Partner Readiness

My partner is ready to have kids but I’m not. What can we do?

It can be pretty stressful when you and your partner are out of sync in terms of when to start trying to have kids. Assuming you’ve talked about the issue of having kids and are both in agreement that this is a step you both eventually want to take in your relationship, there are some important questions you can ask yourself:

·   When do you think you might be ready?

·   What’s holding you back? Maybe you’re afraid of what you’ll have to give up to fit a child into your life right now.

·   What needs to happen for you to feel ready?

·   Will you ever feel ready?

·   Is there something about this partner that makes you not want to pursue having a child with him/her? Maybe you have concerns about whether your partner will make a good parent, or whether you’ll end up with most of the parenting responsibilities.

·   Is your partner willing to wait until you’re ready or is this a deal breaker for him/her?

·   Is there a compromise position that might work for both of you?

This is a life changing decision so you need to ask yourself the tough questions, and be 100% honest with yourself. If you’re not ready, you’re not ready. And if it you have concerns about your partner’s parenting potential, or about how your relationship might change with kids, or about being saddled with too much of the parenting responsibilities – then have an honest conversation with your partner. And if that isn’t enough – get some counselling. You don’t want to force yourself into a situation that you’re going to regret, and you don’t want to bring a child into the world if you’re not ready – personally, and as a couple – to change your life.

But know also, that many couples never feel fully “ready” to take on this new role and the responsibilities that go with being a parent. And it is very common for partners not to be “ready” at the same time. Like many other issues in a long-term relationship, coming to an agreement on when to throw those birth control pills down the toilet or when to throw away the condoms, takes communication and compromise.

And if the two of you are able to come to an agreement to delay starting your family for a few more years – until you’ve had a chance to finish your education, or get your careers established, or travel, or buy a condo – depending on your ages, you both might want to consider having your current fertility tested and possibly preserving your fertility to give yourselves a better chance of success when you’re both ready to start your family.

I’m ready to have a child but my partner isn’t and I feel like time is running out. What can I do?

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 out 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 [read more here].

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.

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