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October 15, 2014

Ask Me Anything: On Whether or Not to have Kids & Learning to Trust Again.

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*Editor’s Note: Elephant Journal articles represent the personal opinion, view or experience of the authors, and can not reflect Elephant Journal as a whole. Disagree with an Op-Ed or opinion? We’re happy to share your experience here. 

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Dear Elephants,

Welcome to this weeks Ask Me Anything, where no question is out of bounds! To submit questions for next week, please email me at [email protected] or private message me on Facebook.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Dear Erica,

I love elephant journal—it’s one of the few places I turn to with regularity when I am searching for answers to the big questions.

Considering I glean so much from elephant’s contents, I thought I’d ask the question I’m currently trying to answer. I’m wondering whether I want to have children.

I am married to a wonderful man, and although I have doubts about whether I am in love with him, I love him deeply and am working on accepting him the way he is to increase that love. We separated earlier this year because I was having incredibly strong feelings for another man, and I didn’t feel it was fair to keep him in a marriage when I was having trouble staying true to my marital vows.

We were also pursuing IVF at the time, and that process raised a lot of issues for me, mainly whether I wanted children at all. I grew up in a large family, which I loved, and I always assumed the maternal drive would come some day. It hasn’t. In fact, I often feel the exact opposite, that I really don’t want children.

The main problem here is that my husband wants children—biological children, to be exact—and his fertility issues require IVF to achieve this. I have never been comfortable with medical procedures, and the thought of something as invasive as IVF really scares me and makes me think hard about whether I want to go through it.

My husband has said, however, that if I choose not to have children, we will have to go our separate ways, even if it’s the most painful thing we ever go through. Since I have come back to him once, I hate the thought of leaving him again, but I also don’t want to have children to save my marriage. Any advice on how to approach this question?

Thanks,

Not a Mom

 

Dear Not,

You should absolutely not have children with your husband.

According to you, you are not in love with your husband and you do not want children—and the only reason you would pursue having them is to stay in a marriage whose foundation is shaky at best.

Your husband has been crystal clear about his desires—which include children—to the point that he is willing and ready to undergo emotional, expensive and humbling IVF treatments in order to conceive them. You are doing yourself, him and any potential offspring of the two of you, a disservice by even considering moving forward with this.

If a marriage or relationship is not solid before having kids, after having them it will likely be—for lack of a better expression—a total sh*t show.

Here you are, permanently involved with someone you “love” but are not “in love with,” easily seduced by whatever other more interesting man might happen to come around, all while you are sleep deprived to the point of madness, knee deep in dirty diapers, unable to find two consecutive minutes to take a shower and generally feeling all the scary, intense, crazy-making emotions new mothers feel.

If disaster is what you’re looking for, here’s an easy recipe to create it.

 

Hi Erica,

I’m a divorced mom of three who’s been dating a man for nearly a year. We have been living together for about seven months and I love my boyfriend and my life I have with him. I also know my kids love my boyfriend as well.

However, about two months into living with my boyfriend, I found out he had lied to me about a great amount of debt he had (my ex husband had lied to me about debt and this contributed to my divorce). I was deeply hurt that my boyfriend lied and didn’t choose to share with me about his debt, especially considering we’d discussed debt being a contribution to my divorce.

Although I was hurt and angry about his deceit (as that’s how it felt to me), I tried to forgive him and move on in our relationship since we were living together and since before this hiccup I was happy.

I now feel very confused about how I feel for my boyfriend. I know because he’s told me, that he wants to get married and have more children with me. To start a life together. I’m hesitant because I feel like since he lied to me I haven’t felt “in love” with him. When he tells me I’m his everything and he wants to marry me, I don’t feel it in my heart that I feel the same way.

I do love him, he is an amazing man and super loving and selfless with me and my kids! He has since paid off his debt and cut his credit cards up and promised he has learned his lesson with debt and will never accrue it again. Logically, I think I couldn’t find anybody better for a best friend and husband. However, I don’t know if I’m scared to get married again, lied to again or if I am truly just incapable of feeling that “in love” feeling again.

Is it possible to truly love somebody and be happy with them forever if you don’t feel “in love” with them? And is it possible to fall in love with somebody over time? I know in my mind that if I married him my kids and I would have a fantastic life, but why won’t my heart get on board?

Thanks,

BB

 

Dear BB,

The issues of debt and non-disclosure bring up serious emotion for you, and for good reason. You got burned with your ex, and you would be crazy not to be hyper sensitive about this stuff now.

Your current boyfriend thoughtlessly put you in a bad position, and you were justifiably upset. His dishonesty about his debt must have felt like someone pressing really hard on a fresh bruise. Ouch. It’s no wonder that the love you felt has been compromised—you are instinctively trying to protect yourself and your kids from getting hurt again.

The good news is, your boyfriend did come clean about his debt ultimately, and not only that, he paid it off, cut up his credit cards and seems genuinely remorseful. Everyone makes mistakes—how we handle ourselves afterwards is what defines us.

My instinct is, your “in love feeling” will return once your boyfriend has gotten some serious debt-free behavior under his belt and you can trust him again. In the meantime, you’ve only been living together for seven months, so take it nice and slow. If your heart does not begin to soften with time, it might be best to move on regardless of what’s happening financially.

It’s always best to listen to that soft, still voice inside, even when your logical mind doesn’t agree with what it’s saying.

 

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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