3 Questions to Ask Before You Have Kids

Being married is a wonderful adventure, and it’s so much fun to dream of the future with the person you love most in the world. At some point early in your marriage, you and your spouse will probably tackle the big question of whether you want to have children. A common snag many couples hit during this conversation is the question of when.

To help you navigate this monumental life decision, we’ve got a few questions we’d like for you to ask yourselves (and discuss together) before making the leap.

1. What timelines do you have in mind?

It’s a good idea for the two of you to be up-front with one another about the timelines you each have in mind for having children. You may find that the two of you differ drastically when it comes to your dreams for starting a family.

Often, one spouse is eager to have kids quickly, while the other may have other goals or plans in mind. If you’re the spouse who is hesitant to have kids now, you may want to take some time to travel, earn a graduate degree, or reach a specific career or financial milestone before bringing kids into the mix. This doesn’t mean you don’t want kids; you’re just not sure if now is the right time.

If you’re the spouse who wants children sooner rather than later, it’s very painful to have the desires of your heart delayed. Having a different timeline on your dreams for your family than your spouse does isn’t easy, but research shows that waiting a little while before having kids gives you a more solid foundation and history as a couple.

2. Are you ready for your relationship to change?

Inevitably, the dynamic of your relationship changes once you go from being “husband and wife” to “Mom and Dad.” Having children is time- and energy-consuming, and you won’t have as many opportunities to date, travel, and simply relax together once you’ve begun having kids. That doesn’t mean you can never have alone time again, but it does mean there will be a long-term, drastic impact on the time you have together right now.

We encourage you to consider the potential changes and whether you’re ready for them yet. No matter how much parents love their kids, we’ve never met a parent who said, “I wish I’d had kids sooner.” More often than not, we hear parents saying they wished they’d had more time together–just the two of them–before having children.

And from the couples who do wait longer to have kids, we tend to hear, “I’m so glad for the time we had as a couple.” (Yes, we occasionally do hear couples say, “Why didn’t we do this sooner? This is fun!”) That alone time in your early marriage is foundational; once your children are out of the house, it’s just going to be the two of you. Build that strong foundation now to return to later.

3. Are you both ready to take on a family unit?

We can’t emphasize this enough: never take on a family unit until you’ve both agreed that you’re ready. To have a healthy family, it takes two people who are fully invested and willing to take full emotional ownership to make this work. You want to be in this together.

If one of you is hesitant about starting a family, it’s time to put on the brakes. If you’re the spouse who wants to have children more quickly, don’t pressure your husband or wife; truly, you don’t want to push him or her into parenting before the time is right. You don’t want to take on parenting yet if your spouse is going to resent it.

Of course, any couple can respond to a “surprise child” with resilience, but if you have the choice, wait until you are both ready to take on the lifelong commitment of having children of your own.

You’ll Know When the Time is Right

If you’re keeping lines of communication open and being honest with one another about what each of you want before you start a family, you’ll know when the time is right for having children. The most important thing is to honor each other’s desires, have patience, and continue to love each other in spite of any disagreements you may have on the timeline.

Right now, provide a space in your relationship to enjoy being a couple. And if you’re chomping at the bit to have children, try not to be impatient–but it is perfectly fine to show your enthusiasm for starting a family. Let your spouse know that when they’re ready for children, you’re right there with them.

When did you and your spouse decide to start having kids? Did you have disagreements about the timing? How did you handle it? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments section below.


  • Jest says:

    The question of whether you want to have kids is something you better figure out while you are still dating your significant other. Kids are a non-negotiable. You will never reach a compromise if you want kids, and he or she does not. Better to find out before you tie the knot. Finances, children, religion, and sex. Those are the four non-negotiables of a marriage. If you are in disagreement about any one of those four, Break off that dating relationship.

  • Lynda says:

    I disagree with your statement, “we’ve never met a parent who said, “I wish I’d had kids sooner.”
    I hear it often from couples who have put their careers first and started having children late in life. After having kids and seeing the blessings of raising them, they are saddened they didn’t start sooner so they could have had more than one or two. Also, there are many who wait only to find they are now infertile and go through such sadness at the loss. I have also met dozens of families who have regretted their decision to have a vasectomy or had their tubes tied. Many live with regret of what could have been, and others have reversals. Sadly, not everyone with a reversal has a baby afterwards.

    Our first child was born 14 months after we were married. My husband was in graduate school and I was working full-time. We were young with little money and have no regrets. My husband had a vasectomy a couple years after our 5th son was born because he had believed the lie about the “dangers” of having children after 35. We disagreed, but he had it done. I always understood he didn’t want me to have kids after 35. After 2 years of prayer on my part, he had a change of heart and had a reversal. We had 5 more children in my later child-bearing years and it has been an incredible journey of trust, faith, and growing together. We have a solid marriage and incredible family and my only regret are those years when we closed the possibility for children.

    I believe children are a blessing and having that attitude changes our framework.

    Lynda, Author or forthcoming book, Parenting Sensibly: Navigating the imperfect parenting journey

    • Bee says:

      10 kids is way more than the average woman is willing to contemplate. Thank you for the article, it’s good to have a measured perspective.

  • Michael Van Dyke - Living Hope Church in Mn. says:

    I would agree tend to agree with Lynda. My wife and I waited until she was finished with school to have our first. It was two years and we had trouble at first. It took a little over two more years of trying. 4 years and were beginning to think we would be one of thousands who would not be able to have kids. Then the first of 5 was born and we never looked back. The blessing of those kids in our lives cannot be overstated. We lost one at 13 weeks between number 3 and 4. It was devastating but we learned nothing good ever happened from holding back. We would have had more, but the physical condition of my wife’s child bearing organs deteriorated after number 5 to where she had to have a hysterectomy. We would have had at least one more if not for that because we were already discussing it when this happened. But we have no regrets. Our kids are now all grown and we have grandkids now popping up all over. They are all healthy and very close to one another. I could not ask for anything better than that. As far as deciding before we got married, I’m sorry to say we only discussed having them or not. We never spoke once about how many. And I’m also sorry to say I disagree with the idea that you break off the relationship because you disagree on one of those issues. The long and short is this. You are going to have disagreements on all kinds of things your entire marriage. What happens when one of the non negotiable changes after marriage. It does happen. Do you then dump the relationship? Something to consider. Nothing in our lives is that finite.

  • Teresa says:

    I disagree with allowing too much couple time. It is too easy for a couple to get settled in their selfish ways and then when they do decide on a family and children come along, it is a much greater impact on their way of life. Whereas, if a couple knows before they were married that they both want children , Then I believe that they should not wait too long so that they can grow together as a family unit. The couple continues to grow together while they are being parents at the same time.

  • This was a great blog post, Drs. Les and Leslie!

    My husband and I are trying first time parents of a five month old and we’ll be celebrating three years of marriage in October. During our engagement, after taking your SYMBIS course, we decided at that time we’d wait to start having kids after two years. We we’re considering our ages and felt that would be a good range to learn a lot about each other and travel, etc. together.

    We have no regrets for planning; we’re just going to do what it takes to stay youthful and healthy in the event we decide we still want to have more.

    God bless you two!

  • Christina says:

    Thank you for a great blog post on an important topic! As a registered midwife and Master of Public Health, who has delivered more than 300 babies, I just wan’t to comment on the timeline aspect. There is a trend in society to wait to have the first child, and this trend causes an increasing number of couples to face struggles with infertility. Thirty years ago, a woman’s average age of having the first child was about 24. Today, the average age is about 30 years old. It is important to consider that a woman’s fertility reduces by 50% from when she is 25 until she reaches 35. Do not wait too long to have children!
    Also, it might take a while to conceive from the time of the decision to have children is made until a child arrives. I’ve read many journals stating that it took the couple anywhere between eight to twelve months to conceive.

  • Shawn in Loveland, CO says:

    Interesting topic … my wife and I weren’t on the same page, and our first son was conceived on our honeymoon. I did have in mind to wait a year; that didn’t happen. I do believe that our relationship could have been more solid if we had … but I was 40 when we married, and my bride was a couple years younger, and was looking at her biological clock …. We had one miscarriage a couple years later, then 6 1/2 years after the first, we had our second. We told the Dr., if the child looks healthy, tie the tubes. For the most part he is healthy (yeah, heart surgery at 11 months old, but that turned out fine due to answered prayer, PTL, and the surgery team). The one who is most bitter about the timing, is the older son … having been the only child for 6 + years and enjoying it, and now having a younger sibling taking the spotlight. Gradually, he’s adjusting positively ….

    The most interesting things, however, have to do with our histories: she had been in a terrible marriage / relationships prior and hadn’t conceived, and my family suggested that we might not conceive due to my considerable exposure to x-rays as a preemie in the 60s; however, obviously, her womb opened right up and my sperm was good enough.

  • Ado says:

    Everyone has a point here and I’m not going to say that someone is wrong, but I totally agree with the article.
    A lot of you are talking about not waiting too long, but you are missing the most important point: the foundation of the relationship.
    This is NOT about the risk of infertility or anything else. It’s about providing your children with a well balanced and stable environment forever. Not just for 4, 10 or 15 years.
    In my marriage we didn’t give ourselves that time to create a solid foundation, we rushed to have children although I didn’t want them that soon but she did.
    To make a long story short, the result: divorce after 20 years of marriage.
    I’m happy for those who who have been able to achieve a great marriage, home, family and children. But Unfortunately some people do really need the time to create that solid foundation and find out if they were meant to have children or even be together. Got bless you

    • Best Ado,

      I totally agree with you. Everyone is a unique person and marriage is about becoming ONE in the physical, emotional and spiritual realm. If you don’t recognize and understand this, your marriage is at risk. To all the rest comments remain blessed in the love of Yeshua Hamaschiach, the Anointed One. The Lord God is One.

  • Annette says:

    Annette says

    I faced a huge dilemma in my marriage – I wanted children and my husband didn’t. After many years of conflict over this core issue, we had a baby at 40 and 41. I’m an older mother at school and I feel the pain of regret we didn’t have children sooner. Ageing parents and passing contributed to the delay. I am very happy to be blessed with a health, intelligent child but I need to forgive my husband for the pain it caused. The issue of children was not discussed at pre-marital counselling.

  • Mari-Beth says:

    I was actually disappointed in Les & Leslie over this article… yes it is good to talk & plan but children are a gift from God & that doesn’t seem to enter into their presentation of this topic. Shouldn’t we be seeking His will in this most important matter & praying about it together? Not just trying to suit what we think we want?
    And of course parenting changes you both but you grow & learn together & love each other in whole new ways. It enriches a marriage mightily! It’s not a distraction from marriage that you get off onto -it is one of the God designed points/fulfillment of marriage!

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