Shall We Or Shan’t We?

21 July 2015

You’ll have seen pictures of Princess Charlotte’s royal christening, and now you might just be thinking to yourself whether the time is right to follow Kate and Will’s lead and have another child – or even start a family with your first-born.

Such thoughts can be exciting, hopeful, daunting and very possibly bring up a wealth of other conflicting feelings. You may wonder whether you’re ready to have a family, or whether or not you can get pregnant. You may be unsure of how many children you want to have, or you might have doubts about whether you can afford it at the moment. It can all feel quite overwhelming!

This quiz from Relate Bedfordshire & Luton will help you take a step back and focus on how you feel. It will help you think about your strengths as a couple, any issues that might be getting in the way, and any areas in which you feel you may need more time and support.

And if you’re still unsure, why not talk it over with a Relate counsellor. Phone 01234 356350 or explore this website for more information.

 

Q1. When you think about starting a family, how does that make you feel?

  • a) It’s a long way off, so I don’t really think about it.
  • b) Just the thought of it makes me feel very anxious.
  • c) I have mixed feelings. Excited but scared at the same time.
  • d) I have thought about it a lot and feel emotionally prepared for it.

Q2. How do you think your life might change once you have a baby?

  • a) I’m hoping life will be pretty much the same.
  • b) I worry that everything will be different and I’ll lose my independence.
  • c) I’m hopeful that life will be better for us as a couple.
  • d) I reckon it will be joyful, but also scary at times.

Q3. How do you think your partner might change once you have a baby?

  • a) I don’t expect my partner to be that different really.
  • b) Probably quite stressed as my partner is already showing signs of tension at the thought of adjusting to starting a family.
  • c) I think that my partner will step up and be supportive.
  • d) My partner has already said that they really want to be hands-on and share the responsibilities of looking after a baby.

Q4. If you found out that you or your partner were pregnant today, how do you imagine you will feel?

  • a) I really wouldn’t want that right now.
  • b) Quite scared and unprepared.
  • c) Apprehensive but happy at the same time.
  • d) It would very welcome news and I’d feel positive about it.

Q5. What is your main reason for thinking about starting a family?

  • a) My family and friends expect me to, so I feel a pressure to do so.
  • b) Having a baby will give me a new lease of life and make my relationship with my partner better.
  • c) It is the next logical step in our relationship.
  • d) My partner and I have always wanted to have a family together.

Q6. If you had any doubts about starting a family, would you be able to share those doubts with your partner?

  • a) I don’t tend to open up about things like that as we usually avoid tricky subjects.
  • b) Whenever I express any doubts, we end up rowing a lot and nothing gets resolved.
  • c) We both sometimes express doubts about it as it does feel like it would be a monumental change in both of our lives.
  • d) We have been open and honest about any doubts; that has helped us work through concerns constructively.

Q7. As a couple have you discussed what roles you both wish to play in your child’s life?

  • a) Not really. It’s too soon to think about that. We’ll see what happens after the baby is born.
  • b) We have differing views about that and can’t seem to agree.
  • c) I hope that we will share the job of raising our child together.
  • d) We are clear about who will do what and have discussed sharing the roles as equally as possible.

Q8. People say ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. Have you thought about who else could support you and your partner when you start a family?

  • a) I think we’ll be able to manage on our own.
  • b) We don’t really get on with family so a lot of the responsibilities will fall on us.
  • c) Our families have agreed to help us out.
  • d) We have thought through a number of resources: from family to joining support groups to certain friends. We recognise that having a good support network in place will be of real benefit.

Q9. Having a child can impact heavily on family finances. Have you as a couple discussed this?

  • a) We’ll both have to carry on working as there’s no way round that.
  • b) Money is a source of tension in our relationship, but we realise we’ll have to cut back on a lot of things.
  • c) We have some savings which will help in the beginning.
  • d) We have budgeted for this and have got a financial plan in place.

 

If you answered…

Mostly As

You may be feeling very uncertain about having children. Your coping mechanism may be to avoid confrontation and bury your head in the sand, hoping instead that by carrying on as normal everything will be ok and continue as before. This isn’t really a helpful strategy: feelings and doubts that go unexpressed can emerge as resentfulness and negativity later on.

It’s vital that you and your partner are able to open up to each other and be honest about such a life-changing decision. A positive strategy at times like this would be to talk it through with an impartial person such as a trained couple’s counsellor. They would help facilitate open dialogue  in a safe space, support you and your partner in voicing any concerns and help you to work out what your next steps as a couple could be.

If you answered…

Mostly Bs

You find that emotions can run very high when you and your partner talk about starting a family.

You may not always be on the same page, which sometimes causes disagreements. You may be worrying that you’ve got differing views on child-rearing, parenting roles or about how you’re going to manage as a couple.

It’s important you’re able to find a way to start a dialogue about such a crucial and life-changing decision. If you are stuck in a cycle of rows, it could mean that the ways in which you communicate with one another are making it difficult to be heard, meaning that attempts to work through differences often ends up going nowhere. It’s important to break this negative cycle and practise having positive and blame-free conversations. This will allow you to express feelings in a constructive way so you can begin to talk and think about things properly.

If negative communication habits have been around for a long time, it can be difficult to change them on your own. If this is the case, then the support of a couple’s counsellor might help you to find more helpful communication strategies so that you can work through differences and negotiate a way better way forward together.

If you answered…

Mostly Cs

You are well on your way to feeling positive and ready to start a family.

Although you don’t have too many major concerns or doubts, it is still important to make space to share any anxieties with your partner as sharing feelings together like this can help make sure you’re both on the same page.

Saying something like: ‘I’m so happy about starting a family, but occasionally feel a bit anxious about how it will be. How do you feel?’ can be a really a useful way to give you and your partner the opportunity to share feelings and be supportive of one another.

Besides, getting into the habit of having open and honest conversations is something that will become even more important if you do decide to have a baby.

If you answered…

Mostly Ds

You and your partner have clearly thought through what starting a family means to both of you.

Your open excitement is balanced by a realistic and practical approach to planning and communication.

You understand the importance of good emotional and practical support, and know that being open and honest with your partner will allow you to approach the joys and challenges of parenthood as a team.

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