First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes…you know the rest.
Perhaps this schoolyard rhyme conditioned us think that the proper step in life after marriage is children. Today, there is no perfect time to start a family, and there is no foolproof expert who knows what’s best for every couple after they tie the knot. Each marriage is different with its own set of dynamics, goals, and paths.
How do newlyweds know when they may be ready to begin a family? We researched opinions to compile and share common responses. Ultimately, it’s a personal decision and a discussion between the couple.
Starting a family can be a significant goal for one or both individuals in a marriage. It’s likely the topic of children is a discussion that happens as the relationship grows. Some women and men know from a young age that they would prefer a big family and hope that parenthood is in the near future.
Planning for a child can force couples to take a hard look at their financial situation. Not only does one’s lifestyle change drastically, but funds can shift to other necessities. It’s reasonable for some couples to wait until they feel financially secure to raise a child. This article by CNBC.com explains some foreseeable expenses in the first year such as medical costs, nursery preparations, childcare, diapers, and food, etc. In 2017, the USDA published that the average cost to raise a child to adulthood was estimated at more than $233,000.
Timing and Age
It’s a common perception that age is an important factor to consider when deciding to start a family. A quick internet search on “women’s fertility” produces page after page of statistics, graphs and opinions. It can be easy for “baby panic” to quickly set in. Medical reasons, family health history, or age are all reasons that the subject of a baby may be broached.
The debate for getting pregnant earlier in life, or waiting to get pregnant, or not having kids at all, can be argued to death. Research can be contradicting and confusing—leaving more questions than answers. Establishing a primary care doctor or obstetrician-gynecologist can help facilitate initial discussions and answer questions for your particular circumstance.
You often hear new parents say, “Nothing in your life is the same after a child.” This brings up the question: Is there a time when you’re more mentally prepared to have a baby?
A key factor that many couples focus on is that a child will bring an increase in happiness and self-fulfillment. It’s important to have realistic expectations and an astute understanding that raising a child comes with challenges and strains to the relationship.
Some views from a psychological perspective share that mental and physical well-being, along with the health of the marriage, should be a consideration when deciding on parenthood. Business Insider interviewed a psychologist who has published multiple books about parenting, whom supported these factors: the strength of the relationship or having a steady support system in place, self-discipline, and self-awareness to take care of your health.
Psychology Today gave more insight on the transition from being a couple to being parents, “couples who experience high levels of conflict or poor communication before the baby’s birth often have deeper declines in relationship satisfaction after the baby is born.” The article suggests some of the emotional struggles to be aware of once a baby enters the picture.
On the Lighter Side
Here are some fun examples from Huffington Post that can help you practice put your parenthood drives (and your patience) to the test. Try these examples to see if you are ready for parenthood.
Three that we liked the best were:
Instruct your partner to say or whine, ‘I’m huuuuuungry,’ every time they get into the car with you to go somewhere.
Have your partner bat a balloon around your head while you are making dinner for them.
Use your entire arm to swipe every last book off of all the bookshelves in your home.
Parenthood is a big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s hard to know if anyone is ever 100% ready to for a drastic change in life and responsibility such as being a parent. It is a personal decision and an individual choice, as well as a decision that should be decided together as a couple.