When we interviewed women for our book, "Love for Grown-ups: The Garter Brides Guide to Marrying for Life When You've Already Got a Life," we discovered one of the topics that generated a lot of passionate discussion was kids. Some of the women had kids, some wanted to have kids, and many were dealing with step-children.
As more mature brides, their biological clocks were ticking so loudly they were keeping them up at night. Some always knew they did not want to have any kids, but weren't sure if that was true for the men in their lives. Whether or not to have kids is a very important question and the Garter Brides will tell you it's something to be discussed BEFORE you walk down the aisle -- not after.
Here are a few things to remember:
He Might Like Kids but Not Want to Be a Dad: As the great Dr. Seuss once said about kids "You have them, I'll write for them." Let's face it, not all men want to be fathers. One of the Garter Brides was dismayed when she discovered that her new husband was not at all interested in becoming a dad. He always played with his nieces and nephews at family events and she just assumed he wanted kids of his own. Just because he's great with kids doesn't mean he wants one. You have to ask him.
If You Really Want Kids You Have to Let Him Know: Just like you can't assume that the man in your life wants to have kids because he loves to throw the football with his nephew, don't assume he knows that you want to become a mom -- either for the first time or again. One bride told us, "When I told Tony on our honeymoon that I wanted to have a baby he looked shocked. I should have been much clearer early on about my dream of becoming a mom."
If You Don't Want Kids Let Him Know: There are women who long to become mothers, but there are also those who don't want to have a baby -- or another one. If the man in your life wants to become a father, this could present some big problems down the line. Make sure that you take the time to discuss this thoroughly so you both know how each other feels.
If He Already Has Kids He May Not Want to Change Diapers Again: If the love of your life is already a dad he may not want to start at Day One and do it all over again. The reality of mature relationships is that you and he could have a child the same age as his grandchildren. Some of the Garter Brides married men who believed having babies again would keep them young, if, as a mature dad, he wants to take on more kids.
Is Adoption an Option? As Garter Brides -- women who married or remarried over the age of 35 -- we know that the path to parenthood is not always an easy road. You also need to discuss the reality that becoming parents may involve IVF treatments, donor eggs, surrogacy or adoption. Explore all these options, learn about them. Though they can all be emotionally, physically and financially draining, if you're both on the same page and are a good team it will strengthen your ties. And, you will become parents!
This is One Instance When Time is Not on Your Side: One of the reasons the Garter Brides urge mature brides to talk about this issue before the wedding is that this is one of the few experiences in life where you can't delay a decision. At some point, you won't be physically able to have children or to adopt. Tish remembers, "My friend Tamika got married when she was 40 and couldn't decide whether or not she wanted to have a baby. When she decided she wanted to be a mom it was too late." Don't make regrets a part of your new happy marriage.
Remember Babies Build Bridges: Some of the brides were nervous about having babies with their new husbands for fear the kids they had already would be jealous and hold it against their new brothers or sisters. For many of the brides, the new babies were actually the glue that brought the family even closer. As Cindy said, "When my kids and his kids came to the hospital I let each of them hold their new baby sister. She just looked up with these big blue eyes and had no idea who was who. All she knew was she was loved by all of us."
Did you talk to the man in your life about whether to have kids or more kids?
Ann Blumenthal Jacobs, Patricia Ryan Lampl and Tish Rabe are the authors of "Love for Grown-ups: The Garter Brides' Guide to Marrying for Life When You've Already Got a Life," a relationship guide for women over 35 on how to find Mr. Right, marry and find life-long happiness. The Garter Brides are a sisterhood of women who got married later in life and wore the same garter at their weddings! They offer tried and true advice on how to have the love and life you want.