Why Do You Stay With Your Infertile Husband if You Want Kids So Much?

Dawn Davenport


Are You Choosing to be infertile by remaining with your infertile partner?

Are you choosing to be infertile by remaining with your infertile partner?

I think this comment may take the cake. It’s that dangerous combination of stupidity, insensitivity and a big mouth. I posted a blog a few months ago on Playing the Blame Game in Infertility.  One woman pointed out that it is not just the couple itself that might blame each other. In her experience she is the target of blame from others for choosing to remain with her infertile husband.

I have heard some very insensitive comments directed at partners of infertility sufferers that more or less say “well, if you don’t abandon this person and find someone who can GIVE you children the old fashioned (read: the right) way you yourself are CHOOSING to be infertile, and as such have chosen to be childless for life.

My husband who has male factor infertility, was told the following: (with apologies for its crassness, I’m just quoting) “By staying with you, your wife has chosen to remain childfree….” (because in this context the person commenting thought that assisted reproduction technology and adoption were wrong ways for infertile persons to become parents) “…unless she has an affair with the mailman in order to get pregnant, she must not want children that badly”.

It sickens me that people in our world hold such ignorant and hurtful attitudes towards those who are infertile and those who love them in spite of what that condition has taken away from them. If my husband had another disability, I would not leave him-I would stick by him and we would face it together. Why should infertility be any different?

As the wife of someone who is infertile, I have not chosen to live childfree, any more than my husband has. I have chosen (and will continue to choose) to walk this involuntary path of infertility with someone I love more than life itself and whom I promised to stay with forever, no matter what.

If we choose to walk together on an alternate path to parenthood, we have every right to do so, without judgment and criticism from others. If at the end of this path we are still childless, we will still be on this journey together, and we will make the best of it, knowing that our partnership is something that we still have in this life and beyond.

Ignorance + Insensitivity= Meanness

The human capacity for insensitivity always amazes me. That people are ignorant doesn’t surprise me. That people are stupid, doesn`t surprise me. But I simply don’t understand why anyone would want to share their ignorance and stupidity.

If you believe that egg or sperm donation is wrong – fine. Don`t use these techniques. If you believe adoption is for losers – for the love of all that is holy, don’t adopt. But there is no need to let others know of your ignorance, least of all me.

And who in their right mind would suggest that a better solution to donor egg or sperm would be sleeping with the mailman. Oh wait, I know the answer – someone who is both stupid and insensitive, otherwise known as mean.

My commenter is one wise woman. Her husband is one lucky man, but I suspect she’s lucky as well because good folks seem to find each other.

For the rest of the world: don’t share your thoughts on how I choose to create my family unless I ask your opinion.  And for the record, if you think I am asking your opinion, you’re probably wrong, so best bet is to keep your mouth shut.

Has anyone else heard something this insensitive?


Image credit: Search Influence

20/05/2014 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Blog, Infertility, Infertility Blog | 28 Comments

28 Responses to Why Do You Stay With Your Infertile Husband if You Want Kids So Much?

  1. Avatar maryann says:

    My mom wanted a divorce in 1960 after being married without children for 10 years. My father did not. Both of their siblings had children. My mom was 30 at the time. My father enlisted his brother to rape my mother after giving her an old fashioned Rufy called a mickey. Her first born was a boy. To everyone now except his brother, they weren’t infertile. He then enlisted his best friend to rape mom under the same circumstances. A girl was born.Now his brother thought maybe the boy wasn’t his. I don’t know what happened for sure but the twins had different fathers. The twin girl a full sister to the boy and the twin boy a full brother to the girl. It was a big secret even from mom at the time. In 1980 the best friend told mom. She went to a pysciatric hospital and he died. Now about the children, total wrecks. No one told them at the time, just mom had a break down. As long as she took her pill and saw her shrink she was ok. Now I understand they thought it was best not to tell the kids or so they agreed. But the demon from hell her husband was he went around telling people the first girl was a result of his wife cheating on him with his best friend. Although she worked at Irving trust bank in NYC until her first child in 1961, he told their suburban neighbors she was a stripper and if he didn’t pull her out of the gutter who knows what would have happened to her. And that’s how she repayed him. My mothers life was hell. I only know this because these people told me. I asked mom. She told me not only did the friend that told her die while she was in the hospital, but the attorney she had gone to for a divorce went missing, permanently. So what’s the point? I think alot of people would have been better off if mom got a divorce in 1960. I also think some people are infertile because its in the best interest of humanity if they can’t procreate themselves.

  2. Avatar linden says:

    My husband has no sperm. After several failed attempts at artificial insemination, we have decided to end our marriage. I would love to experience parenthood so too, would he. We made the mutual decision to fulfill parenthood dreams apart. We both feel so empty without little people in our lives. Parenthood is more important, now in our forties than staying married.

    • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      Linden, I’m so sorry for your loss–a divorce is a loss and deserves to be grieved. I wish you luck on becoming a mom.

      • Avatar linden says:

        Thank you for this blog and tender words Dawn. Some couples who fail to become parents later regret it. While separating has been a profoundly painful decision to reach, we are both grateful we still have a chance at parenthood, (we’re 39) even if it is with other people:)

    • Avatar Phil says:

      A sperm bank wasn’t an option to have little people and save your marriage? If artificial insemination failed with frozen sperm the problem wasn’t your husband. Good luck.

      • Avatar Samantha says:

        Wow, you’re an A%%hole, Phil. OBVIOUSLY didn’t read the article from the very top. I’m sure sperm Bank came up and for whatever reason, wasn’t an option. Why do we have Disgusting awful people on earth sometimes.

        • Tracy Whitney Tracy Whitney says:

          It’s not entirely clear from the post that the infertile couple DID consider a sperm bank – this post is lacking that kind of detail. I’m not sure that “Phil” can be accused of being an (expletive) or disgusting and awful for bringing it up. Maybe insensitive for not assuming it was brought up, but it could also be that he read it with a different set of experiences and assumptions than you did.

  3. Avatar Geochick says:

    Wow. I cannot recall ever getting such a mean comment. What a horrible thing to say.

    • Geochick, honestly, I was kind of surprised too. I have heard from a couple of people who said that people have implied that the wife of a man with male factor infertility could somehow just kind of get some sperm without telling their husband and he’d never know!?!

      • Avatar Mimi D says:

        Same – from my husband’s sister, no less! In her defence (sort of), it was as a response to his diagnosis, being denied help from the NHS and only being able to fund any IVF treatment if we won the frickin’ lottery!

  4. Avatar AnonT says:

    Do people really say this? How disturbing…

  5. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Greg-I agree that the originating article has nothing to do with the use of 3rd party reproduction. I’ve just become too familiar with Marilynn’s disdain for all ways that IF couples might become parents, and I see it as being an illustration of the attitude of the original commenter who made that statement to the anonymous IF couple that Dawn has chosen to write a post about. It is all too easy for folks to judge how others might face their IF and deal with it in a way that works for them-even if that person has gone through IF themselves. What works for one person or situation does not always work for another and so those not directly involved should not feel that they are entitled to pass judgement on others. I was actually referring to M’s comment in #8 about the use of 3rd party donors-where she refers to it as “lying” to have someone’s spouse listed as parent even if there is no biological tie. Dawn’s originating post is fantastic and I support it and what it says 100%. I’m just sorry that some folks cannot let it stand as the truth that it is without throwing out her prejudices towards the many remaining ways in which IF couples might still become parents, as well that she seems to be supporting the person who made the original insensitive comment in the first place. I apologize for following someone else off on a tangent-it just touched a nerve where I am right now.

  6. Avatar Greg says:


    The irony is the comment that Dawn is referencing doesn’t even imply the use of third party reproduction. What it implies is that the women who wants kids so badly should divorce her husband and remarry a man who is fertile so she can have kids. The comment you are responding to has nothing to do with Dawn’s piece.

  7. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Marilynn-you obviously have no desire to see things from the IF couple’s perspective in this scenario-either the IF partner or the non-IF partner, so IMO I think it would be best for you to keep your uninformed and ignorant ramblings of opinion on alternate paths to parenthood to yourself. As Dawn so eloquently put it, no one is forcing you to seek out an alternate path to parenthood, so why do you think your opinion of it matters at all? If you don’t believe in it for your situation, you don’t have to pursue it-but some of us do, and we have every right to pursue it without ignorant judgements from folks such as yourself. In terms of “lying on paper” I assume you are referring to whose name is on the birth certificate under “parent” or “father” .If we were to choose 3rd party reproduction, I would have no problem with our donor’s identity (anonymous or otherwise) being listed somewhere on the document, but not at the expense of leaving my husband’s name completely off. Because in this case, I do not intend to have a child or be a parent with the person who would be donating their genetic materials-I intend to have a child and be a parent with my husband and only my husband. I would prefer to have both persons named in some way, but only if it does not diminish my husband’s role in our child’s life in any way. He may not be DNA to our child (ren) but he will definitely be DAD-which at the end of the day and in every situation is much more important to those who know what is really important. I feel the same way about birth certificates in relation to adoption-all parents names should be included-both those who are responsible for the child’s birth and those who have the responsibility of raising them. Sorry to ramble on myself, but I cannot believe that anyone would defend someone else’s right to be ignorant and cruelly insensitive to those of us with IF, like you have, Marilynn. I hope that you will gain a sense of sensitivity that will cause you to think before you type your ignorance to the world.

  8. Avatar marilynn says:

    I don’t get it Dawn, what is she upset about? The person made the statement that if she was that desperate to have children she’d leave him, but she’s not so she stayed with him. It is a choice for her where it is not a choice for him. She can’t compare her situation to his she is not the one who received that diagnosis he did. His body not hers. It impacts her but if something happened and he passed away or she suddenly found out he was a cheating louse, she has no reason to believe she’d have difficulty getting pregnant at this point in her life.

    If her husband was having a discussion with someone who was not crossing the line by discussing the topic then I fail to see how its out of context. It’s not anyone else’s place to just walk up and start talking to him about his marriage and physical problems. I mean if he knew them well enough to be welcoming a conversation on the topic its hot factually untrue. It’s kind of stating the obvious

  9. Avatar Brittny says:

    This was an interesting read. In our relationship I’m the infertile one and I have wondered in the past if my husband would ever leave me because I’m unable to have children. Its interesting to get a different perspective.

  10. Avatar Megan says:

    I have heard similar things, but not directed towards me, thank goodness. How frustrating – I feel like I didn’t choose my husband, but that we were meant to be together. It just is the way it is. But infertility is not just a choice, it’s a disease, and we should not bandy about judgements like choosing – we shouldn’t have to choose.

  11. Avatar marilynn says:

    OK lets say that your the infertile one and you are feeling like crap about it already. You feel bad like your body failed you and like your not a good spouse. Your spouse says to you that’s OK honey I’ll just use a donor. Or you can just carry an egg donors baby. I won’t leave you but I still really want to have a bio child of my own you would not deny me that would you????

    OK so now the only way to keep your marriage is to consent to this thing which you know is not good for the kid obviously and really is all to make your spouse happy but you reason that it really does not matter whether you adopt or if your partner has a bio kid with a donor because the kid won’t be related to you either way so might as well let your partner get to be a bio parent. You might even think at least the kid will be related to one of us that’s better than not being related to either of us.

    Well sure it would be better to be related to one of you than neither of you if yoju and your spouse were not paying their other parent to go away and never come back. If she was knocked up at a bar and really tried to figure out who the father was and just could not for the life of her figure it out well then sure there’s nothing anyone could do about it, they would if they could but can’t. But the name of this kid’s father will be in a file drawer being withheld, it’s not unknown and he was actually paid to keep the promise of not being around so no it is not better to do that to a kid than to take a kid related to neither of you and raise that kid without the dark cloud of guilt for having orchestrated a major loss in their life.

    I feel so bad for the spouses that get snookered into these situations believing that one unrelated kid is just like another to them might as well be their wife’s bio kid. Then they should ask themselves if they’d still be comfortable with the idea if the donor was found through a co-parenting site, some lonely guy who want’s kids but is not in a relationship who lives near by and has a great job will pay full support and just wants visitation for him and his family.

    Telling the truth when donors are involved needs to go way beyond simply telling the kid. Lying on paper but telling the kid creates tons of problems. If you don’t want the truth on their birth record then don’t do it. End stop.

  12. Avatar AnonAP says:

    Daaaaaaammmmnnnn….that’s a bad one….”Ha! Happily we married each other because we love each other even during difficult times and whether there are kids in the picture or not. I’m so sorry for you that your experience with marriage has been one so fraught with pettiness and focused on on box-checking instead of love and compassion.”

  13. Avatar Greg says:

    People need to ask themselves do they think the person’s goal is to be a single parent or a parent with the person they love. If roles were reversed would they leave their spouse? If they truly loved their spouse, I doubt it.

    • Greg, I think people often speak before they think. If they thought it out, they would likely agree with you. Or they have a lousy marriage and are only looking at their partner as a gamete donor. 🙂

  14. Those comments (yes, ridiculously stupid and insensitive) do not even begin to acknowledge that perhaps your partner is so much more to you than a mere sperm donor. I’m sorry you had to put up with these comments. It amazes me how much the supposed anonymity of the internet can bring out the most ignorant and hurtful of attitudes.

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