Not usually. The majority of studies indicate that marital satisfaction significantly declines for most couples after having children.
This is truer for women than men. In Dr. John Gottman’s well-known research at the University of Washington, 67% of women reported declining satisfaction with their marriage after having children (Journal of Family Psychology, 14, 59-70). Although the first few months after birth are often periods of intense joy and excitement, the uplift is typically temporary, as patterns within marriages tend to take a turn for the worse by the child’s first birthday. Several studies suggest that the lowest point for couples with children is during the teenage years, when the children are still living at home.
Are there ways to keep your marriage strong after having children?
According to the annual report, The State of Our Unions: Marriage in America, the top three factors that maintain relationship satisfaction after becoming parents are:
- Sexual satisfaction.
- Expressing affection, willingness to forgive, and performing “small acts of service” for one another, such as getting your partner a cup of coffee.
I always emphasize to couples that it’s essential to firmly establish these patterns before having children. If you’re not satisfied with your sex life before having kids, you’re not going to be satisfied afterward. If you’re not already 100% convinced of your partner’s commitment to the relationship before becoming a parent, nothing about having kids is going to magically fix this. Remember that there are wonderful and profoundly compelling reasons to become parents, but be SURE you are ready, and carefully consider whether your relationship is in a place to make the most of starting a family.
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