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

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?

• 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? – Rory Alsop Mar 31 '13 at 11:02
• Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – anongoodnurse Oct 9 '15 at 20:11
• As Ida suggests there may be something else. How could she feel something missing with a 9 months child? Mine is 2 and keeps us pretty busy... Talk to her and try to understand what's wrong. Maybe seek expert advice. – algiogia May 3 '16 at 15:52
• A poor little soul watches them now from the Heaven. – Gray Sheep Dec 7 '20 at 12:48

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?

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.

• I think this is the best answer here. – valdetero Oct 29 '14 at 15:02
• This is a very good answer, except "doctors recommend 2 years at least between kids to give the woman's body time to recover", which is unsubstantiated. Do you have citations? – 200_success Dec 30 '16 at 14:10
• Plus one for mentioning that more kids are not the way to fill the void. – dgo Jan 2 '17 at 17:01
• @200_success - they do. I read the version that waiting 6 months from giving birth to getting pregnant again is the absolute minimum (from health perspective), but it is better to make it 18months. Some people say 2 years - depends on the body. The first two sources I found: nct.org.uk/parenting/age-gap-between-siblings; theguardian.com/society/2014/jun/04/… – Ola M May 2 '17 at 19:17

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.

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.

• I like this idea. Work backwards. Do all the things required to support a fourth child and then decide on the fourth child. – SomeShinyObject Mar 22 '14 at 6:43
• @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 ? – Erran Morad Aug 2 '14 at 23:35

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.

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.

• 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. – Erran Morad Aug 2 '14 at 23:41

You have a difficult situation, and I sympathise enormously. Your wifes desires are entirely emotional and instinctual so rational arguments probably won't make any difference.

My wife originally wanted to have 3 children. We eventually agreed to have only one child. After our son arrived, my hormonal reaction kicked in and I became open to having another kid, but my wife is a very consequent person, so she is sticking to her guns and I respect her for it. What changed my wife's mind is overpopulation.

The human population is rapidly approaching 8 billion. We have had non stop resource wars for the last 15 years, maybe more depending on how you look at it. The earth is becoming unrecognizable. We are driving other species to extinction at an unprecedented rate. The earth is rapidly becoming uninhabitable for humans, and it's future generations who will bear the worst of effects of this damage.

We can hope for advances in technology which will help the situation. We can modify our lifestyles to reduce our impact on the planet, but the single thing we can do to improve the situation is to gradually and gently decrease the human population on earth -- before external circumstances cause a mass die off, which I don't want my son to live through.

On a less global scale, the more time you have for your children, the better it is for your children. The more money and resources you have for your children -- to get them better medical care, better education, keep them out of debt in their student years, give them a start on buying a house, whatever -- the more you can do in that regard, the better for you children.

So the fact is that having children is a purely selfish activity. The earth needs less people, not more. The most generous, kindest thing you can do for your children is to have fewer of them.

If you can gently get her to see this point (e.g. by watching some movies on the subject, or reading some books), this might help change her point of view. Otherwise, the only thing I can think is she needs something else in here life to help her feel whole and fulfilled -- maybe a more interesting career is the answer, maybe a hobby, maybe psychotherapy (not trying to be cruel, psychotherapy was very helpful for me). Buddhism might also be helpful. In life we have to be happy with what we have and can afford and not fall victim to "more more more".

• Hi Spacemoose. While your post is interesting, it doesn't really clearly address the question up front (which is how to deal with this particular sort of conflict). Answers disagreeing with the premise of the question are not preferred by the site. I don't exactly think that's what you're doing - I think you're trying to give the OP a good, valid argument - but it didn't come across that way to me at first, so it might benefit from a restructure. – Joe Mar 25 '15 at 15:22
• Hmm. Maybe I should have phrased it a little differently. I related the argumentation that resolved the same conflict that my wife and I had. I qualified my response however because being an emotional issue, and people being different, what worked for me and my wife might not work for others. – Spacemoose Mar 25 '15 at 22:36
• "We have had non stop resource wars for the last 15 years, maybe more depending on how you look at it. " HAHAHAHAHA! – NPSF3000 Nov 2 '16 at 22:13

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 because he will have the love for that child like he does with his other children. However, if they decide to stop because 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 resent my husband for not allowing me to have my dream. I feel like not having a 4th child may actually destroy our marriage because I will start questioning if we don't even want the same things. Not saying that we would actually split up because 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 because I always knew I wanted 4 kids. We didn't because 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 because 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 someone's 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 because 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 because 1.) you will love that child. 2.) you will know that you did everything you could to make her happy.

• Is having an extra child can be considered a bit selfish. Less pie for the others. Less time to spend with them. Perhaps two or three is a conformable zone for your husband. – Ed Heal Aug 11 '15 at 19:43
• Would this be equal if she wanted 3 and he wanted 4? Should she give in? – Weckar E. Sep 5 '18 at 18:16

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.

• 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 '14 at 15:05
• OP says they have talked about it for days. There is a fundamental disagreement and no one should be coerced or argued into having a child they don't want, especially when they already have 3. – user1450877 Mar 25 '15 at 14:20

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.

• 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 ? – Erran Morad Aug 3 '14 at 0:05

TL;DR - Your reasoning is sound, and I agree about the likelihood of the missing "something" being worth exploring further as Ida mentioned in his/her answer.

My answer is to understand your own stance completely. I don't really believe there is a "meh" stance to be had. This is a human life we're talking about. It sounds like you would like some of your logical concerns addressed and to understand and resolve the "missing" elements of her life. It doesn't sound like you really don't want another child,...like...ever.

Let me paint a picture of longer than a few days on this same issue from my own experience. I'd like to be able to help someone see what may lie ahead. My wife and I have 2 children; a 5 year old boy, and an 8 year old girl. She wants 1 more and has for 5 years. As she has felt the window of opportunity closing lately, so within the last 2 years the following things have happened:

• We've seen marriage counselors for this to the tune of several thousand dollars. If you really don't want a kid, and she really does; I'm afraid a counselor is only going to meander along on a tour of Maslow's hierarchy of needs ultimately leading you both back to the question which is yours and only yours to answer. ...If you really know where you stand, save the money for a house :)
• My wife took her IUD out a couple months ago. She says it was to see if it helped her migraines. Although I'm happy she told me, I feel betrayed and our sex life has suffered.
• I still really don't want another child, and she still really does. We still argue about it, sometimes she pouts for days.

Otherwise things are wonderful between us and our kids. I want to advise you to stay strong if this is really what you want. If you truly don't want another child you will feel that way in a week, a year, or 5 years. The same goes for your wife, she will always feel unsatisfied in this regard. I feel strongly enough about not rocking our boat, that I'm willing to suffer through the fights and remind her of how fortunate we are to have our present circumstances.

One last point; excel spreadsheets don't quantify emotions. It doesn't matter how high you stack your reasoning and logic; her "feelings" speak a different language.

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.

• 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 Nov 24 '14 at 22:47
• 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 Nov 25 '14 at 0:17
• That doesn't make this any more of an answer to the question. This would be an acceptable comment, not an answer. – Joe Nov 25 '14 at 0:59
• I disagree with the opinion, but it's a completely valid answer. It does solve the problem in a way, doesn't it? – Dariusz Nov 25 '14 at 10:14
• @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 Nov 25 '14 at 10:24

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.

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.