You Want How Many Kids?!
While most people would assume that couples discuss family planning before getting married - or at least at the beginning of their marriage - this assumption is false. A number of studies done on this subject show that the majority of couples only discuss their family planning desires after the birth of one or two children! This is certainly not a healthy way to communicate or to enter into a marriage.
Discussions Before Marriage
Many people feel that they would be "jumping the gun" or acting in a presumptuous manner if they discuss family planning before marriage. How, they ask, can they talk about how many children to have with someone that they haven't yet decided to marry? Unfortunately, this attitude often leads to a great deal of trouble in marriages. The woman will assume that, since she loves this person, he certainly wants to have three children just like she does. Perhaps the man assumes that she'll be happy with the one child that he desires. The example could be reversed, or the numbers might be altered, but the general idea would be the same. This lack of communication often causes friction in marriage in the beginning, as couples haven't discussed their vision or their family planning desires before getting into a commitment. Maybe she doesn't want to have any children, and you want a large family. This could be a real issue in the marriage, and one that should be discussed and worked through prior to committing to each other.
Discussing Your Vision
Therefore, it is very important to discuss your vision for the future before you get married. Some people choose to do this by going through some type of premarital counseling or by meeting with a religious leader. This is often a great idea, as the therapist or religious figure can guide the discussion and help you to work through issues as they arise. Others want to simply bring up the subject on their own. However you decide to tackle this issue, it is one that should certainly be discussed before saying "I Do".
Sticking To Your Commitment
Some people will take umbrage with the idea of family planning before you are married. What, they say, if they change their mind? They originally told their partner that they wanted three children, but they are now overwhelmed with one and don't think that they want more. A family planning discussion before the wedding isn't one that is set in stone. It should be understood that the issues are fluid, and that your opinions might change with time. However, it gives you a starting point and a way to see if you are compatible before marriage.
Family Planning Discussion During Marriage
You will still need to keep the lines of communication open during the marriage. Be honest with your partner if your vision changes or if you become more overwhelmed with the growing family than you anticipated being. The worst thing that you can do for your marriage is hide your emotions and pretend that you want the same number of children that your spouse wants just because you hope it brings harmony. Similarly, sneaking birth control or covering up your intentions won't help in the long term with your honesty and with your relationship.
The more upfront you are before getting married, the easier your communication about family planning will be down the road. If you are already married and haven't discussed these issues, there is no better time than the present to do so!