Abida Mian's Blog

An outlier that's living, learning and being myself…

Quora Question: Would you give up on having children? My partner wants them but I don’t.

My experience but the other way around, I wanted children but the guy I dated a few years back didn’t:

I started chatting to this guy, we seemed to get along very well via email, and the conversation progressed to over the phone. He didn’t show me a picture of himself, but I never probed into the reason, I just assumed he was nervous/private.

We arranged to meet, the day before he calls to tell me that he has something he needs to say. He opens up as to the reason he didn’t send me his photo. He was in his 40’s but when he was in his 20’s he had a car accident and his life changed. He suffered severe facial disfigurement. He said that he wasn’t honest from the start, as he thought I wouldn’t have spoken to him. He understood if I didn’t want to meet. I honestly didn’t know what to make of the situation, but all I knew was that I liked chatting with him, and I also felt it would be unkind not to meet him. We all have our own insecurities when it comes to dating, it must have been hard for him, and I wanted to give him a chance.

Honestly, I admit I was nervous when I was about to walk through the doors to meet him. I had no idea what to expect, would I stare at him, feel awkward?

For a fraction of a second, I noted half his face was normal, the other half was scarred and left eye closed completely. But then I saw his smile, I don’t know how to explain this, but once we started chatting, I suddenly felt like I’d known him for ages, we conversed effortlessly, no awkward silences. Then he told me he had multiple operations on his face, he married his girlfriend at the time, she was with him through the accident to recovery, they had children together. But he found out that she was having an affair, and divorced her three years prior.

We shared a connection. I didn’t care what his face looked like to the outside world, I fell hook, line and sinker for this guy. There are few people that you meet in life that touch you in a way that’s unexplainable, but his warmth, kindness (he was a patron of a charity), and love of his children was clearly evident.

The problem was that I wanted children. Problems arose when we were having dinner one evening. “What do you think of children, do you want them?,” he said. To which I replied, “yes, with all my heart, with the right guy.” Then he proceeded to tell me that he couldn’t do the sleepless nights, and changing nappies anymore, he’d done that for years, he wanted a life partner to marry but have no children. Suddenly my passive aggressive behaviour was bubbling away. I was much younger than him, what would make him think I didn’t want kids? He made some rather tactless comments like I get to keep my figure, don’t have to worry about the pain of child birth. In my mind, the gift of a baby was worth all that an infinite number of times over. Why was he being so shallow?

Of course, I wasn’t woman enough to confront him and talk honestly, instead I became more distant. Then finally one day, he noticed my behaviour, “what if you become pregnant, will you get rid of it?”, he said. That’s when my heart sank.

I turned to a good friend of mine for advice. He’s sort of my surrogate dad. He said, “Abi, why are you so desperate to be in a relationship that you are willing to forsake your own happiness? You know both in your heart and mind this guy isn’t going to make you happy, but you must be honest with him, all you are doing is prolonging the inevitable. You are setting yourself up for a fall, and you will get hurt.” He was right.

We met and had a frank conversation. “Abi, I wish there was a switch I could just flick off for your desire for children. With me, you’ll never want for anything, there will be lots of love, and you’ll have a ready made family with my kids.”

The truth was that even the least selfish person is selfish is at the core, when it comes down to it, we will do what’s best for ourselves. For him it was making me live a life without kids, and me change his mind. We were at conflict in our outlook.

I wasn’t going to be one of those women that hung around waiting for a glimmer of hope he would change his mind, or trick him into having a baby. That would be futile, I had to respect his wishes, he had already been through so much in his life.

Logic prevailed, I said: “Please forgive me, although I’m extremely fond of you and could think of nothing better than being a part of your life, I’m afraid I’m not selfless enough to give up my dream of wanting a child, you alone are not enough.”

It took me a couple of months there after to pick myself up off the floor, but it was an important life lesson for me to learn, that I cannot always get what I want, no matter how much time I dedicate, however determined and passionate that I am, ultimately this pursuit was fruitless, with only an inevitable end point.

That’s probably how your partner feels too…

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