Menu

I’m ready for a baby, he’s not (yet)—7 steps to talk through it together

It can be frustrating—and maybe scary—when you’re ready to take the leap and he’s not. Here are 7 strategies to help.

I’m ready for a baby, he’s not (yet)—7 steps to talk through it together

Having a baby is, without question, the biggest and most life-changing decision a person or couple can make. It’s rare that two people are ready at precisely the same moment. It can be frustrating, and maybe terrifying, when you’re ready to take that leap and he is not.


Here are 7 strategies that can help you navigate this challenging scenario together.


1. Listen with an open heart

This is a vital component of working your way through any marital dispute—or, for that matter, any conflict with anyone else in your life. Most of us are so busy trying to get the other person to see how right we are that we fail to take into account their reasons, emotions and perspective.

FEATURED VIDEO

Ask him why he wants to delay, what his hesitation or concern is about. Try to set aside your own views temporarily (which is really hard to do!) and just listen. Pretend he’s your best friend talking to you about a spouse who isn’t you. Reflect back to him what you’ve heard him say, and ask if you’ve accurately captured his perspective. For most people, feeling heard immediately lowers their tension level and makes them more open to hearing your viewpoint.

2. Acknowledge your own concerns about becoming a parent

Many people are reluctant to acknowledge any ambivalence about becoming a parent; it’s somehow not considered socially acceptable. But as I always remind clients, it’s really the only non-reversible decision that we make in life. You can always change your career path, sell your house or divorce. But how often do you make a lifelong commitment to someone you’ve never met?

Along with all the joy of parenthood, it brings with it loss of sleep, loss of personal time, a shift in your relationship dynamic and financial pressure. It’s far too great an undertaking not to have at least a few flickering doubts. Maybe he’d feel better if he knew he wasn’t the only one with some ambivalence lurking in the shadows.

Join Motherly

3. Explore family legacy issues and other concerns

People who have been raised in an intact family where there was a lot of happiness, fun and love might feel ready to embark on parenthood without a lot of exploration. People who had less-than-ideal circumstances might have some baggage they need to sort through before feeling ready.

Maybe your partner is scared of repeating negative or abusive patterns. Or maybe he’s watching friends’ marriages suffer as they raise kids and is worried that your relationship will end up like what he sees. Whatever the concerns, they’re worth exploring, whether that’s in conversation with each other, in a journal, with each of you reflecting quietly on your own or in counseling.

4. List the obstacles and then brainstorm possible solutions

Define the criteria. “We don’t have enough money” is different from “I want to have X in our savings account before we conceive.” Is it important that you live close to extended family for support and help with childcare, and you currently don’t? Does one or the other of you need a job with better benefits or more job security? Maybe he wants the two of you to be able to take a trip that wouldn’t be feasible with kids, or maybe he wants to renovate the house first.

It can help to be specific about goals or criteria that you both agree to meet before conceiving—while also remembering that life is full of the unexpected, and there is never a perfect time to have a baby.

5. Take breaks from hashing it out all the time

Endless conversations, especially if each of you is just reiterating the same points over and over again without any progress in compromising or understanding each other, are counterproductive. Usually, each person just ends up digging in their heels more firmly.

You might agree to table the issue for a given period of time and revisit it again at agreed-upon intervals. Try it; some internal shifts are likely to occur during those “break” periods.

6. Enlist the help of a therapist

If you’re both entrenched in your positions, having trouble hearing each other, or if the issue is beginning to cause real tension and unhappiness in your relationship, a neutral third party can be very helpful in sorting out the issues and developing a plan with you.

7. Remember the places where you are aligned

Perhaps it’s on the very concept that you do both, in fact, want to have children at some point. Maybe you agree on the way in which you want to parent your children, the values and beliefs that are important to you about how you raise your children. Remind yourself about the big picture. Having a baby is important, yes, but so is making sure that your marriage is strong and happy before you plunge into raising children.

In the long run, you will be on much more solid ground because you waited until both of you felt ready. Or as ready as anyone can be for such a momentous change.

Join Motherly

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


Keep reading Show less
Shop

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Meri Meri: Decor and gifts that bring the wonder of childhood to life

We could not be more excited to bring the magic of Meri Meri to the Motherly Shop. For over 30 years, their playful line of party products, decorations, children's toys and stationery have brought magic to celebrations and spaces all over the world. Staring as a kitchen table endeavor with some scissors, pens and glitter in Los Angeles in 1985, Meri Meri (founder Meredithe Stuart-Smith's childhood nickname) has evolved from a little network of mamas working from home to a team of 200 dreaming up beautiful, well-crafted products that make any day feel special.

We've stocked The Motherly Shop with everything from Halloween must-haves to instant-heirloom gifts kiddos will adore. Whether you're throwing a party or just trying to make the everyday feel a little more special, we've got you covered.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Keep reading Show less
Shop

Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

Keep reading Show less
Work + Money