A Change of Heart


Dear Dharma,

I am 43 years old, my husband is 45 and we’ve been married for 16 years.  Due to medical issues from car accidents and other medical and financial reasons we put off having a child.  Now is crunch time and this is why I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.

I cannot have kids so we would have to adopt or have a surrogate.  The thing is I don’t want to have kids anymore. I used to want a family but I don’t anymore.  However, my husband still wants a child so where does that leave me?

My husband could potentially divorce me and start a family with a younger woman.  If we continue in our relationship I’m preventing him from greater happiness.  The problem is I love him so much I can’t let go.

So what do I do when it comes down to us going forward with this?  Do I let him go and be heart broken and alone risking my health or do I continue and have a child so I can stay married to him and risk my health.

I haven’t talked to him about this.

Don’t Know What to Do

Dear Don’t Know,

I can appreciate these realizations have left you feeling bleak, which might be why you are looking at this situation through a very black and white lense.  I’m not sure if you’ve noticed that as you’ve run these scenarios through your mind, you’ve gone straight to the end game, projecting terrible outcomes, before your husband has even weighed in. He doesn’t even know there’s a problem, and you’ve already got him divorced, remarried and producing children with a younger woman while you die alone of a broken heart.

I honestly believe there has to be more than just these two choices, non?

If you have not yet talked about any of this with your husband, then do you know for sure he even still wants to have a child? And is there not at all the chance of staying together without children?  After 16 years of marriage?

First thing on the agenda is to talk to your man.  Like, soon.  So you can stop this spiral down the rabbit hole of despair – which by the way?  Also a risk to your health.

You need to shelve the dramatics and be the most honest and vulnerable you’ve ever been with him. Explain that you no longer feel the same about having a child and provide him with some thoughts as to why that is.  You don’t mention in your letter where your change of heart is coming from, but I’ll take the liberty to make some guesses.  At 43 years old the thought of suddenly changing everything and making your life 100% about someone else, this dependent child, can be more than daunting. Money, freedom, sleep, friends – it’s all on the line.  And sometimes we turn around and realize we just don’t want the things we used to.  That’s not strange, and it’s not wrong.  It simply… is.

Allow him to have his say, let him ask questions and give him time to process.  Go into this conversation understanding this is likely the first of many conversations on this topic, and you’re not going to have an immediate solution in place on day 1.  Allow him to be angry and upset if that’s how he feels – and then start working through it, together.

You may need some help with this, so the possibility of a counselor should be on the table.

Mainly, though, stop projecting only gloom and doom as the possible outcomes.  We humans have a terrible habit of making things so much worse than they often are. Maybe that’s so we can feel relieved when it goes the other way.

Good thoughts your way…



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1 Comment

  • Anonymous says:

    Tough realization to come to when you think you want one thing and then you almost can’t believe it when suddenly you feel different about it. the letter writer definitely needs to face her husband before this eats her alive.

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