“Humans of New York” is an Instagram account famous for featuring the real, sometimes rugged edges, of everyday people’s lives.
With its focus on people’s relationships, childhoods and fears, the account has drawn 7.4 million followers who appreciate reading honest trials and tribulations from otherwise ordinary folks. And naturally, it often strikes a chord with many of its followers.
Recently, the account featured a photo of a smiling couple — a husband and wife who looked perfectly happy. The caption, however, suggested otherwise.
The husband, whose identity was kept anonymous, began explaining that he’s wanted children throughout their relationship, though he knew his wife didn’t:
She originally said she didn’t want kids. And I originally told her I was completely fine with that. But that was a lie. I guess I just thought we’d grow into the idea.
He continued, saying his wife has changed her mind about big things in the past so, although he agreed to be with her despite not wanting children, he never really believed she felt that way:
She also told me that she never wanted to get married — and she changed her mind about that. So I thought she’d change her mind about a child too. Honestly, I would be disappointed if we didn’t have one.
Although he said he will always hope to become a father one day, he said it might be better to live with disappointment than to leave her:
Humans of New York/Instagram
I think something magic happens when you open your heart to another living thing. But I don’t want her to make a decision for my sake. So maybe the solution is just to be disappointed.
Then, the wife, whose identity also remained anonymous, told her side of things:
Maybe I’m just selfish. But I value our time together. And I want to continue spending time on ourselves.
She also said she was scared that, should she end up giving in and having a child, she’ll be the odd one out:
Plus I just don’t feel very maternal. I’m afraid that I’ll convince myself for his sake, and I’ll will myself to believe that I want a child, but then I won’t feel that connection. But he will. And then it will be the two of them — and me.
Many have heard the advice that people should enter into a relationship being fully honest with one another, but what happens when two people are honest but grow in different directions?
One user, archillious@amshaul, commented that the two should “compromise”:
He accepted that she did not want to be married but changed her mind. So if she truly cares, that’s when compromise comes in marriages. Well, except for health reasons.
While another commenter, jaelyad, wrote that the woman shouldn’t feel guilty because she’s been honest about not wanting kids from the get-go:
I think that as long as you express your needs and wants from the beginning, you can’t be held accountable. She told him and he stayed. Yes she changed her mind about marriage, but you can compare marriage and a child. Not everyone is fit to be a mother. Just because she’s a female doesn’t mean she has to be a mother.
On the other hand, emawych wrote:
…any woman can bring a child into the world, but it takes a special person to be a mother. The job is lifelong and the “ups” are exhilarating and the “downs” are excruciating”…..but the love is constant. Don’t start and stop with how you are feeling…..think of how this child will feel with YOU as its parent.
Another user, kmw3011, shared her own story, writing that “feeling maternal” shouldn’t be what’s keeping the woman from having a child:
… I was overwhelmed by a sense of the enormous responsibility I had to keep this little thing alive and well. Love grew imperceptibly, without my focusing on it, but quickly emerged as one of the most extraordinarily powerful bonds of my life as we grew up together. You cannot know any of this without actually going through it all. So how you feel now is not really a reliable guide.
In relationships, there are rarely clear-cut answers to issues like this. Sometimes, however, an answer can lead to either a future or an ending — and that is the hardest part.