Do We Need to Know if We Want Kids Before We Get Engaged?
The following Q & A originally ran in HuffPost’s newsletter The Good Life:
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Reader Allison asks, “My boyfriend and I are in a serious relationship and have been together for the past three years. We live together too, and have been for the past year. We have talked about marriage and want to get engaged within the next year or so. But we have discussed and agree that we both are unsure if we will ever want children. Neither of us are gung-ho, ‘Yes I want kids’ or ‘No way, I never want children.’ We work through our problems very diplomatically and rarely get into screaming fights, so I trust that we can work through a lot together. So my question is this: Do people ever get engaged not knowing if they’ll ever want kids down the road? I feel like everyone I know is either gung-ho yes or no about their decision before they get married. Please help!”
Washington DC-based pyschotherapist Elisabeth J. LaMotte, founder of the DC Counseling and Psychotherapy Center, is here to answer this week’s question. Here’s what she had to say:
“First of all, give yourselves credit for taking the decision of parenthood seriously. This approach, and your shared value of diplomatic communication, are important relationship strengths that will serve you well. Since you know how to talk things through, ask yourselves and each other some direct questions, and be honest about your answers. What it if one of you develops a strong desire to become a parent? How would you handle this? If one of you became sure, would that urge be enough to lead the two of you towards parenthood? Since neither of you feels deep opposition, it is quite possible that one of you will end up taking the lead.
“No two couples are alike, and many couples decide to become parents after they marry. Often, this decision is based on the desire of one half of the couple. This is most common with second marriages when one person has children and feels satisfied, but the other decides that they, too, want (or need) a child. Keep in mind that it is very rare to regret becoming a parent, even if the urge did not feel fully present when the decision was made. It is much more common to regret a decision to opt out of parenthood. This sometimes leads to resentment and despair. To build on this conversation, check out Monica Leahy’s book 1001 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married. Discussing a chapter each week is a wonderful way to prepare for your shared future.”
Elisabeth is a featured expert on Huffington Post’s new newsletter, The Good Life. Each week, the Thursday edition answers reader’s questions about love and relationships. To sign up, click here.