“Having kids – the responsibility of rearing good, kind, ethical, responsible human beings – is the biggest job anyone can embark on. As with any risk, you have to take a leap of faith and ask lots of wonderful people for their help and guidance. I thank God every day for giving me the opportunity to parent.” ~ Maria Shriver
As a couple, there are many challenges that you will face simply being within a relationship. Your relationship may tinker between the off-and-on again paradigm. You may dislike your spouse’s personal habits, hygiene, mindsets, and/or belief systems.
There are many variables that can cause a couple to have relationship strife. If an individual within the relationship has an addiction or addictive personality; the nonaddictive partner may feel neglected or barricade from getting to “really” know their spouse.
Unfortunately, we live in an era of global financial hardships and economic woes. The lack of employment opportunities and corporation layoffs has become the norm within of our society. Infuse the societal troubles with a lack of time and you will create the perfect storm for a newly formed or broken relationship.
Not all are facing the hardships of financial woes or employment layoffs. In some cases, the challenges for a relationship may center around a lack of intimacy or unrealistic expectations about sex. Sexual expectations and intimacy are all too often intertwined. While sexual expectations are often developed early on within a relationship, we seldom speak of our sexual desires early on. Unfortunately, sexual conversations most commonly occur when the relationship is in an unhealthy state. The couples discussions are often filled with anger, frustration, bitterness, rage, and confusion about the relationship and the sexuality within. When the sexuality of a relationship is discussed between a couple; there are commonly feelings of despair, resentment, and hopelessness until the matter is resolved in a healthy manner. It is vitally important to avoid creating life if your sexual and/or your personal relationship is unhealthy.
If a couple is doing well, then-and-only-then, should they consider the possibility of having children. Having a child can prove the greatest stressor of a relationship. Even the very discussion of having a child, can spur heated debates and personal battles.
THE CHALLENGES OF CREATING LIFE…
“I’m sorry, it’s true. Having children really changes your view on these things. We’re born, we live for a brief instant, and we die. It’s been happening for a long time. Technology is not changing it much – if at all.”
~ Steve Jobs
As a therapist, I have counselled a number of individual’s on the decision to have or not to have children. “If you’re a couple, the decision to have a child or remain childless is a joint decision.” (Wade & Kovacs, 2005, p. 28) Having children will have a significant impact upon your relationship. It is paramount that if-and-only-if, you, as a nucleus couple, decide to create life; then-and-only-then should you even consider undertaking the obligation of forming such life. Regrettably, not every couple has been equal players in the creation of life, nor has every person within a relationship known about the lives that are being created. Of course, if we wanted, we could open Pandora’s box to all the possible discussions about sex and sexuality, but the intent of this article is and has been solely designed to discuss creating life and the meaning therein.
The challenges are unlimited when considering the creation of life. If I decide to have a child, then I must consider whether or not I want to be eternally connected to my partner. Even the legendary Dr. Albert Ellis was once quoted as saying, “I would have liked having children to some degree, but frankly I haven’t got the time to take the kids to the (swear word) ballgame.”
Sadly, the possibility of a relationship ceasing does exist. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that to consider whether or not we would like to be forever connected or linked to our partner. We seldom consider the implications of a relationship ceasing, but if so, the ramifications of creating life can have a dire effect upon the life of the child. For some the creation of life is a good idea at the time; for others, there are religious implications behind the creation of children; while for others, there remains little explanation or consideration.
CHILDREN ARE NOT…
Children are not the answer to a bad relationship. Unfortunately, I have encountered more than one couple or partner who has decided to have a baby to mend or repair their unhealthy relationship. Having a child should never be the remedy for a broken relationship, no more than having sex should be about forgiveness.
It is not uncommon for someone to think that a baby will rekindle the flame. For many, it is thought that a baby will reunite or repair a broken relationship. First of all, if a baby is born healthy, then it might serve as a positive measure within the relationship. However, if the baby is born unhealthy, then the couple’s level of stress and anxiety will reach peak heights. A child’s life should never be considered as a healing aide within a relationship. “If a baby is brought into a relationship in which one partner is opposed to having a baby, the relationship will usually suffer, and as a result so does the child.” (Wade & Kovacs, 2005, p. 28)
Furthermore, it is not uncommon for those in bad relationships to manipulate their partner by the discussing the possibility of having a child. I have encountered both men and women who have used “a baby” as a source of manipulation within their relationship. Baby manipulation is one of the most common themes of bad relationships.
- “I will have a baby with you, if you…”
- “I should have a baby with my partner, because this will heal our relationship.”
- “I really can’t stand the guilt of denying him or her the right to a child.”
- “While I really do not care for children, I will have a child so that we remain a couple.”
- “My faith insists that we have children, so I think I will have a child to appease my faith.”
As a potential parent, your priorities should shift. You are no longer alone in this world. You are now forever bonded to another person on this planet. As a potential parent, you are creating a life that will forever need your unwavering guidance.
“Restaurants are like having children: it’s fun to make them, maybe, but then you have them for good and bad. You are going to have to raise them and if something goes wrong when they are 30 years old, they will still be your little boy.” ~ Wolfgang Puck
Children are the greatest teachers you will ever encounter. I have personally attended more than 13 1/2 years of university, but you can rest assured; that my greatest teachers have yet to set a foot in a university classroom. Children can serve as your most profound teacher, guide, and inspiration. It is amazing how a child who has been egregiously harmed in this life, can serve as an awe-inspiring motivator of life. The life of a child is typically filled with an abundance of resiliency.
Children should never be considered as a remedy for a bad relationship. If you are struggling within your relationship, it is prudent that you consider seeking the counsell of a therapist. Furthermore, be certain that you and your partner can be intricate players within the counselling environment. If not, your problems may continue to exist.
A child is a mirage, often appearing to be less complex than they really are. No child has ever been born with an owner’s manual. No child has ever sat down at their birth and discussed the meaning of life or the purpose of their own life. Yet, many who have a fantasy of sharing their life with another, rarely give great debate or heated discussion before bringing forth life.
Children are magical creatures who seem to bring forth our maternal and paternal instincts. “Yes, a baby is so powerfully appealing that people are even entertained watching it sleep. Just notice how grown people tiptoe to a crib and look down at a baby.” (Cosby, 1987, p. 22) Baby’s are undoubtedly alluring. It is often this mystical side to babyhood that we mistake their incredible powers as being capable of healing or bringing aide to our relationship. Be more than certain that if you decide to have a child, that it is a decision made with a clear consciousness and a sound mind.
Children are forever.
Authors: Asa Don Brown, Ph.D., C.C.C., N.C.C.M.
Brown, A. D. (2010) Waiting to live, Bloomington, IN: IUniverse
Cosby, B. (1987) Fatherhood. New York, NY: Berkley Books
Forward, S. (2001) Emotional blackmail, When the people in your life use fear, obligation, and guilt to manipulate you. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers
McCoy, D. (2006) The manipulative man, Identify his behavior, counter the abuse, regain control. Avon, MA: Adams Media
Wade, D. & Kovacs, L. (2005) I want a baby, He doesn’t, How both partners can make the right decision at the right time. Avon, MA: Adams Media
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA