When a couple chooses to get married, they walk into the heightened possibility of having children. We all know at least one person who planned to wait several years to have kids who ended up being a mommy or daddy within the first year. Even when planned, sometimes birth control fails to prevent pregnancy or the timing wasn’t right to avoid pregnancy. As a result, for those getting married, children need to be considered and discussed prior to marriage.
Topics need to be discussed such as: If we do get pregnant sooner than we expected, are we both going to work or are we going to live on one income? If so, can we afford that or will we need to reduce our lifestyle? What about the cost of childcare? What if the mother’s desires change and she wants to come home and raise the children? It is imperative to have a written test budget before marriage based on the income you are currently making to see what lifestyle cuts and conveniences you will have to give up if an early pregnancy results.
Something sobering to consider: “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (I Timothy 5:8). Marriage isn’t just about a man and a woman. Marriage includes two individuals joining to form a new family which usually means the addition of children in the future. None of us know when God may bless us with a child, so it is wise to plan ahead for exciting and unexpected expenses.
In ancient times, suitors used to pay a daughter’s father a “bride price” for her hand in marriage. Though there are many problematic aspects to that system, there was one good aspect to it: it ensured that the man was financially ready to take on the support of a woman and future children. The practice, with the exception of this last decade, was like real estate in America. When a person purchased a home with a loan, they were expected to make a sizable down payment on it, to show that they could continue making their payments and fulfill the loan obligation. It is important for a couple to have some monetary resources heading into marriage and a plan for further earnings.
If there is no definite financial plan for provision going forward, waiting to get married is not the tragedy that it feels like at first. When you want to get married so badly your heart aches, it is hard to postpone it until finances are better. However, if you were to ask a thousand married couples what they fight about most, according to research, the solid majority will tell you, “Money.” Waiting six extra months for him to find a better paying job – or for her to finish school and begin in her career – is a small price to pay for more peace and less arguments. Proceeding into marriage before finances are in order is not an automatic recipe for disaster; however, it will require an amazing act of selflessness on the part of both people while those monetary foundations are being built.
If you and your potential spouse are seriously considering marriage, sit down and discuss and ask each other, “Are you ready to afford marriage and children?” Also discuss whether or not you both want to be working when you have kids. If it is very important to you that one of you stay home with the kids while they are growing up, plan how you are going to make that goal a reality. Additionally, realize that for some mothers, a maternal instinct can kick in and her previous desires of staying at work and using childcare may switch to wanting to stay at home and raise the children. Take that potential scenario into account when discussing this topic.
I’ve never met anyone whose plans worked out exactly the way he or she expected because only God knows the future – and it is His plan that will come to fruition. So take time in prayer and plan ahead for some unexpected surprises!
How much do you think it costs to be married and raise children?