Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Do Kids Cause Divorce?

I was perusing the latest issue of Philadelphia Magazine this morning on the train and came across an article I thought you may be interested in reading entitled, "Do Kids Cause Divorce?" The article discusses the negative impact that children have on a marriage and how marital satisfaction declines for 75% of couples once they have kids. Hurray for Philadelphia Magazine for publishing this article! Of course, we childfree folks are already knowledgable about this subject (and many of us have chosen not to have kids precisely because we know how kids ruin a happy marriage - among other reasons), but it's good to see articles like this getting published in mainstream magazines where the unsuspecting general population can read it.

It's amazing to me that people still believe that having a child makes a marriage happier when all one has to do is look around them to see that the opposite is true. I can't think of one couple I know whose marriage became happier after having kids. Not one. Can you?

10 comments:

ladysmithknitter said...

Seeing what having kids did to my friends relationships was one of the main reasons I decided to never have any. My brothers each have 2 kids and they definitely don't have the same relationship with their wives as they used to.

lauracarroll said...

I have seen kids impact a marriage in negative ways if one parent drove the decision more than the other, if the parents were not happy with how the responsbilities were divied up, but mostly when they were not on the same page about how to raise them. Once the kids were a bit older, AND if the couple had been tending to the marriage when the kids were young, the marriage seems to return to a nice satisfaction ascent. I think kids can be a distraction from dealing with marital issues, and when couples don't deal with them, it can hit a point of no return. Result. Not happy in marriage. ~Laura http://lauracarroll.com

CFVixen said...

I have NEVER seen a marriage get closer/better after the arrival of kids. I have seen them get better after the kids left the nest. But not always.

TLO said...

The couples I know who did not communicate openly pre-children communicate in the same manner--if not worse--now. Children do not "solve" marital problems. Perhaps people thing that "working together" to raise a child will be fulfilling and "fix" any other issues in their relationship... It's time to wake up and realize that children are a HUGE distraction and commitment, and even if you put those marital issues on the back burner now, you'll be facing them again in 18 years... Oh, and they will be worse.

TinFinger said...

Great article until the final nausea-inducing lines:

"Someone should say that: ‘Wait those five years,’” he says. “Because now that I actually want to wake up with my kid crawling into bed and want to spend Saturday in the park with her, my marriage is over. And there’s really nothing I can do about it.”

Just wait until those teenage years, buddy.

Christy said...

Laura's comment was very good. There must be "tending," and children make that difficult.

My brother and sil and I have a running joke: She is a pediatrician, of all things, but was so happy when she met my brother that she didn't want to have kids. She literally doubted out loud to my brother, but wouldn't you rather have a boat, an airplane, and two little sport cars? At the time, I also whined at them both: don't you know how this will change your life? Get a little dog and spoil it!

But no, he wanted kids. Two kids later, whenever they complain, I say, should've gotten a little dog...think of how your life could be...and they squint at me---like it's all my fault, somehow!

Mostly, I think the strife is caused by the money problems kids bring, and my brother and sil don't have that problem, but that's very rare, of course.

GordonGartrell'sMuse said...

I don't believe that children cause divorce but I certainly believe that their presence can push unstable relationships past their tipping points. Children take up time. energy and money that could have gone toward other areas in a married couple's life (particularly each other).

My expereinces show me that a lot of childed divorc├ęs didn't think long and hard before they reproduced and assumed that 1) their relationship wouldn't change at all or 2) it may change a little but eventually thinks would just work themselves out. There was no effort to address any underlying issues in the relationship that could be exacerbated by the strain on time, mental energy, emotional energy, physical energy, and/or money that child rearing can bring, which is the real crux of their problem(s).

Child rearing can be a strain on solid relationships too, but not the same way that it is for a relationship that wasn't really built to last...

Daghain said...

I think the worst part of the whole thing is people who have kids to try and save the marriage. Not only is that not going to work, but it's pretty much a guarantee the couple will be heading to divorce court.

I also think part of the problem is that people don't take marital commitments as seriously as they once did, and it's just easier to leave than to make the effort to work it out, which is really unfair to any kids brought into the marriage.

I'll pass, thanks.

Spectra said...

I think it depends on the state of the marriage pre-kids. We have several couple friends that had "oops" babies right after they got married (or they got knocked up and THEN got married) and their marriages are generally very strained. Most of the time, the husband wasn't ready to give up his freedom yet and now feels like he has to help out his wife with the baby, even though he may have not wanted it. And the wife feels resentful because she has to do all the work. But we also have friends that were married for a good 4, 5 years or so and then decided TOGETHER that they BOTH wanted a baby and they were both on board with the baby duties. Those are the couples that I don't think are threatened by divorce, but most of the time they are immensely more happy once the kids grow up and leave the nest.

Theresa said...

I will say that I know of a few couples who are truly happy, perhaps even happier, after having children. (It's hard for me to gauge 'happier' since most of them already had kids at the point that I met them.)

The key factors seem to be: they had a stable, happy relationship _before_ having children; both people were equally interested in having children (and are equally engaged in raising them); and that they haven't let their kids become a substitute for their marriage or being their own person. These folks are definitely a rare minority, but they do exist.