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Husband Doesn't Want Children

Husband Doesn't Want Children


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?


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.


"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 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 (154)
January 6, 2017
If he loves you, he'll set you free.
If he loves you, he'll set you free. Divorce isn't always about hatred, sometimes divorce is more about love than anything else. If the two of you have two completely different goals in life (major goals such as children), then the loving thing to do is set each other free to pursue their life goals.
May 13, 2016
Having the strength to walk away.
Save your own life and walk away. Whatever happiness and love you felt for the man who does not want to have a family with you; will be gained in another relationship. Have faith and value yourself. Do not waste a moment of your life trying to change anyone. Every minute counts. Be strong and walk away to save yourself from a life of regrets. Every bit of hesitation from him and every bit of promoting the idea of children to him will eat away at your self worth. I have lived with this for 20 years. Now with 2 nearly grown children (had to literally fight to have them-lot of cursing and tears after my patience wore thin), I wonder what life would have been like if I had been in a positively agreeable marriage with a willing partner. Every movie, every wedding, every stranger who walks by, I feel sadness and wish that I had been with someone who was on the same page full of YESes and not NOs. It lingers on for years and years. Should have walked away in the beginning.The pain never fades.
February 4, 2016
Husband chanced his mind about wanting children
My husband and I have been together for nearly ten years now, but only recently married, we had a year apart 2 years ago because he wasn't sure he wanted any more children and I do! he already has 2 children 23 and 15 and two grandchildren. I love his kids and our grand kids but im only 35 and he is 52. when we got back together he said he would try for a child, and that's all I asked that he try. but its not as simple as just trying as he has had a vasectomy and has agreed to a reversal before we got married. But now its booked and we are saving hard to make it happen he has told me he doesn't want another child? I am heart broken I feel like he has lied to me or tricked me into marring him. what do I do I Love him so very much but the need to have a child is growing strong but the year. I find my self getting emotional every time I see a new born baby. im so confused. please advise please.
November 19, 2015
This is horrible advice. It's ok to try to discover his reasoning and assuage his worries, if they're small. (i.e., he doesn't want to pass on the receding hairline that runs in his family, or he doesn't want to replace his fancy car with a minivan) But, since he's quite sure and has been since before their marriage, I imagine she's just going to have to choose between having him as a husband or getting a divorce in order to have children by herself or with someone else. You can't force someone to become a parent! Maybe he'll choose to go along with it in order to not lose her, but what a terrible position to put him in.
April 30, 2015
Loving someone means loving them for who and what they are. If you think you can change them, this is not love, although I am sure you truly believe it. And compatibility is paramount for a relationship to last. I tried to have a relationship with someone who wanted children and I didn't. So I can tell you that trying to "persuade" him will end up making him hate you the way I hate the guy who tried to "persuade" me.
Joan Bennett
April 30, 2015
Don't kill your man
How is coercing a man who doesn't want children to become a father an act of love toward either your husband or your unborn child? Selfish and foolish is the woman who presses forward in this crusade which will surely lead to the undoing of herself and her family. I am this very disgusting creature you should not wish to become. Five years of longing for and insisting on a child with a spouse who openly disclosed in our early dating that he did not want children finally led to the birth of our son, the deterioration of my husband's mental health and his ultimate suicide. Now I have a fatherless 3 year old and no beloved partner to spend the rest of my days with. I should have chosen a partner who wanted children as I did but since I did not I should have accepted the partner I chose and not brought pain and suffering upon him, our son, our extended family and myself.
April 29, 2015
Am going through the same,however he has got children from previous marriage,he likes them and real his a good father however he says he doesn't want more those ones are enough for him,his so loving caring and understanding, he was honest from day one abt it but thought he would change his mind but its really eating my mind and I love him so much cannot see myself without him
October 2, 2014
Having children must be something you both desperately want before you commit or the relationship will be built on a lie. It's just common sense...
Joan Bennett
October 1, 2014
What happened next...
One evening I came across this post having had an argument with my new husband about having children. That was 3 1/2 years ago. Since then we have lived through a distressing miscarriage and more recently have celebrated a wonderfully calm birth of our first child. I say first because we are already planning our second and debating our third. I honestly think that some husbands/wives will say no and mean no. For my husband however it was apprehension. Best wishes to all those trying to determine which it is and I hope that you can reach a conclusion that brings you a happy life.
September 30, 2014
Now my husband told me that he was never getting involved with any kids with me or any one else. He said that before that ever happened he was going to get himself fixed permantly. Also if I keep bringing up the subject that after he got himself fixed by some doctor in a far away country that he would just leave me. He hates kids all kids not just certain peoples kids. We have been married exactly 4 months.