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Ten Things to Talk About Before Marriage | Week Four: Children + Parenting | Marriage Manners Monday

It’s Week Four of “Ten Things to Talk About Before Marriage” and this week we’re discussing all things related to children.

So, you’re ready to make a lifelong commitment to each other! But there is also the important question down the road of another lifelong commitment – having children. While you might assume that children are an obvious part of marriage, your partner may not feel the same. Have you and your sweetie discussed whether or not you both want to start your own little family?

Photo : Alicia-Rae Light

Maybe one of you wants children and the other doesn’t. Or maybe one of you isn’t sure but is open to discussing the issue in the future. If your husband-to-be says that he doesn’t want children, don’t be tempted to think that by marrying him you will eventually change his views. If you are in total disagreement on children, this can lead to problems later in your relationship. Thinking that you can deal with this issue later in your marriage is a mistake, so before you check anything else off on your wedding to-do list, take the time to have the discussion with your partner. Maybe you’re in complete agreement – but, even if your thoughts are similar there are still many more things to discuss.

For example: When are you going to both be ready to have children? Many people will argue that nobody is ever truly ready to become a parent. Kids may be a far off thought and not coming for years, or you may be planning to have them right away. Either way, it’s important to talk about these things and be on the same page before baby number one is already on the way.

Another important question: How many kids do each of you you have in mind? And, if you can’t have biological children, would you consider adoption or in vitro fertilisation? Once you have kids, how do you plan on raising them? Do you share the same discipline philosophy as each other and where does that come from? Dig into each other’s expectations about kids and make sure your expectations are compatible.

One of the biggest and most important things to talk about is how will you provide financially for your child(ren). When will you start saving for the child’s future? Here is some great info from Good Financial on saving for your child’s future, and how it’s never too early.

Talk about how each of your families raised you. These can vastly affect the way you choose to raise your own children. Talk about what you agree with and what you don’t.

What traditions did you grow up with? Every family has traditions that guide everyday life and special events, which according to Emily Post, drive respectful behaviour. The way you celebrate birthdays, say grace at the table, have dinner together three nights a week, and make turkey with wild rice stuffing on Thanksgiving – these are all traditions that vary from family to family. Traditions are an integral part of the culture of a home.  New or old, they reflect the “family” who lives there.

As mentioned last week in our “Connection to Family” week three post, when two people marry, they gain “instant parents.” Each family has its own customs traditions as well as expectations which may differ widely. Even when family cultures are similar, they aren’t exactly the same and everyone must be prepared to make adjustments.

It’s also important to consider what happens to your relationship when you have children. Forgetting about each other and your relationship is easy but it’s so important to remember that you need to focus on your marriage as much as on the children – that’s the key to keeping your marriage strong.

According to Prepare/Enrich National Survey of Marital Strengths, a majority (64 per cent) of married couples report that partners give more attention to the children than to the marriage. Ultimately, by the time one or both parents are done taking care of the children, they have little time left for each other or for the marriage.

So consider all your options and how having children will change your life and your marriage. No more “us” before anything else, no more free schedule. Think of creative ways to keep the spark alive, date nights, lunches etc.

Have some fun with it, and answer the questions above, and these below together:

  • How long should we be married for, before having children?
  • What kind of parent do you think you will be?
  • Will one of us stay home after we have children?
  • What was your childhood like?
  • How were you disciplined?
  • How affectionate was your family with eachother?
  • What about school? Home school? A religious school? Public school?
  • How will having a child change the way we live now?

Happy planning and discussing!