As a newlywed who has heard this question too many times, I tread very lightly on these waters by hoping to make it easier for other people to be content in their own season of their marriage.
In this culture, it appears that everyone is always waiting for the next best thing. I learned this when I was a senior in high school, when everyone asked me where I wanted to go to college, what I wanted to major in, if I wanted to dorm/commute, etc. It’s like no one was ever satisfied. So I gave into their demands, always reaching for the next step. I went to college. I graduated. I got my first “real” job. I got a boyfriend. I got engaged. I got married. I got an apartment.
But the questions never stop. And I was never content.
Before you ask a newlywed any questions about kids, keep in mind that there are five types of newlyweds in terms of having kids. I love including Twitter statistics in my blogs, especially since it’s fun to try new research and ask different questions. This week, nine newlyweds chimed in about where they are in their family planning.
Never having kids (11%): This couple has decided that they do not want to have kids. It may shock you if you have baby fever, but there are people out there who don’t want kids for various reasons. Just be sensitive to the fact that not everyone shares that same desire to have children.
Having kids but not now (33%): This couple may want to enjoy this season of marriage and get to know each other better. They look forward to one day having children, but for now they are going on dates, asking each other deep questions, and simply trying to find contentment in this season. They may also have issues they need to deal with (whether financial, emotional, or physical) before they can take that next step into starting a family.
Pregnant but not telling anyone (44%, along with “obviously pregnant” below): Newlyweds want to tell the important people in their lives (their parents, family members, and close friends) that they are pregnant before announcing it to the whole world. As a matter of fact, it’s considered rude to post it on Facebook or for a loved one to find out through someone else. Don’t put the couple in an awkward situation by asking them if they’re pregnant and no one else knows yet. Let them tell you; don’t make them tell you.
Want kids but unable to get pregnant (12%): It hurts a woman who wants to be a mother to get consistently asked about having children, but for some reason, people seem to stumble into that question in conversation! Most women who are unable to have children do not want to talk about it with the average person, especially since it typically involves very personal issues with their health. Do not persist in the conversation if you notice the woman seeming uncomfortable.
Obviously pregnant/already have kids (44%, along with “pregnant but not telling anyone” above): You can tell when someone is nine months pregnant whether she’s having kids any time soon, so the question “When are you having kids?” might sound a little silly. What I would suggest for these people is not to ask “Do you want any more kids?” but to enjoy the child/children that the couple already has.
The newlywed stage is such a dynamic, complex stage that it cannot be defined the same way for every couple. The average newlywed couple moves to a new home, starts a new job, makes new friends together, spends time with new family members, and has new additions to their family through marriage or birth. They say the first few years are the hardest, and I’m sure all these uprooting and changes don’t help with the roller coaster of emotions that each couple faces.
The same principle is true for having kids. One couple might get pregnant on the honeymoon, while one couple might wait five years to grow their family. One couple might want six kids, while one couple might not want any. It is difficult enough to be in this dynamic stage of marriage without getting unsolicited advice, especially about having children.
I know it’s tough not to ask a newlywed any questions about having kids. Even as a new wife, I find myself wanting to ask other couples about their plans. So, to help you out, here are five other questions you can ask to a newlywed couple in order to encourage contentment in their marriage:
What is your favorite thing about your spouse? It is such a common practice to complain about your spouse. The stereotypical situation is a group of women congregating around a table and joking about the stupid things their husbands did that day (I’m sure men do it too, but I’ve never been in a circle with men, so I wouldn’t know personally). It would be nice to change the atmosphere and encourage newlyweds to think about what they actually like about their spouses. Hearing the new, fresh love they have for their spouse may encourage you to appreciate your spouse as well.
What do you like to do together as a couple? Newlywed couples need something to do together (besides the obvious). I especially like this question since my love language is quality time, which means I’m always looking for fun things to do with my husband. Help the newlywed couple in your life find contentment by helping them find fun activities to do together.
Do you enjoy meeting together with other couples? Newlywed couples also need accountability and example to help them in their marriage. When my husband and I first got engaged, it was so tempting for us to just sit in my apartment and stare into each other’s eyes for eleven months. However, we realized soon after that we wanted to share our love for each other and learn from other couples who also loved each other. We joined a small group for engaged and newly married couples, and we became friends with some people in our church who meet with us on a regular basis. It is so encouraging to be around other newlywed couples who also want to honor God in their marriage.
Would you like to go out with me and my spouse for a double date? If you’ve been married for a long time, we need you! Please, take us out and share your wisdom with us. We also enjoy going out with couples who have been married for less time, as we are able to process our own marriage and share our wisdom with others as well.
How can I pray for you? This is a great question to ask any newlywed, whether they are currently dealing with children, pregnant, trying to get pregnant but can’t, waiting, or don’t desire children at all. This question allows newlyweds to reflect on their current struggles. It also humbles the folks who may be seasoned in their marriage to not give advice, but to ask God to intervene in their marriage. After all, in every season, when God is in the center of your marriage, He has a plan and is able to provide for you and your spouse. So, instead of asking “When are you having kids?” pray that God would allow the couple to be content in this season and to learn to love each other deeply, fully, and unconditionally.