Having kids and a family is great, but if you are a newlywed, you should definitely make time to experience certain things with your partner before the little ones arrive.
Too often, people ask young couples when they expect to have children even before the biodegradable confetti that was thrown on their wedding day hits the ground. You and your husband are still getting into the swing of being a married couple and thinking about how you’re going to buy that new HD television and coffeemaker after blowing the budget on your wedding, but everyone keeps asking you when you plan on having babies!
The next few months come and go, a few nosy aunts are still asking you when you plan to have kids, and before you know it, you are starting to feel broody at baby showers. Is it the right time to have kids? Only you and your partner can make this decision. But here is a bucket list of what we suggest newlyweds experience and try out before they think about starting a family:
- Eat at restaurants that don’t have a kiddies’ area
Decide to go and eat at a restaurant on the spur of the moment. Once you have kids, you have to plan everything from babysitters to what your kids will eat at home, so there won’t be too many spur-of-the-moment nights out. Once they get a bit older, you can take your kids with you, but you will probably be limited to restaurants where the waiters sing, the napkins are made of paper and the kiddies’ areas are so loud that you can’t hear each other talk with all the noise. So, enjoy enough elegant, fine-dining experiences while you still can!
- Go to the movies
Go to the movies and choose the right cinemas (the ones with the comfy love seats!). Watch art movies or movies with age restrictions. Once your baby arrives, you will be too tired to watch movies. When your child gets a bit older, you will know the name of every cartoon and Disney character. You will recall the days when you and your partner fought over movie choices as a fond, distant memory.
- Spend the entire day at the mall
This may not seem like everybody’s cup of tea, but once you have kids, you will miss the days when you had time to window shop, try on clothes and stroll through the shops at your own leisure. When you have kids, you will avoid shopping centers at all costs (and if you have to go by yourself, you probably have to pay a babysitter at a per-hour rate).
- Walk around naked, and have sex wherever and whenever you want!
Enjoy each other’s bodies, because in the blink of an eye there will be a baby that is monopolizing your breasts or toddlers who waltz into your room at the most inconvenient time to snuggle up between you and your partner. Don’t limit sex to the bedroom – do it in the morning, afternoon and evening . . . on the couch, in the kitchen, on the stairs and on the floor. Your sex life isn’t over when you have kids, but kids definitely take up your energy, which can lead to sex falling a few notches down on the priority list.
- Travel, travel, travel!
Travel abroad or take a trip to the neighboring town. Travel as much as you can while you only have to pay for two airplane tickets and while you can still leave without feeling worried or guilty. Take on new challenges and adventures such as bungee jumping, shark cage diving, camping or whatever your heart desires!
- Sleep late and stay up late
You don’t realize what a treat it is to stay up until the early hours of the morning watching your favorite series, until the day that you can no longer do this. You are able to enjoy treats such as dark chocolate, great ice cream and a couple of bottles of red wine because you can simply sleep it off the next day. To be able to ignore all phone calls, sleep late and only get up when you absolutely have to (due to hunger or thirst), are luxuries that you will definitely miss once you have a family.
A few last things
- Eat your food while it is still warm (without having to focus on feeding a young one first, or having to wipe pumpkin from the wall).
- Draft your will and make sure your finances are sorted out. This will help you to feel more in control when everything around you feels like chaos.
- Rethink your minimalistic lifestyle, as this often involves sharp-edged furniture and glass tables.
- Buy a sexy, impractical sports car. Once you have kids, you will need all the space and functionality you can get!
- Take a Sunday drive for no reason (without someone asking “Are we there yet?” every five minutes).
- Accept every social invitation and spend time with your friends who don’t have children (while they can still stand you).
And finally, do whatever the two of you want to do as a couple. Having kids doesn’t mean that your life is over, but it will be forever changed in big ways. It can be hard at times, but it’s mostly exciting, unpredictable and very rewarding. Make the most of your time alone together before you decide to have kids.
It isn’t common, but sometimes a couple divorces and ends up marrying each other again.
Can it work? Does such a couple learn from their mistakes and make a success of their marriage the second time around? Or is the marriage doomed to fail?
Nick realized that he had anger managed problems too late – after he raised his hand to his wife, Mary (now 64). The first time he struck his wife, he took a step back and knew that his anger was a huge problem that he is going to have to deal with. Mary and the kids moved out and she divorced him. Today, Nick (now 66) and Mary are happier than ever.
“When I was growing up, my mother had depression,” says Nick. When he was 15 years old, her failed suicide attempt led her to be institutionalized. “After my mom was committed to a psychiatric facility, my father mentally checked out. My dad would stay out all night and leave me and my younger brother at home alone. Sometimes he brought strange women back with him. I had to keep the fort and be strong and dependable for my little brother. Nobody could tell that I was bottling up intense emotions because I always appeared calm and collected.”
When he was close to graduating from high school, Nick experienced the false sense of comfort that alcohol could provide. Later in his life, he realized that he was an alcoholic by the time he finished studying. “It was easy to hide my alcohol dependency because many of my classmates would drink socially as well. Nobody thought anything of the fact that I was drinking every day though.”
In his second year at university, Nick met Mary, who was studying towards becoming a social worker. “We were madly in love,” says Nick.
The two of them got married shortly after Mary graduated. It was then that Mary realised how much and how often Nick drank. “Mary tried to talk to me about my alcohol consumption, but I shrugged off her concerns. Later on, these conversations turned into repeated arguments. It feels like all we did during the first ten years of our marriage was argue.”
To avoid confrontations, Nick tried to hide his booze and alcohol consumption from Mary, but Mary knew. After the birth of their second child, Mary was dispirited and depressed. “She couldn’t take it anymore and became depressed about the situation. One day, out of desperation, she said that she’s going to drive her car into a ditch if I don’t stop drinking. That struck a nerve with me…”
Under the influence of alcohol and with years of built-up sadness from childhood wounds, Nick hit Mary through her face during an argument. “Immediately after I hit her, I knew that this would be a turning point in my life. I’m going to ruin our lives.” Nick collapsed and started to cry. Mary and the kids moved out and Nick was issued with a divorce notice. Six months later, they were divorced.
One of the legal requirements of being able to see his kids without supervision was that Nick go to rehab. “This was the lowest point in my life. Having to book into a rehab center made me feel like a complete loser and it triggered memories of the time my mom was committed to a facility. It was tough, but I knew I had to face my demons.”
Nick had to attend group therapy sessions daily and he had to attend individual therapy sessions once per week. “It was hard and I wanted to give up multiple times. When the therapy started to work, I realised how much I love my wife and how much I need her.” Nick decided that he was going to win Mary back.
Nick realized that another relationship would only lead to the same, sad outcome; because he was the problem. “I had to face the sadness and damage that I caused my wife. She was prepared to meet with me and my psychologist so that I could take ownership of what I did and so that I could tell her how sorry I was.” Mary was surprised, but didn’t know if she could trust the new status quo. “I had to win her back. One day at a time.”
During therapy, Mary also had the opportunity to express and process her sadness and experiences. It wasn’t a quick fix, but Nick was committed to working towards a long-term solution. “I eventually plucked up the courage to ask her out on a date. I started courting Mary all over.”
Two and a half years after the divorce, they were married again. Nick is sober and he says that deciding to stop drinking, booking himself into rehab, and marrying Mary again were the best decisions he ever made. “I don’t think getting married to the same person again will work for all divorced couples. You can’t just pick up where you left off the last time around! Your reasons for getting a divorce are still there and if you can’t be accountable for the role you played in the collapse of the marriage, then you can’t move forward.”
Can a second chance work for you?
Psychologist, Prof Pieter Joubert, says that he regularly sees couples who are threatening to get a divorce after only being married a few short years. “I often think that these couples spend more time planning their wedding than actually being married! Every now and then, I work with couples who were married, got divorced, and then want to get married to each other again.”
Can a re-marriage work? “I think a lot of it depends on why they got divorced in the first place. If alcohol abuse or workaholic-ism were the problems that led to a divorce, then I believe that a re-marriage can work.”
“Other problems, like a history of infidelity, family violence and anger issues, will take more introspection and therapy to solve.”
“Mutual trust is built on predictability and consistency in behavioral patterns. A couple that wants to re-marry will have to commit to therapy that will help them identify and address the problems that they faced the first time around.”
It’s also possible for you and your former spouse to rediscover each other and realize that the divorce was a mistake, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work to not make the same mistakes again. It’s crucial that couples accept responsibility for the disintegration of their first marriage.
To repeatedly have the same argument is pointless, so you will need to take a long, hard look at your communication skills. The most important thing to focus on is breaking bad patterns and changing your perspective.
- Focus on the steps to success: take a step back, re-look the situation with a fresh perspective, stay calm. Admit to bad habits and the fact that habits can be changed.
- Fight the urge to blame the other person. Become an investigator and focus on fully understanding your partner’s point of view and feelings, without making assumptions. Watch your tone of voice!
- When you’re able to see the situation from each other’s points of view, then you can start working on the problems and finding solutions for them.
Pastoral counselor, Caryn Feldman, believes that a second marriage with the same person can work if you realise the following: “When you repeat the same recipe with the same ingredients, you will get the same results. You are going to have to change your ingredients or your cooking method to achieve a different result.”
For a marriage to work a second time around, honest, serious conversations need to take place. There may also be feelings of disappointment, regret and betrayal that you will need to work through.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What led us to believe that divorce was the only option in the first place?
- Can I admit to how I contributed to the disintegration of the marriage?
- Have change and personal growth taken place?
- Can I be honest about the areas where I think you need to improve?
- Am I prepared to work on my shortcomings?
- Am I/we prepared to unconditionally forgive each other?
Caryn believes that if both parties can answer these questions honestly and they are willing to give each other a clean slate, then re-marrying each other can work. Couples often don’t have fair “rules of engagement” when it comes to conflict handling. Conflict is part and parcel to being in a marriage, but it shouldn’t destroy a marriage. By setting ground rules, couples can create a safe, stable environment in which constructive conflict can take place.
Caryn explains: “My husband and I avoid cursing as well as blame by changing statements to the following: ‘When you do a certain thing, it makes me feel like…’ In this way, you create an environment for the other party to share his or her feelings so that reconciliation can take place.”
The couple has to be prepared to work on these issues together. They shouldn’t continuously argue about things that happened during their first marriage.
“Unforgiving and constant reminders about your partner’s flaws and shortcomings will never lead to positive results. The same unstable foundation, but now with more cracks than before, will never help you rebuild the marriage. If you see the same warning signs again, then chances are that nothing has changed.”
Be cautious with children and family
Clinical psychologist, Marita van der Berg, says: “Getting married to the same person for the sake of the children is a bad idea. A couple needs to make sure that they are getting married for the right reasons. It’s best to not tell the children that they are in a relationship again because the children may get false hope about the possibility of their parents rekindling, which could potentially lead to more disappointment and hurt. There is also the possibility of the children not being enthusiastic about the idea of their parents getting married again.”
“Pre-marriage counselling is highly advisable. It would also be wise for the couple to be in a committed, loving relationship for at least a year before they get married again.”
“The couple’s parents and in-laws may not be encouraging about the possibility of a re-marriage. The couple as well as the couple’s parents may also benefit from family therapy where boundaries are discussed.”
If you and your former partner want to get married again, thoroughly investigate the reasons for your divorce and determine whether you can solve the problems that led to the divorce. If you can, then a second chance on your marriage is possible if you are committed, patient, and willing to do the work.
By – INTIEM Editorial team