When my second child was about 2 years old, I felt that pang of wanting a third. I expected that my husband and I would see eye to eye on this, as we had when we planned the first two pregnancies, but whenever the subject came up, I was getting a sense that he was no longer on board. I patiently waited for the shift, but it was not coming fast enough for me. After months of tip-toeing around the issue, we finally had an actual conversation. I assumed it would culminate in a mutually agreeable time-frame for us to start trying. I sat in quiet disbelief, as I realized he was moving further and further away from the dream of a bigger family that we once shared. He was satisfied with two, he felt pressure as the breadwinner, it would be difficult to start all over again. With each reason he gave, I felt a growing sense of despondency.
My attempt at remaining calm while trying to validate his feelings was not entirely successful. My hopes were being dashed. I could barely focus on what he was actually saying. I felt myself reeling with desperation. The discussion ended up being a heated argument. I was not negotiating for a new car or a summer vacation. This decision completely impacted my life, and my emotions led to anger and resentment. Our communication halted and I was left with a deep hole in my heart.
What I did next changed my life. I simply asked myself a question. “Why? Why is this SO gut-wrenching important to you?” And then I put the answer to that question in a letter to my husband. I did not try to win him over with rational arguments. I did not cajole or coerce or manipulate. I exposed my soul and I spoke from my heart. I conveyed the submerged feelings I had revealed to myself… that I could not control the heartache of having a mentally challenged brother, or the pain of suddenly losing my father just 5 months before I got married. I knew that life was filled with sadness and hardship, but that was precisely the reason why I was committed to creating real, long-lasting, meaningful happiness for myself when I could; happiness I had control over; happiness that would impact us and our family forever.
I put the letter on his night table.. and the next day, there was one on mine. He told me that he knew he couldn’t bring my father back or make my brother a “normal” brother, but what he could do was be my life-partner, and that he was ready to think about a bigger family. Just like that. Everything turned around. My honest, deep down inside feelings were pure and raw, and he heard me.