*Not their real name
What this means is that for the person wanting to have children, it’s not just about “having children”, there are often a lot of deep symbolic meanings and dreams tied to this goal. However, having children is not something 1 person in the marriage can decide by himself/herself and therefore it needs the buy-in from the partner. When faced with their partner not wanting to have children, there usually comes a huge sense of devastation, betrayal, and loss. This is especially so if their partner have previously either agreed or make some indication that they are not opposed to this.
For the person who doesn’t want to have children and is now faced with the pressure from their partner wanting children. They too may feel bewildered (especially if they had agreed on not having children and the partner changing their mind), pressured, and also being in the unenviable position of either standing their ground (and disappointing their partner) or doing something that please their partner but against what they believe. For those who had previously indicated they wanted to have children, they would also feel guilty but felt unable to move from where they stand right now.
This gridlock definitely represents one of the biggest challenge a couple face. Does it necessitate the end of the marriage, not necessarily so. What is important is for the couple to find a way to work through to a solution that both can live with. It is also confronting to the person wanting children to face which is more important to them, having children or being with this partner who possibly may not change their mind on this issue. To face the issue of whether they are with this person in order to have children or they just want to be with this person.
In working through this, more than discussing the reasons, it is important for the couple to discuss the meaning and dream on both sides: why is it important for you to have children, what would it mean if you never to have children, why is it important for you that we don’t have children, what would it mean if you were to have children. The couple needs to see how deep rooted each person’s position is and what prompted the change (if it’s different from previous agreement). If the reason for this conflict is rooted in the relationship itself, i.e., the partner is not opposed to having children per se but objected to having children now (timing) with this current spouse (person), then instead of focusing on this side issue of having children, fixed the issues in the relationship first!
Some couple might take the approach of let’s delay this decision and pick this up again in 1 or 2 years’ time. The problem with this approach is that putting the discussion off to 1 or 2 years later may be a way to have some reprieve from the impasse but it is simply avoidance and perhaps not facing the reality. Of course, changes in life circumstances in the future may lead to change of heart, but the person must also be prepared that we may be still stuck where we are now and it’s then 2 years later (which has implication for the person wanting to have children and the biological clock ticking).
Whatever the final decision and outcome, choosing to stay with your spouse and giving up your stand on having/not having children is your statement that you value your spouse more than this issue of children. Focus on why you are making this choice (unless your choice came from your unhealthy fear of leaving the marriage and then end up being alone). What would help in this case is for the partner to appreciate and acknowledge the sacrifice the other person is making.