Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Part 2 of the Never-Ending Series: Kids?!!!

Well, so much for us each writing a blog last week about kids. We were on vacation last week in Orlando relaxing in the sun...and each catching a horrible virus. Needless to say, we didn't get to blogging. We did however talk a few times about this issue. There will be two more parts on kids after this blog: the third with more specific thoughts from Melissa and then we are going to take our first stab at a joint blog about trying to get pregnant.

The question I want to wrestle with is, "How early is too early to think or talk about kids?"

Most of us have all seen a sitcom or a movie which portrays some blind date in which one of the parties brings up the conversation of children. We laugh at the ridiculous notion of bringing that
topic up on a first date and then enjoy watching the date tank on screen and thank God we have never been in a situation like that.

On the opposite extreme, I couldn't imagine being in a situation that played out on the final two episodes of the past season of the Hills between America's favorite couple, Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt. (I promise I don't actually watch the show...Melissa does and told me about it).

The long and short of the story: Heidi wants kids even though they have only been married for a short time. Spencer responded to her saying that he never wants to have kids. So, as the mature couple they are, Heidi decided to try to deceive Spencer by going off birth control and then Spencer decided to refuse to have sex and then threaten to divorce her if she got pregnant. Fun stuff...

When asked why they didn't talk about this issue before they got married, Heidi said Spencer "joked" about not wanting kids but she didn't know he meant it. (Source)

Wow! What a mess...

So, how early is too early to bring this heavy topic into play? I think the answer to that question is when ever you start to consider the other person as marriage material, you have to tackle this issue and figure out each other expectations. And I think that moment is different for each person and couple.

For some who look at the purpose of dating as a sole means to a spouse, this question is going to come up earlier rather than later. Why waste your time if you can't even agree early on? For others it might come later in a relationship as it started casual and grew more serious over time. Either way, every relationship heading towards marriage MUST have a serious conversation about kids before taking the final plunge.

Here are what I think the important questions are:

1) Do you want kids? Ok...should be a no-brainer but make sure you take time to ask this question and at least find out what your significant other's serious response is.

2) How many kids do you want? For Melissa and I, this conversation was pretty easy because we were in the same ballpark. Melissa always said she wanted 2 or 3 kids and even though I always joked about wanting to field my own baseball team, realistically I agreed with 2 or 3. For others this can be more difficult. What if she wants a big family and he only wants one, or vice versa?

3) When do you want kids? This conversation was a bit more difficult for us. I wanted kids pretty quickly, give or take two years into marriage. Melissa at first wanted to wait like seven or eight years. We had a handful of conversations about this and both felt that neither of us were hard and fast about our time frames and could be flexible. After we got married, Melissa's time frame slowly dropped and mine got a bit longer until we kind of fell in the middle. Also, as many can relate on both perspectives this question often is handled by God's timing whether you get pregnant earlier or later than you planned.

As you think about these three questions and talk about them before you get engaged, make sure you take time to listen to each other. Ask why your spouse is answering in the ways they are and try to understand where they are coming from. I think often times, the responses to these questions are usually connected to a person's upbringing in either positive or negative ways. Then you need to figure out if there is a compromise that can be met or not.

The last thing I would warn is to not go forward with a marriage and assume that you can change your spouses response to any of those questions or that they will change on their own. The chances of that going well won't be good. It's never fun to break up but it would be better to face some hurt while your dating and move on rather than realizing you're stuck in a marriage where you and your spouse are on such separate pages about such a major issue.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Part 1 of the Never-Ending Series: Kids?!!!

So. We've had a request to blog about having kids. I've been trying to gather my thoughts all week and I can't. It's too much. I quit.

....Ha! Ok not really. Well the thing is there is literally so much I could write about the whole process about deciding when to have kids, trying to have kids, having a kid...that I think we will entitle this blog, "Part 1 of the Never-Ending Series: Kids??!!!"

So you're single and people ask, "When are you going to find someone?" You date and they ask, "When are you going to get married?" You get married and the first thing people ask you as soon as you get back from your honeymoon is, "When are you having kids?" It's inevitable and it is a question that all people in any kind of committed relationship have to answer at some point.

How do you know when you're ready to have kids? It's funny. Living in two different states since Jake and I have been married, we've experienced two different "societal expectations" of when to have kids. Where we used to live in MA, people had children rather early on in marriage and they tended to be younger in their twenties. In CT where we live now, the norm is to have kids more into the early thirties...after a couple has achieved a certain level of financial stability and career success. So society can play a part in when a couple decides to have kids. Jake and I felt the pressure to get pregnant back in MA...but now I would venture to say we feel pressure to wait and not have children "so early."

I think there are a bunch of general things to think about as a couple as you are deciding when is the right time to start a family. I think the first and main thing to discuss is if you both feel ready. Which is enigmatic because it's hard to really pinpoint what "ready" feels like. I personally am going to totally freak out when I get pregnant..I want to have children totally...but it's such a huge responsibility and life change... no matter when it happens, girls get ready to calm me down!! But in truth, we do have gut feelings. It's good to pay attention to how both spouses feel about the idea of children. I think it's wise to make sure that everyone is on board with the idea of becoming parents and that one spouse is not pressuring another spouse. You don't want to pressure your husband or wife...that probably would surface as a lot of resentment later on when the demands of a child are a reality.

Also, I think it's good to examine "why"? Many couples have kids to try and fix their problems. Much in the same way that people think getting married will solve all their personal problems. Have the wisdom to take time to discern why you and your partner feel it's a good time to have kids. Do you feel strong in your relationship or unhappy? Do you feel pressure from outside sources to get pregnant? Sometimes when we see everyone else having babies, it can feel like the heat is on to get started with a big life change that we may or may not be ready for.

Think about finances. I have been told, "You will never have enough money to have a baby." It's true. However, I think it's a good idea to look at your financial situation as a couple and try and discern if you could reasonably support an addition to your family. It's worth thinking through who will work once the baby is born, how you intend to cope with additional bills and expenses, thoughts of maternity leave and possibly day-care costs. Too many of us blindly think "it will all work out" and then find themselves financially in a bind once the baby comes. Also, too many of us think "we have to have it all together" and wait and wait and wait to get pregnant. I think a wise choice would be somewhere in-between. Having faith that God takes care of us when we need help and also being aware of our finances and wisely evaluating them.

Another thing to think about...I told you I can just keep going....is how old you are. Seriously, it's something to consider. I believe women's fertility peaks at somewhere around 26 or 27 and then starts to decline after that. If you and your spouse wait until you are older, just be prepared that you might have a harder time getting pregnant. In Hawaii this summer I was on a raft in the middle of the ocean with this lovely woman and her two twin girls. She had them "In-Vitro" at the age of 40. Which is fantastic! But she said to me, "Don't wait, I thought that I could always get pregnant, so I kept waiting and then I was older and it was so heartbreaking to not be able to get pregnant." It's something to think about realistically. If you wait until you are older are you prepared to face some potential challenges in getting pregnant?

I'm going to end here for right now. This week Jake and I are going to each write a blog, me from a woman's perspective and Jake from a man's perspective. We're going to try and articulate what goes on in our minds, hearts, marriage, and relationship with God as we've thought about when to have children and trying to get pregnant. Yes...we have tried to have a baby....and no we haven't had any luck in a year...so things don't always go according to plan! More thoughts to come. And please share yours below!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Have Fun, Now!!

I don't know about the rest of ya'll but I like to get things done. I make to do lists all the time. It is so satisfying. I will even add things to my lists that I have already done, just to be able to check another thing off. Productivity is something our culture places an extremely high emphasis on.

This weekend I did a lot of nothing with Jake. A lot of TV watching, mostly SNL re-runs so it was not even quality programming. A lot of sitting and cuddling. I can't tell you how many times I was literally physically itching to get up and get something done. Anything. Anything at all. Melissa, just do something dammit! Then I started feeling guilty. I imagined all the work I could be doing. I was really feeling guilty about all the productive things that I could have been doing.

Then I was thinking about one of the books I have been reading. It's called "A Brief History of the Future" and it's predictions about what our world will be like in 2030 based on trends, data, current statistics and so forth that historians have studied in our past and present. One of the things these historians predicted in 2030 is a huge decline in marriage and stable home life. As more and more of us have grown up, or will grow up, in households with divorce; the trend will become non-commitment in relationships. Lifestyles will be more transient..based on travel demands for work and commuting time. Relationships are predicted to fall by the wayside...even birth rates are expected to suffer because of the lack of sustainable relationship and family ties.

So perhaps doing nothing with our spouses is actually investing in crucial relationship building time? Perhaps by having fun together we are all changing the course of our culture and future?
I think so. As I have let these thoughts simmer a bit, I now see how important times of relaxation are to maintaining a marriage. It's wicked important to have fun!

I challenge you all to take more time this week with your spouse. Go out. Go for a walk. Watch Desperate Housewives...whatever. Invest in relationships that will last and really effect change on our lives and the lives of future generations.
Our goal of this blog is to share stories (both good and bad), thoughts and insights about our marriage and we would love for you to jump into the conversation.

The goal is to provide three things:
1) HOPE for struggling couples that they are not alone.
2) GROWTH in our marriages and our understanding of marriage.
3) ENCOURAGEMENT to keep loving your spouse unconditionally.