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Ask E. Jean For DearSugar: Will a Baby Save Our Marriage?

Dear E. Jean,

I’m happily married to a wonderful, successful, and ambitious man. Recently his ambition has extended to me — he wants a baby. The thought leaves me cool at best. But I fear if I put it off much longer (I’m 33, he’s 40), our marriage will be in danger.

This is not something I can discuss with my sisters, friends or mother (they all have children). When I tell my husband how I feel, he says I’m not normal. What do I do? Give up my birth control pills, or get a secret tubal ligation? — Nulliparous

To see E. Jean's answer

My Dear Nully,

If you don’t want a baby, do not, under any circumstances, have a baby. And for God’s sake, don’t let anybody beat you into a coma of “normalcy.” Because I promise you, darling, if you have a child to “save” your marriage, the union won’t just be in danger, it will be doomed.

So take the honorable action. Do what a superior woman would do. Tell your husband why and how you think a baby is wrong for you. It’s going to be difficult, but your frankness will help him sort out his own feelings and maybe you can both get beyond this impasse. And try not to put it off. He won’t know how to reach his own truth till he hears yours from you.

So stick to your guns, Nulliparous! There are enough little unwanted babies in the world — indeed, half of them are born into the best families.

To see more advice from E. Jean visit Elle magazine and

Join The Conversation
kbannin kbannin 9 years
A baby will not save your marriage it will only leave you divorced with a new expense and more responsibly. The baby trap is not only self-explanatory but also it adds resentment and more hurt. I mean seriously look at the bigger picture, adding a baby to an already wavering marriage is just one more therapy bill in the making. Why would you intentionally bring a child into a family that is already full of growing problems? In the long run your child might RESENT YOU for having them to only FIX something. Take it from me cause I seen it happen a few times. A baby doesn't make your spouse's foot come back out of the doorway. It may delaying it a bit, but ultimately if the foot is already there on the woodwork, chances are they have already made up their mind.
giveveesomesugar giveveesomesugar 9 years
You have to look inside and find out why it is you dont want a child. If you have already decided that you never want kids, period, then you should stick to your decision. If you want kids eventually, then you and your husband needs to come to an agreement about when that would be. It is your own right if you dont wanna have a kid, but be prepared for a possible divorce, your husband isnt getting any younger and it is his right to want his own child. I'm just surprised that this subject wasnt discussed prior to the marriage.
Lovaajn Lovaajn 9 years
you're also totally normal for not wanting kids. we already have a population problem - good for you!
Lovaajn Lovaajn 9 years
this absolutely should always be discussed BEFORE two people marry. if you two absolutely can't agree on having children or no, you should courageously step out of the marriage. choosing to have a child is not like choosing between a yellow lab and a black lab. a child deserves to be wanted, appreciated, and adored. even if he agrees to a life without children, he will be just as a bitter inside as you would have been if you had a child. this is not a simple thing to disagree on. this is most likely a marriage breaker. one of you is definitely going lose out. whether that is he loses out on the wonderful opportunity it is to be a parent, or you lose out on a marriage and man you adore. but, whatever you do, do not bring an innocent child into this world unless you can love it and dedicate the rest of your life to it. because that is exactly what loving moms (and dads) do.
dovima dovima 9 years
You will resent the child while you are pregnant and after it is born. Your "happily married" husband (who dares to think you aren't normal) will resent you. The baby will grow up with serious issues: everything from feeling like they are responsible for the divorce of their parents to not having any love from you. Having a baby will ruin the child’s life and cause you undue emotional and physical stress. Many women don't want children for a host of personal reasons. There are far too many messed up kids and adults in the world. Many are caught in a never-ending cycle of unhappiness because of how their parents raised them. Stop the cycle. Be an ADULT. Finally have a serious talk about WHY you don't want to have a baby. (If you were to have secret surgery he would leave you when he found out anyway. That is an extremely immature and underhanded thing to do). If he loves you (enough) he will stay with you. If it doesn't work out between the two of you it is much more easy to break apart without a child in the picture. Babies - 21 need more love then someone who doesn't want kids can ever give.
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 9 years
Don't ever do something like that to save a marriage. And no one should be telling someone they're not normal because they don't want kids. And regardless of whether children were discussed, if you currently do not feel you want to have a child, don't. Even if you thought you did before, you cannot have a child you don't want to have just to please someone else. No one will be happy. Maybe you will want one at some point, but if you don't now, this won't help anything. Just be honest with him.
petite42 petite42 9 years
Having a child to save a marriage is an awfully high burden to place on a tiny helpless infant, don't you think? Of course you know that. I'm going to guess that when you married this man, you were still very young and you figured someday the biological clock would start ticking and you'd have baby fever just like your sisters and other mothers in your life. So you didn't misrepresent yourself; the tick-tocking just never hit you. And, it may never. If your marriage is suffering, then perhaps you are cool to the idea simply because you know it wouldn't be good to bring a baby into a marriage that's not already strong. If this is the case, you should bring it up to your DH and suggest counseling to strengthen up the marriage. If your marriage is NOT suffering, then realize that this is the one issue in marriage that CANNOT be compromised. You either want a baby, or you don't. You can't have half a baby. You can't even bring a baby in this world on condition that the one who wants it will do all the care. Nope. You have to BOTH want the baby. So this is not compromisable. If you love your DH, you need to let him know in no uncertain terms, be clear and 100% honest. Then step back and allow him time to think about what that means. There is a risk that he will divorce you to find someone who will have a baby. He's going to have to decide if having a baby is that important to him. He's 40 and while it's true that men can father children well into their 80s, he's probably realizing that if a baby was born now, he'd be close to retirement by the time it was an adult. While you are only in your 30s, his clock has good reason to be ticking very loudly. Love and respect for each other will get you both through this. No, there's no guarantee that you may find yourself single again while he moves on to a new partner who shares his dream. But there's no other way out of this. There is simply no compromise here. Incidentally I have several friends who never heard that clock until they were nearly 40. And now they all have babies. It could happen to you BUT since your DH is older than you, I wouldn't proceed with that expectation. You need to tell him it may NEVER happen to you, and let him make up his own mind what that means to him. If he decides to stay with you, do give him time to mourn what he is giving up to do so. Don't expect him to get over it quickly. Be sensitive and loving and understanding and all of that. Good luck!
Le-Luxe Le-Luxe 9 years
Perfect answer- NEVER have a baby to make someone happy...especially if it makes you miserable.
Meike Meike 9 years
Diazy: "I'm not saying that you should do that but think about your husband should he be punished because you don't want to have kids thats just selfish." First of all, it is actually more selfish to bear a child you don't want for the sake of saving your marriage and keeping your husband. We don't know this woman and whether she'll be the type of mother who, after she gives birth, will adore the child immediately or becomes emotionally or physically negligent to this child. Instead of potentially hurting one person, she could end up hurting two. Couples should only have children when they both want them are ready to have them. Second, punishment? Where does anyone get the notion that not bearing a child for a man is a punishment to him? The OP's personal decision to wait on children or not have children at all is entirely separate of her husband's desire to have children. Where are we? The Henry VIII's household? Instead, you are suggesting the OP should endure the burden to her physical and mental well-being i.e. punish herself and the child she carries within so a man can get what he wants and not what they both want. To the OP: I suggest you confront him and tell him everything you feel about having a child. Do not fold into the 'normalcy' excuse. More and more men and women, like my husband and myself, do not want children or some of us even wait much much later before we come to realize we want them. Either way, it has to be a mutual decision. If not, you'll have to come to grips with the fact that both of you have changed. It's better to part away without a child than to part away with a child in the middle of your disputes.
ninjastarlett ninjastarlett 9 years
No no no no no! A baby does not fix a relationship. It doesn't fix anything; it'll only make things worse if you two can't see eye to eye on things. Fix the relationship yourselves, nothing else will fix it for you.
smartl smartl 9 years
You absolutely should not have a child if you don't want one. On the other hand, you absolutely cannot expect your husband to just "live with it." His desire to have children is just as important as your desire not to. I'm sorry to say that this is most likely a dealbreaker and I would prepare for a divorce, because you should not have an unwanted child, and he should not be miserably childless for the rest of his life. It's unfair for either of you to make such a large-scale compromise.
emalove emalove 9 years
It bothers me immensely when women consider having a baby to save a relationship. It actually kind of makes me sick. If you have to resort to that, guess what?? The relationship is doomed! And a baby isn't going to change that. I don't mean to sound harsh, but I feel very strongly about this. Don't have a baby until you're both ready. Bottom line. And if he isn't willing to wait a little while for you to be ready and decides to leave you, I think you're better off without him.
Trixie6 Trixie6 9 years
Give your husband a kick in the ass for telling you that you're not normal. What a jerk!
JessieSP JessieSP 9 years
Absolutely not!! Don't ever have a baby for this reason. Women make this mistake too many times in my opinion.
sass317 sass317 9 years
If you have a baby simply to pacify your husband then you will resent that child for the rest of your life. Has he ever had to care for a baby or small child for an extended period of time? This is definitely something that should have been discussed before you even got married, I assume you probably did and you told him you didnt want kids and he figured that eventually you would change your mind. we ALL have seen the posts about women who married guys who didnt want children and simply hoped that the guy would change their mind- or the girl got pregnant on purpose sure that once the baby came everything would be all rainbows and sunshine. A baby cannot fix a married.
sugarbritches sugarbritches 9 years
Anybody ever think that maybe they did talk about having kids "someday" before they go married and that sounded good but as the years have passed his someday is today but she's not ready yet. Just a thought. People change and so does what you want in life. Either way I agree with most of the posters above that you shouldn't intentionally have children if you don't want them 100%. I think you also need to think about the possibility that it may end up being a deal breaker in your marriage though. Some people feel a real passion and need to have children just as others don't. I'll be hoping that you are as compatible in this area as you are in the other aspects of your life and that you can talk it out. Good Luck!
Jennifer777 Jennifer777 9 years
DO NOT HAVE A BABY TO SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE!!!!! This is a topic that should have been discussed before you got married. Since it wasn't you must now deal with the fallout. Sit down and explain to your husband why you are not ready to have kids right now (or ever.) Be honest and see what happens. Good luck!
happiness80 happiness80 9 years
To be honest I think if you didnt tell the guy point-blank before marriage it is unfair to him now.
diazy diazy 9 years
I have known woman who were completly put of by babies and having babies but as soon as they had their little ones they changed. I'm not saying that you should do that but think about your husband should he be punished because you don't want to have kids thats just selfish. I know this couple he is a well paid an well known dentist and his wife spends his money the whole day, he wanted kids she didn't they compromised she would have the children if he does most of the work sounds bad but it works for them. Ask yourself this question his having a child such a bad thing to you that you would give up your husband to spare yourself?
rpenner rpenner 9 years
I agree with E. Jean. But honestly, this should have been a discussion you had before getting married. It's kind of important!
cvandoorn cvandoorn 9 years
My bf's sister has a 6 year old and sadly to say, she did not want to have her. But his family doesn't believe in abortion. So now her mom is taking care of the 6 year old, while the guy who got her pregnant bailed right after she told him she was pregnant. Now she is married to a guy who desperately wants kids...even though she doesn't want any kids and can't even take care of her 6 year old. However, her husband pressured her into stopping taking her birth control pills and guess what? She's pregnant now, and miserable. And I just feel horrible for the baby, because once again, the poor kid won't really have a mom. Its YOUR body. Your husband just has to come to terms with the situation and realize what he needs to do. If that means leaving you because he so desperately wants kids, then you'll have to accept that. But seriously tell him to wait a few years, because you could one day change your mind. You never know!
jaxon jaxon 9 years
First I know it is a moot point but Where was this discussion before you got married? Stop thinking you can change his mind. If your goals were not the same your marriage was doomed from the start. Second, do not have baby to please someone else. It's not a haircut or weightloss or a makeover. It's for life. While babies are cute and cuddly they can be hard to love through the poop, spit up, tears, and sleepless nights and they need so much more love than they give at first. It frightens me that your are 33 and asking such a ridiculous question. Does not wisdom come with age? Not only will you resent your husband you will resent this child.
kurniakasih kurniakasih 9 years
100% agree w/ E. Jean. Don't have one unless YOU really want one. Wait until you're ready, tell your husband you want to wait...but wait a minute, do you really want one eventually? Don't do it just to 'save' a marriage. BIG MISTAKE.
happiness80 happiness80 9 years
The poster says she was "happily married"....meaning at least everything was chummy before the issue came about. So it is this sudden(?) need for a kid that is the problem. The main question now is that have you always told him that you did never wanted a kid?? Did you tell him before marriage?? IF YES: Then he is completely out of line. IF NO: I think he has the right to assume that you both will have kids. Trying to have kids is not the "normal" thing....lets just say its the "default". You did not give enough information but if you have never told him you dont want kids, I can understand why he is surprised you are telling him now - after marriage.
omilawd omilawd 9 years
This is usually something discussed prior to marriage, but I agree with E. Jean. If you don't want a baby, don't have one. No matter what. If you're not ready, it'll show, and it'll just put more strain on your marriage. Have one if/when you're ready, and if you're worried about your biological clock, freeze some of your eggs.
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