Children and marriage

I read this article last week and honestly wondered why it was such a surprise. I have been thinking about it quite a bit, running the results through my head.

In the end I realized that I don’t have much to say about it, but wonder what everyone else thinks.


I personally think that children are more a source of stress in a marriage than one of the factors of a successful marriage. Perhaps this apparent change of attitude is more of a recognition of how demanding parenting really is.

I also wonder if in the past surveys people answered the questions the way they thought they should answer it, rather than how they really felt. Sort of like that same phenomenon where people vote for the person they think will win.

So tell me, what do you think?

25 Responses to “Children and marriage”

  1. Callista Says:

    Personally I agree with those factors in the order shown. I can’t speak for everybody but I think people answered honestly.

  2. chris Says:


    I meant in the PAST surveys that perhaps people felt they were supposed to say that children were the most important factor in the success of their marriage. And perhaps now we are just more honest.

  3. Katie Says:

    I find it incredibly interesting (and by that I think I really mean appaling that the percentage of people who don’t think being faithful to each other is important for a successful marriage is rising. Man. That just blows my mind.

  4. Susan Says:

    I hate stats. There are so many variables, so many unanswered what if’s. Personally I think if you want to have a successful marriage and motherhood then I have one word for you selfLESSness. I think we are becoming a more selfish society and that is why the children catagory is down and personal comforts and opinions are up.

  5. Brigitte Says:

    I agree that in actuality children are a stressor on the marriage, you have to have a very strong bond in other areas to take on that job!

    However, even 40 or 50 years ago, it wasn’t too easy to avoid having children if you got married, and it was assumed that children were the whole point of the marriage. Now it’s finally starting to sink in that maybe you can get married just for the sake of love, and actually make a conscious decision as to whether or not to have children.

    Of course, most couples’ definition of “love” these days seems to wear off after a year or so, and they get divorced. :-(

  6. Kimmer Says:

    Springboarding off Susan’s comment–the two items that lost ground, faithfulness and children, seem to be more “community” oriented. The ones that gained ground–including shared household chores, good housing and adequate income–seem to be more “individual” oriented. It would be really interesting to see what the stats were in 1980 or ‘70.

  7. Jaye Says:

    I was thinking the same thing as Katie - you mean 7% of people DON’T think faithfulness is a requirement for a good marriage???

  8. Christine Says:

    It’s an odd question. Basically, it’s saying, “What will make your marriage easier?” We all know that children do anything except make life easier, but they are a valuable, worthwhile investment and commitment.

    I don’t think that children are a factor that pop up and make a marriage successful, but yet they are a vital part of my marriage. Does buying a house and handling a mortgage and upkeep make my marriage successful? No. It makes it harder. Yet, the way we work together and love and sacrifice is what bring growth and success in our marriage.

    Or, are people looking at the question and asking, “Does this mean that just having children means you’ve succeeded more in your marriage? The ability to conceive or adopt = sucess?!?”

    Ugh. I don’t know. I agree - surveys suck.

  9. Christine Says:

    OH! It did get me to thinking about something that a friend said a few years ago. He was discussing the Muslim population in Paris, and how it has grown significantly. The Muslims tend to have very large families (especially in that region). The French (non-Muslims? Is that a word?) average less than 2 children per family. So, surveys have been done, and the projections are showing how within a few decades Paris may be predominently Muslim. Interesting stuff.

    This is off topic, I realize, but this made me have these same thoughts again. I look at America. Who is the majority that are having very large families? It’s not the Chris’s and the Christine’s. The majority are in the far right.

    So, where will we be in several decades?

    Sorry - I’m the worst about answering a question with a question???

  10. tanya Says:

    I think maybe people used to stay together for the children and now they don’t factor that in as much which I think is too bad.

  11. Karen@FamilyBriefs Says:

    I think it requires a good balance of a lot of these items, and it certainly depends upon what is important to you. There are some areas on the chart (like politics and religion) where my husband and I differ more, but those are two areas that are not important to me for us to be the same. The fact that we are a bit different in these areas provides a wider spectrum for our children to experience.

    There might be a correlation between chores and adequate income. For example, I don’t mind doing more chores if my husband is out working. But when business is slow and he’s home (we’re self employed), I do expect there to be more chore sharing. This seems balanced to me.

    But the faithfulness seems not to be an issue of balance or importance. To me, it is MANDATORY!!! I think it is more a symptom of a happy/unhappy marriage than a factor.

    Interesting stats, but like you say, there may be so many variables that it isn’t really relevant :)

  12. Rebecca Says:

    Wow. The options they have are interesting also. I think it’s a compilation of things that contribute to a marriage falling apart. Well that’s not really right either, marriages don’t just fall apart, people don’t commit themselves to keeping a marriage together. {There are of course circumstances that don’t apply to this but I’m speaking generally about marriages that end due to irreconcilable differences}. So I’d say commitment & faithfulness are the most important things. And children don’t make a marriage work, just like they don’t make one fall apart. Some people may stay together because of the kids, but it’s nothing that the kids do themselves. Just my thoughts.

  13. Jeana Says:

    I think having children can make you less selfish, which contributes to a successful marriage. Having children together used to give people more motivation to try to keep a marriage together, to work at it more; it still does for some, but probably not as much as it used to. It used to be common thinking that children were better off if their parents stayed together.

  14. Julie Diaz Says:

    I ended a marriage of 19 years (with three teen-age kids) because I had actually STOPPED expecting more of my husband than I should have….now, 10 years later and although my kids are actually doing great….I wish I had fought a lot harder to keep my family together Because no matter WHO else you meet and how happy you may be with them, believe me, when you have kids, no matter their ages (I am a grandmother now), there is no substitute for the original family…I truly think it is a biological thing….So…for all of you young mothers….FIGHT HARD FOR YOUR MARRIAGES…unless you are being abused….honor your commitment and make sure you don’t give up on your husbands! I promise you…it will all balance out in the end if you do. I really wish I had stuck it out. Good luck to all of you.

  15. Christie Says:

    It shocks me that “shared household chores” is #3 on the list…I mean, who wouldn’t like their husband to do more around the house, but I knew who he was when I married him - a messy man! I am a SAHM, and I do 90-95% of the chores (excluding outside chores). However, when I worked outside the home, I still did 90-95% of the chores. If you asked him, though, he would say he does more because he will occasionally empty the dishwasher or wash out the coffee pot…haha! I used to get angry and bitter towards him about it, but the only person that upset was me! He is a great husband, attentive sexually and emotionally, a great provider, shares the same religious beliefs and strong values that I do and is faithful to a fault. To me, the other items on the list are sooo much more important than help around the house! It is interesting to see what makes marriages strong or what causes them to suffer because it seems to be different for everyone.

  16. Qtpies7 Says:

    I don’t think that 7% of people polled dont’ think faithfulness is important, but that it doesn’t have to break the marriage. It can actually, eventually, make a marraige stronger. No one wants to be cheated on.
    I actually wouldn’t have put it at the top, either. But not because its not very, very important. I think commitment makes a marraige work, commitment no matter what the circumstances. EVERYONE screws up, so you have to be willing to deal with the big, bad, and ugly, though only up to a point. Meaning, repeated infidelity is not acceptable, but you should try to make it work if there is infidelity in your marraige.

  17. Kimmer Says:

    I was thinking about this over the weekend, and also realized that this can be taken as “you don’t have to have children in order to have a good marriage.”

  18. J.Ro Says:

    I just think that you can’t break down a RELATIONSHIP into factors and statistics. So many of these things are intertwined, at least in my life. (ie, help w/chores = happy sex life!)

  19. CathyC Says:

    Hi Chris, I have no idea what makes a happy marriage. I’m literally winging it some days. But here’s another thing I could add to my list: when your in laws live near by, your marriage tends to fall on its ass A LOT. Of course, maybe that’s just me.

  20. Faerylandmom Says:

    This is such an individual decision, and sometimes we don’t have control over when children come into our lives. While I don’t think a child is necessary to the success of a marriage, I don’t think there’s anything that can add more joy & fulfillment to a marriage than children.

    Nothing else makes the words “the two will become one flesh” more real than sharing in bringing a new life into the world.

    Just my 2 cents. :)

  21. Jennifer Says:

    I am having a hard time seeing how the items listed relevantly respond to the question: “What makes a marriage work?” Good housing makes a marriage work? Sure, it might help. Two people make a marriage work.

    And children? Most definitely a marriage stresser.

  22. wookie Says:

    Perhaps the question would be better phrased:
    What are the deal-breakers for marriage?

    Not having enough money or housing? Yes, that would be a huge stress. Not being faithful? That would be a deal breaker for me.
    Not agreeing on wether to have kids? That would be huge, because (like politics or religion) it tends to signal a large difference in priorities.

    Sharing household chores is more an issue of respect for the other person, in my opinion, and sex and shared interests are more about having fun on this roller coaster of life. All important stuff.

    I don’t think people are getting more selfish, but they’re definately feeling more entitled to stuff and wealth than we have in the past. And if having kids made you less selfish, we wouldn’t need Children’s Aid, as a society.

    However, one trend that some of these answers indirectly correlate too is the tendency towards having fewer or no children amoungst young married couples of today. That doesn’t make the generation selfish, per se, there are a lot of reasons not to bring children into the world… you might not like kids, or don’t feel like you can afford the childcare if you need to go back to work (and many of us do), or feel that the world is already overcrowded and unstable and why add to it? There is less pressure to have kids now than there has been in the last 100 years (and there is birth control), so people are simply choosing not to, in greater numbers than before.

  23. tbeck Says:

    my husband and i just found out we are pregnant with our first child. i can’t say that i know what raising my own child is like (although i have had an more-than-average exposure to raising little kids because of my past jobs as pre-school teacher/nanny). anyway, i just wanted to say that since we found out we are expecting, our marriage has changed… for the better! maybe once the baby comes it’s easy to forget those first feelings of wonder that you plus me equals number three… and what a miracle it is that a child is part you, part your spouse… physically, and biologically… but also… everything else. i think that thought alone has built our bond and helped me to understand the concept of sharing not only a house with someone, but a family, and a life, and sharing our genes to create another someone. it’s a profound gift that i will probably only start to understand when i see our baby.

  24. cristina Says:

    i must say that this survey makes no sense… it’s vague, and from what i’ve read, leaves everyone coming up with their own conclusion since the clearity is missing. what makes a marriage sucsessful? if at the end of the day you still treat your partner with love and respect…if your children are raised and don’t need therapy cause of your parenting… if you and your spouse know how to be kind to each other and consider each other’s needs as equal to your own…in other words communication, sacrificing, and letting go of the crazy expection that your husband/wife will fullfill you and be your everything… there’s my 2 cents

  25. Jen Says:

    My personal opinion is that too many factors are being studied and the results are diluted. But…I’ve seen other research that indicates that children are *both* a source of stress and a source of happiness-in life in general not just marriage. *shrug*

    Another pretty significant study indicated that people who have sex frequently, and who climax more often rate sex as *less* important than people who feel unfulfilled in their sex lives–if that follows with this study sample, the people who reported happy sexual relationship as important factors are likely the ones not having great sex…

    I love stats & numbers, but I usually like to look at where the numbers came from before I draw any personal conclusions from them-otherwise they are just numbers that can be manipulated easily.

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