by Elizabeth Earnshaw, LMFT
Are marriages ruined by having children?
Different studies by husband and wife teams, The Cowan’s and The Gottmans, show decreases in marital satisfaction after the birth of a child for about 2/3 of couples. When psychologists Lauren Papp and Mark Cummings studied 100 couples, meticulously documenting their disagreements, they found that 40% of the disagreements were about children.
However, studies also show that couples with children report lower levels of depression after their children begin to grow (because, let’s get real, the first year is a total shit show). When Tom Gilovich followed up with study participants in their later years, no one admitted to regretting children. However, many regretted NOT having children. He found we often regret what we DON’T do more than what we DO.
Other studies have shown that satisfaction drops once you have children whether you’re married or not. And, not surprisingly so, single parents admit to feeling more isolated, stressed, and depressed than their married counterparts. The most depressed parents are those that live separately from their children.
So what’s going on here? And how can a couple become the magic 1/3 of parents whom report satisfaction? And if you aren’t married what can be done to enjoy your children while also managing your stress and your mood?
As new parents ourselves, my husband and I are certainly curious about this conundrum. How do we preserve our marriage (and, perhaps, even improve it) while also loving our child?
Stay tuned over the next few days as a I share with you information about self and relational care after baby.
Elizabeth Earnshaw, LMFT is a licensed marriage therapist in Philadelphia. Elizabeth supports individuals and couples improve the relationship they have with themselves and others through better communication, self soothing, and a clear understanding of what a successful marriage looks like. She believes that any committed couples who is willing to do the work can walk away from therapy with more clarity and connection in their relationship.