Style Sex & Relationships

Tuesday 17 July 2018

Dear Mary: We don't want children. But my mother pesters me for a grandchild

Illustration: Tom Halliday.
Illustration: Tom Halliday.

Q. How do I stop my mother from asking me to have a grandchild? I've been with my partner now for more than five years and we are getting married in the summer. The reason we are getting married is to honour the commitment that we feel to each other in front of our friends and families.

Ever since we met we have both felt the same way about having children - neither of us wants them and feel very strongly that there are millions of children in the world already and the world will survive very well without us adding to its numbers. But my mother is, I would say, obsessed with having grandchildren and keeps asking me when we are going to produce one. It is made more difficult for me because I'm an only child so the buck stops with me. I've told her that we don't want any but I may as well be talking to the wall.  My Dad isn't in great health and it will be my mother who makes the speech at the wedding that he should be making, which is fine except that I know she will make some remark about 'blessing them with grandchildren' which will make me cringe.

A complication is that my partner already has a child from a relationship which he had in his teens. The mother went on to marry somebody else who brought up the child as his own so my partner doesn't have this child in his life. He contributed towards this child's upkeep until the mother married. My mother doesn't know about this and I think it is probably best that she doesn't. What do you think? But most of all please help me to get her to stop going on and on about the whole baby issue.

I should say that we both lead very full lives and share many interests, so we do not feel that our lives will be wanting in any way without children. If only my mother could see things our way.

Mary replies: I can't stop your mother asking you about having a baby - it is obviously a subject very close to her heart. But I can try to help you deal with it. This is something you and your fiance have given a lot of thought to, and it is very fortunate that you both feel the same way about it

No doubt you have tried explaining your point of view to your mother but it has fallen on deaf ears. Or it may be that she chooses not to hear you. It is indeed very difficult being an only child, as there is nobody with whom to share the worries and anxieties about parents in the way that siblings can. For all we know, this may be part of the reason why your mother wants to have grandchildren - perhaps she longed for more children herself and for whatever reason was not able to have them. She probably also has friends who have become grandparents and has heard them speak of the joy that has entered their lives and she wants some of this joy for herself. Another factor to consider is your father's illness, and she may be looking forward in time and wishing to have somebody to care about when he is no longer with her. So rather than trying to get your mother to see things from your point of view try to see hers instead. It is not going to change your mind, nor should it, but it might help you understand her a little more.

Try having one last conversation with her and explain once again that you and your fiance have very strong shared views, and that you do not intend having a family. Tell her that you are sorry to disappoint her but you have to put your own needs ahead of hers. Warn her that in future when she raises the topic you will change the subject or leave the room but that you hope it will not come to that and that she will respect your viewpoint.

I do not think there is anything to be gained by telling her of your partner's child, particularly as this child does not feature in his life. It would only serve to make her more unhappy if she were to hear that he had already fathered a child but it was not yours, and that would be cruel.

So what if your mother refers to her wish for grandchildren in her speech on your wedding day - it will take all of ten seconds to make her point, so take a deep breath, smile sweetly and it will pass.

I hope it is a very happy day for you all.

We've had great sex, but she won't let me ejaculate in her

Q. I've been with my girlfriend now for eight years. I love her loads but there is one big problem between us. Even though she is on the Pill, she won't let me ejaculate inside her and never has done. We had lots of sex at the beginning, but this is a big turn-off for me and as a result I hardly ever feel like having sex. She now has started to drop hints that it is time to put a ring on her finger but quite honestly I don't feel like getting married to her when things are like this. Am I being unreasonable?

Mary replies: You are not being unreasonable, but this is one of those occasions when I would love to have more details as to why she is like this. Your girlfriend may be afraid of becoming pregnant even though she is on the Pill. Or she may think of the ejaculate as being messy or dirty in some way. Another possibility is that she has a bad association from some experience in her past which involved ejaculate and cannot bring herself to allow you to ejaculate in her vagina as a result. There are a number of different things that could be causing her problem but ultimately it is not right that she should be controlling things to such an extent.

After eight years together your girlfriend probably feels that in the natural order of things you should be moving on and getting married. This is true, but you need to have this issue resolved before you do. What if you were married and wanted to start a family and she continued to refuse to allow you to ejaculate? You have allowed it to go on for too long already, as the longer something continues the more difficult it is to change a behaviour. It is advisable for you to bring things to a head now. She may well say that if and when you marry things will be different but a marriage rarely changes anything sexually for a couple so be prepared to stand your ground on this.

Make it clear that you love her and that you see a life together but only if and when things change. She must have noticed that your desire for sex has considerably decreased, and so you should explain that this is no longer acceptable to you. If necessary you could suggest that she may like to speak to somebody professionally about her reasons but you will have to insist that if things continue as they have been doing that you cannot see a long-term future for you both.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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