Q: My husband and I have one lovely, preschool-age daughter. I have been angling for another child for about 18 months now, but my husband has said no consistently. This week it finally hit me that I am not going to change his mind on this issue, no matter how I try to spin it.
I feel very grateful for the child we do have, but I am sad we won't be giving her a sibling. It would be different if we had tried and encountered fertility problems. Instead I feel like my husband is the barrier. I also understand his reasons, however, and I am glad he has been honest about his limitations and needs, even if I don't like what I am hearing. Adding another child to the mix would not be fair to him or the child.
Objectively, I know I should accept the situation and move on. But I am angry and hurt, and taking it out on him in countless little ways. I've been a real pill at home. How do I move past this? I think it would be foolish to get divorced over this issue but I am really unhappy right now. It almost feels like somebody has died - except that I am the only one grieving.
A: You are grieving, yes, and you are the only one who is. Right on both counts.
You're also right that your husband is the reason.
And you're right that it is better for him to respect his limits than agree to an unwanted child.
You'd think that being right about everything would feel better.
The problem is, you're asking logic to cure your bad feelings like antibiotics would an infection. This is about adapting, and adapting takes time. You've heard "no" for a year and a half, sure, but you didn't really hear it until this week.
Your very real grief is very new, and its very real source is on the other side of the bed. You had to be brutally honest with yourself to get to this point, so don't quit now. Recognize that your living conditions are going to be extremely difficult for a while.
Be just as honest with him, too, please; he needs to know of your "aha" moment, if he doesn't already, and all that comes with it - both your support for him and your sadness. I'm sure he'd rather hear, "I'm really angry at you right now, and hurt, and I need time to deal with it," than be subjected to the thousand little domestic paper cuts that you inflict with your unspoken rage.
Getting it out there also frees you to concentrate on what you need to do: Mourn the old vision of your future, replace it with your new one, then find a way to like it. How? By seeking out, then embracing, the good.
You have plenty of negative incentive in the alternatives - divorce, or staying married and angry.
But the positive sounds more appealing. You didn't like your choices, but you chose nevertheless, and you chose your husband. You chose to keep the family you have. As a new spin goes, it sounds pretty good to me.
Write "Tell Me About It," c/o Washington Post, Style Plus, 1150 15th St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 ore-mail email@example.com.