“On the other hand, he says that even though having kids doesn’t make sense logically, it’s not a decision you can make based on hard logic. There are tons of emotions that enter into this picture and he’s worried that he’ll miss out on an important human experience if he forgoes children. Right now he thinks that we should reevaluate this situation in 8-10 years, because either one of might change, although I don’t see myself changing my mind.”
^ this is what stuck out to me from your post because:
1. You can indeed make a decision on whether or not to have kids using “logic”. The problem (IMO) is too many people DO make the decision on emotion alone! These days, with birth control readily available, we have the fortune to think about having children in ways many of our grandparents…and for some of us, our parents….never had. This is a very good thing, in my opinion.
2. That one of his primary reasons for having kids seems to be he is worried about missing out on an “important human experience” because well, yes, but there are lots of “important human experiences” we each miss out on everyday. Most of us will never climb K2, or peer out at the Earth from space, which are also pretty big human experiences. Having a kid is…well, rather basic biology. If he has kids, he is also missing out on the experience of living life without kids, which is different than the experience of living life without kids until you have kids. He should want kids as he WANTS kids, and to be a parent and all that entails. Not because he fears missing out or because he worries he might regret not having them one day. There ARE people who do regret HAVING kids, and that scenario hurts a lot more people than just one person.
3. He seems to think that you are going to change your mind. Or might change your mind.
I underlined the last one, because that to me is most concerning. As a childfree person myself, I am sure you have heard either directly or indirectly people tell you you will change your mind one day. I think it is insulting, even if there ARE people who do at times change their position. To me him thinking this indicates he does not 100% trust you to know what you want. He may not be doing it consciously, but if he is going into this marriage thinking you MIGHT change your mind on kids one day, that is a big, big issue. To me it sounds like you have a pretty clear idea of what you want, and it is well informed. Like you, but to a lesser degree, I was around a lot of children growing up and as a teen, and I imagine that influenced me as well!
Honestly, when I got married I described myself as being on the fence, and when my husband had talked about whether or not we wanted kids early in our relationship I remember saying something like “I think so, eventually, but I am in no rush, and not worried about it not happening”. Which was the complete truth for me at the time. I also said at that time I would never go through IF treatments or something if I could not get pregnancy. I really did think one day I WOULD want kids, because people mostly told me I would! In reality more of an ambivalent procrastinator who did not really want kids deep down, who could still talk about hypothetical one days. Because they were hypothetical. But, when we were married, it seemed less hypothetical. When I finally REALLY thought about it, and took a good amount of time to explore the idea, and even applied “hard logic” to the idea, both with pros and cons, I realized what my heart had known all along…I just was not interested in having kids.
My husband, had also imagined he would have kids “one day”, but really in practice kind of was also a procrastinator about the issue (i.e. when we first married, he said “let’s not think about kids for ___ years.” Then he would add more years. And so on. And I always was relieved, which was a big clue for me!). So he turned out to be quite okay with not having kids, and determined he would rather stick with me than a hypothetical someone else with hypothetical kids. But, it does not always work out that way, and I have seen marriages end when it gets to that point. So, you are absolutely right when you say it can be a dealbreaker for many, or a situation where one “goes along with the other” and there is resentment.
Honestly, I got kind of lucky in the sense that having kids was not a dealbreaker for my husband, particularly not if it meant ending our marriage. He was curious about having kids, but realizes there are other ways to have kids in his life, and even in our dating days had mentioned that having his own kids was not that important in the end, he could see teaching, or fostering, and now that he has nephews, he is more than happy to be the uncle that shows up, plays with them a bit, and turns them back to their parents to go back home to his own quiet house. He also has a sister who regularly tells him how jealous she is of our childfree life and how she does sometimes wish she could go back (her kids are exhausting!), and has friends with kids of all ages who are pretty honest, so I think he now is quite fully versed in the realities of what what the day to day of parenting involves beyond the Kodak moments.
So, I don’t know what to advise. It may indeed be that he needs to work through what he always thought he would do as that is “what people do” and what he wants now that he knows having children can in fact be a CHOICE, and that he will come out on the other side happy with idea of not having children, but I just do not like the idea that he thinks that there is no need to re-evaluate for 8-10 years, as you both might change your mind. Not only because of what I said above about him seeming to not respect your certainty, but because if you do go ahead together in either a relationship with or without marriage, this needs to be an ongoing decision. Not 24/7, but something where you check in with each other now and then, where you talk about it, research it, read about it.
But having kids IS very important to others, and this includes to many men. Whether they fully are aware of what raising children involves or not, so I do think it is good that you are taking this difference in future plans respecting kids very seriously.
I think you need to be very, very clear with him that you are very certain about not wanting children, and that you cannot get married if either he is certain he does want kids, or believes that YOU will change your mind, or that there is a chance you will change your mind. And I don’t think you should get married to this man unless he can accept a future without kids, and without hanging onto the possibility of you changing your mind. There are spouses who do want kids but do accept being childfree out of circumstance (i.e. spouse does not want or cannot have kids) and do so without resentment, but I can’t guarantee your partner is one of these.
I also don’t think its fair to you to be advised to “consider adoption”. While it seems pregnancy and childbirth are unsettling to you (look up tokophobia!), adopting or fostering children, even older children, still involves parenting in my view, and it does not strike me you are interested in that either, and that to me would not be fair to the children, especially older children who likely have had enough difficulty in their lives to be being adopted or fostered at an older age and may even involve additional parenting challenges. I think people mean well, but advising someone who does not want to parent to “adopt” and the other parent can do almost all the parenting so the one who does not want kids does not have to be as involved just is not fair to anyone involved, especially the child. And even if he was to be the “primary parent”, adopting a child WILL impact your life, and your life together, and your relationship. Being childfree is about more than just avoiding pregnancy, childbirth, and school runs for many of us.