Why Having Kids (Early) Helped My Marriage

If I had a nickel for every time someone told me that waiting to have kids after marriage is a good idea, I wouldn’t have to worry about being a stay-at-home mom. I suppose it is stock wisdom of my parent’s age especially that the healthiest thing you can do for your marriage is give yourself a couple years to travel, get to know your partner, find your career, etc., before you have kids. Kids are seen as a big stresser, so you don’t want that. And you want to have enough money to take care of the kids (meaning buy a house, have two cars, life insurance, save for college, etc.) before you have them.

Except that if I’d taken this route, I’m not sure I would have had children. And I certainly wouldn’t have had more than two!

Now I was young when I got married which is unusual for girls these days. I graduated college a year early to get married, which is practically unheard of. Something Grandma might have done (if she’d gone to university at all). So I can see why my own parents encouraged me to wait to have children. After all, they waited eight years. And I suppose they had some really good times in those eight years and wanted me to have them too. My husband’s parents also waited about eight years, and they were really worried when we wanted to have kids so early. I think they were more concerned about the money aspects. (But both my parents and my in-laws got married early, so it was really the pot calling the kettle black there 😉

So while I don’t see myself on some crusade to advocate marrying and having kids early, I like to encourage young couples who find themselves in a similar position as I did. I like to encourage them that having children can actually help your marriage. Contrary to the stresser image that “everyone” creates, I can say with 100% confidence that having children early forced my husband and I to grow closer. Everyone has their own reason why choosing to have kids when they did (20s, 30s, 40s) was good for them, and that should be taken into account. There is no reason why younger couples need to feel any worse than older couples who want to have babies. Don’t let fear or intimidation dictate how you chart your course.

Here are some ways having children helped my marriage:

  • Intimacy. While there were intermittent periods of hating my body and not wanting anyone to touch it, or being sick and tired, overall my childbearing time was a very free time for romance and intimacy. Hormones can help you and there are no periods, PMS, or contraception to worry about. Most husbands actually are proud of their own virility and pregnant wives so they think they’re fun and cute until they get super-huge =)
  • Finances. While children cost, if you know you are going to have them at all, there are real planning benefits to having them younger. You can plan for college and retirement earlier, longer, and with more wisdom than if you start in the middle of your career. Also, infants don’t cost a whole lot so you can get by in an apartment or whatever less than ideal situation you are in when you start out. It bonds you to your husband to not have financial woes or changes to deal with and quarrel about.
  • Identity. I didn’t feel a huge setback having children when I was first married because I wasn’t choosing to leave a career I loved, a lifestyle I was used to, or a salary I made. I didn’t have to plan for a non-single but no-children period which many of my friends are currently in and find confusing for their life direction. This includes decisions to go back to school, switch careers, or other things you may be postponing because you find it silly to put forth the effort and then leave it for Motherworld. I found my married identity with my husband more easily because my children bonded me to him.
  • Children’s Identity. If your children grow up with you while you’re still forming your own identity, they have a good chance of being inculcated into your life in a special way. You are still discovering where you want to live, what you want to do, and they get to be part of that instead of coming along later when you already have your identity set but you take a special time out of it to have children and then go back to it later. You are formed by your children more in the formative years of marriage, but your children are also formed by your marriage and life discovery. The potential for bonding and influence may be greater.
  • Energy& Physique. While it has been hard to lose pregnancy weight sometimes, I know it is not as hard as it would be if I were ten years older. And while pregnancy has been hard on my body, I did not suffer as much as I would if I had been ten years older. It was easier to recover too. This all translated into benefiting my marriage because when Mommy feels good, Daddy feels good too. We enjoyed my pregnancies and traveling together, etc. When I had my first child we were still young enough to remember the old college days when we stayed up until 3am on purpose, so the nighttime waking of a small infant was new but not foreign. Sometimes we actually stayed up late together to feed the baby at 1am and then jump into bed for the next five (hopefully!) hours together.
  • Joy. When you’re newly married, you still have a joy for your partner that longer years in marriage more easily drain. (You can still have it but it’s harder!). The joy and romance you feel toward your husband often transfers to more peace about your family life, which benefits a new baby coming. Plus, the projects and changes that having a baby provoke can be challenging to deal with, with your spouse. But if you haven’t spent eight years together bickering already, it can be a really fun adventure!
  • Bonding with your child. If you and dad are in your twenties, you can zip more around the playground together, follow your toddlers around, and be sillier with your preschoolers without feeling like you’re betraying the dignity of adult status. (Grandparents rediscover this youthfulness, but you have to wait until you’re fifty or sixty!)
  • Troubleshooting. Having babies early in your marriage essentially makes you and your spouse troubleshooter partners-in-crime. While this sometimes means stepping on each other’s toes, it also means comeraderie, friendship, lots of talks, ironing out philosophy, and creativity… together! I usually see that older mothers end up doing most of the parenting themselves (possibly because Dad is more entrenched in his career). But being young parents helped my husband and I be more of a team because we were still fresh and vulnerable to each other. He parents a lot more than some of my friend’s husbands even though his personality is similar to theirs’ because having children and squabbles was part of his worldview at an earlier, more formative stage.
  • Long-term plan. Having babies early in your marriage not only bonds you to your husband more (because you need each other from the outset and do not develop independently for more years) but liberates you earlier on the other end of life. When some of your friends are just starting their families at 35 and 40, you will be winding up your families around that time and ready to pursue life together again. You will older and wiser, and freer. Simply put, you do the hard work together up front but then you get the simpler part later. This doesn’t entail you’ll have perfect peace and prosperity by then because things will come up in your 40s and 50s too. But instead of dealing with those things at 60 and 70, you’ll be younger. And it can be a very bonding experience to consider what you’ll do with your middle-age years together.

Now I fully realize that children can add stress to a marriage and that having them early in marriage is not a good idea for everyone. The first year of marriage, in particular, can be difficult enough without adding the changes a baby brings. But I have heard of several mothers getting pregnant on their honeymoon and adjusting just fine after the first nine months. It must be a pretty incredible experience, actually. So I just write this to dispel notions of doom and gloom should you find yourself in that position too. Or should you be strange enough to actually WANT children soon after you get married. There are lots of benefits! The key is, are you going to take advantage of those or are you going to resent the challenges that it may bring? I believe that having children at any age necessitates the right decision there, and that as long as you don’t write children off as the great Marriage Breaker that you have to prepare for ten years in advance, you’ll be happy. And I’ll have made my case =)

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15 thoughts on “Why Having Kids (Early) Helped My Marriage

  1. I was married at 20 and had my first at 21. I like the idea of starting to wind up the family years with young ones in tow by the time I’m 40 instead of just starting or barely have started. I like your post — a lot of wisdom behind it!!

  2. Amen, The perspective gianed at an early age in life is wonderful by being parents. You end up living for your kids and spouse instead of just for yourself.
    Happily wed at 25 with a two year old and a ten month old. Great advice

  3. so glad i read this. i’m about to get married and my biggest thing now is having kids. i want to have them soon after and everyone keeps telling me we should wait and have our time together. why not have our time together and share it with a child? i’m glad to see that people are happy with the choice to start a family at a young age.

  4. I got pregnant after the first month of marriage and this was helpful and encouraging! I am looking forward to growing closer to my husband and the baby in the coming months. I am 6 weeks along and in the throes of morning sickness. But doing ok. Being pregnant sure is life-changing. But I think it is God’s way of reminding me that motherhood is life-changing.

  5. I was married at 25 after 6.5 years of dating. I’m 27.5 right now and most of my friends are married. A few have kids (one good friends is currently pregnant). The ones who don’t have kids are all planning to be pregnant by the time they hit 30. I know my husband and I will be the last people we know to have kids as we don’t want to start until I’m around 36. I might just be starting out with children when I hit 40 as some friends are helping their kids apply for colleges, but I’m OK with that. Both my mother and sister had kids in high school and had very similar life experiences. I want to travel the world and have the freedom to do what I want now, as opposed to when I’m in my 40s. I get A LOT of pressure from people about waiting to have kids (especially at events like baby showers!). I just say we all support each other’s decisions as women (and mothers) and realize that for some 20 is the perfect age to start their family while for others that age is 40.

  6. I do agree with you Riddlej in your statement, “I believe that having children at any age necessitates the right decision there, and that as long as you don’t write children off as the great Marriage Breaker that you have to prepare for ten years in advance, you’ll be happy.” Indeed! One of the reasons for getting married is to have children, to have a family of your own. Building a happy marriage is not easy. But with the right approach towards marriage, it can be a successful and a happy
    relationship. Same as anything that involves two people, it will take both partner to make it work. Above all, both partner should center their marriage on that one important thing that drew them together. This will remind them the very special reason why they got married in the first place.

    -Joanne

  7. Great points!
    Also, from the opposite perspective – that of a child:
    I have a sister 11 years older than me. When she and I talk about our childhood experiences it’s like we’re coming from two different families.
    “Her parents” appeared full of life, joyful, in love with each other, free spirits allowing their child to play and have fun and conquer the world.
    “My parents” appeared cautious, loyal and friendly towards each other but not exactly sensual, controlling and limiting me as much as they were controlling and limiting themselves.

    In the end it’s just different experiences that you can utilize in different ways. I’m not saying that having young parents is better than having old parents. But it is more fun, isn’t it? As a child you want security yes, but you also want the kind of power and spontaneity and fun that young people express naturally…

  8. In agreeance with you, I whole-heartedly believe that any age can be a good age to have children. However, although this should go without saying, I cannot stress enough the absolute importance of recognizing what your partner/spouse will or will not put forth in efforts to parent. When I had my son at 25, I foolishly believed my husband of 3 years would do his share and did not. This really impacted our marriage negatively. Without having my son, I could have moved along life, not feeling any need to depend on my husband so much… and therefore, so disappointingly. The bond that this child will create can be beautiful and perfect… or the exact opposite. Forget the age! Know the partner well!

  9. Young age in marriage can be an advantage but it’s really dependent on how the chemistry between the couples go. Bear in mind also that young people have less maturity than older one, so this can be a challenge and at the same time an advantage as it will be easier to “blend” with the children later on.

  10. This article has parts that make NO sense….sorry….

    Such as…you can plan for college and retirement earlier????Not really. Someone does not have to have the children to plan for their college and for retirement.Actually, It would be easier to wait to have the children for a few years and put all of the money that would otherwise go towards paying a childs healthcare, diapers,food, childcare, clothing, furniture into the savings for let’s say, three years. A child costs about $9,000 a year (roughly).$9,000 times three? $27,000. It could be divided up anyway….$9,000 in college savings, $9,000 in retirement, and $9,000 as an emergency fund. I know it would have helped a multitude of my friends out if they had thought of a few years of planning, rather than just saying “I want a baby” and concieving as soon as possibe.

  11. To respond to above comment, there is liberty in when you have children! This article was mainly about how you aren’t doomed if you decide you want children early =) And in particular, how having children young can help your husband and you grow closer… not how it is surely a better economic plan.

    In my little experience, however, having children early has made my husband and I more financially disciplined than we ever were before the kids came. It is difficult to convince childless couples that they should live sacrificially to save for future children… today’s financial hardships (and sometimes lack of self-discipline) make it hard to pretend you’re in a situation you really aren’t.

  12. Well I must say that you have made your case! I’m 25 and the idea of being a mother has always scared me. Not only did I feel like everything had to be in place first (career, house, money, etc.) but my parents made me feel negative about it. It was either “youre not pregnant are you!?” or “oh no, wait until after youre 30.” The idea of having a child just scared me. But honestly how will anyone know the right time? And like you said, why would I want to drop what Ive worked so hard on to have a baby? I want to run around with them and grow and learn with them. Forgive me I dont want you to think that your article sparked my interest in having a baby but you did help me realize that this is my life and I control my own decisions. I dont want to have my first baby at 30, so I guess its time to start planning.

  13. Your article is wonderful!! My husband & I have just celebrated our 1 year anniversary,( both 23 years old) I’m going into my final year of college and we have never been more in love 🙂 Our relationship has blossomed over the past 3 and a half years of being together and we now have a better understanding of each other and more appreciation for one another after getting through some pretty tough times together. We have just recently decided that a baby would be a welcome addition to our family which consists of us & two pups, and due to bad side-effects my birth control caused me, I have gone off my pill and have never felt better! We are currently renting, and have enough to make ends meet and though everyone (eg: parents) says we should wait and enjoy “married life” before having kids both my husband & I have the outlook that if it’s meant to be it will happen when the time is right. Thank you for not making me feel ashamed of wanting children at a young age and for giving me insight into a happily ever after that involves a situation similar to what I’m going though.
    ~Much love!

  14. I can see this topic from both sides. It really all boils down to the couples maturity and a lot of times younger couples don’t realize that they aren’t as grown up as they think they are. I know this from experience because my husband and I were both 20 when we tied the knot and decided to start having children right away. Three years later here we are still childless because of unexplained infertility and we have been given the opportunity to look back on our decision to have children right away but with the insight of waiting. So for me personally I believe waiting is the way to go now that I have been married for three years. It helped me to realize that I still had some growing up to do and I’m glad that my husband and I have had these past couple years to focus on each other and our relationship without having to focus on raising children. We have a very strong relationship and we realized it wasn’t very strong at all when we first got married and that having children right of way may have helped us grow stronger but it might have also torn it apart. The reason people are saying to wait is because they know from experience that it is better or they can see other people’s experiences with not waiting and the outcome. Couples shouldnt make the decision based on other young couples saying they are just fine having kids right away they really should look at their maturity level, their future goals and their finances and really look at themselves personally because having children right away doesn’t always end up the way the author says. My brother and sister-in-law got married young and decided to have a child 8 months into their marriage and they said they wished they would have waited longer because they both admitted their maturity level wasn’t were it should have been. They were positive at the time that they were ready for children but now they also tell people to wait a few years because you will still be young and able to keep up with children and you will have all the same joys a few years down the road but you will have given yourself time to prepare and mature as a couple because once your children leave the nest it is back to the couple years and you want to have a strong foundation that wasn’t built based on children. My husband’s parents really struggled with becoming empty nesters because they had three children right away and so they built their marriage around their children so when they didnt have children at home they struggled for a couple years to be a couple again. They have said that they felt it would have been easier on them if they had allowed themselves to realize what it took to cultivate a marriage that was just the two of them at the start so they wouldnt feel empty when their children grew up. Building a marriage is a lifelong journey so it is also important to realize that once your children move out it will be the two of you and if you built your marriage around your children instead of before your children it will be a struggle down the road and I think that is a big reason why people divorce a few years after their children move out because they didnt realize until then that they didn’t have a relationship outside of having children. Although I do believe that couples can make it just fine with having children right away if they keep positive and work hard to keep their marriage alive…I also think that too many young couples are stubborn when it comes to realizing that older couples who have already gone through this (like our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc) are talking from experience and want to plant the seed in your mind to get you thinking about the future not just the here and now. So I don’t agree with people who tell young couples to wait 8-10 years or whatever, I do agree that waiting a couple years is a sound investment in the marriage because marriage is a coveniant between a man and a woman…not a man, woman and their children. Children are a product of marriage and a strong marriage doesn’t begin from the moment you say I do, it has to be cultivated and worked for between a couple. Although, I don’t believe everything I wrote will be taken kindly by everyone I feel like it needs to be said because of all the couples I have met and talked to about this…there is an overwhelming majority of people who said they are glad they waited a few years or wished they would have waited a few years. Ultimately I hope that this gets people thinking deeper about their decision to have children and how it affects marriages at the start and down the road when all the children leave home.

  15. I think it helps if you take your time developing the relationship before you get married. My wife and I dated for a year and were then engaged for another year before getting married. I see so many couples rushing to get married after only knowing each other 8 or 9 months and I can’t help but think they are opening themselves up for problems down the road.

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