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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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Anonymous April 6, 2017

Oh gosh this is horrible advice!!! The subject of children in a marriage is an indisputable thing. If one person in a relationship does not want children, then the two must split (the only exception being one of the people have a change of heart regarding having children or not). "Maybe he has fears or is hesitant", or maybe he just does not want children! It is horrible to make someone a parent who does not want to be one. Imagine what the children will feel knowing that one of their parents does not have any feelings for them. I do not believe children whose parents did not plan for their conception or who did not want to be parents are as happy or mentally stable as children of parents who did plan for their conception and truly did want to become parents. Also, it was foolish for this woman to marry a man who clearly expressed an indifference towards children since the start of the relationship. Reply

Anonymous DC 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. Reply

Anonymous 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. Reply

Anonymous hampshire 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. Reply

Anonymous 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. Reply

Joan Bennett 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. Reply

Anonymous 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. Reply

Anonymous ug 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 Reply

Joan Bennett 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... Reply

Anonymous UK 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. Reply

Emma September 30, 2014

KIDS 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. Reply

Nat USA 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 !!!!!! Reply

Anonymous 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. Reply

Joan Bennett 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. Reply

Torrance Connecticut 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. Reply

Anonymous 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. Reply

Torrance Connecticut 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. Reply

Joan Bennet 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. Reply

Torrance Connecticut 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. Reply

Anonymous long beach, ca 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. Reply