Should You Get Divorced If Only One Of You Wants More Kids? A Marriage Counselor Weighs In
In a perfect world, this isn't a topic we'd have to weigh in on or for which anyone would have to search the internet. Wondering if you should get divorced for any reason isn't a subject anyone particularly likes to discuss. Unfortunately, sometimes it's unavoidable, and it helps to have an understanding of what experts might recommend or suggest when you're making such a serious decision. One question that some married people might ask is if they should get divorced if only one wants more kids. The answer can be tricky.
Whether you should get divorced when you and your partner can't agree if it's time to grow or stop growing your family depends on your particular and unique situation, according to Dr. Gary Brown, a licensed marriage and family counselor who also consults for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. In an interview with Romper, Brown says, "There's no formula for this one. You have to look at what are the specific issues that are going on in your specific relationship."
He explains that one such factor might be how many children a couple already has: "If you only have one child and you're thinking you'd like more for the sake of the first child's growth and development," that would be a different situation than one person in a couple wanting a fifth child after already having four together. Likewise, if one person in the couple has children by a previous marriage and doesn't wish to have any additional children, this can create tension in the marriage.
Dr. Brown explains that in each case, "There's no right answer, other than what works for you as a couple. If it doesn't work for both of you, it's not going to work for you as a couple." Overall, Dr. Brown says the decision comes down to assessing "the priority of needs and what you are or not willing to sacrifice." This, of course, can be a very difficult but vital decision.
Counseling can play a role in ascertaining the state of your marriage and helping both people express their opinions and needs. Equitable Mediation suggested asking yourself whether you've done everything you can to try to get your marriage back on track before asking yourself whether you should get a divorce. Their divorce coach recommended figuring out whether you've tried various routes to get back on track: "For some, it could be reading self-help books, for others it could be attending either individual or marriage counseling sessions or even trying discernment counseling." These routes can help couples start to understand whether divorce is going to be their ultimate reality.
BellyBelly, the Australian parenting site, reported that not wanting more children usually boils down to one of several possible reasons, from finances, not having enough time together as a couple, infertility, or even having a particularly challenging first child. And that while compromise is a typical part of a marriage, adding or not adding to your family isn't something you can easily compromise: "You may have discussed family size before committing to your partner, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind. It’s easy to decide how many children you will have without really knowing what it is like to be a parent."
Likewise, there are reasons for wanting more children. Licensed marriage and family therapist David Klow, owner of Skylight Counseling Center in Chicago, shared with SheKnows that “making sense of the roots of the desire can deepen the conversation and make it easier to potentially problem-solve and move forward." And trying to listen to what the other person is saying, without letting emotion cloud your reactions, is also important.
Dr. Brown suggests that marriage counseling provides an opportunity to figure out where you stand as a couple when it comes to having more children, "You need to assess: Do we have a common vision? Did the vision change over time for one or both or us? And if the vision changed for one or both of you, we have to deal with the new reality."
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.