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Decisions about family: kids and relatives

As relationships get more serious, it’s natural to start thinking more long-term. A major part of these broader conversations between partners is family: whether or not you choose to have kids, and how your lives fit into those of your extended families going forward. 

Having kids vs. no kids

The question of having children can be a dealbreaker. If one person wants them and the other person doesn’t, it can lead to a sad but inevitable breakup. The twist in the story can often be that the person who didn’t want kids may want them later in life—or with a different partner. 
Even when a couple is in agreement about having children one day, moving from hypothetically planning to start a family someday to a real situation can be a difficult series of discussions. It doesn’t necessarily stop once a couple has had a child too: There may be a long negotiation over having more children. 
To get on the same page, a series of conversations may need to happen. It can be worth taking the time to explore the issues behind each argument. Consider putting a deadline on the decision. To make sure you’re able to come to a happy agreement, talking to a marriage counselor could help you navigate the discussions. 

Life with extended families

In long-term relationships, whether married or not, extended families often play a big role. Though every family is different, it can be worthwhile to talk about how you plan to integrate and handle any specific family dynamics.

Deciding where to spend holidays*

Splitting the holidays between families can be complicated and a source of stress, but it doesn’t have to be. Ideally, you'd see all of your loved ones on every holiday—but that's not always possible or practical. To determine how to divide the seasons, communicate honestly and be open to compromise. Consider devoting specific holidays to each family or rotating each year. You could also connect with loved ones through video chat, or create your own celebrations and traditions. 

Taking care of family members in need

It's almost certain that one or both families may have members who need extra care and attention at some time. 

Caregiving for an elderly or ill family member, taking in a family member who needs help, or providing financial support to family can cause stress in your relationship. Talk about decisions and support each other through difficult times. Communicating and working as a team is important in daily life but becomes critical to getting through challenging situations.  

It can make sense to talk about common scenarios, like caregiving for parents, to make sure you’re generally in agreement about the level of help and support you can both offer. 

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*"The Best Tips for Splitting Holidays Between Families, According to Real Couples," The Knot, December 6, 2022,

This information is general in nature and provided for educational purposes only.