Decades of Studies Show What Happens to Marriages After Having Kids
. . . but worth it.
The stress children put on a marriage : Dangerous Intersection
"The happily ever after trope goes something like this: Love, marriage, children, happiness. However, that is not what the statistics show. “Parents often become more distant and businesslike with each other as they attend to the details of parenting.” The source of this sad passage is “Decades of Studies Show What Happens to Marriages After Having Kids,” in Fortune Magazine. The statistics show that having children drives a married couple apart more than it brings them more closely together:
The irony 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."
Maddog replied to that post with the following:
But is happiness the correct metric? Happiness is simply the temporary reduction of elimination of the vicissitudes of life. So, go watch a movie, forget the problems of life for a minute and be happy. This is not a sufficient goal to get through life.
Children decrease happiness precisely because they increase responsibility, and accordingly, the vicissitudes of life.
We also freely admit that the marital relationship changes, but that change commonly happens before children in marriages where both spouses work, at least where the work is highly demanding.
We did not enter marriage thinking that the giddy love struck young man would be unchanged decades later. Instead we entered understanding this relationship would profoundly change us, and Maddogswife, and each significant change to the relationship would likely increase and alter these profound changes.
We now have a very different relationship than we did at the beginning. We have no idea if it is better, but it functions well, and provides everything we need. We won't answer for Maddogswife. She has her own voice.
Our last child is 16, and will matriculate to college in a little more than two years. This also will cause significant changes to the relationship. We might not know what those changes will be, but we expect and welcome them.
Much of the Sturm und Drang related to this issue swirls around the Boomers willingness to believe they are the anointed, and the fairy tale really does apply to them. When denied, they tend to become even more self absorbed than normal and so they "take their baseball, and go home."
Maddog's focus in life, and life satisfaction was contentment, not happiness. This is similar to the differentiation between viewing success as attaining a goal, and success as the process of setting, working towards, and when possible attaining goals. The first sets the individual up for failure, the second sets the individual up for success, every single time. It is a mindset, a perspective, one which can lead to a much more satisfying life.
We are more independent today than when first married. We like that change.
Also note, that a more "business like relationship" and "miserable" are not synonyms. The business like aspect of the relationship arrises because we are no longer insecure in the relationship. The insecure flatter, and are cautious. The secure simply agree, disagree, accept, or decline without need for wheedling flattery, or obsequiousness.
Ultimately, humans all suffer from romantic nostalgia, and we all pine for the things of our youth, in part because some were really great, but mostly because we really wish we were young again. In part, marital satisfaction declines because we want out spouse to be the young vibrant, person who was obsequious in love, and not the mature, secure person we live with today. We miss the naive, but loving, and caring person we first met. This is commonly the very thing which attracted us.
But mature reality seldom allows us to attain our childish dreams.