In previous generations, there was no question about whether or not a couple would choose to have kids after getting married - “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage” was the natural way of life. Couples today don’t always feel that children are an absolute must in marriage, others may want to have children at some point but can’t imagine it happening anytime soon after the wedding, and then there are those who are ready to start building a family right after the “I do’s.” From the essential question of “Do we want to have kids” to questions about when to start a family and how the children will be raised, it’s time to get on the same page with your fiance about this important plan for the future.
Do I Want to Have Children?
"There are so many assumptions about having children. More often than not couples assume they will have children after marriage or, if not married, they believe it’s a way of solidifying the relationship,” according to Janet Zinn, a New York City–based couples therapist who spoke to Bustle. But what happens if both partners aren’t in agreement about if or when they want to have children? Zinn says, “When one partner wants a child or children and one doesn’t, it’s a great way to see how they envision their lives and their futures.”
And envisioning how you expect your life and family to look after marriage is so important to create a strong, healthy marriage. Rather than waiting until after the vows to have this talk with your future spouse, it’s time to sit down and think about if you plan to have children, and how you think it would affect your life, freedom and careers. Think carefully about why you feel the way you do, and be prepared to share the reasons why you do or do not want children.
Remember that your spouse may have a different belief on the matter than you do, and while being aligned on whether to have children is preferred, compromise may be possible. Not everyone feels particularly maternal or paternal, may have goals and plans for their lives that don’t align with raising babies, or may have a physical concern that complicates the possibility of child rearing. No matter how your fiance feels on the matter, be sure to show respect and understanding.
When Do We Want to Start A Family?
Whether or not you decide that children are in your future, be prepared for every relative, friend and random office-mate to ask when you plan to start a family - as if it’s any of their business. And while the question gets annoying very quickly, it’s a valuable talk to have with your future spouse and baby momma/daddy.
Chat with your fiancé:
When do you want to start a family? Is there anything you want to accomplish before we start having kids?
How many children do you ideally want to have? How far apart would you ideally want them to be in age?
How Will We Support Our Children Financially?
This question can go hand in hand with asking yourself - Do I want children? and When? Everyone has an inkling of the expense children bring about, and it can greatly affect what life situation you want to be in before you start a family. “Today’s couples have lots of choices but must also balance the demand of the increasing cost of living,” says Mary Kay Cocharo, a couples therapist in California. “Some couples want one parent to stay home and must either supplement their income from another source or make difficult cuts. Other couples want both parents to continue working but find the demands of career and children a difficult balancing act. Talking about this before baby makes three is an important step in planning.”
Chat with your fiancé: How are we supporting this child? Will we be a one or two income household? Will we need childcare, or will one of us stay home to raise the baby? How much help do we want, for how long, and from whom? What kinds of expectations do we each have about money spent on toys, clothes, etc for the baby?
How Will We Raise Our Children?
Before jumping into the questions in this topic area, do a basic exercise. Stop for a minute and think, “What does the word ‘mom’ mean to me? What does ‘dad’ mean?” Take inventory of your emotions, thoughts, and beliefs on the two words. Much of this shapes your expectations on how children should or should not be raised. This is the area where people tend to be a bit more opinionated, so having a good understanding of how you personally feel will make the conversation with your fiance go more smoothly.
Chat with your fiancé:
How are we going to split parenting duties? How do you intend to shape your children’s values? What kinds of philosophies did your parents have about child raising? Do you agree or disagree? How much religion will be in our kid's life — and which one(s)? Where are we raising our kids? What kinds of punishment are appropriate or not appropriate? How will we discipline? What will you do if your child isn’t who you expect them to be? What are your name deal breakers?
What if There Are Medical Concerns?
Lastly, we’ve all seen the first 10 minutes of the Pixar movie Up (if you haven’t, get out from under that rock, grab a box of tissues and go watch it). Life doesn’t always go the way we plan, and while these questions might not feel necessary or relevant right now, it’s always good to be on the same page in case these questions ever do become necessary.
Chat with your fiancé:
What happens if we can’t get pregnant right away? Ever? Would abortion ever be acceptable? If pregnancy screening reveals our baby has disabilities, what do we do?
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