by Hilary Smith
You want a baby? Would you settle for a nice dog?
Maybe it's hormones. Maybe mortality just snuck up and tapped you on the shoulder. Or maybe you've always been keen on having kids and you just forgot to mention it. Now you find your partner is appalled by the idea.
Your take on kids can seem so fundamental you just assume your partner shares it. Or perhaps you always knew you disagreed about this but you figured your partner would come around to it in time.
Of course it's useful if you've talked about this in advance. But however much you plan, however certain you are, minds sometimes change. The closer you get to the prospect, the more likely you are to realise what's actually involved in committing parenthood.
Having kids is one of those all-or-nothing, no half-measure issues. You can't choose the model or test drive it. There's no instruction manual, no guarantee and no returns policy. Getting cold feet may be one of the sanest things you ever do. It may also be your first responsible parenting action.
Wanting something different isn't what speeds your relationship onto the rocks. It's making this difference into a battle to win that invites the wreck. Whatever future you choose for yourselves now, you both need to be able to live with it. Really live with it.
Choosing whether or not to be a parent is probably not the most rational decision you'll ever make. The delights and the desperation parenting dishes out are not really cerebral experiences. You make your choice out of a mix of your memory of being a child, your fantasy of yourself and your partner as parents and your vision of your future without children.
So your fantasy celebrates your newborn making their mark throwing up over your work clothes while your partner dreams of a peaceful home and abundant time. Right now both pictures are pure fantasy. So enjoy them. Share them. Let them warm things up between you.
Get curious. What is it your partner finds so appealing? Let yourself know what you could enjoy in that future. It doesn't have to be a terrible option just because you want something else.
You make a terrific gesture being accepting of your partner's dream. It's likely they'll feel listened to and accepted. They might be willing to explore your fantasy too. You can let them know what's so magic, so compelling for you.
You can make another generous offer and acknowledge some of the down side of your happy families picture. You've set the tone. There is no battle here. There is just a very gentle exploration of hopes and dreams and fears you both hold dear.
If you can learn to lose the battle in the interests of being on the same side, then anything is possible. Even coming to agreement when you start off poles apart. Even thriving on the challenge of parenting. Even living a full and satisfying life with no children.