When couples can't agree on having more children


Question: My partner already has kids from another marriage, who live with us 50/50, and we have one child together. He doesn't want anymore. I would have loved more than one child but I see his point. How do I make peace with fewer kids than I'd hoped for?

Answer: Knowing when your family is complete can be a complex and not uncommon issue. Sometimes the size of a family is determined by circumstances beyond the control of the couple, or person, involved. In this case, the decision appears to sit with you and your partner.

You ask how you can know if your family is complete, and that's a difficult question to answer. I'd like to ask you — is the decision to have no more children, one you can live with? If yes, then your path forward is clearer, but may include counselling. If your partner's decision is one you cannot live with, then you have some big decisions ahead.

Marriage and relationships involve compromise, we know that, but this is one area where there's no room for compromise. It's either a child, or not. Religion and politics are matters for individuals to "please themselves", but that's not so in this situation. In essence, it's a stalemate.

I wonder how final your partner's answer is? Does he realise how deeply you feel and is there room for another conversation? You also need to ask yourself if your relationship can survive the disappointment and/or resentment you may feel?

What is the most important thing for you? Another child, or your relationship?

If you have made the decision to accept the status quo, then you need to allow time to absorb your loss: the loss of your dream, and the sibling you'd have given your child. It's also the loss of being pregnant and nurturing a second child, and any mother who's had more than one will tell you how different the experience can be each time.

I suggested you may need counselling together because essentially, your second child is being sacrificed at the expense of your partner's other children. Decisions like this can have a way of coming back to haunt you if you haven't reconciled them in your head.

* Mary-anne Scott has raised four boys and written three novels for young adults, all of which have been shortlisted for the NZ Book Awards for children and young adults. As one of seven sisters, there aren't many parenting problems she hasn't talked over. She is not a trained counsellor. Her advice is not intended to replace that of a professional counsellor or psychologist.

- Stuff