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Engagement off, did I do the right thing?


KrisAnn

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Last night I ended my 5 1/2 year relationship. I haven't been able to stop crying - I still love him very much, but I find my priorities changing drastically.

 

Up until about 4 months ago, I was almost certain I never wanted children. I always teetered on the fence, but when push came to shove in my head, it always scared the hell out of me. I was faced with a harsh reality, though - I'm not getting any younger. My 30th birthday was in April, and suddenly my biological clock became deafening. I think another thing always stopping me from wanting children was that I was in a very bad place through my early to mid twenties, and I just had myself convinced that a child deserved a mother who, at the very least, could take care of herself.

 

My fiancee does not want children. He was so sure of this, that he had a vasectomy at 29. He hates being around kids, babies make him uncomfortable, it's just not a lifestyle he is interested in whatsoever. When I brought up this conversation over the weekend, though, he asked me how long he had to think about this - like he wanted to consider if he would ever want children....because it's what I want.

 

He swears men who never wanted children change their minds all the time. Although he is being unbelieveably supportive of my decision (which is making this so much more difficult), he feels like I sold him short by not giving him a chance to think about whether or not having a child is something he could deal with. Deal with?! I explained to him that although his considering having a child with me eventually means the world to me, I could never do that to him - it's not like we're buying a house he's not completely sold on, but I love so we take it and he deals with it. We're talking about another human being that we would be bringing into this world. I told him that I need him to be 100%, whole-heartedly into having a child - and I know he would only be doing it to make me happy.

 

What pushed me to end it now, instead of waiting a year or two to see if he changes my mind is a couple things. First, I'm not 20 anymore. I don't have all the time in the world to think about having kids. Second - and far more importantly - I didn't want to find myself resenting him in a couple years if he decided he still couldn't have a child. He is my best friend, and I want more than anything to preserve our friendship. I felt doing this now, although extremely difficult, was the easiest way to do that.

 

I know that there is no right or wrong answer here - I guess I'm just looking for some outside perspective. I am fortunate to have wonderful friends, who have all been supportive so far. I just thought I'd see what a third party would think, from the outside looking in.

 

P.S. I have never, EVER been the one to end a relationship and I've got to say - this is MUCH harder than being the "dumpee"!!!!!

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Well, you got to do what you got to do. What are you going to do, you know....be miserable and childless all your life? It hurts and just because you aren't together anymore doesn't mean you don't still love that person. It takes time. And years from now, you will be emotionally detached from this and say that it was the best decision you made by separating from him.

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I want to tell you about something so odd that happened to me a few years ago. I was dead set against having kids at the time. I was in an abusive relationship so who could blame me? But, having kids was the furthest thing from my mind. I break it off with the abuser. A few weeks go by. Suddenly, I'm in a store to get shoes and see little baby sneakers. I almost cried right in the store! My view of having kids after I got out of that mess of a relationship totally changed. Complete 180! I started to panic thinking things like "what if I don't find a good guy and I'm alone for the next ten years".

 

I'm not saying anything was at all wrong with your relationship like mine was. However, a few weeks may go by and HE may have this crazy, unexpected experience I did. It's quite possible...

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Sadly, having children is one of the few areas where there really is no compromise.

 

Your fiance may not even have that option - there's no guarantee that a vasectomy will be fully reversible - but the reasons for him not wanting children will still be there in the background, even if they are overshadowed for now by wanting to retain the relationship with you. As you wisely and perceptively put it 'I know he would only be doing it to make me happy'.

 

You will not be the first to take this agonising decision, but if you really want children it makes sense to find a guy who's on the same wavelength - and there are plenty of them around. It sounds absolutely excruciating for now, but you will heal with time, and I hope will achieve what you are looking for.

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Your post kind of hits home for me a little bit. There were other issues too, but I know for a fact that my ex was thinking about leaving me because she was afraid I didn't want children and she wanted them more than anything. She had told her sister that she was afraid she'd be trapping me in a life I didn't want... that things would be too "ordinary" for me.

 

Well, I DID want children with her, I just had other priorities at the time. I was focused on finishing a degree and getting a good job, so the exact "when" of having kids wasn't even in my mind when she left. Of course, her biological clock was going crazy and she had an extreme sense of urgency to it. But, she never really communicated with me about all this -- it was always "I want kids" and when I would tell her "I do too, I just want us to wait until we're financially stable" she always seemed to accept this. But she never really did, and she never talked to me about it. She honestly thought that by "financially stable" that I wanted to wait years to get pregnant and that I wanted to have our kids college paid for before we started (she had a friend who is doing this, and she projected that onto me). Like I said at the beginning though, there were other issues too -- she has some legitimate psych problems.

 

I guess where I'm going with this is that maybe you should let him think things over. As you said yourself, you didn't even want kids in the beginning and this may have influenced his decision more than you know. You said you only changed your mind 4 months ago. That is quite a sudden change of plans for your fiance, and I doubt, after just finding out your change in feelings, that he would be immediately 100% sure he wanted them for himself. Heck, are we ever 100% sure on anything? It doesn't sound like you gave him time to process things. My ex was sure that I only wanted kids because SHE wanted them, not for myself, and this wasn't true at all. I just had other things going on at the time.

 

Your situation is a bit different though in that he had a vasectomy and has said he's certain he didn't want kids in the past. I never went this far with my ex. Vasectomies are reversible though, and people do change their minds. After all, you changed yours pretty drastically, right? Maybe under the circumstances he actually is willing to change his mind for himself and not just for you.

 

Just something to think about. I would like to point out that it's not easy to find someone who loves you, and just because you are dumping your fiance doesn't necessarily mean you can go out and find someone that's his equal or better and who wants kids.

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If you want kids and he had a visectomy done, it would be impossible, unless you guys adopted, but he doesn't even want kids...

 

.And I'm sure he would feel even more awkward handling a child that wasn't even his own. So, I think that you did the right thing. If you want children and he doesn't, then it is time for you to search for someone who does. Like you said, you are getting up their in age and the older you become the less probable it is that you will concieve.

Follow your heart....You are doing the right thing.

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It must have taken a lot of strength to walk away from someone you still love, but it sounds to me like you made the right decision--you don't want your son or daughter to find out someday down the road that their dad didn't really want them, and if he's using that "deal with" language to describe his attitude towards them, that's definitely a bad sign.

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I would like to point out that it's not easy to find someone who loves you, and just because you are dumping your fiance doesn't necessarily mean you can go out and find someone that's his equal or better and who wants kids.

 

Oh my gosh, I am absolutely NOT looking for a replacement...that is not my intention here. I will NEVER - even if I marry someone else and build a family - replicate this relationship. I won't find someone better, I won't find anyone like him, and I don't want to. Eventually, I will find someone who I can love and build a life with, who is on the same page as I am. That's all I can hope for.

 

He is my best friend, and I hope to God that we never part ways completely. He brought so much to my life, I love and respect him very much.

 

I appreciate the rest of your story and advice, but please don't imply that I'm throwing him out with the trash because I think I can find someone better. That isn't fair.

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He is not a bad person for not wanting children either way. It's just something he doesn't want. You guys are just growing apart in a sense that you want different things today, than you did 4 years ago. That is why MOST relationships that end don't work out. People change and grow apart all of the time.

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Oh my gosh, I am absolutely NOT looking for a replacement...that is not my intention here. I will NEVER - even if I marry someone else and build a family - replicate this relationship. I won't find someone better, I won't find anyone like him, and I don't want to. Eventually, I will find someone who I can love and build a life with, who is on the same page as I am. That's all I can hope for.

 

He is my best friend, and I hope to God that we never part ways completely. He brought so much to my life, I love and respect him very much.

 

I appreciate the rest of your story and advice, but please don't imply that I'm throwing him out with the trash because I think I can find someone better. That isn't fair.

 

I don't think it was meant in the way you are taking it. I think his cautionary statement is very appropriate..especially in light of your words:

I will NEVER - even if I marry someone else and build a family - replicate this relationship. I won't find someone better, I won't find anyone like him, and I don't want to. Eventually, I will find someone who I can love and build a life with, who is on the same page as I am. That's all I can hope for.

 

In other words, will that person you marry to have children with always be second choice in your heart..because that wouldn't be fair to any new guy if you are just settling for second best because your first choice didn't want children. There are plenty of women who make the choice to marry someone just because they are itching to have children...it is not the love of their life, but he will do. They are often empty relationships. Just something to think about.

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I agree that if he isn't 100% committed to having a child he shouldn't have a child and he is not the right person for you. I think it is a bit naive to think that you can be friends with him -- not because you did anything wrong but because the reasons this is ending doesn't have to do with lack of romantic feeling.

 

ps - if it gives you any reassurance I had my first child at age 42, he's awesome, and I did not need any outside help in getting pregnant although it did take the better part of a year.

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In other words, will that person you marry to have children with always be second choice in your heart..because that wouldn't be fair to any new guy if you are just settling for second best because your first choice didn't want children. There are plenty of women who make the choice to marry someone just because they are itching to have children...it is not the love of their life, but he will do. They are often empty relationships. Just something to think about.

 

I understand what you're saying, and I don't think I would be settling with someone else. I don't believe we have one single soul mate, so I think that I could fall in love with someone different from him - what I meant to say is that I know I will never replace him, because there is no one like him. That doesn't mean that I won't be able to fully love another man.

 

And as for Bat's comment about my being naive for thinking we could be friends - I have remained friends with most of my ex's. This is a different situation, and for all I know, we may find that maintaining the friendship is not possible. But we have been together for over 5 years, and we are parting amicably - so why would it be unreasonable for us to hope to remain friends?

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Oh I love to hear that Batya33! Im might be a little late in the game as well.

 

Im sorry your faced with this. It sounds pretty difficult. I agree that you should not marry him if having children is important to you and not to him. Yes, you will be risking never finding someone who steals your heart the same way he does, but chances are, if you find a good man/father, that man WILL steal your heart on completely different level.

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I have to say - I don't agree with your decision at all. If you are so happy/in love with him and he is willing to think about having kids in his future then I dont understand why you wouldnt give him some time to make a decision. Not years - but maybe 6months - a year. People can change, people may want different things and while I understand that this is a HUGE decision and it involves bringing a child into the world, if he really thinks about it and decides he would like to have a child with you - how would you know he wouldn't be in it whole heartedly. I just think you sort of made up your own mind, and didn't really give him a fair chance.

 

You're right, I didn't give him time to think about it - but the man had a vasectomy. He has NEVER even liked children. Everything I know about him says he is never going to want kids.

 

I know I am taking a huge risk here. I'm scared as hell. I know women have children into their 40's, and that's their choice. I have a dear friend who had her first child at 43, and he's beautiful. I don't want that for myself. Being 30 already, the medical world says I have 5 good years left. I don't want to have children past 40, for a number of reasons. So my time is running short.

 

He said - and I agree - that this is a self-protecting move. That's all it is. We are going in different paths. I know he said he would think about it, but the thing is, as I've already said - he should not be bringing a child into this world to please someone else. He needs to be happy, too.

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I'm a mom and while I love my son, I would never have left a great relationship to have him. Having kids is not as wonderful as you think. It's hard work and you don't get much thanks for it. I am not sorry I had my son, but my life would have been fine without him.

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There is no right or wrong here. It's about what is important to YOU and what YOU value most. If being a mother to you is more important than continuing this relationship, and if he has made it clear that being a father is not important to him, than you've done the right thing. Simple as that... in my opinion.

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No one in the medical world with any credibility would say you only had 5 good years left. That's just plain wrong. It's fine if you don't want to have children past age 40, 35, 31 or whatever -that's your choice but I hope it's not a choice based on a misguided belief that post 35 those years are not "good". I don't see what the harm is in giving him one more year to decide (going back a little on what I wrote above) but it would have to be a year where he deeply explored what he wanted and didn't want as far as kids.

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I think cancelling the engagement was the right move. You really shouldn't be planning a wedding if you are on the fence and are hoping you will figure it out before the looming timeline.

 

But I also think it may have been too soon to break up with him. I agree, waiting around for 2 or 3 years is too much. But give him 6 months to get used to the idea that you come with a package that will include children and whether or not he can be ok with having kids.

 

I used to think I didn't want kids when I was younger. I just saw the downsides.. crying, messy, expensive, unappreciative. But they aren't necessarily like that all the time, and they grow up. It's not like you have a baby and it remains a toddler for a decade. They become people, and you may grow to like them especially if they are your own. But it can take people a while to imagine themselves with kids and like what they see.

 

I probably would have cancelled the engagement and remained in a relationship for another 6 months or so to give him a chance. You can't expect him to do a 180 so quickly like you did, at the same time as you.

 

Oh also, my stepmom had my brothers when she was 39. They had a few small health issues initially but they turned out fine. Probably healthier than most kids these days. I know it's only a small example and cannot speak for all 39 year olds. The risks of health problems in babies increase as the mother ages, but even so, most of them come out fine even in the early 40's.

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Actually, it is medically proven that the chance of birth defects dramatically increases after age 35.

 

I decided to go back to school a couple of years ago, and I'm still pursuing my degree - so right now, I'm not even ready to have children. But in my heart,and in my gut I feel that he isn't going to change his mind. Even if he does, I KNOW he'll only be doing it to make me happy, not because he actually wants it. That's not fair to him.

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Yeah, they do increase dramatically. But they are still relatively small in the population.

 

For example, Down's syndrome occurs in 1 per 1562 births if the mother is 20-24 years old. It increases to 1 per 214 births if the mother is 35-39. Yeah, a pretty dramatic increase. But even so, it is less than .5% chance before age 40. You have a much greater chance of dying in the next year than of having a baby with Down's Syndrome between age 35-39. I found that on an "odds" website; it's kinda cool: link removed

 

So yeah, the odds increase quite a bit but they are still quite low. However, if the mother is 45, Down's syndrome occurs in 1 in 19. So having a kid at 45 doesn't leave you with the greatest odds.

 

Just sayin'.

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Actually, it is medically proven that the chance of birth defects dramatically increases after age 35.

 

I decided to go back to school a couple of years ago, and I'm still pursuing my degree - so right now, I'm not even ready to have children. But in my heart,and in my gut I feel that he isn't going to change his mind. Even if he does, I KNOW he'll only be doing it to make me happy, not because he actually wants it. That's not fair to him.

 

Eh, be careful with "feeling with your heart and in your gut" that he's not going to change his mind. How much time have you really given him to think about things? Do you think it's fair to know, just by your own personal feelings, not just how someone ELSE feels, but how he'll feel in the future?

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That's the problem - I don't know. But I had to decide it I wanted to risk investing more years into this relationship when - and he said this - there is only a very small possibility that he might change his mind.

 

It was probably the most difficult decision I've ever made, but I had to do what I felt was right for me and my future.

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Actually, it is medically proven that the chance of birth defects dramatically increases after age 35.

 

I decided to go back to school a couple of years ago, and I'm still pursuing my degree - so right now, I'm not even ready to have children. But in my heart,and in my gut I feel that he isn't going to change his mind. Even if he does, I KNOW he'll only be doing it to make me happy, not because he actually wants it. That's not fair to him.

 

Actually no that's not true for all birth defects, and we can agree to disagree on "dramatically increase". My chance of birth defects at age 41 - my personal chance based on noninvasive tests (no amnio needed)- was the same as a 26 year old -- I think it was something like 1 in 250,000 chance (for down's and trisomy). Prior to the test my chance was statistically something like 1 in 46 or 76. Friends in their 40s had the same test results as me.

 

And I don't agree that that makes the "good years" end after age 35 - certainly should not be a reason to race to have children before age 35. Before age 45 - yes, I can agree on that because then it is also much harder to conceive. Should a woman, given the choice, try to have kids before age 35 if possible? Sure, because the chance of birth defects does increase after age 35. But to see age 35 as an end point to the good years is a drastic misinterpretation of reality, particularly with all the tests that both the under 35 and over 35 set are given during the first trimester to detect the specific risks of defects.

 

I'll also add that if you really want biological children, be sure that you want a child even if it has a birth defect unless you are willing to abort, whether you are 30 or 35 when you choose to get pregnant.

 

If you truly believe your SO won't change his mind then I agree with you. It's interesting that you are not surprised that you changed your mind so dramatically but you don't believe he would have the same epiphany. "Interesting" - not right or wrong, nothing wrong with your conclusion, just interesting that you say this despite your epiphany.

 

Best of luck to you whatever you decide.

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Hon, I am sure you are doing the right thing.. but I just wanted to tell you about a man I know. After a divorce and two children (where he was badly cut up, thrown out of the kids lives forever, much to the breaking of his heart) he had a vasectomy.

 

A year or two passed and he realised that the pool of women willing to date him were now much smaller. So he had an operation reversing the vasectomy.

 

He didnt want kids.. but.. obviously his desire not to have kids was not as strong as his desire to find the right woman.

 

I just think maybe its ok that your ex fiance doesnt really want kids.. but is willing to compromise for you. I don't know but maybe it's something to consider.

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My two cents as a new mommy who knows very little but knows this. Boy it's a lot of work. And often I am on my own - when my husband is at work or traveling for work. But it is the best feeling to know that when he is here -- and he wants to be here as much as possible -- he is 1000% into being a parent, he is great with the baby, and I know I can go out with a friend and feel totally confident in his ability to love and care for the baby because he loves him so. I could do it even if he wasn't that enthusiastic but it would take a lot of the joy out of the experience and it would be more stressful on a practical and physical level. Knowing me I would feel badly asking him to help out if I didn't think he was totally into it.

 

I do think you can "fake it till you make it" - i.e. if he is not that into having a child, but does it for you and commits himself to being there for the child as if he was 100% into it -- but you might not be comfortable with that.

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