In the warm glow of love, the wedding plans, and excitement of a future together, the question often comes up; "How many kids should we have?" Answers given in the heat of the moment may not last, and experts say that arguments over having children or not can bring an otherwise successful marriage to an early end. Not having the children discussion, in depth, is a path to divorce.
The time to talk about kids - whether to have them at all, how many, how far apart - is long before the wedding. And not just one conversation over dinner and wine, but several over time. Thoughtful conversations, taking into account career plans, priorities, even finances. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says a middle-class family with a child born in 2011 can expect to spend between $234,900 and $295,560 over 17 years. The thought of having to earn nearly $2 million to support eight children, for example, might cause one or both partners to reconsider.
Not being honest can be devastating to both parties. One Encino therapist says, "You may resent your partner for denying you something that is so important to you," but then goes on to say, "...if you pressure a spouse into having a child they don't want, it can be detrimental not only to the marriage but to the child as well." A Los Angeles psychiatrist says it's crucial that both partners are clear about parenting desires or they will likely face "unfixable regret." Another expert warns about "bait and switch" tactics where one partner tells the other what he or she wants to hear, but then reneges after the wedding.
Some couples try to make the relationship work when the truth about having children comes out. For others, the marriage cannot survive and the only recourse is to dissolve it. Dealing with finances, children, visitation and all the other details requires expert assistance. While disagreements over children are less common than other divorce triggers like infidelity, the number is significant. Get counseling, get support, get legal advice.