I Don’t Want a Child. Should I Consider Marrying Someone Who Does?
12:00 JST, October 1, 2023
I’m a company worker in my 30s, and I’m dating a man whom I’m thinking of marrying. But, I’m worried because we feel differently about having a child. I’m somewhat cool on the idea, but he wants one.
There are several reasons I’m reluctant. I don’t know if I could love a child if it were born with a disability. I don’t know if the baby would be happy to be born into today’s difficult world of abnormal weather, pandemics, poverty and so on.
And I’m already busy enough with my own things, and don’t want to lose my income or my job to care for a child.
We’ve talked about the issue several times. He recently told me he would consider leaving me if I didn’t want a baby.
I was shocked because I was just then struggling with the idea that it might be better to have a child if the person I love wants one. Even though I wanted to discuss the matter with him to find the best way forward, I now feel as if I’ve been pushed away.
I’m wondering whether we should keep dating or break up.
L, Saitama Prefecture
Dear Ms. L:
It must have been hard to hear he would leave you if you didn’t want a child.
In this age of diverse values, it’s rare for a couple to have the same way of thinking about everything just because they love each other. This has made it increasingly important to talk and come to terms with each other before marriage.
Is your partner willing to listen to your feelings? Your feelings on having a child may change over time, but I don’t think that’s the issue.
It seems to me that even if you adopt your partner’s way of thinking and end up marrying him, you are likely to always be the one to give in.
Of course, some people are fine with such arrangements as long as they are able to marry the person they love. If you’re prepared for this kind of life, then marriage is still an option.
However, if your ideal relationship is one in which you understand each other’s feelings and find compromises, I think you should reconsider.
Masahiro Yamada, university professor
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