Hi Carolyn: I’m 34, and my husband is 33. Married for four years. When we got together, we both wanted kids, no question. Now, my husband is not sure parenthood is compatible with our lifestyle — demanding jobs we’re both devoted to, mostly childless friends, live in a kid-unfriendly area. I still want kids.
He had promised me he would commit to a decision by this summer, but he now says, because of the pandemic, he hasn’t been able to give it the mental energy it deserves. Meanwhile, I’ll be 35 in a couple months and am acutely aware of what that means.
I would very much regret not having children. I’m also aware that he may have forever to decide, but I don’t, and so I have been thinking about freezing eggs.
My research about it offends him. He thinks that if he decides he wants kids, then we don’t need frozen eggs; and if he decides he doesn’t, then my freezing eggs is a way of implying we will eventually split up.
Financially, I can do it with or without his help, but I don’t know how okay it is ethically. I lie awake worrying about this more nights than I don’t. What should I do?
Awake: Ugh. What is the mental block people have with fertility math. It’s not complicated: 2 + 2 = stop freaking stalling as if you have forever.
What you do is stick to your message no matter how hard he works to knock you off it: “We will need frozen eggs if you drag your feet right past my fertility expiration date. And you don’t get to decide when that expiration date is. And stop trying to change the subject by getting defensive.”
This is a good time to suggest you both say back to each other what you think the other person is saying. Sounds like each of you doesn’t feel heard.
And if he keeps playing three-egg monte with you, then maybe he’ll turn out to have been right about your splitting up to trade up, only in a self-fulfilling-prophetic kind of way.
· Just in case: I would caution you to not overlook his concerns. Do you have a plan for incorporating the kid into your existing life? If so, share it and make sure you are getting his input. Do you intend changes (moving, for example)? If so, maybe the bending needs to be on your end.
· Deploy the internal ultimatum — something I picked up from reading this column and use fairly often in my own life. Think about the drop-dead last age you are comfortable starting a family. Then figure out what window of time you want to try to conceive (Six months? One year? Two years?). That tells you the deadline by which your husband needs to decide on kids. If he hasn’t told you by then, you freeze your eggs and also walk away, whether toward solo parenthood or finding a more aligned partner. Don’t threaten your husband with this deadline, simply repeat what you want: to start building a family today. But know inside when you will pick up and leave, and if that time comes don’t be afraid to do it.
It sounds like your husband doesn’t want kids — maybe he’s afraid you’ll leave him if he admits that.