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Starting a family: How long do I wait?

answered 09:00 AM EST, Wed November 16, 2011
I am 6 months sober. When I was drinking I would sometimes (crazily I can now see) try to convince my husband that we should start a family together. He would never agree to the idea because I think he could see that I wasn’t really fit mom material back then and I am not sure he really believed I’d be able to change. I think I was clinging to this fairytale that getting pregnant would be the thing that would have forced me to stop. More likely things just would have gone terribly wrong.

Now our roles are reversed. He says he’s so proud of me and he’ll do everything he can to support me, and he really has been great so far. He says that now is the time to start the family we’ve been delaying for so many years, before we get any older or too old (I am nearing 40).

I do really want to have a family with him and I don’t want to go back to drinking and maybe getting pregnant would just give me some more really string motivation to keep it together. But there is a little part of me that says it is too soon. I go to a weekly continuing care therapy group and when I brought the subject up there the reaction was pretty mixed, with about half saying I should go for it and half saying it was a train wreck waiting.
How long is the right time to wait after getting sober before taking such a big life turn? I don’t want to wait too long and my husband has already waited so long, but I don’t want to screw this thing up because I couldn’t wait long enough.

Donna Hunter Says...

Donna Hunter D. Hunter

In life we would love to have a little rule book that tells us how long to wait, when is the right time and how do I do things so I don't mess them up.  Unfortunately, we have to move forward without the rule book.  We have to rely on information we have or we find, how we feel and most importantly, in my opinion our instinct.  That is the small still voice inside that tries to direct us and often we ignore.


In the 12 Step rooms, there would likely be a common answer of - don't make a life changing decision for at least a year, until you work through the steps once or in the case of new relationships, until you can keep a plant alive for a year.  The idea of a year is significant, it feels like a mile stone.  Again, we as human beings like to have certain rules.


The most important thing I believe is that you and your husband are both working on your own individual recoveries.  Yes, he should be attending Al-anon or another support group or therapeutic process to deal with his issues that kept him in a relationship with an alcoholic.  The thought of having a baby needs to be right for both of you; mentally, physically, spiritually and financially.  In situations like this praying, meditating, writing about what this would mean could be very helpful.  Think through things like, how would a baby change my relationship with self?  How will I handle the stress?  Where are my supports?  How does this change my relationship with my husband?  How will we work through issues, problems and future planning?  Are we really ready to have a baby or is this just another fix?  Very often the stress of positive change makes us want to move forward rapidly to distance ourselves from the issues of the past that are not totally addressed.  You have to be sure you have put the past to rest; both of you do.


The two of you might benefit from talking to a therapist, spiritual leader or sponsors.  Getting an outside objective view of what is going on for the two of you may solidify the decision or bring up issues that need to be addressed before moving forward.


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Page last updated Nov 16, 2011

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