Hi, Carolyn: What happens when you get married and your life plans change drastically? I am in my late 20s and have been happily married for almost five years. I always wanted kids and even though I was in a super-rush to get pregnant, my husband was not.
It was good that he insisted we hold off. I finished my college degree, we bought a house, got dogs and I have paid off a lot of debt. Recently, we have struggled with infertility. At first, I spent plenty of weekends sobbing about it and secretly cringed when friends announced their pregnancies.
Now, however, I am so satisfied with my life that I dread getting pregnant. I treasure the time I have had to get things done and develop a closer relationship with my husband. I welcome my period with a huge sigh of relief. I secretly feel that a baby will get in the way of my life.
I fear this will ultimately bring down my marriage. My once baby-shy husband has recently been asking about when we will seek fertility advice. What do you do when you are suddenly happy to be infertile? – Broken womb
Your life plans haven’t changed drastically – at least, not yet. Your feelings, perspective and opinions have changed. Your self-image has changed.
And when that happens to someone in a life partnership, keeping it secret is often more damaging than the change itself. The strength of a marriage is in its intimacy, and, right now, your husband doesn’t know who his wife really is.
Please let him in on the way you and your thinking have evolved, and do it soon. But don’t drop it on his lap as something you’ve figured out all on your own, a la “I don’t want kids.” Instead, tell him how you are feeling, as completely as you’ve laid it out here: “I know I was the one pushing for children, but lately I’ve started to feel relieved when I get my period. I treasure how close we’ve grown and I’m afraid to change that. I’ve also been afraid to say anything because I don’t know what it means.” Then, allow him to process that, and respond with the way he feels.
He may share your sense of relief. Or, he may say something to quell your fears and make the idea of kids sound appealing again. He may be crushed or angry, too – but keeping your secret and stalling on fertility treatments wouldn’t fix that, nor would escalating the baby-making efforts despite harboring these secret doubts.
Let’s say your husband would end the marriage – or stay but feel disappointed – if children aren’t in your future by one means or another. In that case, the status quo you’re so anxious to protect might be destined to end no matter what you choose.
Telling him how you feel, and then letting him say his piece, gives the two of you a chance to figure out which paths are honestly available to you as a couple, be it marriage with children, marriage without children, or going your separate ways. That’s what happens when you’re happily married and your perspective changes drastically: You update your life plans together.