I Want Children, They Don't: Can The Relationship Work?

Updated November 3, 2022 by ReGain Editorial Team
“Taking the step of having children can be a very big step to make in a relationship. Talking through your points of view on that subject are important to hopefully get on the same page. Having a professional navigating you through those complex questions can be helpful to work towards common ground.” - Ryan Smith, LPC, NCC

Relationships are filled with highs and lows. One of the most tangible aspects of any relationship is communication. It’s not tangible in the physical sense but an emotional one.

What happens in a relationship when partners have different expectations? You could be dating a man with kids, or someone who don't like kids at all. What to do with having different expectations? It’s simple: they compromise and attempt to make it work, right? Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple. There are many instances where partners strive for different things in a relationship. Differences are a part of what makes many relationships work, but not all succeed at doing so.

For instance, consider a relationship where you want you own children, but your partner doesn’t. Can the relationship work with this magnitude of differences in desires? There are a variety of perceptions regarding the idea of bringing children into a relationship. Some couples prefer or plan to have children once they’re married or, others believe that having children will make the relationship stronger. There are a few that prefer not to have kids at all. In a few cases, a partner that wants children will sometimes fall for someone who doesn’t want any.

The approach to the conversation about kids is a fragile one that some couples avoid for as long as possible. It’s an important talk to have and should be addressed before the relationship advances too far. Regardless of its importance, many people skate around the topic, and it’s usually because they’re uncertain that their partner feels the same as they do about bringing children into the relationship. This topic should be discussed, as it reveals what each partner wants from the relationship regarding children.

One partner may be unsure if they want children in the future or one person in the relationship may just want one child, while the other may want more. Many factors may influence whether a person does or doesn’t want kids. Children are a big responsibility, one that may require a lifetime commitment. It’s normal for a person to be unsure if they want children or not.

It can be antagonizing to realize that there is a major disagreement in such a huge life decision. However, what happens if you eventually see that you can’t reach a mutual agreement about having children? She wants children/he doesn’t but can the relationship work?

Consider the following:

If Its an Immediate Plan

Couples Don't Always Have to Agree

If someone wants children early in the relationship, it may be best for them to be upfront and honest with their timeline. If one partner wants kids immediately and it’s not in the immediate plans of the other partner, then it may be best to dissolve the relationship to not create future resentment. The beginning of the relationship may be a good time to ask the baby question, as it’s often a very important thing in a relationship for most couples. For the partner that wants children immediately, ask yourself if waiting is something you’re emotionally and physically prepared to do. For the partner that prefers waiting a few years, ask yourself if starting a family now will prevent you from achieving other things or if you feel you can be a good parent if you had kids now. Both partners should ask themselves if changing their minds about when to have children will be something they can accept moving forward.

If Its an in the future” Plan

Consider the talks you’ve had with your partner and at what point in the relationship they wish to have kids, since if having children is not your mutual desire, it will bring problems and holes in the relationship in the future. Staying married for the kids is a terrible situation that you do not want to be in. Can you make it work or find a middle ground? This depends largely on the tone of the conversations and how forthcoming having kids is in the future of the relationship and whether both partners have a definite answer on their feelings about having children. If both partners wanted kids but not immediately, a couple may make the relationship work. They may continue to build and strengthen the relationship, which may bring them closer and put them in a position to make kids a part of their plans. If both parties are young, planning for kids in the future may not be a bad idea.

Consider Various Options

There are various options regarding bringing children into the relationship. If it’s the fear of taking care of a baby, adopting an older child may be a better option. It allows you to avoid the first few years of the child’s life, which may be something you’re uncomfortable with doing. The most important approach is to consider the primary reason preventing you from wanting kids and determining an agreeable compromise.

This May Not Be the Person for You

Sometimes, it’s not the fact that one partner doesn’t want kids. It could be that they don’t see having children with the person they’re seeing. In this case, it’s not that kids aren’t in their future. Instead, the partner isn’t someone they see having a long-term relationship with, which means they wouldn’t consider having kids with them.

After Taking the Considerations into Account

Once you’ve considered the above as they apply to your specific situation, it’s time to move forward. The desire to have kids is strongly embedded in the hearts and minds of some; it makes it difficult for them to understand why anyone wouldn’t want to do so. Those who fall in the category of not wanting kids may find it hard to understand why others jump at the opportunity to assume such massive responsibility.

If you’re in a situation where you and your partner face challenges in the relationship, such as whether or not to have kids, it may help see a relationship counselor. In addition to talking to a professional, you should also do the following.

Talk Openly About the Issue

It’s easy to avoid the topic of kids in a relationship. It’s often avoided for most couples because children can be a complicated subject, and most prefer to avoid the debate that may take place. Relationships can flourish from simple debates or disagreements, but complicated ones such as having or not having kids aren’t as easy to approach or overcome.

The fact is, women are usually more eager to approach the topic because their biological clock isn’t forever in their favor. They don’t have the option or the luxury of waiting until they’re older to have kids. After 35, a woman’s fertility drops, and the probability for genetic disorders, among other issues rise. Women who are nearing that age aren’t always in a position to wait a little longer to start a family or her mind will begin to focus on children in the first place.

In this scenario, the couple should talk about the issue at hand immediately. If you’re a woman who desires to start a family but is involved with someone that expresses they don’t want children, you should address it soon. If you’ve been dating for a few years, there is a chance that your mate may have changed their mind about having kids by now.

Discuss Alternatives

If you want to avoid dissolving the relationship, there are other alternatives to consider. For instance, it may be an option to become foster parents before embarking upon the parental journey. It may help the reluctant partner realize what a parent being entailed and help them change their minds. It’s a great way to get an up-close view of parenting without making a permanent commitment.

Becoming a foster parent is a complicated process, as it involves authorities taking the necessary precautions to ensure that both prospects are fit to become fosters. You may also consider talking with other parents or spending time with them and their kids. Doing so offers another perspective of parenting. It shouldn’t be the isolated indicator of whether or not parenting is right for a person, but it can help with the decision-making process.

Social media and television sensationalize parenting. It provides various perspectives of raising kids, and viewers tend to attach themselves to the parents that remind them most of themselves. Most parents are sure they want children but are scared to death once it becomes a reality. The fear doesn’t set in because they think they’ll be bad at parenting. It’s the fear of not knowing what each second, minute or the next years will bring.

Do Whats Best for You

Love is a big word that requires a big commitment. Loving your mate doesn’t mean that you’ll agree on everything in life. It also doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to overcome every obstacle you overcome. When it comes to having kids, you must make a conscious decision to do what’s best for you.

If your partner has decided that they will never want kids, that’s fair. It’s not fair for you to decide to spend your life childless because of their decision unless it’s what you really want. Be sure that changing your mind and not having kids is something that you will spend the rest of your life with that decision. Sometimes, love for a mate can cause a person to give up things most important in life, such as having a family. In the end, the only thing that matters is doing what’s right for you.

People View the Family Spectrum Differently

In addition to biology, there are other differences in men and women, especially when it involves having children. Children bring a variety of changes to a relationship. Sometimes, it’s difficult to address or understand the changes that may occur.

Following are a few of the most common differences that may impact the difference in a couple’s opinion about when and if starting a family is right.

  • Men are usually ready to have children when they feel they’ve met their life partner and are stable enough to provide a comfortable life for the family.
  • Women have an urge to have kids that is not easily calmed. When they’re ready to become a mom, it’s hard for them to shake that feeling.

Couples Don't Always Have to Agree

Counselor Reviews

“Austa has been wonderful thus far. She has helped my partner and I during an unimaginably difficult time... She has also guided us in communicating effectively and setting appropriate boundaries in our relationship. I was hesitant to pursue counseling at the beginning, but I truly believe that it is making a difference for our relationship. Austa is easy to talk to and she is a great listener. I would wholeheartedly recommend her as a counselor.”

“Sessions with Natalie are very insightful and give practical advice on implementing new habits and changes. Be prepared to engage and be challenged to think in a different way. I know that my partner and I can already see improvements in our relationship and feel more positive about working through our issues together.”


People who choose not to have kids are easily seen as selfish or uncaring. There are many misconceptions surrounding people who choose not to have kids. It’s important to understand that not everyone will become a parent. It’s an important decision that should be approached with caution. Children are precious and deserve to have parents that will give them the attention and love they deserve. Sometimes, a person has to deal with personal emotions or overcome other issues before caring for a child. It’s a decision that should be respected because of its personal nature. Couples can agree or disagree with having kids, but most importantly, they must do what’s best for them and the child in question.

Commonly Asked Questions Below:

   1. What to do when you don’t agree on having a baby?
    2. What to do if thinking about having a baby?
    3. How do you bring up wanting to have a baby?
    4. What do you do when your partner disagrees about having kids?
    5. Do people regret not having kids?
    6. Is it okay to not want kids?
    7. Do hormones make you want a baby?
    8. Is it selfish to have a baby?
    9. What is a good reason to have a baby?
    10. Why am I so scared of having a baby?

For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns

Speak With A Licensed Therapist
This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.