Decision Making

Resolving Deadlocks

I want to have a child but my partner isn’t ready and I feel like time is running out. How can we move past this deadlock?

It can be pretty stressful when you’re ready to have kids but your partner isn’t – especially if you feel like the clock is ticking and time is running out. So the first thing you likely should consider doing is getting your current fertility tested. There is no sense getting into a panic and stressing yourself out unless you have a good reason. So get this information first. And in the ideal world, get your partner to have his or her fertility tested as well [read more here].

At least then you’ll have some concrete information to add to your discussions and decision-making.

If you’re sure your partner definitely wants to have kids, you’ll need to have a frank conversation about his/her expectations around when having kids will fit into your lives. Your partner might have some concerns about having kids or might be reluctant for a number of different reasons. Try to get a handle on when your partner thinks that s/he will be ready? Find our what needs to happen in your partner’s life and in your relationship for your partner to feel ready?

The stakes are high and these conversations can get pretty heated. So if you hear something that doesn’t sit well with you, try not to get too defensive or to overreact. Let your partner know how you feel and why you don’t want to wait, then give your partner equal air time, listen, and try to understand your partner’s side.

One great way to better understand your partner’s position and feelings, and to get your partner to understand your perspective, is to turn the tables. Put yourself in your partner’s position and present “your partner’s” case. Then have your partner do the same – putting him/herself in your position and presenting “your” case.

It is important to know that these conversations often have to be revisited more than once before reaching a decision. Sometimes you plant an idea but your partner might need to get used to it or think it over before responding, and vice versa.

If your partner is truly not ready to start a family “yet”, try to reach an agreement on postponing for a definitive period of time – for example, in a year when he finishes the project he’s working on, or in two years when you have more job security and can take a parental leave. Don’t leave it too open or ambiguous. Otherwise time will fly by and you’ll find yourselves 5 years down the track but no closer to having children. If you agree to a postponement, one or both of you also might want to consider preserving your fertility to increase the chances you’ll be able to have kids when you’re both ready.

Despite your best efforts to come to a resolution on this issue, you might find yourselves at a stalemate – unable to reach a compromise that is acceptable to you both. Given the importance of this decision and the fact that fertility declines with age, you might want to consider seeing a counsellor to help the two of you work through and resolve this important issue.

It is possible that when all is said and done, it doesn’t seem like your partner will ever be ready to have kids. In that case you may need to ask yourself:

· Is this a deal-breaker?

· Are you willing to stay in this relationship and risk the possibility of never having children?

· Is having kids more important to you than staying in this relationship?

· If you stay and end up never having kids, will you regret it? Will you blame and resent your partner?

Depending on your answer to these questions, you may need to consider the possibility of parenting on your own. See our section on Single Parenthood .

You and your partner may also find this book useful:

I Want a Baby, He Doesn’t: How Both Partners Can Make the right Decision at the Right Time by Donna Wade (2005)

I already have children and don’t want any more. My current partner agreed not to have kids but has changed her mind. How do we resolve this deadlock?

This is a difficult situation, and one that a number of couples find themselves facing. You likely feel confused, hurt, and upset because what you thought you’d agreed on has now shifted. It can be frustrating to find yourself facing this situation when you believed it had been resolved, particularly if the agreement not to have kids together was reached before you committed yourself to this relationship, and was a condition of committing yourself to your current partner and this relationship.

This really is a rock and hard place position to be in. As much as you would like to be on the same page with your partner, you can’t be. You already are a parent and she isn’t, but wants to be. You are on opposite sides of this issue in more ways than one. If you don’t give in and agree to have a child with her, she may leave you, or feel resentful that you are standing in the way of her having something that she’s now decided is very important in her life. And yet, if you give in and agree to have another child, your current relationship will inevitably change and so will your plans and dreams for the future (including when you can retire). And maybe you’ll be the one who ends up feeling resentful.

Remind yourself that your partner hasn’t changed her mind to make things difficult for you. She is likely feeling surprised and upset too that she’s now questioning a decision she really thought she’d be okay with. You made it clear in advance that this issue was a “deal breaker” for you, so she may be afraid that you’re going to leave her.

Before figuring out what is the best for BOTH of you, you need to determine what you can live with. Here are some important questions you may want to ask yourself:

· Is there any way that you’d consider having a child with your current partner?

· Will the benefits of being parents together outweigh the costs?

· Is this a good relationship?

· Do you have the same values?

· Would your partner make a good mother?

· Would you be good parents together?

· Will parenting with your current partner be different from (perhaps better than) your experience of parenting with the mother of your other children?

· How will your older children feel about you having another child?

· How would you feel if this relationship were to end over this issue?

The previous question in this section may also be helpful to your partner.

Try to keep the lines of communication open and try not to get locked into a position. Allow yourselves some time to think about both sides of the situation before making a final decision.

It can be very difficult to resolve this conflict on your own, so you may want to consider seeing a counsellor to help the two of you work through this issue.

You and your partner may also find this book useful:

I Want a Baby, He Doesn’t: How Both Partners Can Make the right Decision at the Right Time by Donna Wade (2005).

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