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Advice: I Want Baby No. 3—Now!

Hara Estroff Marano gives advice on how to communicate your parental and spousal needs without confrontation.

My husband and I have been married five years and have two children. I desperately want another, but he wants to wait until we are financially stable and have a bigger house. I can't wait that long; I'm already on medication for depression and anxiety because of this. He says he didn't say no but that he is not going to have a baby just because I want one. Now my husband won't talk about the issue. I fear time is running out and I am not coping, seeing all the pregnant women in our family. Does he really want another baby or is this all his way of saying no?

So many issues, so little space. First, what he really means is that he needs time to catch his breath in the babymaking. Even among nearest and dearest, babymaking is not a competitive sport, which is to say that you are referencing the wrong people in your decision process. Babymaking is strictly between you and your mate, and in figuring out when, how many, and how to raise them, his wishes demand as much consideration as yours. But you're trying to exclude him from the decision process because you don't like what he has to say. To dismiss any deviation from your desires as an "excuse" is a harsh judgment about someone you love. No wonder you feel distressed—but it's your self-focus and inflexibility that are trapping you in depression. Besides, that's not how marriage works—you need to accommodate two perspectives. Further, yours is an odd response since you already have two young ones. You'd feel much better if you stopped focusing on what you don't have and realized what you do have: a family-oriented husband and two healthy children.

Your unyielding insistence on another baby now has also twisted the difference between you and your husband into a power struggle. The more you insist that the only acceptable way is your way, the more resistant he will become, simply as a means of preserving some say in the relationship.

Your husband's explanation for waiting makes sense. Most men want to be great providers for their families. Wanting to feel financially stable reaches deep into a man's sense of self. But you haven't stopped to ask him how he feels on this. Again, expecting your spouse, or any other person, to see things exactly as you do is unrealistic and only compounds your distress. That your husband wants another child (when he's ready) and wants to provide well for the family is, in the grand scheme of things, cause for celebration.

Consider, too, that he may feel that life now is too child-centered, and pausing in the babymaking may restore some balance. But you won't know unless you have a conversation in which you listen to each other. This man is the life partner you have chosen. Your best defense against unhappiness (his and yours) is knowing about his inner world—his wishes, dreams, desires for himself and his family.

Medication will never address the causes of your depression, which are your inflexibility, your unwillingness to include your husband in your marriage, and your willingness to discount how much you already have. Your husband now shuts you out because he already knows the script and wants to avoid the inevitable confrontation. Men do not handle domestic conflict well and prefer to avoid it. If you and BabyDaddy can't manage a calm discussion that allows him to air his goals and dreams while you insistently air yours, then get yourselves to a good marriage counselor—now.