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My wife wants a 4th baby, but I don't.

We have been talking about it for the last few days (talking strongly).

I have raised points such as:

  • We will get less time to spend with our current kids.
  • The age gap between the first and the last will be too wide.
  • It will cost more money.
  • She will be out of work longer.
  • We will need a bigger house. And we don't even have our own house yet (we are still renting).
  • We will have to start again. Sleepless nights, nappies, feeding, new cot, car seat, etc etc.

She says:

  • She feels like she is missing something.
  • She has always wanted a large family.
  • Things will be the same regardless of having 3, or 4 kids.
  • She agrees that money will be tighter, but wants to push through it.

Our current kids are 9 months, 2 years, and 4 years. We are young married couple (25), and I have a fairly decent job.

What would be the pros and cons of having another child?

How can we rationally talk to the other about having/or not having another child?

And what should we do if we cannot agree?

(sorry I don't really know what to tag this).

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"And what should we do if we cannot agree?" = get some marriage counseling. –  DA01 Mar 31 '13 at 7:09
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Related meta discussion. Please chime in if you have an opinion. –  Beofett Apr 1 '13 at 16:32
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a) Is it that you don't want anymore kids right now or anymore kids period? b) Even though the majority of the most emotion-inducing hormones have regulated themselves by 9 months post partem, I think most women will tell you that it takes a good 2 years before you start feeling emotionally "normal" again after having a baby. So she might just be suffering from being overly emotional and overly sentimental right now about having an infant in the house. On the flip side of that, some women legitimately LOVE having an infant in the house. You need to find out from her where she is. –  Meg Coates Apr 1 '13 at 21:06
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Frankly, considering your age, time is on your side (for both of you). Instead of saying 'no', why not just wait for 5 years and then see how you both feel? –  Andrew Apr 6 '13 at 3:05
    
@MegCoates - I wonder if this guy just married this woman for her looks and now regrets his decision. As a man, you've got to stand up for yourself and know when to say no firmly, but politely. Keep on giving in to women's unrealistic demands and soon you'll have nothing left to give up. –  Borat Sagdiyev Aug 2 at 23:28

13 Answers 13

You're only 25 years old, your oldest hasn't even started school yet, your youngest is 9 months old, and you want another? Wow, your wife is in a hurry.

My immediate impression is that your wife is living in a dream world, striving toward some fantasy that she perhaps hasn't shared with you yet. You definitely need to talk more - and go deeper in those talks.

You are not required to agree but I strongly advise to keep drilling, keep talking until you feel you understand her point of view. Only when you understand her point of view can you begin to present your opinion, because only then can you frame your arguments to match her world.

"Seek first to understand, then to be understood," as Stephen Covey would say.

Bottom line: You two need to make a decision together or it will tear you apart. It's going to be frustrating but try to keep an open mind and do your best to continue a constructive discussion until you reach an agreement. Seek assistance via counseling if you have to. This is important because if you're not both in absolute agreement, this can cause big problems years from now.

One additional thought: How does she determine when you've got enough kids? What's to stop her from using the same arguments for a fifth child? And how would you answer the same questions?

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It's normal for spouses to have disagreements, even on the big things. It doesn't necessarily mean your marriage is in trouble. It means you have a problem to work through together. Hopefully you talked about children before deciding to get married. However, even if you did, no one really understands what being a parent is like until they experience it.

Having more children is something that both parents should agree to. I don't say that lightly. I was actually on your wife's side of the argument at one point in my own marriage. So how did we fix it?

You have this huge list of obstacles. It is likely that you don't really care about some, but you added them to bolster your case. It is also likely that there are other reasons you aren't stating, maybe because you feel they are selfish, like not getting enough time for your hobbies. It's important to get all the reasons out in the open, and to make sure all the reasons are real reasons. Write the list down. Break down big items on the list into smaller steps, if you can. For example, one small step in buying a house would be asking your friends and family for recommendations on real estate agents.

Now pick the easiest obstacle to fix, and fix it. Pick the next easiest, and fix that. Adjust your list as necessary as you go along. Eventually you will run out of obstacles, and one of two things will happen:

  1. You will change your mind because the obstacles are smaller, and you will be much better prepared for another child.
  2. You don't change your mind, but your wife saw that you made a legitimate effort. That validation makes a huge difference. You will have fewer points of disagreement, which will hopefully be easier to work out, since you've both had a while to let the other person's point of view sink in. You will be in a more comfortable situation to raise your existing children.
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I think you have already listed some of the pros and cons and many families cope with large numbers of children.

This question really boils down to the relationship between you and your wife, possibly mediated by a counselor as suggested by DA01. So not really a parenting question.

What can you and your wife agree on?

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I think if you're only 25 years old you have a good 10-15 years for some babymaking. All your points sound valid and I agree completely.

I think you should ask your wife for some time. Set a date. Perhaps a year or two from now when you'll can open this discussion up again. Maybe one of you will change your minds by then. At the moment I'm guessing shes at home looking after the kids all the time so she thinks its her call whether to have another one or not. Explain calmly and rationally all your reasons for putting having a fourth kid on hold for now. Make sure that you say 'on hold' and not 'never ever'.

Right now if definitely not the time to have another child. But make sure you hear her out and get her to understand that, not just tell her.

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Arguments and logic won't work here. I think (personal opinion) that both parents need to want the baby. Otherwise the relationship between parents (and parent-child possibly) will be strained and who knows what could that cause in the long run. So you have to, literally - have to - reach a consensus.

I suggest trying to approach the problem from the other side - try to find a house for your larger family, save some money, get a larger car and so on.

You are very young - you still have time. And a large age difference (say 7 years) will mean that the eldest child can be helpful in chores and possibly take care of the other babies. Consider it.

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I like this idea. Work backwards. Do all the things required to support a fourth child and then decide on the fourth child. –  ChristopherW Mar 22 at 6:43
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@ChristopherW - With an overly emotional woman, this approach is highly likely to fail. To her, it will seem that he reneged on his promise to have a fourth child. Why should a man have to get a bigger house, save money, get a larger car just to satisfy her unrealistic and selfish demands ? I know families with 6-9 kids. How do we know his wife won't want more in the future ? This has to stop somewhere, right ? –  Borat Sagdiyev Aug 2 at 23:35

While you asked about pro/con of more children, I am going to take a step back and puzzle something out of the arguments you presented.

Note that your arguments are either very logical (bigger house, more money) or a little constructed (as someone pointed out - age gap and time to kids doesn't really work like that). A side note: One thing you have not pointed out is that doctors recommends 2 years at least between kids to give the woman's body time to recover. While you are very young, your wife has been through 3 pregnancies already, and you may gently want to point out to her that waiting a bit might be good for her health.

Your wife's main arguments are more emotional: She feels she is missing something, and she wants a big family.

I think there are 2 issues here:

How big a family do you want?

not right now, but eventually. Do you never want any more kids? Do you want to wait? How big is big for her? For me 3 children is a big family, for some people it is 6 or more! You should discuss this in general, if you can, besides any discussion on when and how.

You wife is missing something

I think this is the MOST important thing you said in your question. Something is making your wife unhappy, and she is trying to change that.

As a woman, when you have a baby, a lot of hormones gets changed around. Sometimes it results in post-partum depression. Sometimes holding your new baby gives you an intense feeling of joy and happiness. Maybe your wife is missing that? Maybe she was less happy with the 3rd that the first 2, and wants to 'fix' it?

It may also be that after having 3 kids so young, she defines herself as a mother, more than anything else and is worried about what to do as your older kids gain independence.

Maybe she is afraid of going back to work? Maybe she has doubts about her worth except having kids (this is common! And in our culture there is an emphasis on women with children FIRST being moms, then something else, whereas men with children FIRST are something else (teacher, engineer) then dads).

It might be something else completely, but it sounds to me that having another kid is what she sees as a solution - but neither her nor you know what the actual problem is.

I would try to address that (maybe with help of a therapist, if it comes to that) before going to a solution. Be careful not to come off as patronizing, or superior when doing this, and maybe you shouldn't even mention it in connection with the possible family expansion. It is about hers (and yours too) happiness in broader sense of things.

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I think this is the best answer here. –  valdetero Oct 29 at 15:02

I think the most major point on there is "It will cost more money."

Draw up some numbers. Make an Excel spreadsheet to make your case. Consider your financial future in the first couple of years. "I make $x per year. Each child costs $y/year.." It may actually look "impossible" and mean great sacrifice for a few years.

On the other hand, if the numbers support the idea, don't rule it out.

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It's a good idea, but note that there are some decisions some people will still take even when put in front of an "impossibility". I've often seen the financial aspect to be a one-sided part of this conversation, and a party just ignoring it entirely, so I wouldn't rely just on this argument. –  haylem Sep 6 '13 at 13:13
    
I don't think an excel sheet would be necessary. Just throw in some numbers real quick to give her an idea - +food = $400pm, +school edu = 600pm. That is just 1000 pm for 18 years. What about college which could cost $60-80k. It does not take a genius or a excel sheet to drive home such a simple point. –  Borat Sagdiyev Aug 2 at 23:41

Just say no if you don't want any more children and let her deal with it, it may sound harsh but you have not been unreasonable or selfish because you already fulfil the role of a good husband and father by loving and supporting three children and your wife.

Don't be coerced into it if you really don't want another child because what you want out of your marriage and life matters just as much as what you wife wants.

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This is a terrible idea. Why not actually talk about it with his spouse instead of just putting his foot down and saying no means no. Doing this seems to take away from "the role of a good husband". –  valdetero Oct 29 at 15:05

Listen, I am in the same boat as his wife. I want 4 kids and my husband wants to stick with 3. It is a hard thing to figure out. Some people say that both should be on board with more children. In a perfect world, I agree with that. However, shouldn't both also be on board with stop having children. Why is it ok for the wife to get her dreams crushed? I always wanted a large family (which I define as 4 kids or more). 3 kids seems very typical to me. Yes, it is more than average, but still very typical. In my opinion, the husband will be happy if they decide to have another child and he will never regret that b/c he will have the love for that child like he does with his other children. However, if they decide to stop b/c the husband doesn't want more, the wife may feel this the rest of her life and be unhappy with the decision. I truly feel like I will be upset with this the rest of my life if we don't have a 4th child. I also feel like I may recent my husband for not allowing me to have my dream. I feel like not having a 4th child may actually destroy our marriage b/c I will start questioning if we don't even want the same things. Not saying that we would actually split up b/c of it, but I feel like I will never be able to trust him with my emotions again after him taking away something that it this important to me. In my case, I wish we would have settled this before getting married b/c I always knew I wanted 4 kids. We didn't b/c we were in love. Not sure if I would have married him if I had known that my dream would be crushed. Of course, it is hard to say that b/c had I not married him, I wouldn't have had the 3 beautiful children that I do.

The number of children a person wants is so individual. I think it is unfair to blame it on someones hormones and wanting an unrealistic dream etc. Why is 4 unrealistic, when 3 isn't or 2 isn't. What is so magical about 2 or 3 kids? It is completely based on an individual feeling of what is right for that person. I feel like 4 is the perfect number b/c the kids will always have someone to play with. When they grow into adults, they will always have someone to share their lives with. They will have enough siblings that they are bound to get along with at least one of them. My wanting 4 doesn't have to do with having a baby. It is beyond that. It is about the rest of our lives with having a big family around and future grandchildren etc.

I say you should really listen to her reasoning and why she wants more children. Her opinion about this is just as important as yours. I believe that there is such a strong biological want/need for some women to have a certain number of children that she may never be happy without it. On the other hand, I believe that you will be happy if you have another one with her b/c 1.) you will love that child. 2.) you will know that you did everything you could to make her happy.

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Your first two points are not valid, in my opinion. I am from a family with six kids, my youngest sibling is ten years younger than me, and we're sort of evenly spaced out over these ten years.

First, you don't have to spend alone time with the kids so much: family games, trips, etc. do not suffer from being more kids, rather, I enjoy having many siblings.

On the other hand, the other points are definitely valid; perhaps it is a good idea to wait a year or two, and then have the discussion again, as people have pointed out, you have plenty of time.

Edit: I grew up in Sweden, so this perhaps makes having a lot of kids way easier. Regarding education, I have a phd degree, and my siblings either have bachelors, or are studying at the university/high-school. My fathers pay have gradually over the years increased, so the economy has been ok, but I would rather attribute this to good economical choices; we never went on family vacations, no member of the family uses alcohol or tobacco, and we grew up in a small town where house prices are 10% of the big city houses.

Neither me nor my siblings have needed to financially support our family/younger siblings.

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If you don't mind, please answer these questions in your post - Is your family income very high ? What is the highest level of education your siblings have ? Are the senior kids helping with expenses (why should they have to pay for your parents mistakes) ? Do relatives and grand parents help your parents ? –  Borat Sagdiyev Aug 3 at 0:05

I'm not trying to make light of your situation but you could try explaining that there are http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/ 7.2 Billion people in the world and we are pretty much at capacity and growing fast !. If there is something missing in her life she needs to identify what it is, the time you can put into each child is important, individual attention is more powerful for a child. I agree you have a large enough family already. Good luck

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Old post, but I'll still add if this could help someone. I am surprised to see that you did not even discuss children before getting married. Anyway, that stage has gone. You should have stopped at 2 itself.

You need to put your foot down. Ask her how does having 3 kids make the family small and 4 make it big, i.e big enough to be satisfactory ? If logic does not help, then go for marriage counselling. If that is too expensive, then put your foot down and tell her that she needs to be realistic. You have dreams too. If you have too many kids, then how will you get the time to pursue those dreams ? Tell her that she needs to consider your needs and aspirations too (i.e she is being selfish). Period.

Now, I am not saying that your wife will do this, but it is a possibility. Some women will use sabotage to get pregnant and later expect you to not abort the pregnancy. A skipped birth control pill, poking holes in a condom, picking up a freshly discarded condom, getting you to have sex when you are drunk etc.

Video evidence: Ask Wendy show. I want another baby - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CNHwhHWPoQ

You should also listen to Tom Leykis. He has a free internet radio show. Although I don't agree with all his "teachings" about women, he has just the advice to deal with the kind of woman you have for a wife. That is, the women who are selfish, unrealistic and do not respect the man they are with. Do not judge him by his looks. Listen to him and decide if his advice would be useful to you. Call him if you want.

Consider getting a vasectomy sometime in the future so that you are safe from such irrational demands. If you do, then ensure that your sperm count is zero some time after the procedure.

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This is just bad advice if he actually wants to have a good marriage. His wife may be hung up on this issue, but that doesn't imply that she is selfish and disrespectful towards him. –  valdetero Oct 29 at 15:09

If you don't want kids, get a vasectomy! Don't leave the birth control to someone else especially if they want a big family.

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Welcome to the community, Lisa. This does not answer the question as stated; the question is asking for advice as to how to handle the decision making, not asking for how to make it unilaterally. –  Joe 2 days ago
    
I don't really think he can make her change her mind. Doing so is just going to upset her and him more. They only thing he can do is fix the situation going forward. –  Lisa Hansen 2 days ago
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That doesn't make this any more of an answer to the question. This would be an acceptable comment, not an answer. –  Joe 2 days ago
    
I disagree with the opinion, but it's a completely valid answer. It does solve the problem in a way, doesn't it? –  Dariusz 2 days ago
    
@Dariusz - if telling a woman who wants more kids but her husband objects to just stop taking the pill is a valid answer, then I agree with you. If you think it's a bad answer, then I disagree with you. –  anongoodnurse 2 days ago

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