They were separating!
The reason? She wants kids -- and he's decided he doesn't. He admitted he'd always been lukewarm on the subject but... he thought he'd change his mind. (eyeroll -- I'm sure he's been assured that he would by many people...!) But he's decided he doesn't want to bring a child into a world that's going downhill so fast.
(Surprisingly, my rather traditional BIL said something to the effect that he was sure a lot of young people are thinking this now, and he can't really blame them...!).
I didn't say much (I don't know these people at all myself). I just said that, if you KNOW you don't want kids, then fine, don't have kids -- but really, shouldn't they have had this conversation BEFORE they got married??
Even so -- I've heard of couples (not necessarily married) where the one partner is on the fence but doesn't want to admit it and risk losing the other. Or they're really convinced that when push comes to shove, they'll agree to becoming a parent. Or the other partner just assumes they both want the same thing. Or, if the other person expresses doubts, is sure that they can get them to change their mind.
One day, the bombshell is finally dropped that no, they really don't want kids -- and then the other partner is left with a dilemma: stay with someone they otherwise love and forfeit their chance to have the family they've always wanted and assumed they would have -- or leave and try to find someone else to realize that dream with (or go it alone and pursue single parenthood -- far easier said than done, of course...!)? All as the biological clock ticks away...
(Sue Fagalde Lick's blog "Childless by Marriage" is a great resource for those who find themselves living out some of these scenarios, as well as for childless women in step-parenting situations, including ones where the partner who is already a parent does not want any more children.)
Or (and I'm sure this happens far more often than people admit), the doubting partner goes along with the plan, thinking they will just go ahead and have kids despite their qualms because "that's what people do" and "you'll love them when they're your own"... (right?). And unfortunately, far too many parents wind up realizing they probably shouldn't have had kids when the kids are already here, and it's far too late for second thoughts.
Listening to this story, I thought about how many "childless by circumstance" and "childless by marriage/relationship" women I've encountered (online and in "real life") over the years with similar stories -- of spending years in relationships that ultimately didn't work out (including a difference of opinion on the "should we have kids" question specifically, as well as other reasons), only to find themselves in their late 30s/early 40s with a narrowing window of (presumed) fertility and an increasing sense of desperation, until the day comes when they realize the family they always took for granted they would have is not going to materialize. This happens a LOT more often than many people realize...!
I do wish that couples would have a serious and honest conversation on this topic early in their relationship, and be clear about what they want (or at least be clear that they are having serious doubts, instead of faking enthusiasm while hoping they'll eventually develop the real thing). Men certainly have a lot more flexibility to postpone having children (or to change their minds on this subject) than women do. (And sometimes they do, and wind up having children with a different partner -- which is absolutely heartbreaking to witness when you're the one he told he didn't want them...!) It's not always possible to meet someone else and have a child with them before your fertile years end, when you've already invested a good chunk of those precious years in another relationship.
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.