Adding children to a marriage is a big deal. Moving from being a couple to a family affects every area of relationship. Hopefully, you discussed having children, at least in theory, before you got married. Now, as you consider the possibility as a reality, here are things you will want to discuss to be proactive and keep your relationship strong:
Expectations. What does parenting look like for each of you? Will you both work or not? How will household and parenting responsibilities be shared? Discuss how each of you were raised. Did you have good parenting role models and if not, to whom or where will you turn for parenting advice and wisdom? Discuss parenting styles and determine which aspects you would like to implement and why. Ultimately, your goal is to raise children who feel loved and supported. Do you have good caring families and a church who can support you as parents? Research shows that families that are involved in a good local church are happier and more resilient.
Finances. Raising children is expensive. Having a good plan in place will help relieve stress but remember, plans can change, so discuss your priorities and be flexible. Children need love and quality time more than they need things. Think long term and include discussions about financing immediate needs, recreation, vacations, and education. Consider opening a college fund and discuss how to implement it and how much you’d like to contribute.
Nourishment. How to keep your relationship fresh and healthy is the most important discussion you have as parents. The best gift to your children is parents who show love and respect to each other. From you, that requires having a plan and then a willingness to work on it. Relationships don’t take care of themselves. They take work and effort. Plan date nights and time away from the children. Always put your spouse first and avoid putting the children between you. Be an example to your children on how to treat others well, especially the ones you love.
I suggest newlywed couples who are considering starting a family should look for older married couples they admire. Build friendships with them and you’ll be privy to invaluable insight about things they’ve learned over the years. Most will be thrilled to help you avoid learning some of their lessons “the hard way.”
Vickie Parker, LMFT