In yesterday's discussion about family size, I left out one really big factor: how children affect a marriage. I'm not saying that having children makes me want to do something crazy like leave or get divorced or have an affair. But children can take a toll on relationships.
When I'm pregnant, nursing, and/or caring for little children all day, I have little emotional or physical energy left over for Eric. I'm touched out, I'm tired, and I definitely don't want to "give" any more after days full of giving and giving and giving. I tend to run away from physical touch, sexual or not. Some of it is due to the hormones of pregnancy and lactation, and the
rest comes from the exhaustion of being on call night and day. It's a lot of work to connect with my spouse, and sometimes more work is the last thing I want.
I'm not generalizing this experience onto all couples. Eric has always had a higher need for physical touch and emotional connection than I have, even pre-children. Starting a family has just accentuated those differences between us.
So our decision about family size also includes the health of our marriage. If I have a fifth baby, it will be at least another 3-4 years before I'm done with the pregnant/frequent nursing/little baby stages. Whereas if I stop with this baby, about a year from now the baby will be (crossing my fingers) sleeping well at night, moving independently, starting to eat some solid foods, and playing with siblings.
I'd like to hear how you balance your relationship with your spouse/partner against the demands of raising children. How do you find time for emotional and physical connection, especially when one or both of you have little desire/energy? How have relationship concerns factored into your decision about family size?