(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)
Dr. Kenner: Will, you’re having marital problems?
Will: Well, it’s causing a marital problem. The story is, I had prostate cancer about seven years ago and now my wife, she’s younger than I am, and she’s wanting a baby and I’ve told her before with prostate cancer and radiation, your chances of getting someone pregnant are pretty slim. So we went to a place to see about getting some in vitro fertilization done, and they do artificial insemination. They tested her, found out she had low [inaudible 00:00:41] and said her chances of conceiving a baby would be ultra slim and they wouldn’t recommend doing it until she took fertility treatments instead first. The amount of money they want for fertility treatments is a lot more money than what we have. I’ve tried to get a loan at the bank. I don’t have a credit card with that high of a credit limit, so I’ve told her we just can’t afford to do it. Maybe we should adopt or foster parent, maybe we could get a baby that way. She said, “No, I want my own child.” That was about a year and a half ago. Now all she does is keeps on hitting me all the time, that I don’t love her because I won’t give her a baby.
Dr. Kenner: She hits you with words or she physically hits you?
Will: No, with words.
Dr. Kenner: So she’s real angry with you. Well here’s the biggest question I have for you – it is your life, Will. Do you want a baby, given the context that you have prostate cancer and that you don’t have a lot of expendable money?
Will: I guess I feel like I do make a good monthly income. I just don’t have a lot of money in savings right now at this time. I think we could afford a baby, from a month-by-month standpoint.
Dr. Kenner: Month by month is not that good.
Will: Well, I know if I told her we couldn’t afford it, I would get more angry. I just know I would. I don’t know for sure what I should do then.
Dr. Kenner: The question I’m asking, it isn’t just her life. I know you’re in a marriage, but it takes two to tango, and it takes two to bring up a child and it takes two willing parents and there’s no right for any individual to try to force the other partner to have a child. It just isn’t there. If she wants a child and it’s not working out, whether it’s physically or financially in two ways – one that the fertilization process is very costly and the second, and she doesn’t like the alternatives, which you generously offered to her, to adopt or try being a foster parent and see where that led, but if you’re going to be living month by month with a baby, just trying to make ends meet, in an economy that’s not a growing economy, it is your life too. That is definitely a mutual decision. She has the right to leave the marriage if it’s more important –
Will: That’s what she says she’s going to do. She talks about it and makes comments about before, saying stuff like that. Like, “You know, if you don’t give me what I deserve, you might come home one night and I’ll be gone.”
Dr. Kenner: That doesn’t sound like the basis for a romantic relationship. If a husband came home and said, “Honey, if you don’t give me sex tonight, I might come home one day and be gone.” I mean, it just doesn't work that way. And a baby, again, is a joint decision Will. And if either one of you doesn’t want it, I mean, this is something that obviously it’s good to talk about before you get married.
Will: I thought too, I thought she should have done. If she was interested in having a baby, she should have told me that when we started dating.
Dr. Kenner: How long have you guys been married?
Will: Five and a half years approximately.
Dr. Kenner: Five and a half years. I’ve seen this happen in therapy time and again, where a woman definitely wants a baby, but just forgot to have that conversation in advance of being married, and so the guy feels what? The guy feels tricked into it and he feels somewhat used because he feels like, “What is she really after? Am I the primary? Is she in love with me or is she just using me to have a baby?”
Will: That’s exactly the way I feel.
Dr. Kenner: if that’s the case, a genuine romantic relationship is fundamentally not between the child and the parent. The romantic relationship, a marriage, is between whom?
Will: Right. I had similar talks with her before, the idea of did you marry me just to try and have a baby or did you marry me for me?
Dr. Kenner: What does she say?
Will: She basically says stuff like, “You know, I didn’t at first think I wanted a baby, but now we got married and I’m getting older and everything and I feel like I want to have a baby now. Don’t put me in the spot where you think I’m taking having a baby over you.”
Dr. Kenner: So it’s true that she may want it. The fact that she said she deserves it, that is the bullying part. I don’t think that’s fair. She can genuinely say to you, “I would love to have a baby with you. I would love to have it look like both of us.” That’s a different approach, rather than, “I deserve it. If you don’t give it to me, I’m out of here honey.” You need to learn how to resolve a conflict like this. I wrote a book with another author that I would recommend and it’s called, if you think of self esteem or self respect or self valuing, our book is called The Selfish Path to Romance, but we don’t mean selfish in the way of running rough shot over each other, taking advantage over each other, my way or the highway. We don’t mean it that way at all, Will. We mean how to value Will, you value yourself, you value your wife, she values herself and values you and you mutually find things in your life that make your relationship stronger and stronger. Our subtitle is how to love with passion and reason. You can get that on Amazon.com.
Will: I’ll look for that when I get home.
Dr. Kenner: We have a website, actually it’s hard to forget this one, SelfishRomance.com.
Will: I can remember that.
Dr. Kenner: Basically it is yourself, your life and you want to see what’s good for you long range. You’ve only been married five and a half years. My husband and I have been married how many years? You decide, is this the best course for you together? And how can she express herself a little better and really have a thoughtful conversation as to whether it would work out for both of you? Thank you so much for your call Will.
Will: Thank you.