Wanting Three Children Is Starting to Hurt My Marriage

familyFor as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a mother of three. All the families who I admired and wanted to be like growing up (when I was a lonely only child) had three children. There seemed to be so much love, laughter, and happiness.

There was also Monopoly. Lots and lots of Monopoly. There was no Monopoly in my house because I had no siblings to play with and my parents wouldn't play as much as I wished.

As much as three appealed to me, it wasn't until I had my own first child followed very quickly (18 months later) by our second that I realized just how much WORK three really was. And then I started to question it. "Do we really want three?" I asked my husband.

For a long time it didn't make sense to go for a third. We were living in a very small condo in the city, for one thing. But also our children took an enormous amount of energy. Having two was 10 times harder than I ever imagined it would be. Then after three years at home with them, I opted to go back to work, and the next three years passed in a blur.

Now, here we are. We have a house (finally) that is adequately sized. We have two children poised to both be in school full-time next year (my daughter is 6, her brother 4), and now I want nothing more than a third.

It crept on me slowly. Over the past year I started to say babies and feel more than a "Wow, thank God I get to hand him or her back." I started to get wistful when I saw pregnant bellies even though I hated both my pregnancies.

My children are getting more fun by the minute (seriously, older kids ROCK), but I missed holding a little baby in my arms and hearing those precious coos. I missed nursing and holding that tiny warm body close to me in the night. Most of all I miss that smell, that intoxicating fresh-baked scent that all babies have, the one they lose with almost no warning.


My husband, on the other hand, hasn't been feeling the same vibe. He wants a third. Sort of. He likes the idea. He and I both have the same vision of our future, all old and gray, our three (or four) beautiful children home for the holidays with their spouses and children. We love the idea of the chaos and wild good times.

But he isn't sure when (or if) he will ever be ready on this end. He doesn't want to go back to the sleepless nights, the $20 an hour childcare, the constant attention all babies require. I can't say I blame him. But I am willing to make those sacrifices on this end for what I hope will be a payoff. 

Those aren't his ONLY concerns, of course. There is also the question of tempting fate. We had our first two, perfect, healthy children. Why would we possibly risk another? Both of our first babies were born when we were 30 and under. Now we are older ... is there a risk to that?

There are a lot of questions. But to me, a baby isn't a "rational" decision. It's an emotional one. Now, obviously, you have to be able to afford a child, but beyond that, there is no real way to "rationalize" making such a huge sacrifice. It's love, plain and simple.

I know we would/will love our third. But I don't want to have a baby when my husband isn't completely on board.

It's been an ongoing struggle for us. We briefly agree and then change our minds from one extreme to the next. My fear at this point is that it will simply be too late at some point. Of course, I think women who go against their partner's wishes and trick them into parenthood or, worse, lie to them and steam-roll their rights are reprehensible. I will never be that woman. 

But what happens when a couple can't agree on this? I have told my husband he will win. If his "no" is clear, then I won't push the issue. After all, having a baby with an unwilling partner is unfair to everyone, but most of all the baby.

But what about my feelings? Will I grieve the baby that never was forever? Or will I be able to make peace with my family of four even though it wasn't the family I envisioned?

I really don't know.

How did you make the decision of how many babies you wanted?




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cassi... cassie_kellison

I'm struggling with this one myself. We have two boys and I want a girl so badly, but the fear of a third boy is holding me back. I didn't even know a 3rd baby was on the table for my husband until he told me the other day "If you want to try one more time for a girl lets do it now, not wait until there is a 5yr gap like the other two" So that threw me for a loop.

Melan... MelanieJK

We were always in agreement about two so this never came up.   

In my opinion,  if you're getting to the age where fertility is going to be an issue,   you need to stop dithering and sit down and make a decision.     I think you'll be happier with whatever happens if you make if you actually make a definite decision rather than just let the clock make it for you.

shesl... shesliketx

My husband and I are at odds about a third child. We have 2 boys, and we are both only children. I wanted 2 at first, and since I was pregnant with our second I have really wanted a 3rd. Dh doesn't, at all.

It breaks my heart a little bit

nonmember avatar Thinker

Food for thought - regarding children, the most common regret I hear from retirees is that they wished they had more children.

My neighbors across the street youngest have 3 children, the youngest a senior in high school this year and all I ever hear from them is how they wished they had 1 more.

JS0512 JS0512

Dealing with the same thing here.  We have a combined total of three (mine, his & ours) and I desperately want a fourth.  He's not so convinced , but keeps telling me that he will do it if I am absolutely sure because it upsets him that the idea of not having #4 makes me so sad.  I explained to him that if he isn't TOTALLY on board then it's a no go.  I want him to want #4 because he wants another baby, not because it's what will make me happy.  To me that sounds like a recipe for disaster.  We're both getting older (I'll be 34 this year and he's 36) and it seems a bit like Russian Roulette at this point.  We are so lucky & blessed to have three beautiful, healthy children.  Add to that that I've had two C-Sections & 2 other major abdominal surgeries...so we have to find out if it would even be safe for me to go for #4.

nonmember avatar Me

We had this same debate. We had two boys and I wanted to try for a girl, but my husband didn't. I just didn't feel like we were done. Suddenly, my husband had a change of heart in the heat of the moment, and we ended up expecting #3. I won't lie, having 3 can be challenging, but I love my daughter with all my heart and she really completes the family. I definitely feel confident that we are done having kids now. I guess you really know when you are done, so if you are unsure chances are you aren't done yet!

Caera Caera

Why don't you look into adopting a child? There are many out there who need homes. If dealing with an infant is a deal-breaker for your husband, be a blessing for a two or three year old who needs a loving mom and dad in his or her life.

the4m... the4mutts

We're in the opposite boat. My xh & I agreed on 3 children, and he got a vasectomy. When we split, our youngest was only 4 months old. I started dating almost immediately. My s/o & I had agreed to wait to have sex, but after he got back from being out of town, it just kinda happened lol. I hadnt gotten on any birth control yet, and ended up pregnant. It resulted in a misscarriage. I got my tubes tied. Aparently, we didnt wait long enough after that, because I got pregnant again immediately. We have a 3y/o son together now. I got my tubes re-tied in a different manner.

Now, he wants 1 more through in-vitro, or for me to get my tubal reversed. I feel 100% complete with 4 kids, but he is almost desperate for another, and talks about it constantly.

So, I say, good luck to you both. I know how it feels.

Coles... Coles_mom

My dh didn't want a third and it accidentally happened. Yes, even with all the precautions in the world accidents happen. I had always said I did want a third so he assumed (still does actually) that I set everything up and went behind his back. I didn't and it's a horrible feeling to be accused of that. I love my newest baby with every fiber of my being. He seems incapable of bonding though with my little guy though.

nonmember avatar concerned

Coles_mom.. Reading through your messages on this post and others, I see that you have some issues going on with your husband. Please talk to him, work it out if you can and if you can't, that's ok too.

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