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Husband Doesn't Want Children

Husband Doesn't Want Children

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Dear Rachel,

My husband and I have a wonderful relationship and love each other dearly, but there is one issue that we cannot solve. I desperately want children and he doesn't. This is not a surprise, as I knew when I married him that he did not. But at the time, I also didn't realize how badly I would one day want a child. I feel like I am running out of time and as it is, he is quite a few years older than me. Do you have any advice?

S.R.

Dear S.R.,

While there are so many things in a marriage that you can, and have to compromise on or meet halfway, children are just not one of those things! This is obviously not a situation where being flexible and giving in to the other person is easy, since this is something that requires both of your involvement, time, energy and will ultimately affect both of your lives forever.

On the one hand, it sounds like your husband has been completely honest with you from the beginning. He told you he didn't want children and he simply didn't change his mind. At the same time, people change, as you did, and even though it might not have been important to you when you married, it is now, and asking you to just give up the hope for children is extremely difficult as well.

I think the only thing you can do is to speak with your husband, openly, about how you feel. The ability to create a new life, to bring a new soul into this world, an everlasting part of your marriage and your love, is something irreplaceable. Maybe he needs to see what a baby means to you through your eyes.

Additionally, it is very important for you to understand his fears and hesitations and do what you can do to help resolve them. Is he scared that he won't be a good father? Has he had much experience with children? Is he worried that he is too old? He doesn't want to change diapers? You may discover that his biggest reasons against children are things that are solvable and will require just some time, effort and work.

In Jewish law, the first commandment is to be fruitful and multiply. However, interestingly enough, it is not a commandment of the woman. Rather, it is incumbent upon the man to procreate. Now, clearly it seems strange, since in order for a man to have a child, a woman must be involved. But it is not her obligation.

This teaches us that what may be natural and desirous to a woman -- so much so that no divine commandment is needed -- may not be to a man. Yet it is his obligation, his commandment, to bring children into this world. Now I don't suggest you take this line of reasoning with him and tell him he must, but I am mentioning it to bring out the point that he is far from the only man that did, and does, not want children. And yet, fortunately, many of these men went on to have children and to love them and care for them and to raise amazing people into the world.

You need to show your husband that you believe in him and show him what he has to offer that will make him the incredible father that you know he will be. And assure him that he is not doing this alone, but with you, his loving wife who wants to be a loving mother.

In theory, there is no way to convince him of the love he will feel towards his own child. But what is real to him now is the love he feels towards you. Speak with him, openly and honestly, and show him how his love can and will expand even more if you can have a child together. Give him time and space and respect his feelings, and hopefully the two of you will be able to soon share the same vision for your future together.

Rachel

"Dear Rachel" is a bi-weekly column that is answered by a rotating group of experts. This question was answered by Sara Esther Crispe.

Sara Esther Crispe, a writer, inspirational speaker and mother of four, is the Co-Director of Interinclusion, a non-profit multi-layered educational initiative celebrating the convergence between contemporary arts and sciences and timeless Jewish wisdom. Prior to that she was the editor of TheJewishWoman.org and wrote the popular weekly blog, Musing for Meaning. To book Sara Esther for a speaking engagement, please click here.
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Discussion (144)
June 4, 2014
Whow
You choose to marry your husband and you knew he didn't want kids! Either convince your husband to have a child, but he might not be a good father, because he may feel he was talked into kids. He might not have any feelings toward the child. Or get a divorce and find some one who wants kids. You two have a difficult problem to figure out. Good luck !!!!!!
Nat
USA
March 26, 2014
I'm going through a similar situation, though have been married briefly. My husband assured me that he DID want children prior to and in the beginning of our marriage. Then he changed his mind stating financial reasons and no longer wishing to deny his happiness for others (me). He already has a child through a previous relationship and makes an amazing father. I hadn't realized that he ever had any lack of desire for more children and I'm now left with an ultimatum-my husband or a child.
Anonymous
March 12, 2014
To Torrance from Conneticut
Perhaps you need to stop "giving" if it is not appreciated. Spend your time and money on some deserving charity. Perhaps when you stop being a doormat to your Mother, she will realise what she has missed. Good luck to you in all your future endeavours, Torrance.
Joan Bennett
March 11, 2014
My giving pertains to doing animal rescue efforts for 31 years now. Just because I never wanted children does not mean I never have had nurturing instincts. Everybody contributes in some way; children are not the end-all/be-all, Ramona. I am so tired of people preaching that if we do not have children, we are not contributing in some way. I've spent over $100,000.00 paying for my mother's expenses and I never have been THANKED, let alone reimbursed. My brother has not contributed a dime and our mother thinks he walks on water. It has been extremely disturbing to be a good Jewish daughter and turn myself inside out helping this woman who has beaten me senseless on too many occasions to count, losing all that money, while my brother has received all of the love and praise.
Torrance
Connecticut
March 10, 2014
I disagree
So instead of being reasonable and accepting her husband's life long wishes, you want her to try to change his mind? He should not have to alter his life because she didn't think about her wants before the marriage.
Anonymous
February 14, 2014
In response to Ms. Joan Bennett
With a lengthy commute to a job which is challenging enough, I have very little time for myself and choose not to date any men any longer, because such "dates" were more like interrogations and I grew very weary explaining myself until I was hoarse. I have ALWAYS had to explain why I would not turn my body inside out for pregnancy and at nearly age 47 now, I no longer have any desire to explain myself. I agree that there must be guys out there who do not want children, but the discussion always comes up and I always am interrogated as to WHY I never had kids, why I never WANTED kids, etc. I haven't heard of any men ever being hounded like we women have been hounded. With little few hours I have to myself, I will not waste one more moment being badgered by some guy who is merely looking for an incubator. EVERYBODY deserves better than that and at least I was always honest and upfront and never led on any guys by agreeing to have kids and then refusing to do so.
Torrance
Connecticut
February 12, 2014
Torrance of Conneticut - look for some childfree websites and ask them how you can meet a guy who doesn't want kids. There are plenty on the sites commenting on how much they don't want children, I am sure it won't take long to find some guys not too far away from you.
Joan Bennet
February 11, 2014
To anybody who feels forced to have kids
I haven't dated any man in almost twenty years because they ALL try to force me to agree to have kids and I have NEVER wanted them. One harassed and hounded me RELENTLESSLY and I had no other choice than to break up with him. Believe me, women are forced to agree to turn our bodies inside out and do ALL the custodial care of raising kids because we have the "equipment" to create children. I have NEVER wanted children and throughout all of my years of dating, the disgust and hatred I was on the receiving end of was absolutely disgusting and disturbing. I had to break up with every single guy because I was upfront and honest about not wanting kids. I had to take care of my mentally ill mother for decades and there is no way on Earth I would have added a screaming, crying child to my roster of duties on top of what my mother was putting me through. My brother did nothing. Women are ALWAYS pressured to have kids. I have NEVER dated a guy who didn't want them. I wish I could have.
Torrance
Connecticut
January 20, 2014
agreed, Agreed
In response to the comment by Agreed, I agree, it does not trump. This, or other items, could be irreconcilable. In that event, a divorce with get is one, though unfortunate, solution.
Anonymous
long beach, ca
January 19, 2014
Agreed, you don't need to be a parent to possess giving attributes

Why should one spouse's desire to have children trump the other's lack of desire to have them? In this case, why isn't the onus on her to accept her husband's decision or divorce him? She knew he didn't want kids. Wanting to procreate doesn't give you the default moral high ground.

Children know when they're not loved or wanted and no child should have to suffer that kind of pain. Some people don't seem to realize or care they could be setting their own kid up to experience exactly that when they push an unwilling partner for a baby.

Not exactly a protective parental instinct, is it.

Yes, often, people who weren't interested in parenting fall in love once the baby is born. Plenty don't, and when that happens, the child takes the collateral damage.
Anonymous
NY
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