For the longest time after having my second child, I longed for a third. But, my husband was happy with two, and there was nothing I could do or say to convince him otherwise. After a serious discussion about the reasons why he didn't think it would be a good idea to expand our family, I realized that he was simply being practical. We were in a good place, and having another baby would likely turn our world upside-down.
You may be struggling with the same decision. There are signs your marriage will survive having more kids, and those signs should be weighed along with the chance that expanding your family could put an undue strain on your relationship. Consider the reasons why you want more children. Are your friends pregnant and you have caught a case of baby fever? Are you overwhelmed at the thought that your existing children are growing up? Do you only have boys and really want to try for a girl (or vice versa?) Be honest with your spouse and with yourself, and it will make the decision so much easier.
Here are some ways you will be able to tell if your marriage is strong enough to survive having more kids.
1. You Are Financially Secure
Adding to your family comes with more financial responsibility. It's a reassuring sign if you and your spouse are fortunate enough to be able to provide for more children. However, if you are struggling financially, the responsibility of a new baby may cause irreparable damage to your marriage. According to the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysis, 22 percent of couples cite money problems as a cause for divorce.
The United States Department of Agriculture's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion has an online Cost of Raising a Child Calculator, that can estimate the annual cost of raising children according to where you live. This may help you come up with a viable budget if you choose to have more children.
2. You Both Want Another Child
It's so important for both partners to be on the same page regarding having more children. If you are both ready, willing, and able to expand your family a new baby can be a welcome addition to your family.
3. You Are Both Actively Involved In Parenting
It's tough to add more children into the mix when only one parent is actively involved in the day-to-day business of child-rearing. When both parents are sharing the fun, exhausting, adorable and yucky parts of raising their kids, their marriage can survive a new addition.
4. You Have Someone Who Can Give You An Occasional Break
Whether it's Grandma, an auntie, or a dependable babysitter, being able to count on someone who can give you and your spouse an occasional night off is an invaluable resource to maintaining a happy marriage. Keep in mind that the bigger your brood becomes, the more difficult it is to get help. If that fourth child means no longer being able to go on date nights, you may have to ask if that's a sacrifice to your marriage that you're both willing to make.
5. You Have Discussed The Implications Of Adding To Your Family
When you talk about expanding your family, you remember everything that is wonderful about having a newborn. Babies smell good and are so cute. You get to name them, dress them up, and put bows in their hair. Awww. It's easy to gloss over all of the sleepless nights, the colic, reflux, diaper blow outs, doctor's appointments, ear infections, diaper rashes, and the 47 items you have to lug in and out of your car every time you take the baby anywhere — even if it's just to buy a box of diapers.
Imagine dealing with all of that, and your toddler who never wants to sit in the grocery cart, and your preschooler that you call Houdini because he can disappear from your side in the blink of an eye. If you and your spouse have discussed the good, the bad and the ugly about having more kids, and it hasn't scared either of you off, it's a good sign you're marriage will survive another addition.
6. Neither One Of You Is 'Giving In'
Marriage is about compromise, but this doesn't apply when one partner wants another child and the other one is opposed. "There's no way to compromise," Scott Stanley, a marriage therapist and coauthor of Fighting for Your Marriage told Parenting, "you can't go halfway."
Having a baby means bringing a life into the world. You are creating a person that is solely dependent on you for the next two decades, at least. It's either do or don't. According to Parenting, Hilory Wagner, author of And Baby Makes Four: Welcoming a Second Child Into the Family warned that if one of the partners is "grudgingly giving in, resentment can surface later on."
7. You Have Realistic Expectations
A family of six may not have all of the luxuries of a family of four. Knowing and accepting that adding to your family may mean trading in your overseas vacations for road trips, your sports car for a minivan, or cutting out the number of nights you can go out to eat is essential. If you keep your expectations realistic, you will be able to have more kids without negatively affecting your relationship.
8. You Have Good Communication
Marriages with good communication can survive almost anything. According to Kids Health From Nemours, "communication is the best tool to defuse anger and prevent arguments." If you and your spouse come up with game plans for your family, discuss the future, talk about what's on your mind, including fears and worries, your marriage is less likely to be shaken when your new little one arrives.
9. You Maintain A Good Sex Life
Children, especially babies, can make it very difficult for parents to find time to have a healthy sex life. If you've been able to find a balance between parenting and maintaining regular intimacy, this is another sign that your marriage can sustain the addition of more children.