If you’ve always wanted children, chances are you want to find a partner who shares this desire with you. Ideally, they would be just as excited over the prospect of a tiny new human in the mix. Also ideally, the two of you are on the same page when it comes to all the Important Stuff— You can rely on one another, you share similar goals and aspirations, you are not constantly bickering over things big and small.
Of course, the term “ideal” is in itself hypothetical, largely unattainable and more of a perpetual life rollercoaster than a final destination. If you want children but your SO isn’t really all that hype on it, this could throw a wrench in an otherwise joyful partnership. And while compromise is encouraged, this may be one area where each party should stick to their guns.
And yet, your partner may be telling you one thing and acting in an opposite manner. Although everyone is capable of change, it is unfair and irresponsible to expect it unless your SO has promised it. If you think your partner is just telling you what you want to hear, it may be worth considering a Very Serious Conversation or even therapy in order to make sure neither of you are wasting your time. Here are several red flags to consider if you have the feeling your current partner may just not be co-parent material.
1. They Are Wholly Career-Oriented
It is without a doubt possible to have a career and children and a successful family dynamic. However, if your partner has been known to actively choose their career over their relationships, kids may be more of an added life stressor than anything else. If your partner loves their work, spending long hours at the office, business trips, and frequently socializes (sorry, “networks”) after the workday is finished, it may be worth considering that their lifestyle is not open to compromise. Which leads me to my next point…
2. They Are Unwilling To Compromise
Somebody who is unable to compromise on little things is going to have a much harder time doing so with the big stuff. It’s a form of selfishness, a characteristic wholly antithetical to being a good parent. Putting another person’s needs before your own is literally what parenthood is all about. If your SO refuses to let you pick the movie, ever, think about what it might be like when the 15th installment of Minions comes out.
3. They Are Hella Impatient
We all get impatient. But if your partner has a frighteningly short fuse, if they often get legitimately angry over rush hour traffic or perceived slights to their ego, parenting is going to be a frightful challenge. Shrieking babies don’t put anyone in a good mood, but a shrieking parent can really mess a kid up. Says child psychotherapist John Sharry, “[shouting, coercion and physical discipline are] counterproductive and only model to the child a negative way of resolving conflict as well as being damaging to the child’s self-esteem and the parent-child relationship.”
4. They Don’t Fight Fair
In Jancee Dunn’s book How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids, she writes about the negative repercussions argument has on a baby. “Know that your baby is affected by your fighting,” she says. “If you’re fighting over her head, making a few choice gestures, she’s getting those stress responses. We were in a pattern called ‘Demand-Withdrawal,’” or in other words, stonewalling. If you often find yourself trying to communicate in order to work through issues but your partner just shuts completely down (or vice versa), you’ve got some serious problems. A crying baby will only make this situation more tense.