Tuesday, September 12, 2006

More BABIES!!??

Dear Wanda,

One of my oldest and dearest friends is in a dilemma and I don't know what to tell her. After years of fertility treatments she and her husband adopted a baby. Two years after that they had a biological child of their own without even trying.

Her husband always said he only wanted two kids and now he is ready to have a surgical procedure to prevent any more babies in their family. At one time she agreed on the 2 but now she isn't ready for him to make that decision permanent. She feels really strongly in her heart that she needs to try again.

She is always asking me what to do and I don't know what to tell her. I am not going to get in the middle of that one. Of course, as her friend I want to take her side, but as a parent of 2 kids myself, I totally see his point. I also understand at her age with the struggle she went through that she may still have that 'baby bug.'

What would you tell her (or not tell her)?


Glad I am done with that

Dear Glad,

Not getting in the middle sounds like a really wise decision. She is ambivalent. Her husband has been clear and continues to be clear about his position. Sounds like the two of them have some interesting discussions ahead of them. Maybe a professional could help.

I would start by saying, "I can't tell you what to do. When you ask me that, what is it that you really are wanting?" If she says, "I really want you to tell me what to do!" Then the two of you can laugh together and it might be a light spot for her. She might not even know for sure what she is wanting and asking her could help her get clearer.

Then I would say, "I can't tell you what to do. I have thought a lot about your situation and what you have gone through and wondered what I would do if I were in your shoes." Then, if she still wanted to talk about it, I might tell her what I had been thinking: "I can understand both sides of the issue. Your husband has been very clear all along that he only wants two children. For him, having another biological child isn't important. On the other hand, now that you have one of your own, having another one seems important to you. I can understand that, too. There is not one right answer here. What is important is that you and he work it out so that you come to a mutual agreement, because in the long run that will deepen your relationship."

I would go on to say, "Could you ask him not to have the surgery yet? He has been clear about what he wants, and he may remain clear. However, if you tell him you are having second thoughts and want some more time, he might be willing to process the issue with you. Could you ask him to talk to a therapist with you? This is a situation where someone who is trained in working with couples might be able to help the two of you process this difference in opinion and desire. Maybe you will change your mind. Maybe he will change his. Maybe nothing will change. Even if the latter is true, you can come to some understanding between the two of you that can help your relationship down the road."

This kind of dilemma is very important in a relationship. If they can get through it skillfully, it can bring them closer and help them understand each other, as well as increase their mutual respect. If they bumble through it and one or both of them makes a decision based on capitulation and resentment, it can destroy the relationship later if not sooner.

I would encourage her to find a way to work this through with her husband. In some regards, the decision they make is not nearly as important as working it out so that they both feel heard and respected. Hopefully, they will end up seeing eye to eye whatever decision they end up making.

That's what I'd do. I hope this helps.


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