(The Root) —
I don't think I was born with the "mommy gene." I am 34 and have concluded firmly that neither having nor raising children is for me. I've told my fiancé multiple times: "No, I don't want children." The wedding date has been set, but recently he's been talking about planning a timeline for our future, and children are on his list. What can I say to let him know that I'm serious about not wanting kids and still get married in July? —A.T.
You're knee-deep in wedding plans right now, but I suggest putting them on hold until you and your fiancé reach some sort of resolution on this issue, if that's even possible. Not being on the same page with your partner about having children is a deal breaker.
Your fiancé probably thinks that you can be convinced to have children once you are married. I'm concerned that he has chosen to ignore your oft-stated perspective on this issue. He seems certain that he will get his way, and I can't tell from your letter if that's from a sense of entitlement or just wishful thinking.
It's unfathomable to many people that a woman genuinely, honestly, really doesn't want kids, but many women don't. A 2008 Pew Research study found that among women ages 40-44, there were equal numbers of women who are childless by choice and those who would like children but cannot have them. Additionally, 1 in 5 American women end their childbearing years without having birthed a child. (In 1976 only 10 percent of women were doing so.)
I'll guess that over the years, when you've revealed that you don't want children, your desire not to become a parent has been brushed off. You've likely heard some version of a patronizing "Oh, just wait" or "You'll grow out of it," as if you'll come around in time. There's a popular saying that goes, "When men say no, it's the end of an argument; when women say no, it's the start of a negotiation."
You have to explain to your partner that this isn't a passing phase, and you won't suddenly wake up one day and decide, "Yes, kids, please!" You are no more likely to be convinced to want children because he does than he will be convinced not to want them because you don't.
If he isn't 100 percent willing to forgo children, then this wedding needs to be called off. Sure, that suggestion is jarring and sounds appalling, and I hate to offer it. I like to see folks happily married in healthy unions. Note those descriptors: "happy" and "healthy" — not just married to avoid being an unmarried statistic.
I fear that if you two are married under these circumstances, you will end up getting divorced — something akin to Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, whose difference in opinion about when and/or if to have kids was rumored to have been a reason for their split.
If your marriage ended similarly, the story might not make worldwide headlines. But save yourselves the headache, the money spent on a wedding for a marriage that has a rocky chance at success, and the cost of an expensive divorce lawyer by getting on the same page about children now. Or you could agree to get out of this relationship before it proceeds any further.
I know you're in love and want this relationship to work, but please avoid the inclination to try to make it happen by any means necessary. Don't agree to have children if you don't want them just to go down the aisle in July. That's unfair to your fiancé.
For good reason, compromise is often referred to as the cornerstone of relationships. But this isn't one of those issues you give in on just to make your would-be husband happy. It's unfair to you and any potential offspring. Since you've concluded that you don't want kids, you're undoubtedly aware of the gigantic responsibility involved. Parenting is a role that should be taken on because you want to, not under duress or to save a relationship.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.