What to do if you and your partner don’t agree about having children

Pictured, Sofia Vergara. She has revealed her and her husband broke up after disagreeing about having children. (Getty Images)
Sofia Vergara has revealed she broke up with her husband after they disagreed about having children together. (Getty Images)

Sofía Vergara has revealed she and her husband ended their marriage over a disagreement about having children together.

The Modern Family star, 51, shared that one of the reasons she and Joe Manganiello, 47, decided to divorce last year was because he wanted children and she did not want to have any more.

"I’m newly divorced from my second husband, who I was with for 10 years," she told Spanish newspaper El País.

"My marriage broke up because my husband was younger; he wanted to have kids and I didn't want to be an old mom," Vergara told the outlet.

The America’s Got Talent judge is already a mother to son Manolo Gonzalez Vergara from a previous marriage, but went on to explain that having another child was not something she was considering. "I feel it’s not fair to the baby," she continued. "I respect whoever does it, but that’s not for me anymore. I had a son at 19, who is now 32, and I'm ready to be a grandmother, not a mother."

Vergara went on to admit that if she meets someone new in the future, whoever she dates "has to come with" his own children.

"I’m almost in menopause; it’s the natural way of things," she added. "When my son becomes a dad, let him bring the baby to me for a while and then I’ll give it back to him and go on with my life; that’s what I have to do."

How to navigate the tricky subject of having a family if one of you doesn't want children. (Getty Images)
How to navigate the tricky subject of having a family if one of you doesn't want children. (Getty Images)

The kids question

Vergara certainly isn't alone in citing parental differences in contributing to the breakdown of a relationship. A quick scroll of various online message boards throws up hundreds of posts seeking advice about the topic.

With research suggesting more of us are seriously considering whether having children is the right route and stats finding that only 55% of Gen Z and millennials plan to become parents, it's clear the kids question could be having an important bearing on relationships.

"Navigating the delicate terrain of whether or not to have children in a relationship is a deeply complex and personal issue," explains psychologist, Barbara Santini. "This decision isn't merely a lifestyle choice but a profound life-altering path that encompasses emotional, financial, and personal identity aspects."

Santini says it is important to understand the complexity of the decision to start a family.

"The dilemma of having children touches upon the core of our identity and life aspirations," she explains. "For many, the desire to have children is ingrained, tied to cultural, familial, or biological influences."

Conversely, Santini says the choice not to have children may stem from personal experiences, career ambitions, or concerns about the world we live in.

"Recognising that this decision is not black-and-white but a spectrum of grey is crucial," she adds.

What to do if you disagree with your partner about having kids

When couples find themselves on opposing ends of this spectrum, the first step is initiating a transparent and honest conversation.

"This discussion should occur in a space free from distractions, where both parties feel safe and heard," Santini advises. "It's vital to approach this talk not as a debate to win but as a dialogue to understand."

Santini says it is important to listen to understand, not to respond. "As a relationship adviser, I often suggest using 'I feel' statements to express emotions without placing blame," she adds.

Of course, understanding the underlying reasons behind each person's stance is also pivotal.

"Is the reluctance to have children due to financial worries, fear of inadequate parenting, or concerns about lifestyle changes?" Santini asks. "Alternatively, is the desire for children driven by cultural expectations, fear of missing out, or a genuine longing for parenthood? These conversations can unearth deeper layers of individual needs and fears."

In situations where perspectives differ, exploring compromises and alternatives becomes essential.

"Could adoption, foster care, or even being involved in children's lives in other capacities (like volunteering) fulfil the parenting desire?" Santini asks. "Is there a fear or misinformation about parenting that could be addressed through counselling or education?"

The decision about whether to have children can be complex and deeply personal. (Getty Images)
The decision about whether to have children can be complex and deeply personal. (Getty Images)

Accepting irreconcilable differences

While there are some discussions to be had about potential compromises, Santini says it is equally important to acknowledge that sometimes this may not be possible.

"If fundamental life goals are misaligned, it might be a path to respectful separation," she advises. "The harsh reality is that forcing one partner to concede in either direction can lead to resentment and damage the relationship in the long run."

Ultimately, Santini says, the decision about whether to have children is not straight forward and requires open communication, mutual respect, and sometimes difficult introspection.

"As a psychologist, I emphasise the importance of each individual honouring their truth while striving to understand their partner's perspective," she says. "Ultimately, the path chosen should align with both partners' core values and life goals, even if that means making hard decisions."

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