Having Kids Can Ruin A Relationship – Unless .. “

Most couples who commit to a life together want children. Little do they know that for many of them their relationship will get worse once they become a family. Research is quite conclusive in demonstrating this disappointing fact. Comparing couples with and without children, researchers found that the rate of decline in relationship satisfaction is nearly twice as steep for couples who have children than for childless couples. In the event that a pregnancy is unplanned, the parents experience even greater negative impacts on their relationship.

A further surprising statistic is that even as the marital satisfaction of new parents declines, the likelihood of them divorcing also declines. So, having children may make you miserable, but you’ll be miserable together!

Worse still, this decrease in marital satisfaction likely leads to a change in general happiness because the biggest predictor of overall life satisfaction is one’s satisfaction with their spouse. This certainly is distressing especially since so many young couples think that having children will bring them closer together or at least will not lead to marital distress.

The arrival of a child changes marital dynamics. Parents often become more distant and businesslike with each other as they attend to the details of parenting. Mundane basics like keeping kids fed, bathed, clothed and other parental responsibilities take energy time and resolve. Stress and exhaustion become normative. Sexual intimacy usually declines. Parents stop saying and doing the little things that please their spouses

The above conclusions are based on the research of Dr. Matthew D. Johnson. These findings can be found in depth in his book “Great Myths Of Intimate Relationships: Dating, Sex, And Marriage.” Research verifies that the relationship burden of having children is present regardless of marital status, gender orientation, or level of income.

Johnson continues by saying that the consequences of the relationship strain can be serious. Marital stress is associated with many serious physical health problems as well as symptoms of depression and other mental health problems. He suggests couples therapy as the most effective way of treating these overriding concerns.

However, these conclusions need not be true for certain couples that know how, and practice, certain things that will lead to greater marital satisfaction after the birth of a child. Let me list a few things that can ensure marital happiness. Sherry and I have practiced these things and have had a wonderful marriage over the past 38 years together. Our adult children have become wonderful human beings, now happily married, and having children of their own.

  1. Put your marriage first: let each other know consistently that s/he is the most important person and priority in your life.
  2. Communicate well, including finding compromises that both of you can live with.
  3. Have a game plan for raising your children. Decide on expectations and consequences.
  4. Be consistent. Consistency breeds trust.
  5. Continue to have things to look forward to. This helps getting through the tough times.

Certainly there are other factors that help a couple have a satisfying marriage while also enjoying the wonderful times possible while raising children. This list is a good beginning.

What’s most important is whether you have chosen the right mate to share life with and that both of you are on the same page as to having children or not. Too often people wake up and discover that they should not have married the person that they did. And, having children further complicated the poor choice. The result is marital misery and children that did not get good parenting.  Choose wisely and timely!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”     Socrates

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