Traditionally, having children was the prime function of a marriage. It was often considered as the obvious next step for a married couple to become parents. I still experience that children are highly valued by many couples nowadays, but a modern shift in today’s culture is encouraging couples to plan whether and when to have children, and how many children to have.
There may be numerous factors that motivate a couple to start thinking of planning to have a child. Some of these factors may include the couple’s common wish to become parents, or the couple’s confidence that they are in a point in their life where they take this commitment. When a couple is exploring the possibility of having a child there are important points to take into consideration; these may include emotional, financial, and practical factors. Is the couple willing to participate in the process of pregnancy, offer parenting, and remain in commitment towards their children as they develop into independent persons?
It is not uncommon for a couple to experience anxiety when discussing feelings, wants and reality factors concerning children. It is generally however in the couple’ s best long-term interest to do so. Of course, no couple is perfect, and each couple has its struggles. This does not mean that the couple cannot offer the child a healthy environment to be raised in. However, one may need to carefully consider taking this step if the main motivation for having child is the couple’s belief that a child may stabilize a relationship that is already strained, or that a child bonds a couple. It is often recommended to first address the strain in the couple relationship and then plan to have a child. McCarthy and McCarthy (2004) refer to a healthy and stable couple relationship as a beautiful gift that the parents can provide to their child.
Rebecca Cassar is a Family Therapist practicing the Systemic Approach. She specializing in offering therapy to families, couples and individuals who are experiencing distress in their relationships.