Why do you have to prepare to start a family? You to have because starting a family will require from you more discipline, time and money.
But does that mean after getting married you have to wait to be ready?
Because of the kind of responsibilities that starting a family brings, experts in family relationship suggests that there's a right time to start a family. And that's supposed to be when you're physically, emotionally and financially able. To me that makes sense.
However in Nigeria, unlike in the western world, getting married translates to starting a family. At least 70% of married couples here get pregnant with their first child within the first few weeks after their wedding. And for some of the others who don't get pregnant within that time range it's not because they're not trying to.
Starting a family immediately after the wedding is something that is generally expected of us in Nigeria. And for the wives who don't get pregnant right away, they have to deal with unfriendly comments from the society, sometimes that includes their in-laws and husbands.
When to start a family is usually not an issue up for discussion for Nigerian couples. If there's going to be any discussion about it, it's before the wedding. And that's when one party for some reason decides to wait for sometime before having a child. Usually the reason is to have some alone time with the spouse before their lives gets turn upside down by the obligation of catering for and raising a child.
While starting a family immediately after your wedding has its benefits such as having your kids before turning 35 as experts advised, it has its downside too.
A male friend was telling me recently that when he gets married he wanted to enjoy his wife for a few years before having a child. A lot of Nigerian women will object to that, like I did when he told me. However, the benefit of doing that is clear. Usually when a woman gets pregnant almost everything changes.
I was able to get a feel of how suddenly things can change for a couple when one of my girlfriends got pregnant for her husband for the first time. At the beginning of the pregnancy, she wouldn't have sex with her husband because she believed she could lose her baby. And he couldn't even touch her nipples playfully because they were painful. Even though he had to leave for work very early in the morning he had to cook for her first and make sure she was okay. And their expenses went up too. My friend couldn't get pregnant until two years after her marriage.
But if that was immediately after her wedding, you can imagine the stress it will bring on the couple, especially the man. There are few very good reasons why you should have kids. They are sweet, gorgeous and they add a meaning to our lives. However many women seem to forget their husbands during the process. They become easily irritated, always seeking attention without giving back and some of them stop working; at least until they give birth. So aside the emotional stress, all expenses will have to fall on the man too.
But if a couple waits a bit, and take the time instead to build on their bond and prepare themselves for the responsibilities starting a family will bring, then they're better able to cope.
Does this mean I'm suggesting you wait to have a child? Not at all! I wouldn't wait myself. And I wouldn't suggest you wait, not if you don't want to. But I'm concerned about the stress starting a family right after marriage puts on the couple emotionally, physically and financially when they are just starting their lives together. I believe that the problem is not about when you start a family; it's about how you prepare yourself to handle things when you do, whether you decide to start right after marriage or wait a few years. You can wait for as many years as possible, but without preparing yourself for that time, you would have achieved nothing waiting except make child bearing risky for you, because it does become risky with age.
Some men will suggest waiting because having a child changes a lot especially on the woman's part. But with proper understanding and balancing, very little have to change.
Here are some tips to help you cope well when you start a family right after marriage.
Carry your husband along: The more he knows about what to expect when a woman's pregnant the more understanding and helpful he will be to you. So while you're still planning your wedding, get him a good book to read on starting a family. If you're already married, it's not too late. Include him in all your doctor's appointment except when he can't make it. But do ask him. For a good book to read about starting a family, what couples should expect and how to deal with the crazy months of pregnancy and after pregnancy, get the book The Joy of Being a Woman by Walter and Ingrid Trobisch. It touches almost every aspects of starting a family such as your monthly cycle and fertility, sex during pregnancy, breast feeding, menopause etc. It's a book every couple should read. Make your husband read it; it will help your marriage. I've read the book, and the part about monthly cycle helped me a lot in understanding my cycle. To get the book, check popular bookshops in Nigeria or order it from Amazon. Nigerians can order books from Amazon and it will be shipped to Nigeria.
Be considerate to his feelings and needs: As at writing I've never been pregnant. But I've been around some pregnant women like my friend that I referred to above so I know many women can improve on how they treat the husbands when they're pregnant. Your lives shouldn't become all about the baby and how you're feeling. You'll need to make a regular effort to not make your husband feel left out and become unintentionally angry with the baby you'll be carrying for taking your attention away from him.
Encourage communication: Encourage your husband to be outspoken about his feelings and needs. And when he does talk to you, pay attention. Don't think as some women do that because they are the ones carrying the baby and dealing with all the discomfort that comes with being pregnant the husband has no reason to complain of anything. He wants to have a family with you, yes, but he didn't bargain to lose his wife in the process or lose the life he already had and loved. When you're pregnant it shouldn't become all about you. But of course you're allowed to have your moments, which is why you need to prepare your husband for what to expect and how to deal with it. So that when you do have those inevitable moments, he will understand and support you.
Cut your costs: This is one of the reasons I always advice soon to-be brides to cut cost as much as possible when planning their wedding because as I always say there's life after the wedding. In just a few years your family can become large. The larger it gets the more money they will need. Raising a child these days is expensive. And they do grow up fast. Usually before you know it they're already grown enough to start school. And that is more money. So start to plan ahead now. Usually before a man and woman get married, at least here in Nigeria, many are certain that their income can start a family while they work to improve on it. But the expenses can build up very fast. So learn to manage very well. Budget for and monitor your expenses every month to make sure you're not spending above your means. Start planning early for your children's future that requires money. You can set up a bank account for each of them as you have them and have some money put away for their future expenses. Talk with your husband/wife. And together decide on how to manage your income, grow it and plan for your family's future.
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Nigerian Weddings › Starting A Family