This post is based on information from When Baby Makes Three, the 2011 State of Our Unions report from the National Marriage Project. The study was designed to look at how children affect a couple’s relationship. It found that “the experience of parenthood varies by the outcome studies, family size, the relationship of the parent, and the beliefs of the parents.” The study showed that “parenthood is typically associated with lower levels of marital happiness” but that for a “substantial minority of husband and wives” being parents was not “an obstacle to marital happiness.” The study then found ten things that “seemed to boost men and women’s odds of successfully combining marriage and parenthood.”
In short, they found that for most couples adding kids reduced marital happiness and raised marital conflict, but that for a sizeable subset of couples, this was NOT the case. It seems to me that the reasons some couples can have kids and a happy marriage are things we all need to know and work to build into our marriages!
Before moving on to marriage parts of the study tomorrow, I want to point out one very important finding of the study. The authors said “we found that married parents generally experienced more individual happiness and less depression that unmarried parents…”. In a world that often sees fathers as unnecessary, this is important news. We’ve already seen studies that show both boys and girls are better off with a mother and a father, and now we learn that those who parent as couples are better off than single parents. Society has declared married parenting as old fashioned, but that does not change the harm that single parenting does to children and parents alike.
In this series: