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Now browsing: Hometown News > Columnist Archives > Counseling - Ask the Marriage Counselor

Choices mean setting boundaries
Rating: 2.82 / 5 (204 votes)  
Posted: 2007 Mar 09 - 02:55

Q. I have been married for three years and my husband says he is not yet ready to have children. He wants to have them "someday," but is not ready financially or emotionally at this point. My problem is that my mother keeps asking me when I am going to get pregnant. She says I am not getting any younger, (I am 32), that it is a lot safer to have a child younger than older, and that I don't want to have people confusing me for my child's grandparent when the child is in high school.

Every time she brings this up I get upset with my husband and we fight and I get hurt when he says he just doesn't know now.

My mother says he needs "a push" because that's what worked with my father, and I should take a firm stand, since my health is involved. What should I do?

A. It certainly is a dilemma when you feel your biological clock ticking and mom is reminding you of it every sweep of the second hand.

At this point, your mother's advice, although well meaning, needs to be sorted out and managed by you in a more productive manner.

Well intentioned but unsolicited advice from parents can trigger problems in marriages if not handled with a careful, consistent action plan.

First, consider that mom is likely to lob her advice your way at random, unpredictable intervals. Not much you can do about that, since we can't easily define for our parents what topics to talk about. It is far too controlling. You can certainly make the assertive request of your mother to refrain from the baby subject for one-month intervals at time, for example, and maybe she can comply. You can tell her you will update her at the first of the month, each month. However, if she cannot comply with this, then you must learn to field her advice in a kind, gentle but clear manner.

When she brings up the subject, you might thank her for her input. Then, take her suggestions and set them aside, into an internal "recycle bin," much like you do with discarded files in a computer.

You do not want her suggestions to set you on the path of thinking about how long it is taking for your husband to decide to have a baby. This only results in you becoming upset with your husband on a continual, random basis determined by your mother's questioning.

Making this change means you are in control over what you are thinking, not your mother. Expect her suggestions, but do not be ruled by them if you have determined that this is not an appropriate time to act on them.

Perhaps by letting off on the pressure, your husband may decide it's his idea and then all will be well. Certainly, in your mind, you may need a cut off point of time that you wish to start the baby- making process. You can share this with him once or twice, then put it aside. If that time approaches and he still is uncommitted, counseling may be necessary for you two to decide where to go from here.

This is your choice as a couple and it is wise to be sure you are both ready to take on the responsibility and obligations of parenting. Try this as best you can.

Janet Hibel has a diplomate in counseling psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology. E-mail your questions to pbnews@hometownnewsol.com or call (561) 694- 6703. Her Web site is

www.apapo.org/Dr.Janet Hibel.

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