Of Wedding Bells and Baby Booties: 10 Reasons to Have Kids Early in Your Marriage

The Blessing of Children

The Blessing of Children

It’s amazing how you can go from normal gal to alien life-form in a microsecond when you announce to others that you are pregnant after being married for a year or less.  Some people go as far as to allude that you’re throwing your marriage away or signing your own social life’s death certificate before you have had a chance to ‘really live.’ This situation only dramatizes itself further if you’re in your twenties.

One thing is certain: having a baby changes everything. Whether this change is for better or for worse—that is the question.

During my newlywed year and throughout my pregnancy, I have had the opportunity to scour heaps of pregnancy ‘advice’ in books, online articles, and from friends. And what a wide range of opinions there are—from tips like “you should have a baby early because even the celebrities are doing it!” to “you don’t need kids—ever—to make you happy” to “your marriage will thrive if you wait exactly 5.25 years to have your first baby.” How confusing. And arbitrary. And silly.

There is no perfect, one-date-fits-all formula for that special conception day that changes your life from a party of two to a family of three. But while many so-called experts in our culture today are advocating long periods of DINKhood (double-income, no-kids), I think there is a preponderance of concrete and observable evidence pointing toward the opposite: that having children early in marriage is, well, great.

  1. What’s yours really is ours. In marriage, two people with strikingly unique pasts, personalities, families, hobbies, careers, and interests come together, learning to share themselves and everything they have with one another in the most intimate human relationship possible. A baby is inarguably the most bonding experience that these two individuals can share. A child is not more one spouse’s than the others; he is equally and uniquely theirs. The love between them becomes manifested in another person, deeply loved and cherished by them as a little human soul that they joined with God to create. Talk about two becoming one flesh… 
  2. A statistically higher chance of marital success.  Sociologists have shown that couples who have children within the first couple years of marriage have significantly lower rates of divorce. Sounds good to me. 
  3. A school of virtue. Marriage certainly ignites a mission to grow in virtue. The more virtuous each spouse becomes, the stronger the marriage will be. Having a child early takes the fire of virtue and adds a forest full of wood to the flame. Now, it matters not just that a couple learn how to practice virtue, but also how to teach it. And often, the best way to learn is to teach. St. Thérèse of Lisieux came from one of the holiest families known to the Church. Her parents became more virtuous with each child, not less—their youngest, St. Therese, was canonized. It’s never too early to grow in virtue and start raising little saints. When St. Therese was two, she told her mother that she wished that she would die, because she loved her so much that she wanted her to be able to experience heaven. Can you imagine your little one crawling on your lap, expressing her excitement for your passing? That’s quite impressive—and hilarious—theology from a two-year-old!
  4. Smashing selfishness.  It is easy to become wrapped up in money, time, and self when you don’t have a child draining your wallet, demanding your time, and requiring you to focus on him. It is never too early to learn the lessons of selflessness, and babies are just perfect for that. Better yet, when you give of your money and time and self to them, they have a way of paying you back in unimaginably priceless ways that only parents can truly appreciate: through squeeze hugs and little kisses, scribbled scrap-paper cards and the offering of a precious tiny hand to hold. To boot, marriages strengthen when each individual spouse is more selfless and self-sacrificing (which in turn serves as a great example for the child). It’s a win-win-win. 
  5. Your social community matures. One thing my husband and I noticed immediately after we became pregnant was our desire to gravitate toward couples that were also starting to have or recently had kids. Our passion for sharing the joys and trials, the spiritual significance and everyday tips and tricks of helping a vulnerable tiny person blossom into a mature, faithful adult, skyrocketed. And it is more fun than we thought to talk about womb kicks and our stroller preferences. How times change. 
  6. Bringing humor to your marriage. I wait in curious anticipation for the day my husband and I are able to laugh at the irony of being peed on for the forty-third time, after we thought we had mastered the art of diaper changing our little guy. Children help you realize that life can’t possibly be—and shouldn’t be—so serious. 
  7. Marriage enrichment. Surprisingly, though most people tout that marital satisfaction goes out the window with the conception and birth of your first child (hence the push for delaying children), this idea has only strengthened my and my husband’s resolve to fortify our marriage for the changes to come. Couples who actually prepare for the changes children bring and learn how to love one another even more in times of sleep deprivation, the challenges of added chores, and noise clamoring through the house, do noticeably better in transitioning to parenthood than those who don’t. Children remind us that marriage is hard work, and we should never stop working at it, because it is worth every bit of that work. 
  8. Growth in faith. “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus’ words, not mine (see Matthew 18:3). If kids are our best teachers on how to get to heaven—which is the aim of our marriage and lives—then I’m on board for stocking up on those small tutors early. An early-expanding family also gives you years to build an authentic Christian culture in your home. During my pregnancy, I made a “Family Traditions Book,” that provides us with ways to celebrate various feast days throughout the year that are important to our Church and to our family. Doubt I would have done this before I discovered the baby soul forming in me. 
  9. Be fruitful and multiply. God commanded it, didn’t He? Why wait to carry out God’s will? God’s will inevitably makes us happier than our own wills ever could. My husband and I experienced the joy of conceiving in God’s timing—not ours. After the wedding bells, why not commence the multiplying soon after? It’s the adventure of a lifetime. 
  10. For the ladies only: You get to watch your husband be a father. My two favorite moments of pregnancy so far were seeing the face my husband made when we found out we were pregnant (his face defined for me the word joy) and watching the tear roll down his cheek at our 18-week ultrasound when we saw our baby smile at us, suck his thumb, and found out that he was a boy. A friend of mine who recently had her little girl said there is nothing more amazing, attractive, and inspiring than watching your husband hold your child’s little life in his arms. In just three months, I will get to watch my husband be a stellar dad. I just can’t wait. 

These are only 10 of the many reasons why having kids early in marriage is fun, smart, and simply miraculous. I’m sure you could add many more.

I have always loved flowers. Blessed Mother Teresa once asked, “How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.” I want my house to be filled with bouquets of flowers…now!


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About the Author

Katie (Peterson) Warner, Communications Manager, Catholics Come Home, Inc., has spoken at Catholic and secular venues on topics ranging from media and the culture of life to evangelization in the 21st century, plus a variety of apologetics, theological, spiritual, and practical topics.

She has been a speaker at the National Catholic Bible Conference and numerous Legatus chapters, an emcee for the Eucharistic Congress of Atlanta, and has appeared on EWTN radio and an EWTN television mini-series.

Katie currently works for Catholics Come Home, a national Catholic evangelism apostolate working to invite fallen-away Catholics and non-Catholics home to the Catholic Church.

Katie holds a graduate degree in Catholic Theology, specializing in Evangelization and Catechesis, from the Augustine Institute in Denver, Colorado. Katie also has a degree in Communication and Professional Writing. Since her youth, her passion has always been to use her speaking, writing, and teaching skills to serve the evangelization mission of the Church.

Katie is a core member of a growing youth ministry program in Santa Clarita, California, where she lives with her husband, Raymond. In addition to her work in the parish and with Catholics Come Home, Katie writes for online Catholic magazines and is working on her first book. She plans to devote her life’s work entirely to Jesus, His Church, evangelization, and the sanctity of human life.

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14 Comments

  1. Great insights and I can testify to their truth without hesitation. Our oldest was conceived on our honeymoon. She will be 10 in just a few short weeks. We just gave birth to our #7 and will celebrate 11 yrs of marriage in January. It’s been an awesome roller coaster that I wouldn’t change for the world. Many blessings to you and your husband as you get reafy to welcome your first!!

  2. I couldn’t agree more. I’m the oldest of 12 children, and after about the 6th, each time my mother would announce another pregnancy the faces of people start drooping, frowning, grimacing. I’ve thought each time: “Do you really understand what you’re missing out on?” It’s not quite the same (as they aren’t my children), but I’ve watched all my siblings grow and change, from babies and now some into adults, and I love seeing that. For me, the baby and toddler stages are definitely ones that further fortify the Bible verses about becoming like a child. That part never gets old. Surely it’s different for all, as we all have different circumstances, and we should be open and honest about that before preparing for children, but in all honesty, those who put up the barricades right away are denying themselves something beautiful!

  3. This is one of those kitschy, cutesy articles of stuff that’s already been written and concepts that have already been thought. That, and it’s full of cutesy, t.m.i., dumbed-down mommy patois. (“peed on?” Do you consider yourself at all serious about writing?) It seems like more of a celebration of you, you, you and your choice to have kids right away than advice to aspiring moms.

    I am a Catholic and I support kids all the way, but the internet is full of posts like this and I’ve long suspected they sound less like actual advice than a declaration of “look how witty and cutesy I can sound as I celebrate myself and tell what a wonderful marriage I have!”

  4. “A baby is inarguably the most bonding experience that these two individuals can share.”

    This makes me sad… why? Because it certainly sounds like those who cannot have children share a much lesser bond. There are trials and crosses borne in infertility journeys (for couples who greatly desire children– especially those who wanted large families and find out they can’t have any children at all) that I would posit do just as much to bond a couple as the responsibility and gift of a child. Infertility can also tear a couple apart and cause lots of traumatic experiences — but for those who accept the cross of IF with grace (even if not the most happily or without tears), it can be a source of both consternation and greater, deeper, more true and tested marital fidelity.

    I don’t know why I felt the need to comment on this article. It sounds like, because we can’t have children early in our marriage (even though we are open to life), we are selfish, we have immature friendships (intentionally), we do not grow in faith, we do not share things. I know there are a lot of things I’m missing out on as an infertile, but I don’t like being lumped in with those who are not open to life simply because we have yet to be granted the great gift of a child (early in our marriage — if at all).

    1. Thank you for your comments, Aimee. I’m glad you brought up an incredibly important point: that couples who are not able to or have not yet had children can reach the heights of marital bliss and spirituality as many saints of the past and present have done and are doing. Though my article was aimed at many skeptics among my own age group who question our often counter-cultural choice to have children early in marriage, I wholeheartedly agree with the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s emphatic affirmation that “spouses to whom God has not granted children can nevertheless have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both human and Christian terms. Their marriage can radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality, and of sacrifice” (CCC 1654). Thank you for helping build up the culture of life in your marriage. You have the opportunity to witness to many! God bless you and your husband, and the marriage God has in store for you.

  5. Katie, what your readers may not know but I do is that you will be a terrific mother, and I am so excited for your little guy to arrive. Your joyful participation in this wonderful miracle of God’s creation is inspiring. You want your house filled with bouquets of flowers, but nothing can compare to that wilted dandelion being clutched in a little hand and offered to you with the love only a child can give a parent. My heart is full of happiness for you.

  6. These also apply to why to have (more) children later in life. Although #5 becomes your social community expands to include younger families. My 11 children are spread out over the first 26 years of our marriage. #1 was born a month and a half before our first anniversary, #11 was due 9 months after our 25th anniversary. Of my 3 married daughters all have had children right away….with the third married taking on a toddler stepson less than 3 months into the marriage, and as a single acting parent since her husband returned to Japan just 4 days after the wedding. Definitely brings out the strengths in a woman to face the challenges of motherhood. Same goes for the men and fatherhood. I have seen it in my children and children- in-laws. And yes, I do think it is easier to adapt to children and bond as a family if you have not had years and years to get set in the ways of your coupleness.

  7. Coming at it from a slightly different perspective…my husband and I have wanted to have children from day one of our marriage, and over two years later, we are still a family of two. The title and tone of this article are a bit off-putting to me…I think I understand what you’re aiming at, in helping people who are closed to having children to see what a blessing they are to your life and your marriage. But for someone like me who is still patiently waiting for that joyous day when I can tell my husband I’m pregnant, this piece comes across as if the author is unaware that not everyone who wants to have children early and often gets to do so…perhaps there could be a mention of the fact that “God’s timing” could include never having children, not just having them earlier than society deems appropriate?

    Or perhaps there could be a follow-up piece about how couples not blessed with children can still grow in virtue, develop a sense of humor, smash selfishness, and so on? I certainly see how having a child can help with all of that – but we’ve had to learn to live our sacrament more fully as a childless couple, since that’s what God has presented us with. It can be a lonely path, and can be made more discouraging by the implication that having children is the only way to sanctity…

    Finally, #5 accords with my experience: it’s hard to feel like you belong in a group where everyone else is pregnant or has children. I appreciate parents’ needs to bond with other parents, but please consider that the flipside of that is that people not blessed with children have a harder time feeling at home at the parish, in their neighborhood, and in their social group if they’re left behind while everyone else’s family grows. I’d like to think that parents and non-parents can still build each other up in virtue and not become two distinct social groups.

    Thank you for listening, and blessings on your growing family.

    1. Jane, thank you for your comments and your beautiful witness of love, sacrifice, and patience. Thank you for setting an example of a holy, life-affirming marriage for others. You are correct in assuming that my audience is yours as well-those who are not open to life and to God’s timing, whatever His timing may be. I like your idea of spreading the word about how “couples not blessed with children can still grow in virtue, develop a sense of humor, etc.” as I wholeheartedly agree! Perhaps the Holy Spirit is nudging you to write such an article, as you are able to write from your own personal experience, which can be the most powerful witness. Many blessings to you, your husband, and your marriage. May God continue to work through you both and draw you closer to Him.

  8. Appreciate you sharing your perspective, especially since I’m two months till my wedding. I really like reasons #2- #4. My fiance’ and I are planing on “not trying” to have kids within our first year of marriage, but we’ll take whatever God gives us. We actually just wrote a similar blog post this week too: http://acoupleofcatholics.com/blog/2013/09/22/meaning-of-marriage-and-the-childfree-life/

    Thanks again for your testimony, it’s really helpful to us a young Catholic couple.

  9. This is a beautiful article, and it is what my (sadly) now ex-husband and I did. Unfortunately, he felt it was too soon and took it out on our child when she was born.

    The darker side of this sort of thing is that abuse normally surfaces once a wife is pregnant for the first time, and child abuse will surface with the birth of the first child.

    There is no way to know, contrary to what a lot of “know it alls” will tell you, claiming that if you wait, you will find out. Knowing someone for ten years isn’t necessarily enough. It’s the introduction of children to a home that tell of a man’s family abilities and nothing else.

    If you have your children younger, you will have more support if the worst happens and a chance to begin again if real tragedy strikes. It’s an ugly truth, but one for young women to consider nonetheless. The statistics for domestic/child abuse are staggering.

  10. I appreciate stumbling across this article, we are closing in to our first anniversary and the topic is on the table. We both want children, and emotionally we’re very excited about the experience, but we’re having a hard time figuring out when the right time will be. We are now in our early 30′s so we can’t wait much longer, but we get so much negative feedback about getting pregnant so soon in the marriage, and how our lives won’t be the same (essentially calling our hypothetical children the official “ball and chain”).
    I’ve even been told that once I have a child on the way my career will go down the drain.
    Has anyone else experienced someone similar?

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