Parents, we need to talk about your marital relationship, because over the last two decades, 25 separate studies have found that marital happiness tends to drop after a child comes into the picture. The strain of raising children is a major reason why many couples file for divorce. Fortunately, there’s a new study we want to share with you. The study comes from two sociologists at the University of California at Berkeley - Philip and Carolyn Cowan. They found that the couples who had the most troubled marriages after kids came on the scene were the ones who quote “slid” into parenthood. They weren’t expecting to conceive, didn’t feel ready for kids, or one partner wanted them – the other wasn’t sure. However, when both partners wanted kids – and they were planned for – marital happiness grew afterward. However, for the couples in trouble, or ones thinking about having kids, here are two myths you need to know the truth about:
- Myth #1: Having children will solve your marital problems. The reality is that children can magnify problems. That’s why it’s vital to feel stable in your marriage before you think about starting a family.
- Myth #2: Traditional gender roles are best after the kids are born. As in, ‘Mom should stay home while Dad works.’ The truth is: That’s one of the biggest factors in marital dissatisfaction. The Cowans found that when couples had kids – and the wife stopped working – both partners became discontent.
So what’s the solution? Psychologist Joshua Coleman says married couples need to make each other happy before they think about making a child happy. Because kids are happier and do better socially and academically when their parents are happy – even if that means the parents are spending less time with them. That’s a fact! So take advantage of in-laws and babysitters, and set aside time each week that doesn’t involve children. Psychologist Coleman puts it this way: The airline warning to put on your own oxygen mask before you place one on your child also holds true for marriage.