- When you are in a committed relationship, you also have the responsibility to take your partner's feelings and preferences into consideration.
- Considering your partner's feelings is increasingly important for big life decision, such as whether to have kids.
- Couples who were not seeing eye-to-eye and had a child anyway faced greater struggles, marital dissatisfaction, and larger rifts in their family.
In healthy relationships, the two individuals interact as a team. Instead of two totally separate individuals tackling life’s problems separately, you have two still separate individuals tackling life’s problems together and in coordination.
This can lead to a greater sense of belonging, support, and companionship. When you are in a committed relationship, you also have the responsibility to take your partner's feelings and preferences into consideration. This should happen on a day-to-day basis but is increasingly important for big life decisions.
One of the more important life decisions that require cooperation is the decision to have kids. I’ve worked with many parents and have seen both sides of the coin when it comes to whether a couple was on the same page or not prior to having kids.
It may not come as a surprise that those couples who were not seeing eye-to-eye and had a child anyway faced greater struggles, marital dissatisfaction, and larger rifts in their relationship and family.
Families in this position are not without hope and can absolutely work on communication to recover from past choices. Likewise, couples who are not yet in this position can do several things to prevent this from being their story.
What does getting on the same page mean?
Getting on the same page simply means having open conversations about whether kids are right for you and your partner. This should not be one big conversation but rather several small ones over a period of time.
Doing it this way keeps pressure from building and keeps the conversations light and airy rather than explosive and emotionally charged.
Having the conversations over a period of time also allows for changes in opinions and circumstances to be considered and accounted for. Things change, and so do people's preferences; that is OK. Just make sure you are talking about it.
What do we discuss?
This is up to you and your partner, but some critical considerations for you and your partner to explore can include the following:
- What are each of your personal feelings about having children and why?
- What are each of your thoughts on timing and why?
- What fears do you both have about having or not having children?
- What would need to change for an opinion to change and why?
Remember that these are vulnerable questions for anybody and that the goal of these conversations is not to assign blame or to convince the other party to agree with the way you want things to go. Rather, the goal is to come to a place of understanding, cooperation, cohesion.
Don’t think of this as a problem to be solved. Think of this as an opportunity to get closer to your partner by hearing their thoughts, fears, and desires.
Don’t forget: You are a team!
What do we do if we aren’t in agreement?
One question I get a lot is, “OK, but what if he/she doesn’t agree with me?” To that, I say, “Good!” This is why we have these conversations!
Isn’t it better that you had a clarifying conversation that brought enlightenment to this disagreement (so that it can be worked through) rather than letting things stay hidden and moving forward with something that could breed resentment, anger, and the dissolution of peace and happiness?
The discovery of disagreement is a sign that you are on the right track. You are taking action on something and have a goal to work on.
What the discovery of disagreement isn't is an opportunity for you to attempt to win their agreement and get them to come over to your side come hell or high water.
Can we just avoid the discussion and see what happens?
I've seen this happen, and it does not work. Trust me! The discovery of disagreement is not a time to shirk from the hard work of working through your feelings in an effort to avoid conflict.
I’ve worked with couples who chose this path, thinking it was the path of least resistance, and it ultimately led to more regret than they could have imagined for both parties.
If your partner wants to have a kid and you don’t, be wary of “giving in” without discussing your concerns.
If you want to have kids and your partner doesn’t, be wary of “manipulating the system” so that a kid comes along by surprise without full acknowledgment or willingness from your partner.
This period of life, and this topic, in particular, can be one of the most intense and tense circumstances that a couple will encounter.
But when things get hard and conversations turn desperate and tearful, remember that you and your partner ultimately love each other and ultimately are on the same team. It may not feel like it at the time but think of it as you and your partner versus the problem (a potential disagreement) rather than you and your partner versus each other.
Being strong in these moments and coming to a place of resolution and togetherness will benefit not only your relationship in the “now,” but if kids are in the future picture, it will benefit your future as parents as well.