Caroline West-Meads: I’m worried he no longer wants kids

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Caroline West-Meads
Chris O’Donovan

Q. I am in my 30s and I have been with my wonderful husband for eight years. We bought a small, two-bedroom flat 18 months ago and everything seemed rosy. We had agreed that we wanted to start trying for a family when I turn 35 in a couple of months and he seemed as keen as me. However, in August, he was made redundant and now he says that he is not sure. He worked in hospitality and is struggling to get another job so is thinking of retraining. I’m still working (in a secure job), but I’m stressed and tired much of the time and wonder how I would manage with a baby as well – especially if I was going to be the main breadwinner, which was never the plan. My husband keeps saying that this is not a good time and we may have to wait two or three more years until everything settles down and we know where we are with our work. He also talks about the heavy responsibility of bringing up children in these times, and he worries that the world is not a safe place. I don’t want to put pressure on him as I know he is struggling with being unemployed and is worried about not having enough money. But there is never the perfect time to have children and I am very aware that my biological clock is ticking. If we wait as long as two or three years, we may end up never having a family. I am even wondering if he really wants children at all and is just making excuses.

A. This is desperately difficult for you. I very much doubt that your husband has stopped wanting children, but I expect he is afraid. He is probably still reeling from the redundancy, which can hit self-esteem hard (even though he is simply a victim of current circumstance). Added to this, he is worried about providing for a child, which is understandable. But, of course, you are afraid, too. Without wanting to scare you further, if you leave it too long, there is a risk that it may be too late to have children. Your husband may be burying his head in the sand about this, so talk to him about his fears. It sounds as though you had planned to work part time or stay at home while your husband continued to work full time. It may be that this would have to be reversed, at least for a while. Many couples don’t find this balance easy but it could be temporary. Also, of course, bringing up a child when money is uncertain can put pressure on a marriage. So be aware of all this and remember that communication is key, both now and for your future relationship. As you have such a good marriage to build on, hopefully you can talk it all through and work out a way forward. Perhaps agree that you could postpone it a little but that two years is too long? It might help to think about what you would have done if, say, you had already been pregnant when this happened. Contact relate.org.uk for help if you can’t reach an agreement together.

How do I tell my wife that I need some space?

Q. My wife is kind, sexy and good company. But at the moment, I’d like to spend a bit of time on my own. The past few months have been intense. We’ve both been working from home. We don’t have a huge house so my wife and I have been in the same room on our laptops. But we have also got into the habit of walking together and, quite frankly, I’m bored. My wife constantly talks about her worries about our teenage daughter or her parents or work and I try to be sympathetic, but I’m fed up and recently I’ve been grumpy. She can be insecure and I’m worried that if I tell her I’m bored she’ll think I mean with our marriage, which isn’t the case – I love her.

A. It hasn’t been easy for many of us, being cloistered with our partners and families for months. Coupled with that, even when we do go out, there is not alot to do. With much of winter still to get through and dark evenings and gloomy weather, it can feel as if the world has shrunk to a very limited range. I expect you are probably also longing for a bit
of blokey chat. Marriages do need outside stimulus so that we have new topics and gossip to share. So don’t tell your wife that you are bored. Turn it around and tell her that you know you are being a bit grumpy at the moment, but that you love her lots and want to be really supportive. But you think you need to see a bit more of your mates and go running or cycling sometimes instead of walking with her. As she is insecure, you need to make sure that you give her lots of reassurance.