Alyson*, 28, says: “Most of the responsibility for a baby is going to fall on me and I’m not ready for that right now. I enjoy just being a couple—and having the freedom that comes with being child-free. What’s the point of rushing into motherhood simply because he’s got baby fever?”
Rashaun, 31, says: “It’s been just the two of us for a while. I’m ready to be a real family, not just a couple. She knows I won’t be a father who doesn’t do anything around the house. We’ve put off having a baby long enough.”
If you’re not ready to trade in your briefcase for a diaper bag, you’re not alone. Much to the chagrin of spouses, many Black women are choosing to wait until later in life to get pregnant. Births among women ages 35–44 have been steadily climbing for the last three decades, according to Census Bureau data and a 2007 report from the National Center for Health Statistics. So what’s a couple to do when he’s ready to be a father and his wife isn’t rushing to reproduce? “Having a child is an emotional, financial and physical responsibility that both parties need to be mature enough to handle,” advises therapist Gail Wyatt, Ph.D., author of Stolen Women: Reclaiming Our Sexuality, Taking Back Our Lives (Wiley). “And planning for children is an in-depth, multiple-session discussion between partners. You shouldn’t rush into parenthood before you’re ready.” Bottom line: The sooner the two of you begin discussions about family planning, the better. Some advice to get you started:
Pick the Right Time to Talk
The best time to discuss if and when both of you want children is early in the relationship, before you have sex. But if you’ve waited until after the wedding to tackle this subject, then now is the time to talk. Be honest with your husband about your hesitation to become a mother. “Saying ‘I don’t want to have a baby’ can allude to deeper relationship problems,” explains Wyatt. “It’s important to know why the two of you are not on the same page.” Just remember that not now doesn’t necessarily mean not ever. You may both feel different in a year or two. Let him know you’re willing to tackle this issue down the road. Call a six-month hiatus on addressing the topic, and use that waiting period to get to the root of your concerns.
Eliminate Any Issues
“Children don’t make relationship problems disappear. They tend to break up couples if the situation isn’t already sound,” Wyatt says. If you’re worried your mate isn’t pulling his weight in the relationship and that a baby would leave you overwhelmed, Wyatt suggests talking until you get on even ground. Tell your husband that his Xbox addiction, lack of interest in walking the dog or inability to cook is making you think twice about having a child with him. If he’s serious about starting a family, Wyatt advises giving him a chance to show you before the pregnancy that he can address your concerns.
Consider a Compromise
An unwillingness to have a baby can be a relationship deal breaker for many couples. If your spouse isn’t understanding about your decision, try a couples counselor who can help you talk through your issues. “If you really want your marriage to work, you may have to make a compromise,” says Wyatt.
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*Names and identifying characteristics have been changed.
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