Question: My husband desperately wants us to have another baby (we already have three children under the age of eight). While I love being a mom, I feel our family is complete, and I don’t want to try for a fourth. I’m getting older, and our finances are stretched as is. We argue over this – and it’s affecting our intimacy. Any suggestions?

Answer: Children are indeed a blessing from God but as a mom I know that the daily responsibilities of caring for small children can be exhausting. I sense that you’re not only stretched financially right now but maxed out physically and emotionally as well.

Instead of arguing about whether to have another child, here are some things I’d like you to consider so that you can have a productive conversation with your husband. My prayer for both of you is that you will be able to talk in such a way so that together you can make the best choice for your family.

Whether or not to have a baby is too important a decision to make without being in agreement. I have counseled couples over the years where one person felt pressured to have another child that they didn’t want, or feel ready for. The additional responsibilities often brought more conflict to an already distressed marriage.

First, remember. How have you and your husband made other important family decisions? Do you go away for a day, take a walk or discuss the issue over a quiet dinner? Can you talk and pray until you come to a decision that you both agree is best for your family? Or are frequent arguments typical? When a decision has to be made, does it often feel like one wins and the other loses?

Second, listen. You say your husband has a strong desire to have another child (your words are “he’s desperate”). Ask him to explain his intense feelings and his reasons for desiring another child at this time. Listen respectfully and be considerate (Phil 2:4). Although his feelings are important, they are not the only factor in making a life-changing decision.

Third, evaluate. You indicate that from your perspective your family is complete and your resources are stretched. Together determine how much he contributes to the daily physical, emotional and spiritual care of your children and home responsibilities. Is he willing to do more? After taking care of your 3 children, do you have time, energy and some money left over to spend together as a couple?

Finally, wait. A compromise might be that you stop arguing about this and agree to postpone the decision whether to have a fourth child until your other children get older. Meanwhile, invest whatever extra resources you have in building a strong marriage. That’s the best thing you can do for yourselves and your children.

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