Endless Curiosity

January 28, 2009

Children and Marital Satisfaction

Filed under: Psychology — Alec @ 7:30 am

I saw this great play, Rabbit Hole, at the Curious Theater in Denver. It’s about a couple who lost their 4-year-old son, and how they deal with his death. It’s moving, funny, and wonderfully acted, and is on until February 14th. See it.

As the program says, “While death is common to all life on Earth, experts on grieving agree the death of a child is the most wrenching and devastating event, and produces the most intense grief.” One fascinating thing about human psychology is how localized that feeling is. We feel intense grief if it’s our child who has died, but nothing close to that if it’s someone else’s child. So despite the fact that we are all very much alike and all parents feel the same over the loss of their children, we have no problem with children being killed in Iraq or Gaza or pretty much anywhere.

But all that is really just an introduction to what I really wanted to write about, which is all the research that shows the the happiness level of couples drops when they have their first child, and only returns to pre-child levels when all the children have left home.

“Indeed, one of the more uncomfortable findings of the scientific study of marriage is the negative effect children can have on previously happy relationships. Despite the popular notion that children bring couples closer, several studies have shown that marital satisfaction and happiness typically plummet with the arrival of the first baby.”

Of course, most couples don’t want to believe this, and often cite examples of transcendental moments with their children. What these memories of the great moments ignore is the times between those moments, when the couples were stressed, resentful, or angry with each other or the children. Here’s the article.

1 Comment »

  1. […] on how children affect marriages is all the rage these days. A previous post of mine talked about Children and Marital Satisfaction. Now there’s a new article in the NY Times about the happiness of the married couples. Money […]

    Pingback by More on children and marriage « Endless Curiosity — February 6, 2009 @ 6:56 am

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