship or else decide to split up before conceiving.
posted by DingoMutt at 9:50 AM on August 25, 2017 [16 favorites]

I'm sorry about this. It sounds to me like he wants out, but isn't able to say that, and is instead making vague demands that are impossible to meet. Most of the x and y seem, honestly, like things that aren't much of an issue to couples who really want to be together. And z, regardless of whether he's right, is a pretty big sign that communication is not working.

It is hard to say without knowing him or you, but your description pinged pretty hard for me in that it reminded me of all the people I've known who weren't happy in a situation but didn't have the emotional maturity or awareness to say that, even to themselves, and instead would thrash and thrash about all sorts of other things, making increasingly unreasonable demands or picking fights until everything blew up.

Regardless of whether or not that's even a little bit accurate...this doesn't sound like a tenable situation. I really am sorry. But I have to ask: is this what you want?

Would it help to start trying to imagine a life post-divorce? Little bit by little bit, if that makes sense?
posted by schadenfrau at 9:50 AM on August 25, 2017 [9 favorites]

I also have to agree with Dingo Mutt above that your anger and contempt at your husband comes through in this description. And on the therapy suggestion.

It sort of sounds like neither of you are getting your needs met. I don't know if Nonviolent Communication stuff would be helpful (I think the whole nonjudgmental prerequisite might be hard under the circumstances), but it's something to look into.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:53 AM on August 25, 2017 [7 favorites]

I'm sorry that you're going through this, it sounds like things have been too rough for too long, despite the good things you guys have going.

What's the deal with the attraction issues you mentioned? Is it about his attraction to you or vice versa? If it's the former - just spitballing - I wonder if he's being ambivalent about having kids because he doesn't know if he can be a good partner to you as pregnancy and childbirth changes your body. It sounds immature, but it doesn't sound like he has the emotional maturity needed to deal with something like that.
posted by blerghamot at 9:56 AM on August 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

In your case, I think that the uncertainty of children dominates the uncertainty about the relationship difficulties.

If you're 100% sure that you want kids and 100% sure that you don't want them on your own, that's a good enough reason to leave him. That is a totally legitimate way to feel. Maybe he'll come around, maybe he won't, but you can't tell what will happen from where you currently stand. If you leave him now, that's a head start on getting into a head space where you are ready to date again-you still have plenty of time to meet a more compatible partner and have children.

If you're ok with an outcome where children don't happen, then it seems like there is something worth working on further in this relationship.

It's clear from what you have written that you'd stay in the relationship if children were a guarantee, and leave if no children were a guarantee. It's not clear from what you've written what your feelings would be if children were an uncertain outcome.
posted by Kwine at 10:14 AM on August 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

he has never felt stable in his entire life, that he has an unmediated mild anxiety/depression disorder he's completely unwilling to medicate

I think you really nailed it here. My suggestion is: go to couples therapy; talk about how his anxiety is impacting you; talk about your sense of urgency and the rising panic of "I can't wait forever!" and "how can he change his mind at this point?!;" work on "z," your joint communication issues; if necessary, work on x and y (though personally, I think those are just symptoms of anxiety, so I think what you'll really want to work on is identifying triggers that spike his anxiety); and figure out how you want to move forward toward a stable decision. You can't wait forever, but this might not take forever, but to help with your (understandable) sense of panic about the timetable, you could set a time limit like you'll work on this for six months, then decide.

I'm like your husband (anxious especially about commitments and relationships). My anxiety spikes at certain triggers (e.g., when my partner has a work deadline that is preoccupying them even when they're not working, I feel completely disconnected and get a little panicky) and expresses itself in ways that can be pretty bogus ("but your haircut, I never thought I'd be with someone with hair like that.") I suspect ping pong might be in this category? That's how anxiety works: you don't feel right, try to pinpoint why, and sometimes get it wrong.

I've also been in your shoes ("where is this going?? I can't wait forever!") and can really relate to that. I'm so sorry this is happening to you, especially when probably you can imagine "what if I were pregnant and all this was going on?" That's scary. Pregnancy (and the associated hormones, which maybe you're taking?) really increase one's need for security. I think having your own fears and worries be deeply heard and understood by a couples therapist will help you feel better and give you and him a bit of space to work on the relationship.

Couples therapy is awesome if you find the right person. Individual therapy helps each person deal with what's going on for them, but it doesn't necessarily improve outcomes for the relationship. E.g., if you went to individual therapy, you might decide to set a limit on how long you'll wait, but you couldn't work on ways to communicate with him that might address "z." You couldn't get help communicating to him just how this is making you feel. You couldn't get help from the therapist in exploring what's really triggering his anxiety and maybe gently challenging "is ping pong really important" such that you either understand or move past that issue. You guys couldn't work on understanding where this anxiety on his end is coming from and how to deal with it in ways that respect his feelings while not letting it lead you both to catastrophic conclusions.

Most likely, he's catastrophizing, but it's also based on something, quite possibly something that is entirely manageable and within you all's capacity to solve. But because your own emotions (wanting to have kids) and physical security (the compete emotional, physical, and financial transformation brought about by pregnancy, to say nothing of child-rearing for 18 years) are at play, you're reacting in your own understandably high-anxiety ways that lead to similarly-catastrophic conclusions. And of course, that big transformation may well be part of what is making his anxiety so high as well.

I think you guys both need a lot of compassion for what you're going through and help de-escalating from where you're at now, and that once that happens, you'll quite possibly be able to sort through all of this. Big hugs, best of luck, and if you're in the SF Bay Area, I know a great couples therapist.
posted by salvia at 10:31 AM on August 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

I am currently pregnant and what has stunned me on my pregnancy and early-childhood Internet forums is not the high number of miscarriages (I've miscarried so I was expecting those), but the sky-high number of breakups.

Infertility, miscarriage, pregnancy, infancy... your relationship will bend or it will break under these strains.

Our miscarriage pregnancy was so bad. We fought like cats and dogs and did not support each other well. He's now with a very good personal therapist and the difference is night and day. He can empathize and show himself to me so I can empathize. As much as the miscarriage sucked, I am so glad to be having a baby in THIS relationship and not the one we had 2 years ago. And yeah, I'm almost 37 now but the little lady is completely healthy so far as we can tell.

My advice is to take a cycle or two off and see if there's room to move on this. I'm so glad we took 6 months off to fight it out and come together again.
posted by sadmadglad at 10:36 AM on August 25, 2017 [13 favorites]

I met my husband when I was 20, and so soon after my teens years fighting to separate from my mother, I was quite combative and harsh, and after a little time I realized that I needed to soften my delivery so that it wasn't shredding my partner. I wish I could tell you actual steps that I took, but they are lost to the mists of time. But sensing an opportunity to be different and deciding that it was necessary to change were the first steps. What followed after that was catching myself after being overbearing and backing up, sometimes apologizing and planning to do better. This was gradually followed by catching myself before I lashed out. (Also we used the pop therapy idea of a reset button when we realized we wanted to "unsay" something.)
posted by puddledork at 10:39 AM on August 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

I am currently pregnant and I honestly cannot imagine doing it with a non-supportive partner, not to mention all the infant/baby/child stuff that will come after! As folks have mentioned above, doing all this alone can be better than doing it with a flaky/hostile co-parent...thinking of my friends with kids, co-parenting with someone you hate and don't trust seems to be much much worse than the people who have intentionally set out to be single parents -- especially when there are mental health issues at play, as there seem to be here.

I mean, aside from the baby question, does this person make you feel happy, fulfilled, alive, etc.? I don't think good relationships require NO work and never have hard times, but this seems like a LOT LOT LOT of hard times and work for less than a year of marriage, which should be the blissful honeymoon period.
posted by rainbowbrite at 10:46 AM on August 25, 2017 [4 favorites]

Couples counseling.
posted by Miko at 10:51 AM on August 25, 2017

We stayed up until 3am last night discussing options

This might seem trivial, but it's been my experience that nothing good comes of decisions made at 3am. It took my partner and I an embarrassingly long time to work this out, but late at night we are both tired, more emotional, more anxious and prone to catastrophizing. So really the only advice I have is to stop having these conversations in the middle of the night. These are big and important enough issues that you owe it to yourselves and each other to deal with them when you are both in the right frame of mind for productive communication.
posted by Shal at 11:25 AM on August 25, 2017 [5 favorites]

[one more note, you guys, because I keep seeing advice to do something I am already doing and I want to save your breath: I did say we were in therapy together in my first paragraph under the cut. It has helped somewhat but not on this rather new issue.]
posted by millipede at 11:37 AM on August 25, 2017 [5 favorites]

Oops, I overlooked that. Can you expand on how that's going around these issues? How is it not helping on this? How much have you talked about this with your couples therapist? What about sending this question to your therapist? I can't tell if it's "okay maybe things aren't going to change" or "give it time" or "get a new therapist." It took about 6 sessions to really get to know a therapist and make progress in my experience, but it sounds like you have a well established relationship that ought to be able to address this issue.
posted by salvia at 11:51 AM on August 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

All the couples therapy in the world won't affect change if both partners are not invested and working on the problems together. At 40, this is who is he, and he may mellow a bit but it really sounds like he is never going to be as stable as you are so this pattern will re-occur at other stress points when you would expect your partner to support you. Can you build up a support network so you never have to rely on him or cause him any pressure/stress? His job is one issue for him, does he want to be a stay at home parent - and does he have the skills to endure twelve hours of crying followed by three loads of laundry, fixing the clogged toilet and delaying eating anything at all for four hours while the immediate crisis' are happening?
posted by saucysault at 12:15 PM on August 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

It might be helpful for you to work through together John Gottman's book Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. My husband and I recently started working through all the exercises and reading it together and it's been enormously helpful for us. It might help you get on the same page. I agree with the others above that it's probably not the best idea to have a baby while there's much strife between you two. Apparently having the first baby is one of the main reasons couples divorce, because it just causes so much stress.
posted by FireFountain at 12:35 PM on August 25, 2017

I can't decide if he's sabotaging a good marriage because of depression, or if he's unhappy enough with things to start pulling away even if he doesn't admit it to you or himself.

Dunno. There's a lot of dysfunction from both sides. How much poop is ok in your milkshake?
posted by Jacen at 3:14 PM on August 25, 2017

I would say if you're not finding couples therapy useful on this new issue, you could try changing therapists. Or if it's a really new issue, keep at it and ask the therapist to help you dig deeper. It should be productive, even if it's productive of stuff that's not good news.
posted by Miko at 3:33 PM on August 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

Your husband IS a child, he shouldn't be making one.

I was in a relationship like yours. I finally decided I didn't want to do the tremendous one-sided work of dealing with a fickle, petulant, selfish child. If things weren't going exactly his way at any given moment, he'd backstab me, turn away from me, abandon me. I didn't have a partner if he didn't happen to feel like it at that moment. It corroded all trust. What you write about feels very much like that. He waits until you are already actively trying to conceive, enduring the medical treatments to do so, and then tries to back out, by issuing a proclamation rather than discussing the issue as a couple.

You'd be raising this child on your own anyway, you wouldn't have a reliable partner in him, so I suppose the suggestions to dump him and have the child on your own aren't a bad idea.

The several suggestions that the husband isn't "being heard": puh-LEASE. I can hear his tantrumming from here. He isn't bringing things up in such a manner as to be discussed between two equal parties. He isn't being considerate of her in the least, yet he wants all consideration heaped upon himself.

This alone: "he has a history of freaking out when big changes/decisions are made in our lives" to me would be a total deal-breaker. That's not the way a good spouse and father comports himself. That is the way, again, a CHILD acts.
posted by nirblegee at 7:31 PM on August 25, 2017 [8 favorites]

This whole question reads like "ugh he sucks and has all of these problems that make him bad with people AND he should also have a baby with me ASAP" and...those two don't quite mesh. If he's too fucked up to make decent, responsible decisions or know his own mind he's not ready to be a parent. So why are you pressuring him to have a baby? If the answer is that you wish he were someone else, I'd say, that's okay with a wedding but not with a third person.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:24 PM on August 25, 2017 [9 favorites]

Also, it's not super fair to assume he's immature, being a flake, or whatever. He's not feeling ready to have a kid, and your marriage seems shitty right now, so he's not having a kid despite knowing it'll lead to lots of fighting and discomfort in his marriage. Doing the right thing even when it's hard is peak maturity when it comes to making new people.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:24 PM on August 25, 2017 [10 favorites]

Hi. I am so, so sorry you're going through this. I agree with the people who are saying to put pregnancy on hold for now, create a timeline that feels acceptable to you, and get super clear on your non-negotiables. (your own individual therapy might be a helpful place to do that) It sounds like your work to do as a couple right now is not figuring out whether to have a child together, but whether to stay married. I know you're in couples therapy already and I'm wondering why that hasn't been helpful.

Maybe he's just not ready to have a kid right now because things between you are shitty and his anxiety is resulting in lots of catastrophizing and freaking out. But it seems bit deeper than that to me. This stood out: "He's not sure we will ever be in a place that's more than tolerable because of issues x, y, and z." You've been together for several years, and I imagine issues x, y, and z are things he's been aware of for a while. They are also things that can be worked through by two willing partners. He's also backpedaled on wanting kids and turned that around on you, implying he was somehow pressured in that decision by your "strong personality?" After 5 months of medical ordeals? It sounds like he's holding some deep resentment and combined with the pressure of procreating, a difficult month, and his own general unhappiness/instability, he's pulling away from you and your marriage. Divorce is a parachute. (and if I recall correctly from a previous post, he's been divorced before.)

I hope this month gets better for you both and that you're able to de-escalate this and regain some hope and come together again. PM me anytime.
posted by blackcatcuriouser at 11:14 PM on August 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

Little apartment, date other men, no kids for two years, that's what I would do. If you don't want to solo parent now and a future with him is a maybe, that is the only way you can get what you want. He'll probably be around in two years if you change your mind and if he has changed his mind too, why not try then.

Not a marriage expert, but there is no reason to take the best possible outcome as you state it (having a kid with someone who really wants one with you) off the table at 35. A couple of years biologically is not a huge deal, is it? Sorry if I misunderstood that part.
posted by benadryl at 1:59 PM on August 26, 2017

A couple years in your late 30s can be a big deal. I wouldn't act like there's all kinds of time here, because there isn't.
posted by Miko at 6:42 PM on August 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

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