Dear Viv: I don't want children, but my fiancé does

On this week's podcast, Viv discusses what to do when your partner really wants to become a parent – but you don’t

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By Viv Groskop on

Dear Viv ,

I’m 38 and I’ve been with my fiancé for 20 years now and we’ve been engaged for 7. The real reason I writing in is because I know how desperately he wants to be a Dad. I’ve never been overly fond of babies and children in general, I like and love particular children that I’m close to but I’ve never longed to be a parent or, if I have, those feelings have always been fleeting.

I’ve always said that I didn’t want children, he’s accepted that, he said that he made the choice when he proposed to me. But now his best friend has had a son and I see his face when we meet them, which is every weekend, and the guilt is absolutely killing me. I feel close to tears almost every day, I’ve told him before how I feel I’ve let him down, that I’m keeping him from being happy and he’s said that he loves me and that it’s ok but the feeling just won’t go away. I know that I’m risk-averse and a bit commitment-phobic, my fiancé is keen for us to get married this year but I’m not particularly bothered. I think I’m scared of making the commitment and then realising it’s a mistake and us splitting up straight away, I know that sounds ridiculous after 20 years together but there you go. I’m scared of failure or of making the wrong choice.

I honestly don’t know how I feel about having a child, I never saw myself as mother material, I know that I would love my child but I don’t think that’s enough – when I see mothers out with children or pushing prams I don’t feel any desire to be like them, to be honest it looks awful. But when I see Dads with children it really tugs. I hate saying this but part of it is the feeling that my fiancé wouldn’t be supportive enough – I really, definitely do not want to be a stay-at- home mum. I asked him once if he’d be prepared to be the main carer and stay at home, all he said was “how very modern”. I’ve explained to him all my fears about being subsumed by motherhood, losing my freedom and my identity, all he says is that because I’m aware of it I wouldn’t let it happen.

He’s a teacher so he’s got plenty of responsibility but when he’s around me it’s like he regresses. I manage the finances, book holidays, sort out DIY, do most of the cooking which sometimes is ok and sometimes makes me furious. We had a cat for 10 years, he refused to take her to the vet alone, he’d say he was scared, he didn’t know what to do and would I do it. It’s bad enough with a cat but with a child it’d be too much.

The truth is that I often feel like I’m the adult in our relationship and he’s happily pretending he’s still 15, the thought of having a child to care for as well just seems overwhelming and all I can think of are the negatives. I’d get fat, my boobs would sag, I’d have to give up my car, that year with only a baby and bloody yummy-mummy types for company, we’d have no money, no free time, and it’d all be my responsibility when it’s not even my idea. Already I can feel the resentment bubbling away.

Like I said I honestly don’t know how I’d feel if I was single and looking 40 in the eye, perhaps I’d be desperate for a child – probably not. But our situation now feels unbearable, I desperately want to make him happy, I really do love him with all my heart but the thought of raising a child absolutely terrifies me. All mixed in with this is the fear that he’ll leave me if we don’t have a child, that at some point he’ll realise how important it really is to him. Am I being immature, selfish? I feel like I’ve had my head in the sand for years and now I have to make a decision, it’s now or never for us to have a family. My fears say “never it is” but I don’t want to make such a massive decision based on fear. I wish someone could just tell me what the right decision is.

You can hear the answers to this question on Viv’s podcast, Waving, Not Drowning, above.

Got a question for Viv? Email her at DearViv@thepoolltd.com. The Dear Viv podcast airs fortnightly on The Pool at 5pm on Tuesdays. All letters will be edited for length. Unfortunately, Viv cannot reply to your emails personally. 

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