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What to Do if You Disagree With Your Spouse About the Number of Children You Want

by Emma Wells, studioD

How many children you’re going to have, and when, is one of the biggest matters you have to negotiate with your spouse, according to "The Art of Compromise," published by National Healthy Marriage Resource Center. The center advises couples to talk about children before getting married, but if you’re already wed, you will certainly need to arrive at a solution that suits both of you.

Discuss Finances

You or your spouse might be nervous about having multiple children because of the financial burden. It’s an important consideration. A baby born in 2002 will have cost $250,000 by the age of 18, according to Dr. Phil McGraw. Discuss your financial situation as it relates to the number of children you want. Consider whether you and your partner are willing to scale back in order to afford more children.

Negotiate Child Care

The issue of child care is another vital topic of discussion when it comes to deciding on how many children you want. Talk openly with your spouse about who will be doing most of the child care. If the spouse who wants more children is also willing to take on most of the child care responsibilities, the idea of expanding the family may be satisfactory to both partners. But if the spouse who wants more children expects the other partner to take on the child care, you will need to discuss a more even division of responsibilities.

Reflect on Reasons

Consider other reasons why one of you wants to have more children than the other. If you are dealing with significant problems in your marriage, it’s not a good idea to bring a baby into it. Unwise reasons for having a child include thoughts that a baby will bring you and your spouse closer together after marital strife, that parenthood will make your spouse grow up and settle down, or that other people expect you to have children. In order to be successful as parents, you both need to want children.

Compromise on Numbers

Finally, if you both want children but one of you simply wants a bigger family than the other, you will need to find a compromise. If one of you wants six children and the other only wants one child, you might settle on three children total. Compromise through open discussion, without using manipulation tactics such as withholding sex. Know that a compromise, by definition, involves both people giving something up. But you won’t “win” or “lose,” you will just come to a solution that works for both of you.

About the Author

Emma Wells has been writing professionally since 2004. She is also a writing instructor, editor and former elementary school teacher. She has a Master's degree in writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English and anthropology. Her creative work has been published in several small literary magazines.

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