Desperate to Be a Mom: Keith and Tonya

"My husband and I have been married for six years, and I desperately want to have a child, but he does not," says Tonya, 35. When she married Keith, they agreed they wouldn't have children, but recently Tonya's desires have changed. "Motherhood is always on my mind."

 

"One of the things that attracted me to Tonya was the fact that she didn't want to have kids," says Keith, who has two teenagers from a previous marriage. "I thought the issue was done ... I have a low tolerance for children. It's the one thing that I just don't want to do."

 

Eight months ago, Tonya hesitantly broke the news to her spouse. "I was afraid to tell him because I was afraid he would leave me," she remembers. "Nine times out of 10 when we discuss having a child, it ends up in a fight."

 

Keith recalls, "The very first time she said anything, I said, ‘We have got some serious problems.'" He had a vasectomy 15 years ago when he made the decision not to have any more kids. "I worry about having a child now, because I'm 48. I don't want to be 70 years old and having a teenager."

 

Tonya realizes she is asking a lot of Keith, but her yearning has not subsided. "I've had daydreams about how easy it would be to get pregnant by someone through an affair. I see other men as potential sperm donors," she admits. "We have beaten this horse to death, and we have not been able to resolve it."

 

Keith and Tonya worry about the future of their marriage. "One side of me says, ‘Have another child to make Tonya happy,' but the other side of me says, ‘You're going to make yourself miserable,'" Keith laments. "I'm afraid it's going to tear us apart and we will end up in divorce."

 

"Having a baby is supposed to be a joyful thing that brings two people together, not tears them apart," Tonya says as tears well in her eyes. "I will resent Keith if I don't have a child, and it will be the end of our marriage."

Dr. Phil asks Tonya what led to her change of heart.

"I really didn't think I wanted to have children then," she says. "I should have said, ‘I don't want to have children now, but I don't know what the future holds,' because I had no idea that I would change my mind."

 

"How do y'all get along aside from this?" Dr. Phil asks.

"We have a wonderful relationship," Keith says.

"That's part of the problem," Dr. Phil points out. "You don't want to jeopardize that."

 

"That's absolutely the truth," Keith says. "The worst thing that I can see happening to me in the future is I lose my wife."

 

"This is a deep longing and yearning on your part, right?" Dr. Phil asks Tonya.

 

"Yes," she says, noting that when she first started having the thoughts, she thought they would dissipate. "I hoped it would go away because I was afraid to tell Keith and I was

afraid what it would do to us." She adds that she longs to be a mother, but doesn't want to lose her husband in the process. "I want us to be that happy family. I want us to bond together and grow together like couples do when they have a baby," she says, voice quavering. "I want it to be a happy experience, not tear us apart."

 

"Do you feel that you would resent her if she got pregnant?" Dr. Phil asks Keith.

"On one hand, I would resent the fact that it's not what I wanted, but in my mind I say, ‘I love her, and I should be able to do this for her, and I just can't.' That's what hurts me," he says. "I'm willing to do it because I love her, but in my mind, it's just not something I want."

Dr. Phil tells the couple that the first step in negotiating is to figure out each of their positions. He shares that he and Robin agreed that they were going to have one child, so after their oldest son, Jay, was born, Dr. Phil had a

vasectomy. Seven years later, unbeknownst to Robin, Dr. Phil overheard her telling someone that one of the things she regretted most in her life was agreeing to have just one child.

 

"I said, ‘I've got to assess my position,'" Dr. Phil recalls. "I said, ‘On a scale of one to 10 where is she on wanting a baby, and on a scale of one to 10 where am I on not wanting a baby?'" He points out that, much like Tonya, Robin's desire to have another child had reached the level of 10. "I kind of did the math and said, ‘This is huge

ly important to her to do and only mildly important to me to not do, and I didn't feel like I should assert my mild preference over her overwhelming desire," he explains. Without telling Robin he overheard her conversation, he decided to get his vasectomy reversed so they could have another child. "I just can't imagine living my life without knowing Jordan," he says of his youngest son. He asks Tonya if her desire to have a baby has reached the level of 10.

 

"Yes," she says.

 

"Where are you on a one to 10?" Dr. Phil asks Keith.

"Between a seven and a 10," he says. "I love her so much, Dr. Phil, and I'm not going to have this ruin us. I'm not going to let it happen." 

Dr. Phil explains that he wakes up every day and asks himself what he can do to make Robin's life better. He points out that there were short- and long-term consequences to having another child, such as coaching basketball for 14 years instead of seven, but he accepted them in order to make Robin happy. "This is something that you two are going to have to sit down and discuss thoughtfully, but I'm trying to give you some food for tho
ught about how to negotiate this," he tells them, noting that Tonya's desire is not going to go away. "You have to ask yourself if this is your chance, this is your window to light up her life, and is it a price that you can and are willing to pay." He assures Keith that his concerns are legitimate, and he's not a bad person for feeling like he does. "Relationships are give and take," he reminds him.

 

At the end of the show, Dr. Phil asks Tonya and Keith what their next step will be.

 

"You opened my eyes to something. I hadn't heard it put quite that way, when you said you can make this something that will make her happy. Yes, I knew it would make her happy, but it was just the way that you put it. That really hit home for me," Keith says, on the verge of tears. "So, I'm going to look into some options and check into a few things."