An irrevocable relationship
The more noncommittal relationships become, the less couples remain faithful to each other for their whole lives. Temporary relationships develop, suited to a certain phase in your life. With a child it's different: a child can't occupy just a particular phase of your life. Having a child means entering into a lifelong relationship. Family sociologist Bernhard Nauck hits the nail on the head: "Parenthood is the only obligation left in the modern multi-open society that can't be renounced."
Over and over we hear discussions in politics and media about the costs of a child. Couples ask themselves: can we afford a(nother) child? Women ask themselves: how do I juggle career and children? Men ask themselves: can't we be happier as just the two of us?
You can collect and debate arguments for and against children your whole life long. But this question can't be answered with reason alone. So we offer you the following advice for simplification:
Open yourself up to your future parent-power
We are convinced that you carry a personal navigation system within you to guide your way in the land of love. Each person has a vision of how his life should look, but only a few people have access to this picture. They mistrust their life-GPS and put their faith instead in external "facts" that they read in newspapers. They trust what their parents, teachers, or friends say. They don't dare to ask anymore what answer is slumbering inside of them, what assignment they may have received from life, what dream they should transform into reality. It is a tragedy how much bravery is no longer thought and how much greatness is no longer done.
Place both of your life-navigation systems next to each other when you move into the homestead. Picture it: How do I want to live? How do I want to live together with you? How do we want to live? What ideas flash up inside of you? If both of you find a clear inner picture of having your own children, then you will probably have these children and love them and find some way to feed them, regardless of any material or occupational obstacles!
Page 1 of 5 — on page 2, learn to ignore your biological clock.
Excerpted from How to Simplify Your Love, copyright 2008 by Marion Küstenmacher and Werner Tiki Küstenmacher. Used by permission of McGraw-Hill Companies. All Rights Reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced except with permission in writing from the publisher.But you inner picture isn't quite so simple. You also find inside you a colourful jumble of experiences, television reports, and collective opinion. With the following visualization exercises, you can clarify you inner picture.
Vision 1: Observing babies
Pay attention to pregnant womenand babies around you. Touch the baby things in the children's section of the department store. Go down the toy aisles. Watch kids on the playground. Do you feel longing, envy, or sadness when you see another man or women with a baby in the arms? Are you touched?
• Pull yourself away from your biological clock by making a clear decision. For women, the window of time for having children is considerably smaller than for men. Regardless of your age, when you know that you want to have children or if you suddenly feel the urge to have a baby, then the child question should be on the table. Your partner must take the time to ask himself this question, too. Postponing it keeps you both tied to the "principle of not deciding," which at first may seem like a privilege: "We're still young; we have time." As time goes on, though, you both come under precisely the pressure that you wanted to avoid. ( Having trouble conceiving? Try these fertility boosting foods!)
• Assess the actual value of your career. Often, a couple chooses not to have a child because of their careers. But have you really both honestly weighed the two against each other? Stephan Convey's famous question is a worthwhile thought experiment: can you imagine laying on your deathbed and saying to yourself, "If only I had spent more time in the office during my life!"? Convey also recommends writing your own obituary, in two versions: one for the wildest-dreams course of you career, and one for the worst imaginable. In reality, you will probably end up somewhere in between. Does this fulfill you? Does it make up for the lack of children? Consciously transfer your perception of your own worth from your career to your private life. Which personal qualities can you count on here? Have you fully developed them?
• Unlock your true potential. Every child taps into a never-before-imagined energy reserve in his or her parents. When you partner wants to have a child with you, he or she perceives this potential intuitively. Your partner trusts that you will develop this potential together through parenthood. If you both trust each other, you become visionaries for each other and develop your inner potential to the greatest possible degree.
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Excerpted from How to Simplify Your Love, copyright 2008 by Marion Küstenmacher and Werner Tiki Küstenmacher. Used by permission of McGraw-Hill Companies. All Rights Reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced except with permission in writing from the publisher. Vision 2: You inner grandparent
With your eyes closed, imagine your ideal grandfather or grandmother. This should have nothing to do with your actual grandparents. See in your mind's eye this person approaching you. What does he or she do? How does it make you feel?
When we do this little exercise in our seminars, the same thing always happens: almost all the participants start smiling. The mood in the room is filled with love, goodness, and joy. Some even come to tears. They describe the inner wisdom, generosity, and serenity that radiates from this person. They have the feeling that they've been longing for the figure forever. They feel happiest when this person embraces them, and they don't want this person to ever go away. Not one of these imagined being was egocentric or materialistic. None of them had fear or financial worry. None was concerned with questions of status or demanded their personal independence. All of the fantasy grandparents were devoted, free, and spiritually rich.
When we tell our seminar participants who their ideal grandparent really is, they are profoundly amazed. The grandmother or grandfather that is waiting within you to come into the light of reality is you yourself. When doing this exercise, your soul shows itself for a minute in its ripest form. It is your own future self that you see and embrace there. This moment is so heartfelt because you are in agreement with you highest potential. It gives you an idea of your goal, which you could reach in twenty, thirty, or forty years - if you find a way to let your soul transform into this wonderful being.
• Try skipping over your obstacles. For some people, this imaginary detour as a grandparent helps them approach the question of their own children. Anyone who wants to become such a wonderful grandfather or benevolent grandmother naturally has to have his or her own children first. By calling up your inner grandparent, you ally yourself with you future rich and free self. It is stronger than you are today. It will awaken your potential and the strength that you need for your life with children.
• Forget the myth of the right moment. Don't wait forever. Don't postpone it indefinitely. Stop believing that there will someday be an objectively perfect time for a child. It simply doesn't exist! Every wish for a child, as experienced therapists know, is accompanied with ambivalent feelings. "Can we manage it at all?" couples wonder, even the ones who had a child "at the right time." Reality can change from one moment to the next, and you could suddenly find yourself in completely different circumstances. On the other hand, a path appears under your feet when you start to walk it. This goes for twenty-year-olds as well as forty-year-olds. Even the best planning doesn't take the place of fundamental trust in the future. Find role models who are personally encouraging for you in your circle of friends, hook up with a good social and family-friendly network in your immediate surroundings, and motivate each other to be brave and resolved.
• Trust the wisdom of your soul. There is, however, a right moment for a child that the soul perceives, and which does not necessarily correspond to your external economic circumstances.
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Excerpted from How to Simplify Your Love, copyright 2008 by Marion Küstenmacher and Werner Tiki Küstenmacher. Used by permission of McGraw-Hill Companies. All Rights Reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced except with permission in writing from the publisher. Vision 3: Visualize your future child
First, ask yourself: How would our child look? Where is it right now? Imagine that the child asks each of you individually: "May I come?" How do you and your partner answer this question? Talk this over with love. When you both have the feeling that the other is looking you lovingly in the eye and saying, "Yes, I was to have a(nother) child with you," then there is space in your relationship. If you both agree, then love can flow, and the baby is invited to come. Then both parents will handle the external circumstances. That is the most important prerequisite for a child.
Vision 4: You family table
How many children do you have room for in your soul? Close your eyes and think fifteen years into the future. Imagine your dream house. Imagine going into the dining room, and setting the table for a family dinner, with all the details - glasses, dishes, silverware, drinks, food for parents and children. How many plates can you put down? How big is your table? This exercise is particularly surprising for men. When they hear the word child, they usually think of an infant, of changing diapers, and of screaming babies and shut themselves off. But when they think of a big family around a dining room table, of a little family orchestra, or of the big family photo at their own seventieth birthday - then the whole thing looks quite different.
More and more people find their way to this large table with many children through a new partner who has children from a previous relationship. Suddenly there are three, four, or even more children at the table of a patchwork family - an image that in practice often turns out to be more pleasant than was feared.
Don't be afraid of your own shortcomings
Children open up a natural path to adulthood. Pregnancy, birth, and life with a newborn bring "our shortcomings into the world," as psychotherapist Eva-Maria Zurhorst says. A baby has no disguises. It is pure, genuine being. Children help their parents to devote themselves more and more to love. Each touch, comfort, encouragement, feeding, waking, and calming takes away a little bit of narcissism. Your own desires, your own wishes, your own life goals suddenly have to be measured against the great existential experiences of pure existence, embodied in a child. The child doesn't only reveal your shortcomings; it also awakens the gigantic potential to love that slumbers in you as parents.
You don't have to be superparents
In our psychologically aware society, many people doubt that they can really become good parents - perhaps because they didn't have great parents themselves or because they watch Supernanny help clueless parents on TV. For a long time, psychology blamed parents one-sidedly: upbringing was at fault for everything. Now it's thought that the development of a child is only one-third determined by its upbringing; one-third is rooted in its genes, and the other third comes from the social environment and individual personality. Besides this, the current generation of parents are also starting out with much more pedagogical knowledge than any other generation. So your chances of being good parents are better than ever before.
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Excerpted from How to Simplify Your Love, copyright 2008 by Marion Küstenmacher and Werner Tiki Küstenmacher. Used by permission of McGraw-Hill Companies. All Rights Reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced except with permission in writing from the publisher. Relationships without children
For a few generations now, effective methods of contraception have allowed sex to be separated from procreation. Children and relationship are no longer automatically associated with one another. "We can be happy without children," is a phrase many couples say today. Other couples would like to have children, but despite all of their effort they are unable to. Here we have a few simplifying suggestions for how to have a fulfilling and happy relationship without children.
Avoid a one-sided decision
It's not uncommon for women or men who want to have children to spend their best child-bearing years with a partner who "isn't ready to settle down and start a family," or even hides the fact that he or she doesn't want children at all. Asking your partner to stay in a relationship without children for your sake is a huge sacrifice, one that should be returned in kind with a similarly heroic gift of love. Otherwise, your partner will eventually come to be very resentful, and this could destroy the relationship. So it's best to be honest and not give false hope. Then he or she can find a partner who wants to have children. Women and men who leave a relationship for this reason are often refreshingly direct with their next partners: "I want you - but also as the father (or mother) of our children." ( Learn how to find the perfect partner for you here!)
Don't speak badly about couples with children
Sometimes it can seem like a relief for childless couples to list the disadvantages of children or to bad-mouth bad parenting. But when you put others down, your soul and your spirit become small and narrow. On the other hand, people who do have children should not disparage childless couples as "self-centered," or "career-obsessed," or "freeloaders." Just like in the "war between the sexes," the one who attacks other is above all waging war against him- or herself.
A childless couple can find a "spiritual child"
If you both definitely want to live without children, then you can't pass on to your own children what you received from your parents. So to keep the great stream of giving flowing, you should instead find a "spiritual child" who is close to both of your hearts. Beyond work and free time, do something for the good of humanity.
Consider childlessness as opportunity
If you want children but can't have them, this can be a difficult situation for both of you. Talk about your pain with each other, share your struggles, and don't let your partner go through it alone. We know that it helps to find a farewell ritual through which you can peacefully and clearly end this phase of your lives that is full of disappointed hopes. Accepting that you must go without children can bind you more deeply together as a couple.
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Excerpted from How to Simplify Your Love, copyright 2008 by Marion Küstenmacher and Werner Tiki Küstenmacher. Used by permission of McGraw-Hill Companies. All Rights Reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced except with permission in writing from the publisher.