"Neither of us knew what this would mean for our marriage..."Dec 09, 2018
One of the most popular Seeking Clarity blogs on my website is from a husband who felt he knew he wanted to be a father and whose wife was struggling with ambivalence about motherhood.
(Excerpt from "Her Desire and Mine Were At Odds..."): I initially didn't feel that I needed to do much work to determine my "desire": "I know I want kids; what else do I need to figure out?!" My wife kept repeating a question I assume she learned from taking the Motherhood Clarity Course (MCC): "But what about parenting do you want? What appeals to you? What does it mean to you?"
I didn't really like these questions. After some self-reflection and then a session with Ann, I realized I hadn't done the work I needed to do. I realized that my lack of interest in examining these questions actually represented multiple forms of privilege: being a male and wanting something that my culture views as the reasonable next step in my life. Being female and not wanting something she was supposed to want was creating a lot of strain and an unfair burden on my wife; a lopsided experience that kept us from connecting on the level we needed to.
I thought it would be valuable to hear from his wife and discover the unique answer they discovered to meet both of their desires.
Why did you reach out to Ann for help?
I am a mid-30s female and had been vacillating for 7-plus years on the question of whether or not I wanted children. My husband has always been clear about his desire to be a father. For years I had tried to “logic” my way out of my indecision, and was buying into the myth that if I felt reluctant to become a mother, it meant there was something wrong with me… if I could only identify what it was and fix myself, I would want this thing that so many women around me seemed to want. In addition, I also felt fearful that if I didn’t come to the conclusion that I wanted children, my marriage would be unlikely to survive. Instead of leading towards a resolution, these swirling thoughts and feelings were leading to an increasing sense of confusion and frustration.
What were you hoping would happen by taking the MCC?
I wanted to know what I wanted. I wanted to get unstuck.
What surprised you most or what was most helpful about the MCC?
I appreciated the permission to temporarily put aside the pressures of making a decision on motherhood, and truly have a chance to uncover my own truth. I simply wouldn’t have been able to do the work I needed to do without that space. With Ann’s guidance, hearing about other group members’ experiences, and the helpful exercises between sessions, I slowly developed a clearer sense of what I wanted, and why, and was able to articulate this with some confidence for the first time in my life.
Where did you end up and were you satisfied with the course?
For me, I realized that if I were single, or if I was not with a partner who wanted children, my choice at that time would be to live a child-free life. Being able to sit with that truth, and share this with my husband, was both liberating, and came with a deep sense of sadness – neither of us knew what this would mean for our marriage. But we stayed open and vulnerable and seeking. It was now my husband’s turn to do the work to understand what it was about fatherhood that was important to him, and why. Over the course of the past year, we have begun to forge a way forward. We look at each other sometimes and shake our heads, amazed at the path we’ve found that neither of us could have anticipated, but which so far appears to be able to meet both of our needs: We are currently in the process of becoming long-term foster parents to an adolescent refugee child… Everyone’s path is unique. I’m so grateful to have found Ann’s course, which helped me find mine.
Would you recommend this course to others and why?
Absolutely. In fact I have already referred a friend to Ann, who has also found the course to be very helpful.
What would you tell a woman who is struggling with not knowing or struggling to decide?
You are not alone. It is okay to not know, and to give yourself the space you need to find some clarity. Also, the truth of your desire may change over time, and that’s okay too. Thank you so much, Ann.
2018 Update: Hi Ann, I wanted to let you know that 3 weeks ago we had a son join our family. He is a teenager from Afghanistan. He is a total joy, and we are in love. I am filled with wonder, and so grateful to have him in our family. I wouldn't have found this untraditional path to a motherhood that feels so right for me, if it weren't for you. From the bottom of my heart... thank you.