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More kids? When partner will not discuss

QUESTION: My husband and I have two wonderful kids. I desperately want a third child, but he says he does not want to disrupt the life we have by having another baby. He refuses to discuss the issue. I am beginning to feel desperate. Am I crazy for wanting to upset our family balance?

ANSWER: You are not crazy, nor are you alone. Many women who enjoy newborns and young babies mourn the loss of the opportunity to have another child. Sometimes the desire for a baby takes on a force so strong that a woman becomes not only frustrated, but depressed. Naturally, you must consider the consequences and weigh the balance of positive and negative influences that such a decision would have on all family members. But refusing to discuss this issue is not the answer!

Your husband's refusal to discuss whether or not you should add a third child to your family will not resolve your feelings, and it will strain your marriage. As with any significant decision, you must feel your partner is listening, rather than dictating. No doubt your spouse has reasons for his desire not to add another child. Be willing to address his concerns rather than gloss over them. And look deeply into your own motivation for wanting a third child.

Let your husband know that you are willing to listen to him, and you want him to listen to you. Consider the following points in having this important discussion.

1. What is your vision of having three children?

Describe your best scenario and your worst scenario to one another. By being willing to describe the down side of your position, you will more likely to avoid polarizing, in which one of you holds only the positive, and the other visualizes only the negative reality.

2. Address your partner's fears and concerns

Be realistic in dealing with your spouse's fears. If, for example, your husband is feeling great insecurity about his employment, do not minimize the anxiety that having another child could cause him. Instead, look for realistic solutions. Ask him to clarify what would need to change for him to consider the possibility. Also, expect him to talk with you about the impact that not having another child may have on you. Is there anything he can do to help you channel your creative energy in another way or support you in mourning the loss of further children?

3. Be willing to consider your partner's dreams, even when they differ from your own.

Spouses need to feel considered, and our life dreams are an important part of a healthy marriage. Supporting a dream is not always possible, but being willing to stay emotionally present when compromise is necessary and your partner is disappointed is crucial. Staying connected through disappointment is crucial to the affection in your relationship. This is why a discussion is the prescribed medicine!

One of the worst mistakes spouses make is not to talk through conflicts that arise in the course of their lives. Avoiding the discussion is like having a teapot boil with no whistle to release the pressure. An issue that you feel this strongly about must be fully explored. By doing so, you can remain connected through a process of sharing your dreams, and helping each other through compromise.

You will feel closer to your spouse if you believe your husband understands your pain, even if he does not agree to another child. Your comprehension of his experience will also play a part in which way this decision goes. Having the discussion is the only way to make a joint decision, even if one of you must compromise your original position. And do not forget, that one of the tasks of a healthy marriage is to digest disappointment, rather than let disappointments create distance between the two of you. Let your husband know that this means talking about it!

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Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She trains professionals in her prenatal counseling model and is the author of An Easier Childbirth, Birthing Normally and her latest book, Making Healthy Families. Her articles on family relationships appear in professional journals and she is an oft-quoted expert in popular magazines such as Woman's Day, Mothering and Parenting. . She also serves on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy Magazine.

Dr. Gayle Peterson has written family columns for ParentsPlace.com, igrandparents.com, the Bay Area's Parents Press newspaper and the Sierra Foothill's Family Post. She has also hosted a live radio show, "Ask Dr. Gayle" on www.ivillage.com, answering questions on family relationships and parenting. Dr. Peterson has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews including Canadian broadcast as a family and communications expert in the twelve part documentary "Baby's Best Chance". She is former clinical director of the Holistic Health Program at John F. Kennedy University in Northern California and adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. A national public speaker on women's issues and family development, Gayle Peterson practices psychotherapy in Oakland, California and Nevada City, California. She also offers an online certification training program in Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis. Gayle and is a wife, mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother of three lively boys and one sparkling granddaughter.

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