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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
Related meta discussion. Please chime in if you have an opinion. –  Beofett Apr 1 '13 at 16:32
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
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

10 Answers 10

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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Wow, your wife is in a hurry. ROFL! :D –  Afzaal Ahmad Zeeshan Jun 21 at 18:14

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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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

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 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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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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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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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.

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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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