Having children is a rite of passage for many people. It’s also an experience that people welcome with a mix of great expectations. Until recently it was only spoken of through a positive lens. All the joy children bring and how they unlock this new level of love. Only recently have we started speaking of the impact having children has on women’s physical and mental health. Let’s talk about the impact having children has on your relationship with your spouse or partner.
Impact of having children
The difficult truth is for many people, having children creates a significant amount of stress in the relationship. There’s the stress children add to the relationship and the stress they create in parents as individuals. Here are some common impacts.
Less time together and solo
If there’s something babies know how to take, it’s time. Couples end up having less time for each other which can take a toll on their connection. The parents also have less time for themselves which means no time to take care of themselves. Combine all this with the stress of caring for a newborn on zero sleep while feeling socially isolated, especially for mothers, all while life continues to rush on by.
Having children also brings with it extra conflict. Couples suddenly have disagreements about parenting styles, splitting housework, intimacy issues, parental involvement and more. All this can further compound the stress they’re under.
Studies comparing married couples with children and those without consistently find that the rate of decline in relationship satisfaction is twice as steep for couples with children than those without. It’s even worse when the pregnancy is unplanned with those parents suffering an even greater impact on their relationship satisfaction levels. Younger couples who have a child thinking it will bring them closer together suffer the worst effects of this decline. Part of why decreased relationship satisfaction is concerning is because it is a key predictor of overall life satisfaction. So people are just not unhappier with their partners, they are unhappy with their lives in general.
Decreased likelihood of divorce
It’s interesting that even as relationship satisfaction decreases among couples who have children, their likelihood of divorcing equally declines. I suppose the good news is even as you become increasingly miserable, you’ll be miserable together. Yay!
All these can further be compounded by financial strain, health challenges for the child or the parents as well as the absence of support from family, friends or even neighbours. The good news is children enhance our altruism in ways that can be beneficial for our overall well-being and parents swear up and down that it’s more than worth it. As dismal a picture as this article paints, most parents rate parenting as their greatest joy. So, if you want to have children, by all means, go ahead. Whomst are we to stop you?
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