Agony Aunt

Patricia Marie, MBACP qualified counsellor is a member of The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, practising in Harley Street, Essex and Scotland. She has many years experience of dealing with domestic violence, relationship problems, bereavement, depression, addictions, post traumatic stress and many other emotional issues. If you have a dilemma, please email

I regret not having children

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 24 June 2016
Dear Patricia Marie,

I was always adamant that I never wanted children. There was no particular reason for this, I was simply not interested. I married a man who felt the same way and we were very happy with just each other, our families and our careers.

However, now I have retired and a lot of my family have moved away. My husband still works and although we are happily married, I feel lonely, and that there is something missing. I know that it is now too late to have a baby and even if we could, I wouldn't want to be an older mother as I don't feel it would be fair to the child.

I am afraid to talk to my husband about how I feel as I don't want to learn that he feels the same way, or awaken feelings about the situation that he didn't know he had.

I don't know what to do...

Patricia Marie says...

You are not alone in lamenting your decision to miss out on having children. Many women confess that their greatest regret in life is not experiencing motherhood, but although they can indeed be a joy, having children is no guarantee of happiness. Even if you'd had children, they may not have provided you with the companionship you are now yearning. And they can completely destroy spontaneity and flexibility in your life. Many people reach retirement expecting freedom, only to complain about how their grandchildren restrict their free time, and how they are often taken for granted.

It seems to me that you never questioned your childless decision right up to when you retired, and it had not occurred to you to challenge this. It is typical of the newly retired to reflect on what might have been. I believe the heart of your problem is that you are feeling lonely because of your current circumstances. You are spending a lot of time on your own, which you are not used to, your husband is still working, and your family are no longer close by. Regretting the past can badly affect your future, so instead of wasting precious time, you need to start planning what could bring you fulfilment.
Talk to your husband. He may well be thinking the same way as you, which is all the more reason to voice your regrets, so as you can support each other. Even if he has a different view, you will hopefully feel better for opening up and sharing your true feelings.

No one has everything in life, and contentment is about making the best of the choices we have made. Please also trust that you do not need children to live a positive, meaningful life.
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