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“I desire a child, but . . .”

When the desire to have a child of your own first takes hold, it can consume your every thought and eventually your life. However, what do you do when you and your spouse differ on this very critical issue?

In your twenties you were a career driven woman. You spent all your time and energy on developing your career and children weren’t exactly part of this picture. It would never be. This is because you and your spouse enjoyed the pleasure and convenience of packing your bags at a moment’s notice to depart for a cosy, romantic hotel (this is of course when you didn’t have to work). Children would simply place a spanner in the works . . . that is until you cuddled your sister’s newborn child a week ago. When those precious little fingers wrapped around your thumb, you just knew something had changed within you for good. But will he share your sentiments? Will he feel the same as you do?

Few people talk about it

According to Marilet Kotze, a Sexologist from Bloemfontein, couples usually work through such a problem after an honest conversation. She has only seen one couple who had differing opinions regarding children and couldn’t reach a compromise. “It could very well happen that couples decide against having children, only to have one spouse experience a change of heart at a later stage. It then becomes a power struggle to decide what is reasonable and what isn’t. Firstly your sex life will be affected, as your husband may feel like your trust has been broken. Such resentment manifests itself in the bedroom and affects your intimacy. Later on, the desire for a child could be used as a weapon to manipulate or force your partner into something. This is not healthy for a marriage. It is immensely challenging if you are desperate for a child and the other is not. At the end of the day you need to decide how important a child compared to your relationship is.”

Chris Morey, a Pastoral Counsellor, says that such a situation usually causes problems for several years before a couple knocks on his door for help. “An imminent divorce becomes a very real possibility.” He is of the opinion that too many couples fail to attend premarital counselling and eventually problems such as these come to the fore later on. He also believes that fewer men desire children than women. Your husband may not want children because he is scared that your sex drive will dissipate. Your body changes during pregnancy or you may not give him the attention he is accustomed to. There are men who also had an unhappy childhood and have a very real fear of doing the same to their children. This is why they would rather avoid having children all together.

Ronel Groenewald, a Psychologist, firmly believes in the importance of knowing your partner to the core as an individual and stresses the need for good communication. If you are honest with each other in your relationship, then you are able to take on challenging situations and talk about them. However, this needs to be done in a respectful manner. “People can change their minds over time. But it would be ideal if both of you grew as a couple. Unfortunately not everyone is always honest with each other and as a result, unresolved issues from the past could surface later on within your marriage.”

To be continued . . .