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When the pull to have children is so great that it leads to the breakdown of a relationship

By Nina Steele 

I have to admit that I was among the many people who were taken aback on hearing that Gary Lineker and his wife Danielle have decided to go their separate ways, after 6 years of marriage. That is because Gary has always come across as a decent man and I hadn’t read of any troubles they were having as a couple prior to the announcement. Of course, no one ever knows what really goes on behind closed doors, when it comes to relationships.

The only positive side of the story (if you can call it that), was that, in today’s world where celebrity divorces are often acrimonious, the couple decided not to get lawyers involved.

I was particularly interested in the story because, apparently (and this has not been denied by either side), they decided to divorce because Danielle wanted children (she already has a 14 year old daughter from a previous relationship), while Gary didn’t. As the father of 4 grown up children, the story goes, Gary didn’t want to start all over again.

One recurring comment was that he didn’t love her enough, because if he did, he would have agreed to have children with her. Another thing people said was that they were surprised that the issue of having children wasn’t brought up early on in the relationship. And I did wonder that too.

On the ITV programme ‘Loose Women’, Penny Lancaster, who is married to Rod Stewart, and has two young children with him, echoed the same sentiments. She would know, since Rod Stewart too already had grown up children, and wasn’t too keen on having any more when they first met.

Of course, no one apart from the two people involved, knows the full story. But you do wonder how open both were about their feelings on this issue. Surely, one of them must have known how the other felt. Or was it the case, as it often is in many relationships, that one of them was hoping that with time, the other would be persuaded to change their mind?

Like Danielle, Clair McGlynn’s relationship broke down because of her desire to have children. In her case, her partner’s infertility was the reason why they could not have any. She suggested they use donor sperm, however, he refused, because as she put it: “‘He was adamant he didn’t want to bring up another man’s child”.

She made the decision to walk away, and later had twins, using both donor sperm and donated eggs, as at age 36 she was found to have signs of early menopause. Understandably, Clair believes that having the twins was worth both the financial and emotional costs.

Ultimately, it comes down to choice and what matters most to each and every one of us. The issue of children can easily tear a relationship apart, as the above cases show. The thought of forgoing parenthood or not being able to have more children, is too much of a sacrifice for some. And walking away from a relationship, even a seemingly healthy one, becomes a price worth paying.

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