Dan’s Story: Coming to terms with not having children meant keeping other people’s children at arm’s length

Childless white manA few years into our marriage, when my wife and I could not conceive, we did what most people do and sought medical help. We then learnt that I was the reason why we could not have children. I was basically infertile. It was a shock to both of us of course. Not only was my confidence as a man shattered, I was also afraid that my wife would leave me. As it turned out, she didn’t and was quite mad at me for even thinking that she could do such a thing. She asked me if that’s what I would have done had the tables been turned, and of course I said no.

We had to have counselling for a few years. It doesn’t help that we are both from families were children are a big deal. We go to a fair number of family gatherings and children are always the main attraction. Having said that, family members did make a big fuss of us when the news broke that we could not have children. Their support helped with our healing process.

We decided against adoption because we didn’t fancy having our life scrutinised by social services. The whole process seems like hell to me. Some family members have told us many times that their children are also ours and that we can have them to our place whenever we want. Even though we are grateful for their kindness, we also understand that it’s not a healthy way to live. Becoming attached to other people’s children can create emotional dependency and that’s not a good idea.

We both felt that the best way for us to achieve long term peace in our life would be to heal completely from our desire to have children. We couldn’t achieve that if we switched our focus to other people’s children. It was simply going to make things worse we thought. Imagine falling out with that person and then not being able to see the children for a while. Our whole life and happiness would have been at the mercy of other people. Making a clean break made far more sense.

It has now been over a decade since we learnt we could not have children and I can say with confidence that we have both come to terms with it. That our relationship has grown stronger has played a key role. We have switched our focus from wanting children to each other and that made a huge difference.

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  1. Hi Dan, thanks for sharing your story. I totally agree with your approach of not wanting to become attached to other people’s children, particularly if you want to come to terms with not having children of your own. It defeats the whole purpose, as you rightly acknowledged. I remember a young woman I met through my previous job. She was childless not by choice and found it very hard to accept. The fact that she was also very attached to her brother’s children meant that her chances of ever finding peace were very slim. I admire your courage and wish you and your wife the very best.

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