Posted at 10:15 AM Mar 16, 2010
By Andrea Grimes
"Honey, I hate that thing you do with your hand." "I think I have feelings for my boss." "I don't feel the same way about you that I used to." All potentially terrible things that need to be said in order to maintain honesty and openness in a marriage. What's not a potentially terrible thing to say to your spouse? "I would like to have babies with you, like we talked about before and all the time and both agreed about when we got married."
And thus this week's Sad Bastard is a Virginian who wrote into Carolyn Hax, wondering how to bring up the awful, embarrassing topic of telling her husband she wants to have his baby:
Hi, Carolyn: How do I talk to my husband about having kids? I know it sounds dumb, but we talked about kids while dating and engaged and we both want them. We've been married now for five years (together for 12) and we're not getting any younger. I have tried dropping hints but never come right out and said, "Let's try for kids." We've always said "when we have kids" etc. . . . but the past six months, this "when" is becoming very strong.
You've been together for 12 years. You've been married for 5. You talk frequently about having children together. And yet, "Hey, let's finally have that baby we've always wanted!" is a taboo topic? Of course, there are complications:
He's on meds for depression and will have to have his doctor change that because it diminishes his sex drive. How and when do I bring this up? I can't imagine when we're watching TV or over dinner.
I know a sex driveless, medicated husband who I can't talk to about a perfectly normal (even expected, in terms of marriage) human desire is exactly the type of man I always wanted to start a family with. What's Virginia waiting for? She's perfectly poised to have a happy ever after! Of course, Carolyn is totally: hey, lady, you don't think there are bigger issues here than your little baby problem?
The couples who communicate by dropping hints and wondering how to bring things up may still be together and in love, but they've got walls between them that they have to negotiate to get anything done. When you're raising kids, the amount you have to accomplish together mushrooms -- be it minor day-to-day chores or major decisions that determine a child's heath care, education, values. Parents who can't talk to each other create at best an inefficient household, and at worst one that's erratic, confusing, unstable.
I've usually found--from personal observation of myself and others, so I'm not off the hook, here--that the main difference between the hint-dropping types (as opposed to the coming-out-and-saying-it types) is maturity, either on the part of the individual or the couple. 12 years does not a mature relationship make if one or both of you is tip-toeing around something as joyous and mutually agreed-upon as having a baby.
Sounds to me like we could be seeing a passive-aggressive wife and a depressive husband, both of whom have poor communication habits that exacerbate the worst flaws in the other. Wife drops hints that don't get picked up on, she mopes, feels unsatisfied. Husband's emotional responses are dulled by his depression, which also affects his sex drive, with leads to more hint-dropping on the wife's part, and the hole just gets dug deeper and deeper.
Anyway, it boils down to this: ask for what you want. You might not get it. But once you know that, you can start to look for it elsewhere. And if you can't ask for what you want, know that you're probably never going to get it, anyway.
Take it away, Dusty!