Doubtful Dad

9 Jul

Dear LetterBalm: My wife and I have been married for five years. We were together all through high school and college, but we broke up during our 20s when we lived in different cities. We’ve had conversations about starting a family. My wife is more enthusiastic about it than I am. I confess we never really shared our innermost feelings about kids before we were married. I’m not that committed, even though almost all of our friends and family members have kids. I like our life as it is now, and I know that having kids will drastically change the way we live. I feel I have to tell my wife that, deep down, I’m not that driven to be a dad. But I’m afraid she’ll hate me and freak out and that it will damage our marriage.

–Ambivalent Spouse

You’re not alone. Many men and women go into marriage not having thoroughly shared their feelings about children. Ms. L.B. says you and your wife owe each other the truth about any misgivings and concerns. Each of you must own your decision, taking an active part in it. You can’t simply drift into such an important choice, whether you decide to have kids or not. Resentment can build and, before you know it, you and your spouse are at odds. The two of you must face the future together honestly. Think carefully about what you want to say and have a private, loving talk away from the bedroom:

Maya, we have to talk about something that is really important to our future together. I hope we can approach this with an open mind and work things out together. We’ve had several discussions about having kids, and you’ve expressed real interest in starting a family. I wish we had talked about this before we got married because I have to tell you that I’m not that driven to be a dad. Honey, this may be a shock, but I have to be honest – anything less would be unfair to both of us. We’ve been close since high school, and I’d never want to lose you. It would kill me. But I have to be truthful about this. I want you to be honest with me and tell me how you feel. Please, don’t hold back. I love you, and I can take it.

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