When you're trying to conceive, there's so much running through your head that your brain feels crowded. It's a racetrack with too many cars and you're just trying to win without crashing. It's even more fraught when you're feeling alone. What should you do if your partner isn't excited about TTC?
Having a baby is such an epic endeavor. It's one of the few decisions you make in life that truly affects not only you, but everyone in your family. You may find yourself in a situation where you're ready to have a baby, or even wanting to have another baby, and your partner just isn't fired up about it. The idea that your partner might not want a baby as badly as you do could be crushing, confusing, and it might even make you angry. When you feel like you're 100 percent ready to dedicate yourself to this, and they're giving half that? It's not like some college group project where you do all the work and get disgruntled about it. This could be genuinely painful to you.
Short of taking your partner by the shoulders and shaking them, what should you do? Is there anything you can do? What should you do if your partner isn't excited about TTC?
I spoke with therapist Jennifer Marshall about the topic, and she did not mince words. She tells Romper that this is a really difficult situation to find yourself in. Trying to conceive is so heavy with desire and other emotions, particularly fear and need, that it can shift the trajectory of an entire relationship. Marshall says that it's so different from every other decision in your life and it requires an absolutely open line of communication and level of mutual interest and understanding.
Marshall says that you need to first understand why you aren't on the same page. Is it a new emotion for your partner, or have they always been less enthused than you? "Has your partner previously expressed excitement about having a baby? If so, they might just be overwhelmed. If not, you need to explore that more deeply," she says. If that's the case, you need to make sure it's something that they want, because in the long run, children are such a big deal that finding out your partner never really wanted to be a parent to begin with could be devastating later on.
Marshall says it might be as simple as timing — your partner's unsure if it's the right time or they aren't fully prepared to begin trying to conceive. If they need time to wait and see, then you may need to grant them that, even if your biological clock is ticking so loudly it's like it's become a metronome in your uterus.
Or, it might be that your partner takes a generally relaxed attitude toward most things in life, this being no different. If you're type A, and your partner is type B, they might just be expressing interest differently, in which case, hear them out, and you may find yourself understanding their point of view a bit more. It's not that they don't want a child, they're just not feeling the same level of immediacy that you are, and that's OK. Marshall says, "Some people prefer to just take things as they come, and are more passive observers than active participants. You may have noticed this about your partner already."
She does tell Romper, however, if it's something more, a fear or some deep-rooted issue that's making them less than thrilled with trying to conceive, then counseling is the way to go. "The process of having a baby, from conception to completion, is a process that has a tendency to bring out the truth of a partnership," Marshall adds.
You may find that your partner has more than just differing opinions on whether to have a child or when, according to Marshall, and this is why therapy is so important. It's best to find all of this out before you bring a child into the relationship. No matter what, before there's a child, if you're in a relationship, there needs to be a partnership first. There should be open communication and the acceptance of desires, fears, warts, and all. After all, children are the biggest change a relationship can go through, and you want a solid foundation to carry them in on. Marshall notes, "Therapy is always a good idea. Whether or not you think you have an issue, it improves communication overall."
So talk to your partner. Don't be abrasive or aggressive — be open, honest, and hear them out. If you feel like you need a therapist or counselor to help, there's no shame in asking. Trying to conceive is a big deal and you should treat the conversation surrounding it as a big deal, too.