Studies Show Working Wives + No Kids = Happiest Marriages

Lovely nuggets in a recent Denver Post article about a book that recaps new national research into working women, kids and marital happiness. The book, published earlier this year by Harvard University Press, is Alone Together: How Marriage in America is Changing.

Here are some of the highlights, according to the article:

* So-called "egalitarian marriages" where wives work outside the home and husbands do their share of housework and childcare are more likely to last versus the marriages where wives don't work.

* These "egalitarian marriages" increased from 1980 to 2000 and are happier than traditional marriages.

* More equitable housework may help marital stability since wives initiate about two-thirds of U.S. divorces.

* In 1980 as well as 2000, childless couples were generally happier than those with children.

My 2 cents is that "equality" is the key to a happy marriage -- but that an egalitarian marriage has nothing to do with whether one or both spouses work or don't work or whether the couple has children. The best thing for my marriage is my failed first marriage (which was childless). I learned -- the hard way -- that there is no value in being a "perfect" wife. Being endlessly giving, and understanding, and doing all the shopping, cooking and cleaning (not to mention money-earning) and remembering my first husband's mother's birthday did nothing for the success of our marriage. My second marriage is far more stable because I'm far more selfish and demanding now -- traditionally "unfeminine" traits that oddly have made both my husband and me far happier together than if I were completely selfless and self-sacrificing.

What about you? Do these findings reflect what you see in your life and marriage(s)? Your parents', friends', children's marriages? Can you have an "egalitarian marriage" even when one spouse does not work? Would your marriage be happier if you didn't have children? What do you think is the key to a long-lasting marriage?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  May 25, 2007; 7:30 AM ET  | Category:  Free-for-All
Previous: Surviving the Weekend Without Divide-and-Conquer | Next: A Letter From The Other Side


Add On Balance to Your Site
Keep up with the latest installments of On Balance with an easy-to-use widget. It's simple to add to your Web site, and it will update every time there's a new entry to On Balance.
Get This Widget >>


Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



First, at last!

Posted by: Fred | May 25, 2007 7:36 AM

Second -- ha!

Posted by: catlady | May 25, 2007 7:39 AM

Third... I hope!

Posted by: cmac | May 25, 2007 7:47 AM

OT from yesterday:

atb:

I don't know about where you live, but we are told to call 911 EVERY TIME we want to contact the police. Every single time. Even if it's something that happened two days ago that I need to report. EVERY TIME. The police tell us that, the civic association tells us that, the city council people tell us that.

If you want to report anything *anything* and need to speak with the police - call 911 - not the local precinct.

That's why I called 911. We are told to by everyone.

Posted by: atlmom | May 25, 2007 7:47 AM

Atlmom,

I bet that kept up up all night didn't it? You just had to get back on this blog and say something.

911 is for emergencies. EMERGENCIES.

You don't call 911 when you need a Band-aid.

Posted by: slash dot com | May 25, 2007 7:55 AM

Actually, I have been first many times. I am first in the heart of Frieda and she is first in mine. Although, she did say last night if it were a choice between my car and her, I would choose the car. I said emphatically no! She said how about your boat and me? I said that is a different story.

Posted by: Fred | May 25, 2007 8:01 AM

Focus, please, people!

Leslie, this is an interesting topic. My husband and I feel like we have a strong 'partnership' in our marriage. Even after working in our business together for 9 years...our marriage has never been stronger. We were both independant before we got married (I was 26 and he was 32) and continue to support each other's need for solo activities and interests (i.e. he needs his 'guy' time and I need my 'girl' time). Having 2 kids certainly makes it harder, but I have found honest communication has been the #1 positive factor in our ever-growing relationship. I also saw that was what was missing in parent's marriage, which ended in divorce after 16 years.

Posted by: ParentPreneur | May 25, 2007 8:03 AM

The key to a long lasting marriage is Valium.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 8:04 AM

or Wellburtrin!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 8:06 AM

I am going to be happy forever since I plan to work and have no kids after I get married! WOOHOO!

Just kidding, sort of, that is my plan, but I thinkt that, as others have said, the issue is communication and both working together - my fiance and I always talk about how we are a team and look at things that way - as someone who used to be like Leslie I guess and give and give and give, it's so refreshing to have a teammate to spend my life with!

Happy Friday!

Posted by: Betty | May 25, 2007 8:08 AM

To some extent, I believe that people make a choice to be happy with what they've got, and then they are happy. It's sort of the "wanting what you have instead of what you don't have" thing. I was at home for four years before returning to work within the last 18 months, and I don't see a discernable difference in my husband's and my relationship -- and neither does he (we just talked about this recently). Things are more chaotic, but we knew that would be the case.

Childless couples: well, I have to say that if a couple is well matched, and doesn't have children, I can see how in a study they would appear to be happier than couples with children. Life before children is all about you and your spouse/significant other and what the two of you want to do together or separately. Life after kids is completely different, and as we've seen on this blog, there are many who just feel like they don't get enough time to pursue their own interests once kids enter the mix. I do think with childless couples, it's a case of not knowing what you're missing. I DO NOT MEAN that childless couples aren't truly happy, because I think there are many kinds of happiness, and a person just needs to find their own. Hope this is clear, probably not as I haven't yet had my morning cuppa.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 25, 2007 8:09 AM

Actually, Slach Dot Com is wrong. We just had a police officer in our town urging us to use 911 any time we need the police. He said calls to the non-emergency number just get routed through 911, anyway.

On topic, I find it surprising that marriages without kids are happier. At the risk of sounding schmoopy, having a child has brought so much happiness into our lives that it's kind of like the bar has been raised across the board. Though I loved my husband before we had DD, having a child with him has made that connection even deeper. And there are few things sweeter than seeing him cuddle DD on his lap and read to her.

As far as whether it's possible to have equality in a one-income marriage, I think it is (of course, I'm biased). The key is to approach things as a team, and for each partner to recognize the other's contribution.

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 25, 2007 8:11 AM

"* In 1980 as well as 2000, childless couples were generally happier than those with children.
"

That's been true since Adam & Eve. Look how bad Cain turned out!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 8:11 AM

I firmly believe that DC area housing prices will fall 40%-60% before all is said and done. People will be talking about real estate like its the plague.

Posted by: tooskinneejs | May 25, 2007 8:13 AM

"On topic, I find it surprising that marriages without kids are happier"

I'm not. I know many childless couples who are quite happy in long term marriages.

Studies also show that couples with children tend to have better marriages when their children leave home.

And I agree, happiness is largely a matter of choice.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 8:18 AM

I think we are over-analyzing these statistics a bit. Married couples that don't work and have no kids see a lot less of each other, and when they do see each other there is less to fight about. Its that simple...

Posted by: jj | May 25, 2007 8:19 AM

jj

"Married couples that don't work and have no kids see a lot less of each other,"

How's that?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 8:25 AM

I didn't mean to suggest that childless couples are unhappy. I certainly don't think that's true. I'm just saying that having DD has made us much happier overall.

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 25, 2007 8:26 AM

Happy before kid, happy with the kid, but now I am a little nervous about how the new kid is going to change the dynamics of the house!


However, I can't picture myself without my daughter and neither can my husband. I think happiness is relative to the people or person involved. Some people are happy without kids, but I would not be one of them. Are working no kid marriages happier? Who can judge that? There is no statistic in the world that can judge my marriage or how me and my husband feel about each other or our children.

Posted by: scarry | May 25, 2007 8:27 AM

The reason that childless couples seem happier is that they don't have the conflicts and tensions that having to bring up children can bring to a marriage. Think about two people who may have even slightly different ideas of how to bring up children and you have friction. While clearly children bring so much joy and purpose to life, they also bring fatigue, sacrifice, and conflict as well (add in meddling in-laws and I'm sure it gets worse).

But when both parents have jobs/careers, both have at least close to the same "power" in the marriage (perhaps not fully equal). Economics can be the driving force in decision-making and a feeling of purpose and independence. I'm not knocking the stay at home parent option--it's just true for most that he or she with the money, has the power. And if you add in an educated stay at home spouse without (or diminished) power, there can be tensions.

And Leslie, I don't quite understand what you mean by "selfish". I think you are falling into the trap of ascribing a negative term to something that is probably not negative at all. Expecting (or demanding, your word) equality, time for yourself or whatever you meant by it is not selfish.

Posted by: working mother | May 25, 2007 8:29 AM

NewSAHM,

Actually Slach Dot Com IS correct. Small towns can afford to have ES deployed for most things but for bigger cities and localities 911 is an emergency service and should be used for such.

Posted by: EMT | May 25, 2007 8:30 AM

'I do think with childless couples, it's a case of not knowing what you're missing.'

I think you have this entirely wrong - it may be for some, but for most, there are reasons why they do not have children - they know they are not well-suited for parenthood, etc. I may be missing out on some things, but I know that I have other things because I don't have kids. I think that the strength it takes to hold firm to one's choices and instincts deserves some credit. Personally, I think our marriage is better because we don't have kids - if we did, they would be my job entirely considering my husband's job and how many hours it requires. There's no way I could make up the difference in pay if my husband was to take a less demanding job and I did find a job. With kids, we would need the money (we do without the kids - tons of student loans) so its just a vicious cycle.

I don't think its fair to say that people who do not have children don't know what they are missing - because most of see it on a regular basis and truly, I haven't felt that I have missed out on anything by not having to to change diapers for two years and stay up all night with a fussy kid and have to worry all the time about things about the kid. Really - why add more stress to my life? We KNOW.

Posted by: WAMC | May 25, 2007 8:32 AM

Oh YEAH-- what working mom said. when there are kids in the picture everything just becomes so much bigger. Yes there is more happiness, but there are so many more things to get stressed out over. i was nearly in tears a few days ago because my husband's reaction to the news that we were having a girl baby didn't meet my expectations. If it had just been that he wasn't as thrilled about me or something I did, I can take that in stride-- I'm a big girl, ya know? But when it's your child, you get this momma bear reaction-- and I know that my husband has had the same with regard to this perception of my faults as a mother.

The faults of your spouse become far more important when you become parents. That adds stress.

also, perhaps really happy couples don't have kids because how could it make them any happier? That was may mind frame when we got married and it took a bit of persuading by my husband to convince me that things can get even better. I'm so glad he did! Life is harder but so much sweeter.

Posted by: Jen S. | May 25, 2007 8:41 AM

Working Mom -- You and I are in agreement that "selfish" is not a bad thing, but I have to say there is A LOT of pressure on women to be unselfish, sacrificing, understanding, giving, subservient wives...always thinking first of others, neglecting their own needs, etc. Our society has an ideal of a "perfect wife" and I see women who give up too much of themselves to try to make their husbands happy, with results that are disastrous for women, kids and even husbands. Because in my experience, this kind of stereotype is not necessarily what men want in a wife.

Posted by: Leslie | May 25, 2007 8:41 AM

'I do think with childless couples, it's a case of not knowing what you're missing.'

This kind of comment really ticks me off because for most people, the decision to not have children is arrived at just as seriously as the decision to have children is for others - the decision to have them should be the biggest decision one ever makes - more so than marriage, even, as the well-being of a completely dependent human being is at stake. Both decisions offer pros and cons - and believe me, there are a lot of people I see out there who never should have had children with the way that they take care of them and treat them and so forth.
May I have regrets about not having children? I most likely will, at some point, but I know I would have regrets if I did. Please - don't ever say that to someone again. Its just not very nice and it makes your choice to have children a superior one - which it isn't. Both decisions are perfectly valid.

Posted by: WAMC | May 25, 2007 8:43 AM

I agree with working mother's 8:29 am post. I'm not sure there's a "happier" for childless marriages, but certainly there's one less (very big) thing to disagree about. I also agree that the SAHP has one "inequality" inherent in the situation, that the SAHP is not bringing in money by definition. I suspect this is the source of many a disagreement, in part because often the WOHP does not fully appreciate what the SAHP does, because let's face it, we're all conditioned to focus on the need for money. Having said that, I do believe you can have an "egalitarian marriage" even when there is one SAHP. But it takes lots of work on both sides. Several of my friends have been very successful.

Regarding Leslie's question about the key to a long-lasting marriage: I believe that appreciating the things your spouse does (and communicating it), agreeing to disagree at times, and recognizing that nobody is perfect are a few things central to happy and long-lasting marriages. Of course, all these things relate back to the true key, good communication.

Posted by: Jen | May 25, 2007 8:44 AM

Not to fuel the fire, but childless people really have no idea what it's like to have kids. I used to think that was just parents poo-pahing me, being condescending, but it's actually true! I've never felt the kind of love I have for my DD, and that includes the love I have for the nieces I'm very close with, my parents, and my husband.

I can easily see how married people who have an equal share in the work and don't have kids, both by choice, are very happy. It sounds great!

Posted by: atb | May 25, 2007 8:48 AM

I agree that happiness is, in many ways, a choice. I know happy and unhappy married couples, with and without kids. The unhappy people seem to complain about everything but they always complain to someone besides their spouse.

Posted by: Momto3 | May 25, 2007 8:53 AM

'I do think with childless couples, it's a case of not knowing what you're missing.'

Some folks are afraid to have kids - for reasons other than the fear of the two-parent, healthy kids in the suburbs lifestyle you seem to assume. Yes you do make many sacrifices for your kids but from the outside but your happiness is not too hard to understand either. Every once in a blue moon you get parents on this board coping with serious health issues and kids who may never be able to care for themselves. Were any of the parents here ever scared that they couldn't handle the real adversity their kid might face? and I am not talking about junior being rejected from harvard...

Posted by: ugh... | May 25, 2007 8:55 AM

There is a difference between childless couples not knowing what it is like to have kids - I think no one would disagree with that, but statements that such couples do not know "what they are missing" tend to have a more judgmental ring to them, which is where the fighting may begin this morning as this blog travels off topic rather early!

Posted by: Betty | May 25, 2007 8:56 AM

That's right America- Stop having kids and you will be happy! Look at Europe! Being overrun by people who have publicly stated they want to take over is fun!

Disclaimer: I'm not saying have kids if you don't want to, I'm just saying I think it's large scale social engineering to push not having kids, whether for happiness, global warming, or any other excuse.

Posted by: Chris | May 25, 2007 8:57 AM

"and believe me, there are a lot of people I see out there who never
should have had children"

For some strange reason, the term "Nazi" just popped into my head.

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 25, 2007 8:58 AM

I knew that saying "not knowing what you're missing" would irritate people. Oh, well. Can't please everyone. But please understand that I don't mean everyone should have kids or that you can't be truly happy unless you have them. I mean that for me (and frankly I'm paraphrasing for every parent I've ever spoken to on the same subject), I had NO IDEA before my first child came into my life about the sheer joy I could find in another person's mere existence on the planet. It is similar to falling in love with your spouse/significant other, but exponentially so much greater that it almost does not compare.

I do not say and I do not believe that a person must have children to be happy. Like I said in my original post, there are different kinds of happiness. I'm sorry if you took it to mean that happiness with kids is superior to happiness without them.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 25, 2007 8:59 AM

NewSAHM,

Actually Slach Dot Com IS correct. Small towns can afford to have ES deployed for most things but for bigger cities and localities 911 is an emergency service and should be used for such

No, that is not what he said. He said it is for emergencies period, so he isn't right either.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 9:00 AM

I guess it depends on how long you have been married and the age of the children. My children have given me my greatest joy, but also my biggest disappointments and heartache. DH and I were living together/married for 7 years before children who are now in late adolescence. We were happy with no children, we were happy with small children, now we fight a lot, and most of it is about the children. I love my children dearly, but sometimes I wish I hadn't had them.

Posted by: anon for this | May 25, 2007 9:00 AM

Chris

"I'm not saying have kids if you don't want to, I'm just saying I think it's large scale social engineering to push not having kids, whether for happiness, global warming, or any other excuse."

Posted by: Storm Trooper | May 25, 2007 9:01 AM

Dr. Laura, and all of the other ultra-conservative republicans, would disagree with that definition of a happy marriage. They believe the husband should be "the man"...go out and earn the money and provide for the family. And the little woman should stay home, raise the kids, give her hubby "guy time" with a smile on her face, shower and change her clothes and put on make-up before her hubby comes home (provide "badaboom" whenever her hubby wants it), make dinner, take care of hte kids...etc. That is the definition of a happy marriage from that side of the political aisle.

Posted by: Kattoo | May 25, 2007 9:03 AM

This blog has jumped the shark. Same thing has been said over and over and over with declining quality.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 9:04 AM

I really hope my life never comes to wishing I didn't have my daughter. Of course, that's easy to say when my greatest joy is waking her up in the morning and seeing the world's brightest smile. That sounds like some family counseling is in order. I wonder how families come to this... So sad...

Posted by: atb | May 25, 2007 9:04 AM

BTW, we have both worked forever, no SAHP. I don't know if our marriage will survive all the tension. Kids are almost out the door to college, and I hope that we can resurrect what we used to have once the kids are gone.

Posted by: anon for this | May 25, 2007 9:04 AM

I am sorry and I don't mean this in a snarky way, but unless you are in charge of the care of children, you have no idea what it is like to have them. You can look to your friends changing diapers or hear them tell you about the latest round of an ear infection, but you really don't know.

If you don't want them good for you, but you have no idea what it is really like to have them.

Posted by: scarry | May 25, 2007 9:05 AM

Tedious Texas guy --

I am really looking forward to your guest column!!!!

Posted by: Nursing Nazi | May 25, 2007 9:08 AM

I guess it depends on how long you have been married and the age of the children. My children have given me my greatest joy, but also my biggest disappointments and heartache. DH and I were living together/married for 7 years before children who are now in late adolescence. We were happy with no children, we were happy with small children, now we fight a lot, and most of it is about the children. I love my children dearly, but sometimes I wish I hadn't had them.

Posted by: anon for this | May 25, 2007 09:00 AM
________

Late adolescence is just rough on parents...and it is rough on the marriage. But you need to make sure you and your husband stick together! Soon, your kids will be out on their own...doing, either to your happiness (or chagrin), their own thing. And it's you and your husband who will be growing old together. So, make sure you get out together, that you get weekends away together...and that you do things together that don't involve talking about (or fighting about), the kids. This is just a stage...and IT WILL PASS!!!!! Have faith. And when your kids are in their 20's, you will like them more than you do now. I promise! Hang in there :)

Posted by: Kattoo | May 25, 2007 9:08 AM

I guess it depends on how long you have been married and the age of the children. My children have given me my greatest joy, but also my biggest disappointments and heartache. DH and I were living together/married for 7 years before children who are now in late adolescence. We were happy with no children, we were happy with small children, now we fight a lot, and most of it is about the children. I love my children dearly, but sometimes I wish I hadn't had them.

Posted by: anon for this | May 25, 2007 09:00 AM
________

Late adolescence is just rough on parents...and it is rough on the marriage. But you need to make sure you and your husband stick together! Soon, your kids will be out on their own...doing, either to your happiness (or chagrin), their own thing. And it's you and your husband who will be growing old together. So, make sure you get out together, that you get weekends away together...and that you do things together that don't involve talking about (or fighting about), the kids. This is just a stage...and IT WILL PASS!!!!! Have faith. And when your kids are in their 20's, you will like them more than you do now. I promise! Hang in there :)

Posted by: Kattoo | May 25, 2007 9:08 AM

Father of 4 -

Can you honestly say that every parent you have ever met has been a good parent? I didn't say that some people should have been stopped from having kids - I just said that there are some parents who are not doing the kids any favors. That's all I meant.

Posted by: wamc | May 25, 2007 9:09 AM

"I firmly believe that DC area housing prices will fall 40%-60% before all is said and done. People will be talking about real estate like its the plague."

40%-60%?! A little drastic don't you think? How did you come up with a figure like that, i'm curious to know. DC has always been an expensive place, I don't see why things would change all of a sudden now.

Posted by: mooser | May 25, 2007 9:09 AM

Chris, I agree:

*it's large scale social engineering to push not having kids, whether for happiness, global warming, or any other excuse. *

I'm sure you would agree that it's also social engineering to push couples to reproduce, whether for happiness, population replacement, economic support or any other reason.

I say that as someone who might regret her choice in husband, but has NEVER regretted her decision to have children.

A few other posters have said it, but it bears repeating: You are as happy as you choose to be.

Besides, if those DINKs didn't exist, who would we all envy?

Posted by: educmom | May 25, 2007 9:09 AM

In my experience, if you can ask for what you wan and need from a partner who respects you and can ask for what he/she want and needs, you're in a solid relationship that will deepen over time. And that can ride out the complexities and strains of children, stepchildren, wicked puppies and anything else life throws at you...

Posted by: second time around | May 25, 2007 9:11 AM

In my experience, if you can ask for what you want and need from a partner who respects you and can ask for what he/she want and needs, you're in a solid relationship that will deepen over time. And that can ride out the complexities and strains of children, stepchildren, wicked puppies and anything else life throws at you...

Posted by: second time around | May 25, 2007 9:11 AM

WorkingMomX


Are your kids teenagers yet?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 9:12 AM

"I really hope my life never comes to wishing I didn't have my daughter. Of course, that's easy to say when my greatest joy is waking her up in the morning and seeing the world's brightest smile. That sounds like some family counseling is in order. I wonder how families come to this... So sad...

Posted by: atb | May 25, 2007 09:04 AM"

You're right - it is easy to say when the children are young and bring nothing but joy. After your children are grown you may have a different perspective. I was in your shoes at one time, but things can change drastically. I hope it's better for you, and this time in my life may turn out to be like childbirth - after it's over, you forget some of the pain :).

Posted by: anon for this | May 25, 2007 9:13 AM

Saying that having a baby has brought your marriage to the pinnacle of happiness is definitely the first sign of people who have just embarked upon the long hard slog of parenting.

Kids grind you down and spit you out. They are relentless. They eat, poop, interfere, interrupt, you have to train them ENDLESSLY, the stakes are so damn high and you know it--so the stresses & strains of differences in philosophy increase exponentially. It's nothing personal, they're not out to get you, but they have no idea, nor do they care, how hard & expensive it is to raise them and prepare them to be independant adults.

I love my kids, and they are doing well in life, but quite honestly, they have NOT been good for my marriage.

I don't doubt that most marriages with two incomes and no kids will fare much better in the long run.

Posted by: Experienced mom | May 25, 2007 9:13 AM

"Having said that, I do believe you can have an "egalitarian marriage" even when there is one SAHP. But it takes lots of work on both sides."

I don't think it takes lots of work. It takes a comfort level with what you are each doing and a respect for the other side - the SAHP can't get hung up on the annual report of "How much is a SAHP worth?" or other such nonsense. He/she can't demand that the other parent who spends 10 hours out of the house each day also do 1/2 of the housework and childcare. And the WOHP can't throw the fact that he/she's the only income producer in the face of the SAHP.

But that stuff isn't work, it's being at ease with your decisions and respecting your partner.

Posted by: momof4 | May 25, 2007 9:14 AM

again - I think some of us are more afraid of autism than ear infections when we aren't sure we can handle kids. From what you say on this board you don't know what that is like any more than I do. We all make decisions on a next step on imperfect information. You do not know what is like to devote your 30s to a nonprofit organization & give more than you might have been able to with kids. We each only get one life - so why waste time trying to decide if you are happier than someone else?

Posted by: to scarry | May 25, 2007 9:18 AM

WorkingMomX: I know we kid-free types don't know ALL of what we're missing, namely the goo-goo eyed joy of parental love. What we DO know is that we're missing out on the hard stuff: diapers, competitive child-rearing, saving for college tuitions, dealing with teen drinking and sex, trying to keep our bosses and our children happy at the same time, etc.

How do we know we're missing these things? Because parents are forever ranting and whining about them on this and other blogs.

IMHO, if parenting were really all it's cracked up to be, the joy would outweigh the challenges and the internet would not be full of parents whining and judging each other.

Posted by: Kid Free in Alexandria | May 25, 2007 9:18 AM

I've only been married for 8 years, but so far the secrets to my happy marriage (at least, *I* think it's a happy marriage) are:
- Remember to "date" your spouse. You can't every day, but try.
- Remind your spouse, with your actions, how lucky he/she is.
- Remind yourself how lucky you are, so that they don't have to.
- Air your grievances, but fight fair. This is your spouse, not some punk in a dark alley or that gutter-sniping back-stabbing co-worker.
- Lean on your spouse when you need to, and be his/her support when they need it.
- Grow. Together. But that doesn't necessarily mean "growing together."
- Guys: Pick up your socks. Gals: Remember that socks on the floor is NOT a sign of the apocalypse.

Posted by: Frank | May 25, 2007 9:19 AM

To anonymous -- My stepdaughter is a teenager. Why do you ask?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 25, 2007 9:20 AM

You're right - it is easy to say when the children are young and bring nothing but joy. After your children are grown you may have a different perspective. I was in your shoes at one time, but things can change drastically. I hope it's better for you, and this time in my life may turn out to be like childbirth - after it's over, you forget some of the pain :).
_______________

Again...I want to say HANG IN THERE!!!!! I have a very good friend who's going through your stage of life right now, and it is rough. She has one child who wants to commit suicide, another who stays out all night (both in highschool)...plus, two kids who are still in elementary school...and her husband travels all the time! And she doesn't have family close by. It just is a tough, tough stage... but you're not alone!

Posted by: kattoo | May 25, 2007 9:20 AM

After 30 years together, it has come down to respect for each other, and clearly communicating our expectations.

Whoever, if anyone, stays home, or works, deserves respect for their role and contriubtions to themselves, their marriage, and their family.

This is based on the partners expectations of each other. Are they clearly communicated, and have you reached a workable consensus?

Posted by: Bryn Mawr | May 25, 2007 9:22 AM

As newSAHM said, I also don't believe that whoever earns more (or anything) would be resentful (I know u didn't sat that, but I think it was implied?). To us, we look at what comes in and what goes out as ours, and we have it together.

As for leslie's point of view, I so agree. I see my sister's abusive marriage where she plays the martyr and shows her husband how much she does for him and the kids, etc, and it will never be enough. The more she does the more he's likely to get angry with her (they are two very unhappy people-and maybe that's the point-they were unhappy before marriage and kids, they are still unhappy-so it's not like any of the situations made them unhappy-maybe unhappy people are more likely to get married and have kids to try to make themselves happy?)

Posted by: atlmom | May 25, 2007 9:22 AM

"We each only get one life - so why waste time trying to decide if you are happier than someone else?"

I think I'm going to print that one out and hang it on the wall! Very well said.

Posted by: Kattoo | May 25, 2007 9:23 AM

"We each only get one life - so why waste time trying to decide if you are happier than someone else?"

I think I'm going to print that one out and hang it on the wall! Very well said.

Posted by: Kattoo | May 25, 2007 9:23 AM

Saying that having a baby has brought your marriage to the pinnacle of happiness is definitely the first sign of people who have just embarked upon the long hard slog of parenting.


To quote Dwight, "False." I've been helping to raise my stepdaughter for 10 years, and now have two younger children. I know about parenting through the teenage years. Some of it sucks, some of it's great, but I wouldn't change a second (except for maybe the time I allowed her to ride a roller coaster until she puked all over me when she was 14).

I really think you need to step back and take a look at what you just said. I never said parenting was all rainbow days. But tell me, those of you with kids, would you have it any other way?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 25, 2007 9:24 AM

test

Posted by: kattoo | May 25, 2007 9:25 AM

There is something to be said for simply being honest with yourself and each other. In my experience, the happy marraiges are the ones where spouses feel comfortable in their disagreements (so that they can face challenges without arguing) and are supportive of each other's goals. The "balance" that I tend to see there is one of being both supportive and asking for help at the same time.

Posted by: David S | May 25, 2007 9:26 AM

I work with the college age crowd...

I am going to do a bad job describing this but -
I am pretty sure there is a miraculous point somewhere in the 17-21 year old range where the vast majority of teenagers become a joy to be around again. Hopeful and excited to learn and try new things - without the peer pressures of HS?

Posted by: to anon for this | May 25, 2007 9:26 AM

"You do not know what is like to devote your 30s to a nonprofit organization & give more than you might have been able to with kids."

No, I do not know what autism is like and I hope I never have to find out. I never said I did, which is different from saying "I know" what it is like to have kids from watching other people.

Also, please don't make assumptions about me. I am in my 30s and work for a non-profit. You can find another way to try and make your point now.

Posted by: scarry | May 25, 2007 9:28 AM

kattoo,

Thanks for the encouragement. We are hanging in because it is close to the end, but I'm still not sure the marriage will survive.

"But you need to make sure you and your husband stick together!" Unfortunately, we don't agree on how to handle the teenage problems, and this is a major source of conflict beyond the problems themselves. Your thought is nice, but I really can't make sure my husband does anything, including sticking together. I can only change myself, and frankly, I believe in my outlook concerning the kids more than his.

Putting on armor now for all the "you should have decided this before you had children" Well, guess what, our ideas of raising children were compatible while it was still theory. In reality, we both shifted in philosophy somewhat, unfortunately the shift was away from each other.

Experienced mom said it best - we love our children but they are NOT good for our marriage.

Posted by: anon for this | May 25, 2007 9:28 AM

First, I think that it is a bit bogus to compare happiness between childless and "childed" couples. These are just two totally different propositions. I do even know if there is a universal definition for happiness.

As far as relative happiness in a "childed" marriage, I think it depends upon how far up the family trail you are. Certainly, the first few years brings great joy as you see that smiling pile of pooh turn into his own little person who can dress and toilet himself. The teen years are far tougher but with a few flashes of what the child can/might turn out to be as an adult. Although the parenting trail never ends until the death of a parent, the adult years for the child can turn into immense satisfaction for the parent (or some continuing pain).

Frieda and I are at that point where 3 are out of the house and the teenager is still with us. We shake our collective heads about the 15 yr old saying we have to go thru those teen years again. But for the two girls, we derive immense satisfaction from our parenting efforts. (We still worry about the older son.) Just yesterday, AF dau called and said that three of her sergeants told her to tell us what an outstanding job we did raising her. At 21, she is strong, independent and has a plan for her life which she is currently executing. Not every young airman is like this.

How can I compare our happiness in raising children compared to a childless couple who have the opportunity to fulfill themselves by their actions? Can I say that I am a better person or happier than childless who can pursue philanthropic activities that I do not have the time or money for? I cannot.

Posted by: Fred | May 25, 2007 9:29 AM

As a wife, married 49 years, and having experienced alot of ups and downs in that time, first trying to emulate a sacrificing Mother, and then coming to my senses,I'll share what worked and didn't in our lives
. Leaving my teaching job to raise 3 kids, and then, fortunately, able to find a great job for 10 years afterwards......my husband and I have seen it all. Our marriage improved markedly when I worked outside the home and had a little more prestige (and earned money). It's a relief not to feel "beholden", however generous your husband is.

Down with sacrifice and too much understanding!
Up with independence (including money), frankness and some good conversations of any and all kinds.

Posted by: nfahr | May 25, 2007 9:29 AM

As a wife, married 49 years, and having experienced alot of ups and downs in that time, first trying to emulate a sacrificing Mother, and then coming to my senses,I'll share what worked and didn't in our lives
. Leaving my teaching job to raise 3 kids, and then, fortunately, able to find a great job for 10 years afterwards......my husband and I have seen it all. Our marriage improved markedly when I worked outside the home and had a little more prestige (and earned money). It's a relief not to feel "beholden", however generous your husband is.

Down with sacrifice and too much understanding!
Up with independence (including money), frankness and some good conversations of any and all kinds.

Posted by: nfahr | May 25, 2007 9:30 AM

As a wife, married 49 years, and having experienced alot of ups and downs in that time, first trying to emulate a sacrificing Mother, and then coming to my senses,I'll share what worked and didn't in our lives
. Leaving my teaching job to raise 3 kids, and then, fortunately, able to find a great job for 10 years afterwards......my husband and I have seen it all. Our marriage improved markedly when I worked outside the home and had a little more prestige (and earned money). It's a relief not to feel "beholden", however generous your husband is.

Down with sacrifice and too much understanding!
Up with independence (including money), frankness and some good conversations of any and all kinds.

Posted by: nfahr | May 25, 2007 9:30 AM

Sixty-seventh!!! Finally! :)

Posted by: sean | May 25, 2007 9:30 AM

WorkingMomX,
Stop defending your choices and trying to get all of the other Moms to back you. If you are happy, then you should be satisfied with your choices...not trying to defend them.

Of course having children is great for those who choose to...duh!!! It's what you wanted in the first place. But, if you don't want them, then why would having them make you happier?

Posted by: Who? | May 25, 2007 9:32 AM

Kid Free in Alexandria

"How do we know we're missing these things? Because parents are forever ranting and whining about them on this and other blogs.

Pet owners do the same thing. Brag and whine.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 9:32 AM

You do not know what is like to devote your 30s to a nonprofit organization & give more than you might have been able to with kids.

Yes, but is there a real demand for that sort of feeling? Give me a break. Besides, there are a lot of nonprofits that have a negative impact on the world. Judicial Watch comes to mind.

Posted by: wtf | May 25, 2007 9:32 AM

"We each only get one life - so why waste time trying to decide if you are happier than someone else?"

Yes, because she said she was happier then childless couples. Can you read?

Posted by: to to scarry | May 25, 2007 9:32 AM

But tell me, those of you with kids, would you have it any other way?

YES.

And this is despite the fact that after 20+ years of raising two kids, they are out, about and doing fine. We did a good job of raising the children to be reasonably well-educated, respectiful, productive members of society. But no, it has not been good for our marriage.

Posted by: experienced mom | May 25, 2007 9:34 AM

Although I love my children dearly I do not think that they improved our marriage, particularly in the beginning. Yes it was fun to have a baby, but they bring a whole slew of work with them.

I think equality and respect count for a lot. It justifies the feeling of partnership.

My manager is divorcing from someone he married in college. She never finished her degree, which I find very unusual in this age. I've only hear his side of the story, but I can not imagine why she is leaving. She has everything to lose and they're basically splitting up their debt. Material girl that I am, I'd be trying to work it out.

I can only surmise that the feeling of respect and equality is such a strong driver that she is willing to accept the decline in living standards and security to establish a life where she feels valid.

Posted by: RoseG | May 25, 2007 9:35 AM

"You're right - it is easy to say when the children are young and bring nothing but joy. "

Yes, it probably once was nothing but joy for the parents of the one million people sitting in prison in America!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 9:36 AM

To: Anon for this

Go for counseling before you decide your marriage is kaput. All I can compare it to is when our child was an infant, and I actually packed my bags, took our child and left! I was sure our marriage wasn't going to survive...all we did was fight! But we got past that stage and it's much, much better now. If your marriage was good at some point, I think it can get good again...you just might need a counselor to go and discuss it with, so you can both air your point of view.

Posted by: kattoo | May 25, 2007 9:37 AM

To Who?

I am not defending my choices. I feel no need to do that. I am defending my words. Do you get the difference? As for being satisfied with my choices/life, etc., I am one of those always happy people you've been warned about. Achtung, baby!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 25, 2007 9:37 AM

Childless couples usually have more money, which may also be a reason they are happier. Money problems is a big cause of divorce.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 9:37 AM

I've never understood how they've quantified "happiness"- is it as simple as asking "Are you happy?" "On a scale of 1 to 5, rate your happiness level"?

To me, the definition of "happiness" is fluid. What made me happy 5 years ago is not what makes me happy now. I'm more stressed out now, married with 1 child, than I ever was before kids. Of course that appears to make me less "happy", but it's not true at all.

I think parents get greater BURSTS of happiness, if that makes sense (rather than being just regualrly happy all the time).

I think being a parent has made me more happy than I could ever describe- a happy that I don't think non-parents can feel.

Some days I am so overcome with joy and happiness and how lucky am I to have an amazing healthy child and great husband-

Some days I want to run far far away and never look back ;)

It's just stressful.

But wonderful- and yes, that makes me happy.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | May 25, 2007 9:38 AM

I can only surmise that the feeling of respect and equality is such a strong driver that she is willing to accept the decline in living standards and security to establish a life where she feels valid.

Posted by: RoseG |

There may be more going on behind closed doors than you aware. Alcoholism, abuse, mental illness, who knows.

But if she is willing to sacrifice financially in order to be independent of him, I seriously doubt this is over trivial matters.

It could be, of course! I almost hope it is for trivial stuff, because the alternative is so extra-unpleasant.

Posted by: anon this time | May 25, 2007 9:39 AM

kattoo - "Go for counseling before you decide your marriage is kaput"

OK- now you are starting to get annoying -LOL. I was not asking for advice. I was commenting on my situation that marriages with kids are not necessarily more happy.

Anyway, how do you know that we are not already in counseling, or that he and I even care enough to want to save it?

Posted by: anon for this | May 25, 2007 9:42 AM

WorkingMomX
"Always Happy" people don't tell everyone that they are always happy...

Posted by: Who? | May 25, 2007 9:42 AM

WorkingMomX
"Always Happy" people don't tell everyone that they are always happy...

Posted by: Who? | May 25, 2007 9:42 AM

sorry I was lumping your comments with some of the others saying that nonparents couldn't understand the joys of parenting. If you accept that, I would argue that (thankfully) don't think many parents understand the sheer pain that parenting can also bring. There seemed to be a lumped assumption that people were scared off by dirty diapers not by some of what I think are the scarier things. I also don't doubt you contribute more than I do to the world - but I have a few friends who travel to far reaches of the world fighting for kids who have a nothing we (again thankfully) don't know here. The "don't know what they are missing" rings hollow for me when I think of them. I don't think we necessarily disagree - I just feel like there is often one conversation about apples and another about oranges.

Posted by: to scarry | May 25, 2007 9:43 AM

17% of working women outearn their husband by $5000 or more in 2005.

I wonder by what percentage they outearn their husbands, overall. 1%? 10%?

At what point do the men (overall) feel uncomfortable knowing their wife outearns them? One dollar? 5%?

When is it statistically significant?

Posted by: curiouser and curiouser | May 25, 2007 9:43 AM

Who?

Well, then, meet the woman who breaks the mold.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 25, 2007 9:44 AM

Did I miss something about oral sex and a sore throat yesterday? Is it worth reading the entire day's postings?

Posted by: Elaine | May 25, 2007 9:44 AM

kattoo - "Go for counseling before you decide your marriage is kaput"

OK- now you are starting to get annoying -LOL. I was not asking for advice. I was commenting on my situation that marriages with kids are not necessarily more happy.

Anyway, how do you know that we are not already in counseling, or that he and I even care enough to want to save it?

Posted by: anon for this | May 25, 2007 09:42 AM

_________________

As for your questions, you're right...I don't know if you're in counseling, or if you both want to save your marriage. And I'm sorry if I'm being annoying...I'll shut up now!

Posted by: TO: Anon for this | May 25, 2007 9:44 AM

"Did I miss something about oral sex and a sore throat yesterday? Is it worth reading the entire day's postings?"

It starts at 2:52 with a post by Mona.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 9:50 AM

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.

It's all a matter of what's between the ears. Now, make up your mind and shut up about it.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 9:54 AM

When this country was run by real men we had a 3% divorce rate and we created the world leader and untold prosperity for those who worked for it, we are now controled by women and we have a divorce rate in excess of 50% our position in the world is in the toilet, or children rank at the bottom in wellness worldwide, and we are economically about to become a third rate country. Way to go girls.

Posted by: mcewen | May 25, 2007 9:55 AM

Curiouser, when my wife was working, she outearned me by about 40K. It was awesome.

Posted by: 1975 | May 25, 2007 9:57 AM

mcewen

"When this country was run by real men "

Please give the names of some of these "real men".

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 9:58 AM

And now the world is run by fanatical fundamentalist Moslems who repress their women. Do you prefer their way to the way the US is now?

Posted by: To mcewen | May 25, 2007 10:02 AM

to to scarry

You don't have to say you are sorry. I would never say haha, you don't know what you are missing, have three or four kids. I think you just got me confused with someone else, which is easy to do on this blog, I have done it myself. And on the contribution to the world thing, I am sure we are probably even in that matter with maybe you edging me out because you have more time to do things for people. I also hate to think about what your friends see when they visit other countries, they are truly good people, much better than me.

Anyway, it is not a contest and I understand your feelings about being told you are missing something. I heard it all the time when I lived in Utah and was trying to finish my undergraduate degree. One doctor even told me at the age of 26 that I was going to be too old to have kids and that if I wanted them I better get on it before God decided I didn't need any.


Posted by: scarry | May 25, 2007 10:03 AM

This blog has now jumped the shark for the second time this morning.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 10:04 AM

This blog has now jumped the shark for the second time this morning.

Posted by: | May 25, 2007 10:04 AM

_____

What are you talking about?????

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 10:06 AM

And now the world is run by fanatical fundamentalist Moslems who repress their women. Do you prefer their way to the way the US is now?

Yes, who stone girls to death for falling in love with the wrong person. I will take a 50% divorce rate over that anyday.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 10:09 AM

Leslie, the failure of my first marriage has alot to do with the happiness I now have in my second. Being more selfish in choosing who I married the second time around has made all the difference. I deliberately choose someone who was very emotionally stable and giving, as opposed to someone who needed mothering. My husband is the type of man that most women tend to overlook while seeking out someone reminds them of their father. Unfortunately most of us have fathers that expected and needed lots of coddling and compromise from the women in their lives. We go out their looking for a masculine figure who ultimately turns out to be a manchild. I'm hoping my daughter will know better. Maybe the next generation of men will be a little more comfortable assuming a fair share in the caretaking responsiblilites of the relationship. Maybe the next geration of women will know to value those qualities when they see them rather than chasing after the high school quarterback (not that their's anyting wrong with being a high school quarterback, if he's willing to help mom with the dishes then we'll take him too).

Posted by: rumicat | May 25, 2007 10:10 AM

Leslie, thanks for putting into words what I've been trying to describe for years - I learned -- the hard way -- that there is no value in being a "perfect" wife. Being endlessly giving, and understanding, and doing all the shopping, cooking and cleaning (not to mention money-earning) and remembering my first husband's mother's birthday did nothing for the success of our marriage. That's exactly how my first marriage worked. My husband was responsible for sitting on the couch and watching TV. I was responsible for everything else. It was exhausting and miserable.

Posted by: Sharon | May 25, 2007 10:11 AM

scarry

"I heard it all the time when I lived in Utah and was trying to finish my undergraduate degree."

What community college did you attend?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 10:12 AM

And now the world is run by fanatical fundamentalist Moslems who repress their women. Do you prefer their way to the way the US is now?

Yes, who stone girls to death for falling in love with the wrong person. I will take a 50% divorce rate over that anyday.

And who stone girls for going to school just to learn to read and write. Now Afghanistan has an entire generation of young women who illiterate due to the Taliban's reign of terror.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 10:13 AM

I think the happiness question may have more to do with couples having the same goals -- or just wanting the same things in life.

If two people who don't want kids get together, and they have chemistry, common interests, and respect for each other's alone-time needs, chances are they'll have a happy marriage.

Likewise, if two people who want to have children and whose prioities are roughly the same -- and who have the chemistry, common interests, etc., etc. -- hook up, they're likely to have a good marriage, as well.

It's all about pursuing what you believe in together.

Posted by: pittypat | May 25, 2007 10:16 AM

We have decided not to have kids, but I don't believe that because of that, we'll automatically be happier, or more miserable, either. It takes work, no matter what.

All I can say is that for us, we know it was the right decision. We're both able to recognize that it simply isn't for us. And we discussed it extensively before we even got engaged.

I have the utmost respect for most parents who do seem to keep it all together. I know from the bottom of my heart that I would be a terrible parent, and that would be so unfair to everyone involved.

I think people need to recognize that there are pros and cons to each lifestyle. Why does it have to be a competition? I don't see it as having the greener side at all. This was the right decision for us, and it's not for everyone.

And in regards to marriage itself, we all need to remember that in a union, there are two individuals with very distinct personalities. You may have a lot in common, but you are still your own person, with your own thoughts, opinions and ideals. Getting all of that to intermingle and for the two individuals to be genuinely happy is a wonderful, precious thing.

Posted by: JRS | May 25, 2007 10:18 AM

Curiouser, when my wife was working, she outearned me by about 40K. It was awesome.


Posted by: 1975

Do you remember by what percent she outearned you?

Posted by: curiouser | May 25, 2007 10:19 AM

Sharon

"My husband was responsible for sitting on the couch and watching TV."

Hey, that's my husband! Small world.

Posted by: Madame X | May 25, 2007 10:21 AM

"Getting all of that to intermingle and for the two individuals to be genuinely happy is a wonderful, precious thing."

Very well said!

If I may, I would hazard to say that "rare" should also be included in your list.

Posted by: Maryland Mother | May 25, 2007 10:21 AM

1975- Did she quit to raise kids? It sounds like it would have made more sense for you to quit!

I made about $20K more than DH when he was working full time. Neither of us cares.

Obviously, we don't know what it's like to walk in someone else's shoes, but there is a common understanding between parents about what it's like to be a parent. I'm sure brain surgeons and astronauts feel the same thing with their colleagues.

I have to say, I'm a much happier parent and wife when I work. That much I do know.

Posted by: arb | May 25, 2007 10:21 AM

What community college did you attend?

I didn't go to a community college.

Posted by: scarry | May 25, 2007 10:22 AM

The true concept of marriage is simple, but rejected. Marriage is the unity of two souls. In any marriage ceremony this is the key premise and purpose. Otherwise we may say that the marriage is merely anthropological.

An anthropological marriage allows, or usually implies full and equal access to a partner either for procreation, protection, sex or for benefitting the welfare of offspring. This is most reasonable.

Americans understand anthropological marriage perfectly, but few know or ever experience perfect marriage. A single affair outside the marriage is of course allowed, providing the marriage is understood anthropologically. But is it possible to have an affair outside the marriage when two souls are enmoltened into one? Well if it is, then by default, it was and will remain a merely anthropoligical marriage, a Darwninan marriage.

The bold sassy article that stimulated all of these comments, I opine, was written either because it was believed to be true or because it made good news-reading. Either way it exposes the authors lack of knowledge about love. Love is unconditional, and the foundation of marriage.

Now in the article that I read, the author noted how she did this and that and the other. In fact it seemed as though she kept a tabulator going in the back of her head (remember the song "No Charge?"). But didn't she understand that love is unconditional when she got married and put on the fancy dresss and played the part of a bride? Why do you think it's such a big day? Marriage is supposed to be forever! Why? because love is unconditional: it is not limited or conditioned by time, space, economics, likes or dislikes....

If love is conditional, then it isn't love but the satisfaction of a current desire, and this is an athropological affair, not a spiritual one. Hence her first marriage was anthropologiacl by nature.

In a seminar I once remarked that if one understood marriage, then those married would only have a single vote. Obviously I was laughed at, even by those that were married. But in the shadows of that same afternoon a few people who laughed at me in public came and asked what precisely I meant.

I said that if they sought to understand what I meant, then they knew nothing about marriage, in the truest sense. Didn't they read the vows?


Posted by: yangpu6 | May 25, 2007 10:25 AM

Scarry,
The correct answer is, "I went to X College/University"...Then you would be actually answering the question without sounding put off by the notion that you might have attended a community college.

Posted by: What? | May 25, 2007 10:26 AM

"I heard it all the time when I lived in Utah and was trying to finish my undergraduate degree."

What community college did you attend?

Utah says it all, wouldn't you say? So many of the people there really & truly women to earn that Mrs. degree and then disappear into the background, bowing & scraping submissively.

A friend of mine is a professor in Salt Lake City, and she's regularly surprised by how few of her female students actually take their education seriously.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 10:28 AM

"I've never felt the kind of love I have for my DD, and that includes the love I have for the nieces I'm very close with, my parents, and my husband."

"It is similar to falling in love with your spouse/significant other, but exponentially so much greater that it almost does not compare."

Maybe this is the reason why childless couples are happier--they're not ranking their love or comparing the love for their kid to the love for their spouse.

I know that if my husband had a kid and told me that he loved him or her more, I would think "what, so I'm just here to do half the chores?"

I could never dream of ranking who I love most in this world. I love my husband and parents and brother equally, meaning I would die for each of them.

Posted by: Meesh | May 25, 2007 10:30 AM

Off topic alert

from wbal.com - trying to suck even more fun out of childhood -

"The Baltimore County school system has instituted a policy on school sponsored field trips.

The system has now made up a list of what officials call high risk activities that can not be a part of the trips or events anymore.

Officials consider them too dangerous or risky for kids to take part.

Michele Prumo, Manager of the Office of Risk Management for the Baltimore County School System tells WBAL Radio amusement park rides, pool parties, water sports, skiing, snow boarding and moon bounces at school fairs are now banned. The list contains about twenty such activities."

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 10:30 AM

I answered the question. He asked me what community college I went to and I said I didn't go to one. I have nothing against community colleges and actually went to two branch campuses while attending the college. Maybe the poster should be less specific in what he asks if he wants a better answer.

For example: Scarry, what school did you go to?


Posted by: scarry | May 25, 2007 10:31 AM

We've been married 19 years, both have doctoral degrees, and are childless. We have never missed it!

I am not a judgmental type, and so if having a family is the best thing that happened to you, bless you. If not, you can also find happiness being childless.

My greatest perplexity comes with some acquaintances who told us they have children to insure that those children will be there to take care of them in old age. Nothing is certain--children sometimes die before parents, are debilitated, or have no interest.

I echo what an earlier person said--you can be happy either way.

Posted by: Daisy | May 25, 2007 10:32 AM

Maybe this is the reason why childless couples are happier--they're not ranking their love or comparing the love for their kid to the love for their spouse.

Meesh, one more example of how you just don't get it!!

Posted by: wtf | May 25, 2007 10:33 AM

curiouser...61%

atb...she hated her job, worked 70+, and always looked forward to raising children at home. So, while it might have "made sense" based purely on dollars, there's a lot of other reasons why it made no sense. In the ensuing years, I've 'caught up' to her old salary, and we're doing just fine.

Posted by: 1975 | May 25, 2007 10:34 AM

I would suspect that there is a genetic/biological factor as to whether a woman (or man?) wants children or not.

I have NEVER had the desire or interest or urge to have kids. I am married, and very, very happy and fulfilled.

I get that my friends want and have had children, and how fulfilling that is for them.

But that's not the right choice for me or my husband. And we never have pangs about it - to the contrary, we thoroughly enjoy our adult space and freedom.

Times are changing, women no longer always automatically assume that they must have children to be fulfilled, and more women are making the choice to NOT have children. Look at the statistics.

My hope is that one day every woman and man will have the self knowledge about whether they do or do not want to have children, and not make that decision based on "I didn't realize I had a choice" and societal expectation and pressure.

Posted by: sue | May 25, 2007 10:35 AM

yangpu6

"In any marriage ceremony this is the key premise and purpose" ad nauseum.

Congratulations!
You win the Bozo award for the biggest bag of b.s. on this blog!!! (Where's that German from yesterday?)

Posted by: Jake | May 25, 2007 10:37 AM

Meech- Forgive me, but I have to say it: spoken like a non-parent. ;-)

Posted by: atb | May 25, 2007 10:37 AM

There's another element to this discussion that I don't think anyone else has mentioned yet.

While some parents insist to child-free couples that they can't know the joys they're missing by not having kids, I wonder how many parents, having had children, truly need to believe they're happy with the choice -- since, really, there's no going back.

Is it possible that at least some portion of parents may regret the choice but cannot bring themselves to admit even the tiniest doubt to enter their minds? And that, to forestall the horror of admitting to themselves that they made the wrong choice, attempt to persuade as many others as possible to adopt the same path?

There is, after all, security and comfort in numbers.

And, before you all start yelling at me, please understand that I'm not suggesting that this might be the case with a majority of parents.

Posted by: pittypat | May 25, 2007 10:38 AM

If children make marriages "less happy" then how do you explain the fact that so many couples have more than one child?

Posted by: fabwm | May 25, 2007 10:38 AM

We got married when I was only 22 and have always considered it one of the greatest strengths of our marriage that we had the luxury of time together BEFORE having kids. We know who we are, both as individuals and as a couple, and that is the source of our greatest strength. It takes awhile to figure out who you are and what you want from life. If you have kids with someone before you've both figured yourselves out, it's going to be a substantially harder road.

Posted by: married young | May 25, 2007 10:39 AM

yangpu6- Of course love is conditional. That's all I have to say about that.

Posted by: atb | May 25, 2007 10:41 AM

No, wtf, I certainly and happily do not get why people rank their love. It's a completely foreign idea, and I'm happy to stay ignorant of it.

That being said, I'm not enjoying the "childless people don't understand xyz" tone the blog has been sporting recently, especially today. It's frankly insulting. See everyone some other day.

Posted by: Meesh | May 25, 2007 10:42 AM


I'm one of 6, so I've gotten to observe all my siblings' marriages. One of my sisters has five kids, the oldest of which is nine. Her life IS the kids... her marriage comes second and I don't think she as an individual even ranks on her priorities scale. Therefore, she's unhappy.

Happiness has little to do with kids/no kids. It has to do with your attitude toward life and the circumstances you find yourself in. Guess what, if your husband's an abusive alcoholic and you just gave birth to a hydrocephalous baby that will die in the next few weeks, no, you're not going to be happy, regardless of your attitude. But there are alot of people in similar circumstances, some happy, some miserable, due to their attitudes.

Posted by: one of six | May 25, 2007 10:42 AM

Meesh, its not about loving more, its about loving different. If my child and my husband were drowing and I could only save one. I would without hesitation, save my child and my husband would want me to save my child also. Its something different and literally impossible to understand until you have it.

Posted by: Moxiemom | May 25, 2007 10:43 AM

Children can expose the faults in a marriage - they demand money (food, clothing, etc) and time.
If you have maid service and/or lawn service and/or eat out most nights the fact that one of you is expecting the other to do for them instead of pitching in is less obvious. Also, if one of you is selfish and expects to be the center of the other's world and always come first the fact the baby/child sometimes needs to take precedence can be a rude awakening and if you take it out on your spouse it can harm the marriage. (And by take precedence I mean a partner who is to tired to do all the same things they did before childern because of the effort of parenting, a partner who interrupts activities because the baby is crying and needs to be fed, or changed, etc.)
All this adds up to a couple who may have been happy before the kid(s), but whose marriage is suffering after the kid(s).

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | May 25, 2007 10:44 AM

Will someone please define "jump the shark"? I suspect i will love it if I only learn what it means.

I am a SAHM with two children, I have a post-graduate degree and worked until our second child was born. I take care of our kids and house and a 2.5 acre yard and there is always something that needs taking care of. But, I do have the luxury of taking extra time to read the Post if I feel like it.

I don't see why it's considered wrong and sacrificing to cater to one's spouse, anticipate his (or her) needs, do what I can to be sexy, remember his mom's bday, etc. My husband works hard and has a killer commute. I don't always have the energy do do everything or do it great, but I try and I know my husband appreciates it. I am showing my appreciation for the sacrifices HE makes so I can stay at home.

It doesn't have to be a Marabel Morgan type arrangement where it's done because the wife must submit to her husband. It can be done out of love.

As for the kids, well, they're here, so why worry about whether childless equals happier.

Posted by: Annapolis | May 25, 2007 10:44 AM

pittypat...that is a well documented consumer behavior (I know, children aren't purchases), but increased stakes (higher cost, less ability to return) usually increases post purchase satisfaction ratings.

Posted by: 1975 | May 25, 2007 10:46 AM

One hundred ninety-twelfth!

The key to a happy marriage? Nooky, and lots of it. Those darn kids can wait...

Posted by: Father of 2 | May 25, 2007 10:47 AM

married young- You also took a great risk, since younger marriages fail more often, as you often grow apart. You were smart not to have kids. I agree with having couple time, but that doesn't always work if you get married in your mid-30's or later.

pittypat- It's possible. But is it really so wrong to make yourself be happy? Good luck convincing people to have kid or not, though! Anyone who thinks it's sunshine and rainbows, whether they were convinced of it or always believed it, is stupid and will be very unhappy with the decision.

Posted by: atb | May 25, 2007 10:49 AM

Jumping the shark refers to the point at which an otherwise enjoyable experience becomes stupid.

It comes from the Happy Days episode where Fonzie jumps over a shark on water skis. (Fonzie wears the skis, not the shark.) That was the point that Happy Days should have just gone off the air instead of trying to salvage the show by ever increasing stupid storylines.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 10:50 AM

1975,

I think you're right!

It's the same behavior you see at plays and concerts. Audiences often give standing ovations b/c they want to believe that the performance they just saw was worth the obscene price of the tickets to see it.

Posted by: Notamom | May 25, 2007 10:51 AM

the experienced mom comments today are not from me, but I do agree!

Posted by: the original experienced mom | May 25, 2007 10:53 AM

pittypat, I went through a phase when I was pregnant where I became absolutely convinced that I would not love my child once it (we didn't know the gender) arrived, and that this was how most moms felt but they didn't tell anyone because they'd be shunned from society. I also felt like the only reason people had one child was a kind of "in for a penny, in for a pound" decision. Totally hormonal.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 25, 2007 10:53 AM

Thank you so much for the jumping the shark explanation. I hope I can remember to use it. I love your writing style and dry wit.

Posted by: Annapolis | May 25, 2007 10:55 AM

"I know that if my husband had a kid and told me that he loved him or her more, I would think "what, so I'm just here to do half the chores?""

As a parent, I think a little differently on the subject. I don't know that I rank my love for my son as higher on the scale of love than that for my husband, but when push comes to shove, I would choose my son over my husband, and I would expect my husband to do the same (ie, choose my son over me). I figure that both my husband and I are adults and can look after ourselves. Our son, however, is a child, and he needs his parents to always look to his best interests first. So in that sense, it would not offend me if my husband told me that my son was a higher priority than me--in fact, I would expect this of him.

Posted by: Emily | May 25, 2007 10:55 AM

this blog is usually more fun after it jumps the shark!

Posted by: the original experienced mom | May 25, 2007 10:55 AM

Pittypat said: "Is it possible that at least some portion of parents may regret the choice?"

I presume it would be very difficult to know, as of course admitting something like that would be taboo - but a search online brought up a program by Dr. Phil where mothers admitted that they did regret their choice to have children. They clearly do exist...

I would guess that there are people who regret not having kids, people who regret having kids... and people who are happy with their choices to have, or not have kids... And people who have mixed feelings on the subject.

I'm just thankful that I knew (at the very core of my being) that I didn't want children, and was lucky enough to have the freedom of environment, that having children or not, actually "was" a choice for me.

I wish that for every woman. To know that it is a choice, and for her to know who she is, so that she can make the right choice for herself.

Posted by: sue | May 25, 2007 10:56 AM

"Jumped the shark" has come in handy at work lately. I've used it to reel in meetings that are getting way off topic and need to be ended.

Two other favorite phrases I'm probably overusing these days:

I say it's spinach, and I say to hell with it. (source, anyone?)

Cheese-eating surrender monkeys. (source, anyone?)

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 25, 2007 10:57 AM

"I say it's spinach, and I say to hell with it. (source, anyone?)

Cheese-eating surrender monkeys. (source, anyone?)"

Know the source, hell, I don't even know the phrases.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 10:58 AM

Cheese-eating surrender monkeys. (source, anyone?)

The Simpsons.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 10:59 AM

Meech- I'm not trying to be insulting. There is plenty I don't understand because I've never experienced it. For instance, depression, suicidal thoughts, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, migraines. OK, those are all bad things, but the point is, I accept that I don't know what it's like and take their word for it. I respect your choice not to have kids. If you and your SO are in agreement, then you have one less huge thing to have disagreements about. As far as me ranking love, you're exagerating. I love a lot of people, but the kid is over-the-top, and that's not such a bad thing. I will say, my marriage comes first, but then, that's what's best for the kid, too.

Annapolis- You don't sound like a doormat, and I think that makes all the difference. You do all of that out of love, not fear.

Posted by: atb | May 25, 2007 11:00 AM

I had a "successful" 30 year marriage during which we raised two wonderful children to adulthood, shared happy times and supported each other through tribulations,. My spouse left because of unhappiness with life and is now happily married to a second spouse. I am contentedly single for now. I have purposely not used gender nouns, because this seems to be such a common event. So, does a "succesful" marriage have to last until death, or can it be defined in other terms?

Posted by: reginarose | May 25, 2007 11:01 AM

Childfree is the way to be. If you want to watch something grow, plant a tree. If you want companionship, get a pet.

Your children will not take care of you in your old age -- they'll choose your nursing home and spend your money to pay the bills.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 11:08 AM

It was good til it was bad then it was over is much more preferable than it was miserable for years and years and then we finally got divorced. The first was a good marriage, for the most part, and the second wasn't.

Posted by: to reginarose | May 25, 2007 11:08 AM

If children make marriages "less happy" then how do you explain the fact that so many couples have more than one child?

That is a really good question. I think it gets back tot he idea that if you are really happy and married, you may not want to mess up a good thing with bringing kids into it-- or, conversely, that those who are married and miserable may believe that the marriage could be improved by having kids. And maybe the happiness factor does go up, but maybe they still aren't as happy as those married and non-childed (is that the PC term?) couples are.

And while we are asking if perhaps childed people are just saying how great having kids is because there is security in numbers and they are just trying to pysch themselves into believing it is the right choice for them-- couldn't the exact same be said of non-childed couples? that they are rating their happiness as higher than they really are out of defensiveness? Out of a desire to build strength in numbers?

For some reason I doubt this, but perhaps it is just "the grass is always greener" reaction!

Anyway, it's a question that I'm sure crossed the minds of many others when reading this article-- were these non-childed couples being completely honest about their happiness?

Posted by: Jen S. | May 25, 2007 11:10 AM

If children make marriages "less happy" then how do you explain the fact that so many couples have more than one child?

Posted by: fabwm

For the same reason that so many re-marry. Hope trumping experience.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 11:12 AM

I can not imagine our life without 5 year old DD. She is the light of our lives.

Child rearing is not for everyone. I hate going to events where children are running wild and the parents are doing everything in their power to ignore their own children.

Even when I let my DD run it has limits. You may run to the bush but not behind.
Mommy must be able to see you at all times. Yes, I will give you water if
we have not had lunch no ice cream.

I enjoyed my time as a stay at home mom.
Now I enjoy my special time with her after work, in the mornings, and on long weekends. For some reason she is looking forward to going to the car wash tomorrow.

Posted by: shdd | May 25, 2007 11:13 AM

anon,

I feel for you. Kattoo, thank you for the words of encouragement you've given to anon. I can sense anon's despair. She appears to need some good female companionship. someone to go through this ordeal with her. Where I am from female relationships tend to be very close ( non-sexual for those who are wondering), they can be a great source of strength/buffer when one goes through life's difficult cycles. The only thing I can offer you at this point anon is some words of encouragement - hang in there, this too shall come to pass. I am sadden I can't offer more.

Posted by: kl | May 25, 2007 11:15 AM

Sorry, Original Experienced Mom, I didn't realize the moniker was taken! I should've guess it though.

Posted by: experienced mom #2 | May 25, 2007 11:16 AM

Someone said: "If children make marriages "less happy" then how do you explain the fact that so many couples have more than one child?"

I would presume for some couples, having another child was a very happy and natural choice...

...for others (and I know that this was the case with a friends of mine) they believed that it was important for their child to have a sibling. I got the sense that it was more about the right thing to do for their first child, than about whether or not they wanted a second child. (Societal messages if you will.)

So I guess that raises the whole debate about whether it is good or bad to have an only child

Posted by: sue | May 25, 2007 11:17 AM

NewSAHM,

Actually Slach Dot Com IS correct. Small towns can afford to have ES deployed for most things but for bigger cities and localities 911 is an emergency service and should be used for such.

Posted by: EMT | May 25, 2007 08:30 AM


I was going to make the same point. The large counties in the DC Metro area like Prince Georges, Montgomery, Fairfax and even Prince William do not tolerate the "my cat is stuck in the tree" calls to 911. If you are in a small municipality it may be common, but try it around here and you will find yourself with a citation. Comparing small departments to large departments is like apples and oranges.

Posted by: cmac | May 25, 2007 11:19 AM

i still say it's spinach & i still say the hell with it.

cartoon from the new yorker (i think) said by a baby sitting in a high chair to its mother

Posted by: quark | May 25, 2007 11:20 AM

back to subject, i qould question the stats. wasn't there another survey done that showed that marriages where the spouses were in more traditional gender roles were happier than those more "equalitarian" marriages. the suspected reason was that people in the more traditional roles knew their place & role in the marriage & were less likely to question themselves.

Posted by: quark | May 25, 2007 11:23 AM

If children make marriages "less happy" then how do you explain the fact that so many couples have more than one child?

Posted by: fabwm

It is not something that happens the minute the child is born. Having children is an overwhelming experience in both good and bad ways. In my case, the marriage was wonderful while the children were small. It didn't go south until the children both were in school and life in general was more complex.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 11:24 AM

Having a failed marriage after 20 years; I know a lot NOW of what you need to have a good marriage. #1 is commitment from BOTH spouses. Commitment to the marriage vow; to the other spouse. Respect. Love. COMPROMISE. Making time for each other. Marriage takes two people to make it work. Your spouse should always be the top person in your life; even above your kids although you should love your kids as the result of your love for each other. Must have empathy!

Marriages break down when people get selfish and forget their vows. People change. Life circumstances changes. People do get tired and stressed. It isn't sex and happiness all the time. You help each other out thru the tough times. You made a vow to love each other and put each other first - if you do - your marriage will survive.

but psssttt... another secret to the marriage lasting MORE EASILY!!! BEFORE Marriage - Find someone pretty compatiable with yourself. similar principles on money, religion, politics, child raising (that is hard because what do you know about child raising until you raise one), methods for settling conflict, etc. The more compatiable you are; the easier. But opposites do attract so for the opposite qualities of your mate - learn from them and respect them and COMPROMISE.

And never let the sun set in anger with each other. Kiss each night before going to bed. Always.

Posted by: C.W. | May 25, 2007 11:30 AM

We got married when I was only 22 and have always considered it one of the greatest strengths of our marriage that we had the luxury of time together BEFORE having kids. We know who we are, both as individuals and as a couple, and that is the source of our greatest strength. It takes awhile to figure out who you are and what you want from life. If you have kids with someone before you've both figured yourselves out, it's going to be a substantially harder road.


Posted by: married young | May 25, 2007 10:39 AM

How long were you together before having kids?

Posted by: anon | May 25, 2007 11:36 AM

To the previous posters: correct about the sources for those quotes.

C.W., you are right on the money. Make a good choice for a mate and you're half done. The other half consists of being fair, forgiving, and loving. Something else that's helped me is to always assume that my husband has my best interests at heart and isn't intentionally trying to make me insane. :)

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 25, 2007 11:37 AM

"...Your children will not take care of you in your old age -- ..."

This is BS in many cases! I speak from experience and what others have posted on this board.

"...they'll choose your nursing home and spend your money to pay the bills."


Sometimes, a nursing home is the only real alternative.

Posted by: Fred | May 25, 2007 11:43 AM

I think things need to be a bit more clear-
I think healthy relationships require equal accountability and equal responsibility for maintaining and giving to create a fulfilling relationship.

That doesn't mean authority or what actual work occurs needs to be equal. A lot of women these days WANT to be submissive to their husband, while continuing to be equal in income and work. Most people are better at some things than others, most people want decision making authority over some things and don't care about others.

So it's not equality across the board that matters so much, simply equality of being accountable and responsible for holding your end of the relationship up.

Posted by: Liz D | May 25, 2007 11:45 AM

"Did I miss something about oral sex and a sore throat yesterday? Is it worth reading the entire day's postings?

Posted by: Elaine | May 25, 2007 09:44 AM"

No.

Posted by: Mona | May 25, 2007 11:48 AM

FWIW, I live in a large-ish town (about 120k people, not in the DC Metro area), and that's what we were told to do. If it's different somewhere else, then fine. But the poster I was originally contradicting made a blanket statement that 911 is only for emergencies. That not the case everywhere.

Someone up-thread had questioned whether some people end up sorry they had kids. It brings to mind an old college professor of mine, who said she always heard that for people who don't like kids, "it's different when they're your own." According to her, it wasn't true.

I know I'm still in the midst of that cute-n-cuddly phase (DD is 18 months), but I cannot imagine ever being sorry I had her. The amount of joy she's brought us already makes me fairly certain that no matter what happens later on, having her will have been worth it.

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 25, 2007 11:48 AM

A lot of women these days WANT to be submissive to their husband, while continuing to be equal in income and work. Most people are better at some things than others, most people want decision making authority over some things and don't care about others.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 11:48 AM

Well, I am having far too much fun planting tomatoes in 90 degrees to read everything today (why is it that I hit 40 and suddenly became unable just to take the day off to do nothing? another blog, though). But my 2c:

I can see why childless couples would rate happier. Dealing with parenting styles is a source of conflict for us that didn't exist before we had kids. Plus they can exacerbate money issues -- between the added costs of the kids, and then one partner possibly staying home or going part-time, adding kids to the equation could add money stress that wasn't there before, or exacerbate partners' disagreements. And then of course there's less time to do the stuff you enjoy -- my husband becomes a different person when he and I go away by ourselves. As much as he loves the kids, he gets worn down by the constant responsibility, going from taking care of job to taking care of kids to taking care of 100-yr-old house. When we were DINKs, we had more time and money to just go off by ourselves for a weekend, or do spontaneous things, to feel like we were "escaping" from the monotony and responsibility.

BUT. (you knew there was a "but" coming, didn't you?). I wouldn't trade my life with kids for my life before kids for anything in the world. It's a different kind of happiness. It's not the happiness of being lighthearted and free and being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want it. It's the deep satisfaction of knowing that I am doing what I was meant to do in this world. It's the joy in my heart that I am privileged to know and love these two most amazing little creatures, and am blessed with the responsibility to help guide them into happy, productive, whole people.

So if I had been writing into that survey, I probably would have said I was happier before kids, because on a day-to-day basis, I had less stress, less conflict, less flashes of fear and protectiveness. But my life is more meaningful now, and I am more content in my soul, because I have a purpose and am working toward that every day.

Note: not saying only people with kids can feel that purpose -- I have known people who you can tell were just meant to do X or Y or Z, and who get that same deep satisfaction by reaching for that goal. It doesn't have to be kids -- it's just doing what you were meant to do. For me, that meant accepting the tradeoffs that come with having kids, because my life would not have been complete without them.

Posted by: Laura | May 25, 2007 11:50 AM

Hmm...an awful lot in that topic, and lots of room for subtlety.

First off, in one sense it seems to be nonsensical. How can you gauge the difficulties and value of both the path your are on and the path you haven't taken? You can't both live a childless life and a non-childless life with the same person while living under the same circumstances. So you are never judging apples to apples. You can only guess at what the other path would or not have been like, regardless of how many experiences you undertake.

Second, raising kids is hard, and it strains marriage. That's part of what the commitment is about, for when the hard times come. So it's no surprise that with all other things equal, that childless couples should have an easier time of it, and show overall happiness somewhat higher on an absolute scale. Does that surprise anyone? They also miss out on things (and many joys). Many people would point out that very little of true value in life comes without some effort/struggle--and without doubt, even raising the best of kids is an effort/struggle at times. No pain, no gain...

So as often pointed out, neither way (kids vs. no) is better, it is up the individuals. I do find it interesting that many in the older generation finds our attitude about raising kids to be overindulgent and selfish. My own father had a cow (before he passed on) that I was waiting until 30 to have kids. I have occasionally wondered if that generation may have been onto something with some of their concerns. Sure the world and our country has changed, in many ways for the better, but I still find myself wondering what the next generation will ultimately say about our choices....

Then there is the final part of the message that Leslie aimed more toward women to reply to, but I'll offer my thoughts anyway in my next post.

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | May 25, 2007 11:50 AM

I think we should also consider that not every pregnancy is planned, so having kids does not always equal being a person who wanted to have kids. In my case, my pregnancy was such an emotional time for me that it altered my thinking and my feelings. Having never wanted kids, and having always planned to abort, I found myself unable to do it. Since I had my child, I have dwelled many times on all the reasons why I never wanted to have kids, but I've also discovered how fascinating it is to watch someone grow up - something I never, ever imagined. I've had higher highs and lower lows than before.

All in all, I'm glad for the experience. I've decided not to have another child, and I think that's the best compromise.

Posted by: anon | May 25, 2007 11:53 AM

My sister told me once, "When you have kids, something will suffer. Either your marriage, your children, or your career. You can't have it all."

I live in fear.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 11:57 AM

My sister told me once, "When you have kids, something will suffer. Either your marriage, your children, or your career. You can't have it all."


Easy choice. Let the career suffer. Who bloody cares??

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 12:01 PM

*If children make marriages "less happy" then how do you explain the fact that so many couples have more than one child?*

*nookie and lots of it*

C.W.: your post is excellent. There are situations in which all the empathy in the world won't help at all (abuse, addiction, serial infidelity). However, if two people are both relatively healthy mentally, and are compatible, they should try to make it work.

If I ever remarry, I will know what to look for next time. For example, I will not date anyone I meet in a bar...

Posted by: educmom | May 25, 2007 12:02 PM

Meesh, as a husband, I definitely love my wife more than my family. I know that even though she is very attached to her family, she loves me more and can't imagine living without me either. If you love your parents and siblings just as much as you love your husband, then you got married for the wrong reasons. Then again, when there are kids, I believe that the parents should love them and protect them more, especially when they are young. But that is all in the context of the same family.

Posted by: RandomGuy | May 25, 2007 12:03 PM

What I find ironic.... is my now-ex .....I don't think he ever realized the strain created in our marriage due to our conflicts in raising our children (and we have semi-difficult children - the strong-willed kind).... so that was all "MY" problem in his mindset...

He has quickly remarried (engaged day divorce papers final) and is having more children with the new younger wife... I wonder.... will THEIR married life be stressed over raising children. The first baby was born a little after their first wedding anniversary (there was a miscarriage first or it woulda been sooner).

I mean we are talking issues where the ex did not believe in saving money for college education (minor) to ex allowing underage children drink alcohol!!! Does this new wife think I was such a horrible mother (I sure it was presented that way) or is she really aware of the TRUE facts and that I stood for good principles in raising the kids.

My kids don't even know all the marriage issues over raising them. My youngest son told me yesterday he wants to go fishing with his Dad, brother, and grandfather. This son has NO IDEA that I pushed his father to do things like this with the kids to no avail. He (ex) actually told me that is what Grandfathers are suppose to do with their kids - not dads. I was floored by that response. My kids have no idea.....

Posted by: C.W. | May 25, 2007 12:05 PM

"Many people would point out that very little of true value in life comes without some effort/struggle--and without doubt, even raising the best of kids is an effort/struggle at times."

Texas Dad,

While I understand that you're not advocating one choice over another, I do hope you're not suggesting here that there is little or no effort/struggle in the lives of child-free people.

I can tell you from experience that sometimes it's the struggles themselves that result in -- or contribute to -- a decision not to have children.

Sometimes, wise choices about child-bearing are made on the basis of real-life experiences or simply listening honestly to one's own internal dialog. This doesn't mean, however, that child-free people don't have children because they just want a carefree and fun-fun-fun life.

For so many of us, that's simply nowhere near the truth.

Posted by: pittypat | May 25, 2007 12:06 PM

My sister told me once, "When you have kids, something will suffer. Either your marriage, your children, or your career. You can't have it all."

I live in fear.

Posted by: | May 25, 2007 11:57 A

Think for a moment about whether it's wise to give a sibling, or anyone else, this much power over your life and reason.

Your sister's bias is showing. Consider the key item missing from her designed-to-scare-the-crap-out-of-you laundry list: "yourself". If you read this blog regularly, the thing that most often goes by the wayside for parents, particularly employed parents, is not their marraiges, not their children, not even their careers -- it's personal time - time for their own hobbies, interests, regular exercise routines, in sum, the activities and interests that defined them before they had kids. In order for you to buy in to your sister's statement, you have to buy into its assumption that self has no value.

The revised version is one to which Leslie subscribes - you can have it all, but not all at once. That's bulls*&t, too.

Don't fear the potential accuracy of unqualified statements made by siblings and purported sages, and said not to all parents, but only to women. Do consider that the more expectations you have of yourself, with the least downtime or opportunities for rejuvenation, the more anxiety and stress you will create for yourself. Learning to manage your own expectations is much more constructive than cowering in a corner.

Meesh - I'm with you on this one, and am one of many parents who do NOT subscribe to the mindset you've appropriately slammed.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | May 25, 2007 12:09 PM

To Yang-Pu:
Love may be unconditional, but relationships are not. Love isn't what solves problems and gets stuff done.

Posted by: Liz D | May 25, 2007 12:13 PM

Liz D- I agree, but I'll take it one step further. It's about agreeing on what's expected from both people, so everyone's clear and no one can be a passive martyr. So, duh, communicate!

Posted by: atb | May 25, 2007 12:13 PM

ATB: Absolutely! Can't be responsible or accountable until you decide what exactly you're responsible and accountable for!

Posted by: Liz D | May 25, 2007 12:17 PM

"Easy choice. Let the career suffer. Who bloody cares??"

People who don't have $$. You clearly wouldn't understand.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 12:18 PM

Someone needs to not only jump the shark again but feed all the beaten to death horses to it and launch it into the sun.
---

Fred, I WILL get around to emailing you one of these days...
---

All, have a good memorial day, and please don't forget that freedom is not free- no matter what crap you are fed by the media.

Posted by: Chris | May 25, 2007 12:20 PM

After reading more comments and mulling it over, I really believe that articles and reports that put out statistics like these only do more harm than good.

For one thing, it continues to perpetuate the behavior of pitting one camp (have kids) againts the other (no kids), and what does that really resolve?

It's ludicrous to say that all married couples with kids are unhappy, and that all childless (or free) couples are happy. There are many other factors that contribute to this state of being.

Furthermore, I think it sends a dangerous message to people that in keeping up with society, their personal choices are either "right" or "wrong". What does it matter? If it's right for you, whatever the decision, you shouldn't care what some statistic says, or what others think.

Posted by: JRS | May 25, 2007 12:21 PM

"This doesn't mean, however, that child-free people don't have children because they just want a carefree and fun-fun-fun life."

This is exactly the life I have now that all the kids have left home.

Posted by: Marlo | May 25, 2007 12:24 PM

Liz D- I agree, but I'll take it one step further. It's about agreeing on what's expected from both people, so everyone's clear and no one can be a passive martyr. So, duh, communicate!

Posted by: atb | May 25, 2007 12:13 PM

Communication does not automatically result in agreement. Sometimes it's just the sound of two entrenched people stating their opinion for the 45th time. Kinda like some around here.

The following is communncation, too: I hear ya. You're still wrong.

On a serious note, even if two people respect each other and communicate well, their differences may be fundamental. People don't stay the same from 24 to 50. Viewpoints change, develop, are impacted by experiences. One believes in strong limits during the teenage years. The other believes that strong limits breed rebellion. There's only so much time for counseling and counseling and counseling.

So, yes, communication is key, but it's not a guarantee, a la sprinkle a little communication and in the morning your household is drama-free.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 12:24 PM

Well, the creepy van is not working propely, the toilet (single) needs to be scrubbed, the floors needs to be mopped and we have not picked out the color for the tile in the bathroom under renovation!

But I am off today, all 4 kids are doing OK today (so far, fingers crossed), we have money in the bank & gas in the cars and Frieda is getting her hair done. Life sometimes does not get any better than this! What's not to be happy about!

Posted by: Fred | May 25, 2007 12:27 PM

"So, yes, communication is key, but it's not a guarantee, a la sprinkle a little communication and in the morning your household is drama-free."

Very, very cute!!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 12:28 PM

Love is a verb, not a noun.

Love implies action--not simply saying it and expecting everything to fall into place because you've clapped your hands and wished upon a star!

Posted by: Rockville | May 25, 2007 12:32 PM

Love is a verb, not a noun.

Love implies action--not simply saying it and expecting everything to fall into place because you've clapped your hands and wished upon a star!

Posted by: Rockville | May 25, 2007 12:32 PM

ah, the bromides continue.

this is more suitable for a Bue Mountain card or that old SNL skit, "Deep Thoughts".

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 12:35 PM

Love is a verb, not a noun.

Love implies action--not simply saying it and expecting everything to fall into place because you've clapped your hands and wished upon a star!

Posted by: Rockville | May 25, 2007 12:32 PM

ah, the bromides continue.

this is more suitable for a Bue Mountain card or that old SNL skit, "Deep Thoughts".

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 12:36 PM

I love you: verb.

Love is all around us: noun

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 12:38 PM

Texas Dad

"Many people would point out that very little of true value in life comes without some effort/struggle--and without doubt, even raising the best of kids is an effort/struggle at times."


Who are "many people"? If this is your opinion, own it!

The greatest "true value" (hardware store?) in my life is my FAITH. There is no effort/struggle, blah, blah, blah.

Posted by: Jezebel | May 25, 2007 12:38 PM

'Love is a verb, not a noun.

Love implies action--not simply saying it and expecting everything to fall into place because you've clapped your hands and wished upon a star!'

actually, I thought this was really good.

And hard work breeds success!!

Posted by: the original experienced mom | May 25, 2007 12:40 PM

After 10 years of marriage, we're happy childless. I agree with the idea that the stakes are higher for childed couples, and maybe that plays a part on the happiness scale. My husband and I argue about, for example, chores. But so what if we disagree? An out-of-control dust bunny (or, dust rhino. Ours are too big to be called "bunnies") matters far less than an out-of-control kid.

Posted by: sfgirl | May 25, 2007 12:42 PM

a penny saved is a penny earned

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 12:46 PM

there is a book out there that I cannot remember the name of - one half of it is devoted to people who have had kids and its all about having them - the second half is by people who have chosen to not have children and their experiences - I keep on meaning to buy it - it sounds like it would be good for people who are on the fence about having kids - but maybe I know that I am firmly planted on the side of not having them because I haven't actually bought this book. Sometimes I get the vague feeling that there might be something to having kids, but most of the time, I am just fine with it - it seems like an awful lot of heartache and it requires a leap of faith that we just can't make - what if things go wrong? I am not sure that we would handle a great handicap very well. Anyway - if anyone knows the title of this book, would you please share?

Posted by: WAMC | May 25, 2007 12:46 PM

Some men are notorious for not seeing dustbunnies (I am one of them.) Do you think that men in general would see a dust rhino?


sfgirl, MN opinions?

Posted by: Fred | May 25, 2007 12:49 PM

"Do you think that men in general would see a dust rhino?"

Only if it's charging them!

*rim shot*

(I'm kidding, some wouldn't let them cling together long enough to be seen by the naked eye!)

Posted by: Maryland Mother | May 25, 2007 12:53 PM

Now for part two...

Leslie wrote originally:
"My 2 cents is that "equality" is the key to a happy marriage -- but that an egalitarian marriage has nothing to do with whether one or both spouses work or don't work or whether the couple has children."

Agree here with Leslie totally, just not likely in her definition of equality. Equality doesn't mean sameness. So she and I deviate after the next two long points.

===
"The best thing for my marriage is my failed first marriage (which was childless). I learned -- the hard way -- that there is no value in being a "perfect" wife. Being endlessly giving, and understanding, and doing all the shopping, cooking and cleaning (not to mention money-earning) and remembering my first husband's mother's birthday did nothing for the success of our marriage. My second marriage is far more stable because I'm far more selfish and demanding now -- traditionally "unfeminine" traits that oddly have made both my husband and me far happier together than if I were completely selfless and self-sacrificing."

And then in answering working mom, Leslie then wrote:

"Working Mom -- You and I are in agreement that "selfish" is not a bad thing, but I have to say there is A LOT of pressure on women to be unselfish, sacrificing, understanding, giving, subservient wives...always thinking first of others, neglecting their own needs, etc. Our society has an ideal of a "perfect wife" and I see women who give up too much of themselves to try to make their husbands happy, with results that are disastrous for women, kids and even husbands. Because in my experience, this kind of stereotype is not necessarily what men want in a wife.
Posted by: Leslie | May 25, 2007 08:41 AM "

===
In answering that, I would offer that Leslie is setting up a bit of a straw man to bat down, IMHO. Leslie, I certainly can agree that men don't want a doormat. I like opinionated women who are fiery, independent and spirited, and who bring value to the discussion/ideas tables. I'd go as far as saying most men do.

Further, seeking equality is not selfishness, nor has anyone ever suggested it is. But as I mentioned above, equality doesn't mean being exactly the same, or ensuring exactly equivalent outcomes for all.

I have always been of the viva la difference mind about men and women's complimentary natures. What you seem to want to list as a weakness is to some of us actually a massive strength, and puts down a part of femininity and womanhood that is the such source of that strength. It's all in how you approach it.

If you chose in your first marriage to seeing giving as an obligation, not something from the heart that you offer freely to those you love, then of course it can be a grueling, unrewarding, Martha-Stewart-vain-attempt-at-perfection nightmare. But giving from the heart to those you love is hardly subservient, and needn't even neglectful of your own needs, since you also receive back. But if you view it with a dollars and cents ledger book outlook, making sure you always get exactly 50 cents back for each 50 cents you spend, you've so missed the point.

I think both partners can give, sacrifice, think first of others, and still be a full equality partner. But if you don't seek joy, and only look at your costs, you will never be satisfied or happy.

The oft dismissed notions of manhood as protector and provider (out of joy) and woman as the center of family and giver (of life, and of self) is not wholly discredited, regardless of how we have lived through a few generations of changing roles/society. Our enlightenment doesn't overthrow every bit of this semi-hard wired response. Things set up that way for a reason, drawing on the strengths and differences that each gender brings to the table (and is not just the result of the dreaded evil male patriarchy.)

Offered for what it's worth...and of course the standard disclaimer applies.

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | May 25, 2007 12:55 PM

Texas Dad of 2

"But giving from the heart to those you love is hardly subservient, and needn't even neglectful of your own needs"

How do you "give from the heart" to those you love?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 12:58 PM

for curiouser (snippets from Boston Globe article in 2003):

Yes, some wives have been outearning their husbands for years. But now it's one in every three.

Wives brought home 34.8 percent of the average family's annual bacon in 2004, up from 26.7 percent in 1980.

The same study showed that when women start contributing more than 50 percent to the family income, the amount of housework the husband does actually begins to fall and continues to fall as the wife's earnings climb. And here's the really depressing part: The study also reported that when a wife becomes a family's sole provider, she often does even more housework than when she contributes half the income.

But there's more to the story, and it explains why Marney's voice is taut, controlled, and flat, yet on the verge of tears as we speak. "My husband is from a family of stay-at-home moms with husband breadwinners," she says. "They don't understand what my life is like." She says her mother-in-law has "called me selfish to my face" for working so many hours, and the entire family is highly critical of the amount of child care her husband does, especially when she travels for work. I ask why they don't respect the fact she's the primary breadwinner. Turns out her husband's family has no idea she's the breadwinner because neither she nor her husband has told them. "I promised my husband we would never have that conversation with his family," she says. (Hence her request not to use her last name.) "I don't want to embarrass him. He doesn't want that information to get out."

Here's a woman willing to put her sanity in jeopardy to protect her husband's ego. She is convinced she is setting a good example for her daughter by working so hard and because her husband feeds her dinner every night. It doesn't occur to her that she's also teaching her daughter that protecting a man's ego is more important than defending her own right to pursue a satisfying career and, oh yeah, support the family. This is how gender roles get perpetuated.

Posted by: Maryland Mother | May 25, 2007 1:00 PM

The real reason people have so many children, despite being happier childless, is because 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned. True statistic.

Posted by: birth control | May 25, 2007 1:01 PM

Texas Dad of 2

"The oft dismissed notions of manhood as protector and provider (out of joy) and woman as the center of family and giver (of life, and of self) is not wholly discredited, regardless of how we have lived through a few generations of changing roles/society. ""

Ha, ha, ha!!! You must be joking!!!!

Posted by: Norman | May 25, 2007 1:02 PM

For curiouser,

I hope this one works:

http://money.cnn.com/2003/02/28/commentary/everyday/sahadi/

Posted by: Maryland Mother | May 25, 2007 1:03 PM

Gender also discounts decision-making power in the family. Although outearning wives may have more power in family decisions than other women, they don't use money-based power with impunity. Regardless of relative earnings, women use persuasion to get their way, whereas husbands sometimes resort to ultimatums and vetoes. Even when an outearning wife seems to shape family decisions, it is not attributed to her superior earnings, but to her planning, organizational, or management skills (Tichenor, 1999). Women are reluctant to emphasize their superior earnings and may go out of their way to communicate that outearning their husbands does not entitle them to special privileges as wives (Atkinson & Boles, 1984; Tichenor, 1999). Thus, although men and women both see money as a symbol of power, prestige, and success, it is a more direct, undisguised source of power for men than for women (Prince, 1993). Men's use of monetary power along with women's inability to use monetary power or their restraint in its use, pro duce and reproduce gender.

Praise and Criticism

A double standard of praise and criticism for men's and women's family roles has been documented previously. Women and men who deviate from gendered norms are both praised and criticized by people outside the family more than women and men who adhere to those norms (Deutsch, 1999; Deutsch & Saxon, 1998). Fathers are more likely than mothers to be criticized if they pass up a night out with their friends to spend time with their children or if they leave work to tend to a sick child. Mothers are more likely than fathers to be criticized if they are employed full time or if their children are in day care. Fathers are also praised much more than mothers for taking care of their children. As one father put it: "I change one diaper, I'm a hero-man of the 90's," (Deutsch, 1999, p. 94).

These different responses to the behavior of men and women reflect that stereotypes can result in the "shifting standards" identified by Biernat and her colleagues (Biernat, Vescio, & Manis, 1998). In a series of studies, they demonstrated that when the performance of the target's group was expected to be inferior, lower standards for evaluation were applied (Biernat & Kobrynowicz, 1999). For example, women were rated financially successful at a lower income than were men (Biernat, Manis, & Nelson, 1991), Black men were evaluated more positively than White men in a simulated job interview if the two groups had the same leadership qualifications (Biernat & Kobrynowicz, 1997), and fathers who described themselves as "good fathers" were assumed to perform fewer positive parenting behaviors than mothers who described themselves as "good mothers" (Kobrynowicz & Biernat, 1997). Shifting standards can explain the double standard of both praise and criticism for mothers and fathers, but whether evaluators praise or criticize depends on their opinion about whether the deviation from the stereotype is good or bad.

Praise and criticism provide a mechanism for making normative gendered expectations salient. The gender construction model argues that we "do gender" by managing our conduct in light of these normative expectations (West & Zimmerman, 1987). When men and women contest gender, onlookers notice and express either approval or disapproval, which highlights that the behavior is nonnormative.

However, there is one puzzling exception to the pattern that contesting gender elicits praise or criticism. Neither men nor women report praise for earning money. If men earn excessive praise for occasionally pushing a baby in a stroller, why don't women merit the same kind of praise for their...

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 1:05 PM

Laura, I think you put your finger on it in your 11:50 post.

The people I know who have chosen to remain childless (including myself, so far) are mostly people with a great sense of purpose around something other than kids. It isn't really that I don't want kids--it is that I have something else I am putting first, and I don't think it would be fair to the kids. That is why I'm considering adopting later on (depending on the way my 'purpose' plays out).

This sense of purpose is an asset to marriage, IMO, whether the marriage includes kids or not--but I think that people who lack a sense of purpose might be more likely to have kids, because kids are often seen as a shortcut to meaning, a default position of valuable work. I don't think people always evaluate whether kids meet their own individual need for purpose--but once they've had the kids, it's too late to change. To my mind that is one of the major stresses on marriages with kids--the realization that whatever other purpose you might have had is now harder to achieve.

Posted by: worker bee | May 25, 2007 1:06 PM

Does the fact that Leslie was physically abused in her first marriage play into your analysis of it, Texas Dad of Two?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 1:07 PM

"I think that people who lack a sense of purpose might be more likely to have kids, because kids are often seen as a shortcut to meaning, a default position of valuable work."

See, I think that's comparable to people with children saying, "You have no idea the joys children bring. You'll change your mind and have kids once you outgrow your selfishness."

Are we taking a a break from the Mommy Wars to fight the Marriage Wars?

Posted by: Arlington Dad | May 25, 2007 1:11 PM

Jezebel,

You wrote:

"Many people would point out that very little of true value in life comes without some effort/struggle--and without doubt, even raising the best of kids is an effort/struggle at times."

Who are "many people"? If this is your opinion, own it!

The greatest "true value" (hardware store?) in my life is my FAITH. There is no effort/struggle, blah, blah, blah.

Posted by: Jezebel | May 25, 2007 12:38 PM
===========

Hmm...well Jezebel, I've been accused of being a self sindulgent poster in here with some regularity, so then when I try to be circumspect I get accused of not owning my opinions by saying "I, I, I". Can't win for losing. :~( Okay. **I** would point out that very little of true value in life comes without some effort/struggle.

Then you say:
"The greatest "true value" in my life is my FAITH. There is no effort/struggle, blah, blah, blah."

Well, that is an interaction between yourself and a perfect, forgiving being. Would you expect much struggle?

Unfortunately, interactions between us imperfect humans (especially the growing up kind), is going to cause some amount of friciton and struggle. Such is our lot, I'm afraid...

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | May 25, 2007 1:14 PM

Regardless of relative earnings, women use persuasion to get their way, whereas husbands sometimes resort to ultimatums and vetoes. Even when an outearning wife seems to shape family decisions, it is not attributed to her superior earnings, but to her planning, organizational, or management skills (Tichenor, 1999).

You know, I read stuff like this and feel like I live in la-la land. In my marriage, the person earning more money doesn't have more of a say or negotiate differently. The money we earn together is our money. The money I earned during the two months he was laid off was our money. The money he earned while I was a SAHM was our money.

Is this really the case in other marriages? I mean, where men are giving ultimatums and vetoing stuff on the basis that they make more money?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 25, 2007 1:15 PM

Daisy, my husband and I were married for ten years before having a child. We were very happy without one, so it I always felt a little conflicted about having one, why mess up a good thing? I agree with you, having kids so that someone will take care of you when you are old is wierd to me. Never, never, never. Although I am looking forward to watching my child grow up and having someone to be connected with as I age. If you don't have kids then finding those connections can be more difficult. But the day-to-day living will be the same for all of us, kids or no kids. However you choose to live your life, marriage, kids, big job, whatever, you just have to step up to the plate and make a good go of it.

Posted by: rumicat | May 25, 2007 1:17 PM

WorkingMomX -- I'm with you in la-la land -- wife and I are team. And heaven help me if I ever issued an ultimatum.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | May 25, 2007 1:19 PM

Texas dad of 2

You must be dumb as a tree stump; for the umpteenth time:

Most people did not grow up the way you did. They weren't the youngest son pampered by 5 adoring sisters and mother.

The don't have inflated egos (hubris).

Many people have never experience a father or a husband as a provider or protector, no matter how "hard wired" you claim these roles to be.

Many people have experienced only mother as a provider and protector; guess the "hardwire" went haywire!

As usual your arguments, refect your very narrow view of life. What about widows with money? Is it hard wired that they will always need providers and protectors?

Do widowers with money always need a woman to be the center of the family?

Oh, and how does your hard wire roles theory apply to gay people?

Posted by: Maude | May 25, 2007 1:22 PM

I wonder if the 'no kids, two career marriages' are more likely to involve:
1. older people 2. people who have been married before.

My sense is that those marraiges might be happier because the participants knew what they were getting into and had fewer unrealistic expectations to bring to the table.

Also, I'm kind of surprised no one has mentioned money. Kids aren't cheap, and presumably you'd be less likely to fight about money if you had more disposable income.

As to Working Mom X's question about "vetoes" on spending, I'm a Spender married to a Saver -- and since he earns significantly more than I do, he ends up suggesting we forgo lots of purchases in favor of saving, and I feel compelled to live with his choice since he earns more. But I think this has more to do with our different attitudes about money than it does about being egalitarian.

Posted by: Armchair Mom | May 25, 2007 1:25 PM

'The real reason people have so many children, despite being happier childless, is because 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned. True statistic.'

Aren't people smarter than this yet? I know this is true, but it does continue to shock me. It doesn't take much to figure out how to not get pregnant - or maybe I just am thinking too much.

Posted by: WAMC | May 25, 2007 1:26 PM

"I think that people who lack a sense of purpose might be more likely to have kids, because kids are often seen as a shortcut to meaning, a default position of valuable work."

"See, I think that's comparable to people with children saying, "You have no idea the joys children bring. You'll change your mind and have kids once you outgrow your selfishness."

Are we taking a a break from the Mommy Wars to fight the Marriage Wars?

Posted by: Arlington Dad | May 25, 2007 01:11 PM "

I think the whole premise of this particular position is that we are driven to find something noble in each choice. We have to be able to say that our choice is about something bigger than ourselves.

But the truth is that we make our choices for a whole great big variety of reasons. One person's noble cause is another person's sucker bet. And this is because we're all different. As many of us as there are, that's how many reasons -- or explanations -- there will be for the choices we've made (or allowed to happen to us).

So, while it's a nice effort to try and put a positive spin on someone else's choice so that we can better understand it, far better to simply respect that the person made a choice for reasons of her/his own. That should be enough.

Posted by: pittypat | May 25, 2007 1:27 PM

Arlington Dad, I was taking pains to separate the people who truly find purpose in their kids from the people who really don't know what to do with their lives, and have kids because it's natural for people to have kids. Not suggesting that the second group can't find meaning through having kids, even--just that if they do not, they will have more difficulty finding it somewhere else than a childless couple would.

Posted by: worker bee | May 25, 2007 1:30 PM

"self sindulgent"

Texas Dad,

This is a great typo. It should be in the blog's glossary.

Oh, wait. We don't have a glossary. :>(

Posted by: pittypat | May 25, 2007 1:32 PM

Wow, a bunch of comments at once. I'll just answer this one first:

"Does the fact that Leslie was physically abused in her first marriage play into your analysis of it, Texas Dad of Two?"

Well, I've never heard Leslie say out loud that she was physically abused in her first marriage. If she was, she certainly couldn't try to give from a place of love. Personally, I don't see how mutual love can exist outside a lack of respect, and any physically abusive marriage denotes lack of respect by the abuser and can't be a basis of true love.

Leslie, if that was your situation, then first I am sorry for what you went through. I can see why you might have been subsequently fooled into thinking being more "perfect" would makes things better, while also seeing why that impulse is/was doomed. In such a case I would say that your feminine impulse was abused, something any guy should be disgusted about on behalf of our gender.

In fact, to me the cruelest cuts of all are women taking advantage of a guy's desire to protect/provide/defend, or a guy taking advantage of a woman who is trying to give/share from her feminine center, for each is coming from a noble place...

Ahh, ever the idiotic romanticist, I suppose...or the Irish optimist, perhaps?

I hope there aren't another gazillion comments before I get this posted that make it obsolete (more than it is already self-obsolete).

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | May 25, 2007 1:36 PM

We have a very simple solution to heated discussions (I can honestly say we never argue other than some silly snippy thing for a minute or two.)

So given that we have nothing to fight about, yes, being compatible, and speaking your mind, and listening to your partner's point of view, and having empathy, and sense of self, and having things that inspire you in life, and a sense of humour, are very important for a good marriage...

... but back to our solution for heated discussions...

I get to win, and he gets to be right :)

We are both happy!

Posted by: Sue | May 25, 2007 1:37 PM

Pittypat -- that's the best "no one-size fits all" explanation I've ever read on this blog. Thank you!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | May 25, 2007 1:39 PM

"You must be dumb as a tree stump; for the umpteenth time:"

This is very rude. Perhaps before you call someone dumb you should learn how to spell and write a coherent thought.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 1:39 PM

rumicat--good for you! I think you echo what someone else said--getting to know each other first is a good idea.

I got married at 22. We've been married 19 years, and have no kids. We don't dislike them, we just prefer to be an aunt and an uncle. I love my husband dearly, and we have been so blessed with a full life.

Posted by: Daisy | May 25, 2007 1:39 PM

We should have a glossary! Then I wouldn't have had to redefine YMMV!

Posted by: Mona | May 25, 2007 1:40 PM

One only has to see who is in poverty to see this woman first crap for what it is. Crap. A happy marriage is one in which the wife does not always nag. It also depends on the people. If the husband wants a modern feminist wife, then a woman who is more caring and not self centered would be a bad choice for him. It sounds like lesley first husband wanted a modern feminist woman not the type she played out at first. It all depends on what the couple expectations are. The problem today is that people want to condemn the traditional model as outdated. Its not, it just depends on the people involved. People in equal marriages might have been more happy because both had that expectation when they were married. The problems that come in marriage are when there is conflicts in the expectations of of how they are going to live. There always have to be compromises, so it depends on where you will compromise. The number one predictor of poverty is single parent households- and the major cause of that is the feminist movements teachings that would should be selfish....etc

Posted by: niceday | May 25, 2007 1:42 PM

One only has to see who is in poverty to see this woman first crap for what it is. Crap. A happy marriage is one in which the wife does not always nag. It also depends on the people. If the husband wants a modern feminist wife, then a woman who is more caring and not self centered would be a bad choice for him. It sounds like lesley first husband wanted a modern feminist woman not the type she played out at first. It all depends on what the couple expectations are. The problem today is that people want to condemn the traditional model as outdated. Its not, it just depends on the people involved. People in equal marriages might have been more happy because both had that expectation when they were married. The problems that come in marriage are when there is conflicts in the expectations of of how they are going to live. There always have to be compromises, so it depends on where you will compromise. The number one predictor of poverty is single parent households- and the major cause of that is the feminist movements teachings that woman should be selfish....etc

Posted by: niceday | May 25, 2007 1:42 PM

For example, I will not date anyone I meet in a bar...

HAHAHA - We met in a bar and have been together for 26 years - 21 of them married.

Posted by: ha ha | May 25, 2007 1:43 PM

Is it "true" that 50% of pregnancies are unplanned? Where do you get that info? Send me a link, please. That really is frightening. I was able to not get pregnant for 33 years (well, 22 years of potential pregnancies, and ~16 years of sex) then I got pregnant the month I started trying, so no fertility issues there. It never ceases to amaze me how stupid people are. BTW, I'm not buying the birth control isn't 100% effective argument. Duh, but it is 99% effective. And the 1% doesn't account for 50% of all pregnancies!

Posted by: atb | May 25, 2007 1:44 PM

Posted by: | May 25, 2007 12:24 PM

Great post. people do change over time and there are not guarantees that things will be good between you 20 years out.

Posted by: to anon at 12:24 | May 25, 2007 1:47 PM

The number one predictor of poverty is single parent households- and the major cause of that is the feminist movements teachings that woman should be selfish....etc

Never heard or seen a man abandon his family down there in Happy Valley, I suppose.

Posted by: to niceday | May 25, 2007 1:47 PM

Worker Bee -- I think your assumption that it's difficult for parents to find "true meaning in life" sounds like the same condescending sympathy that parents heap on the childless couples who don't know the "joys of parenting."

We all get to find a way to be happy and fulfilled with our decisions and the "hand we've been dealt." And to do it without criticizing or feeling pity for those who took other paths.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | May 25, 2007 1:48 PM

atb

"It never ceases to amaze me how stupid people are."

You are stupid for not checking the facts on failed birth control before you make such a statement.

I feel like I'm trapped in an SNL sketch today..........

Posted by: Tina Fey | May 25, 2007 1:48 PM

Hey Fred, in my experience, men do see the dust rhinos. They just don't care. My husband likes to name 'em---"Hey, look, Dusty is back!"

Posted by: sfgirl | May 25, 2007 1:48 PM

WAMC, if it makes you feel any better, I wonder if that 50% figure is a bit inflated. I suppose my current pregnancy could fit in there because i got pregnant one month sooner than I had technically "planned" to.

It's not a huge deal-- I don't know if the condom broke or if my attempt to use rhythum method for one month was an utter failure . . . but it happened. I hope many of those 50% of unplanned pregnancies are "happy accidents"/"surprize (perio-menopausal (?)) babies".

Posted by: Jen s. | May 25, 2007 1:50 PM

What's YMMV?

Posted by: Bobster | May 25, 2007 1:51 PM

As the divorced single mom of two kids, one with a serious health condition, I say hats off to *everyone* who has taken the time to honestly examine their lives/values and make a conscious decision to have OR not have kids.

I always knew I wanted kids, ex claimed he did as well, but when #2 arrived he clearly could not handle the responsibility. After 4 years of trying to make it work, we separated.

Three months later, #2 was diagnosed with cancer. If shouldering responsibility could save the marriage/family, this would be the time for Dad to step up to the plate.

We agreed to transfer care to a major cancer center with the understanding that under-employed Dad would become caregiver while employed, health-insurance-providing Mom kept everything else going. Less than 24 hours after arrival at cancer center Dad--after watching Mom spot symptoms of blood infection and get child admitted ASAP to hospital--looked at me and said "I cannot do this." Thank heavens he took an honest look at himself and recognized his limits!

Do I regret having #2 and all of the attendant challenges? Not for a second--after fighting this battle we are closer than I ever would have imagined a parent and child could be (subject to change, of course, with adolescence). The hardest hit has been #1, who endured months where most of our connection was via daily phone calls. I hope someday he recognizes how necessary the separation was, and how painful it was for me too.

I used to scoff when people said "I could never do what you have done," because I thought anyone would do the same for his/her child. But I see now that my thinking was wrong. Dad's relationship with kids hasn't really improved. I can see that he is now working on it, but it will never be instinctive for him as it is with me. We got #1 got a cell phone for his birthday so he could call Dad, b/c Dad doesn't remember to call him. When I take the kids back to the cancer center for #2's tests, Dad doesn't think to call and ask about results.

Coincidentally, one of our greatest sources of help/support has been my friend who grew up in a dysfunctional family and decided she would never marry and have kids. I really have no idea how we would have made it through this without her support and sacrifice on behalf of my family!

So as I said, hats off to all who undertake an honest self-examination and make an *informed* choice! There are many different ways to lead a fulfilling life, and no one way is superior to the others. I'm grateful we live in a time and place where people have the ability to live in the way that's right for them, rather than being forced into a stereotypical role because society expects it.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 1:51 PM

Arlington Dad, that is not what I said at all.

I said that people who already have kids, and didn't find true meaning in them, have more commitments standing in the way of whatever other true meaning they might want to find.

There is no criticism here. I'm speculating on potential reasons behind the statistic Leslie quoted.

Posted by: worker bee | May 25, 2007 1:52 PM

Long, but interesting. Particularly where it is opined that the idea that men are too fragile to handle women competing with them is inherently insulting to them!

By STEPHANIE COONTZ | February 18, 2007

Pity the overschooled old maid and the lonely career woman. Highly educated or high-achieving women are less likely to marry and have children than other women. If they do marry, they are more likely to divorce. Even if they don't divorce, their marriages will be less happy. And, oh, yes, they'll be sexually frustrated, too.

Article Tools
Breaking News Alerts
These maxims, widely accepted for at least two centuries, are bad news for a state so focused on brainy pursuits. Thirty-five percent of Massachusetts women 25 and older have a bachelor's degree or more, a level of educational attainment almost 10 points higher than the national average. So perhaps it follows that 28 percent of women in the state have never been married. Massachusetts's proportion of never-married females is the third highest in the nation, topped only by the District of Columbia and the state of New York. But are these women really educating themselves out of the marriage market? If a woman reads Proust or computes calculus, is she unable to attract a mate?

Conventional wisdom says the answer to both questions is yes. But a close look at the historical transformation of marriage in America suggests that educated women now have a surprising advantage when it comes to matrimony.

WHEN I WAS IN THE FIFTH GRADE IN 1954, my teacher pulled me aside after a class party to give me some friendly advice. "Stephanie," he said, "the boys would like you more if you didn't use such big words." I still remember his exact words, because they came as such a shock. Until that moment, it had never occurred to me that the boys might not like me. My teacher's advice didn't stop me from using big words or aspiring to academic success. I entered the citywide spelling bee that spring and was more upset by coming in second than I had been by my teacher's warning. But while my disappointment at losing the spelling bee quickly faded, the teacher's words stuck in my head. For the next 20 years, I believed that the things I most liked to do and most wanted to be made me less attractive to men.

I certainly wasn't the first girl to grow up thinking that aspiring to higher education or a fulfilling career meant jeopardizing her chance of marriage, motherhood, and personal happiness. As early as 1778, according to Harvard University historian Nancy F. Cott, author of the 2000 book Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation, Abigail Adams complained to her husband, John, about the fashion of ridiculing female learning. In 1838, a prominent marriage adviser labeled intellectual women "mental hermaphrodites," less capable of loving a man or bearing a child than a "true" woman. In 1873, Dr. Edward H. Clarke, a prominent professor at Harvard Medical School, noted that the rigors of higher education diverted blood from a woman's uterus to her brain, making her irritable and infertile. Women who pursued careers, he warned, had little chance of marrying and even less chance of bearing a healthy child. Early in the next century, another doctor asserted that when women saw themselves as competent in school or at work, they acquired a "self-assertive, independent character, which renders it impossible to love, honor, and obey." In consequence, he complained, middle- and upper-class males were forced to remain single or dip into the lower classes to find an "uneducated wife" who would not scorn to perform the duties of her sex.

But such thinking isn't just a relic from an earlier time. New York City economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett made virtually the same point in her 2002 book Creating a Life: Professional Women and the Quest for Children, writing that "the more successful the woman, the less likely it is she will find a husband or bear a child." Maureen Dowd seems to think this is still the case, lamenting in her 2005 book Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide that she would have done better at landing a man if she had become a maid rather than a high-powered New York Times columnist. Or as a forbes.com writer put it in an August 22, 2006, column directed at men: "Don't marry a woman with a career." She won't look up to you, warned author Michael Noer; she won't be happy in marriage; and she might even cheat on you.

The main reason that educated and high-achieving women have trouble finding or keeping mates, according to observers past and present, is that they won't play dumb enough to assuage a man's ego or act submissive enough to put up with unfair treatment. In the late 19th century, the British philosopher Herbert Spencer worried that women who stepped out of the domestic sphere would lose the evolutionary advantage conferred by their ability to conceal the "antagonism" created by men's "ill-treatment" of them. This ability to hide resentment, he believed, had previously ensured women's survival. Fast forward to 2007. W. Bradford Wilcox and Steven L. Nock, sociologists at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, write in next month's issue of the journal Sociological Forum that women with husbands who earn more than they do have happier marriages in part because - unlike feminist- minded women - they view their husbands "through rose-colored lenses." In the authors' view, nontraditional women are less ready to create a "family myth" that the division of housework is fair. Unable to conceal the animosity produced by their perception of unfairness, they cause their husbands to emotionally disengage.

The flip-side of the dire warnings aimed at educated or high-achieving women is an astonishing contempt for men, whose egos are deemed too fragile to handle an egalitarian relationship. Educated, high-achieving men get hit from two sides. Social scientists claim they won't accept an equal for a wife. But for a century or more, popular culture has portrayed educated men as nerds who aren't studly enough to sexually satisfy a woman. Noted sex researcher Alfred Kinsey perpetuated this myth in the 1950s, says Robert Nye, a historian of sexuality at Oregon State University in Corvallis, when Kinsey concluded from thousands of interviews that, on the whole, educated middle-class men were far too sexually repressed to satisfy their wives. The notion that a woman needs a cowboy or gardener to unleash her sexuality has been a staple of soap operas ever since.

Quite a dilemma. A man needs to feel intellectually superior to a woman to express his virility. But a woman can't find sexual fulfillment with an intellectual man. So what's an educated woman to do? Even if she finds an educated, high-achieving man secure enough to accept her as an equal, he'll be too uptight to satisfy her.

THE MYTH OF THE BITTER, sexually unsatisfied female college graduate has never been true. Surveys from the 1890s to the present reveal that college-educated women have always been at least as satisfied with their emotional and sexual lives as their less-educated counterparts. But until recently, it was true that women who completed the highest levels of education or landed high-status, high-paying jobs were less likely than other women to marry and have children. They were often perfectly happy with their choices, but the fact remains that many women did have to choose between family life and achievement in the public sphere.

One reason for this was that men of the past were more interested in marrying someone who would cook or clean for them than in an intellectual equal. In 2001, University of Texas psychologist David M. Buss and colleagues compared mate preferences based on national surveys taken for several decades beginning in 1939. Their research, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, found that in 1956, education and intelligence ranked 11th among the things men desired in a mate. The respondents were more attracted to someone who was a good cook and housekeeper, had a pleasing disposition, and was refined and neat. By 1967, education and intelligence had moved up only one place, to number 10, and still counted for less than being a good cook or displaying neatness and refinement.

Another reason for the lower marriage rates of educated women was the fact, still true today, that women tend to postpone marriage while they acquire higher education or establish themselves in a career. And back in the 1950s, a marriage postponed was often a marriage forgone. In 1960, the median age of marriage for women was just 20. Half of all women married before they left their teens, and a woman who was still single at the ripe old age of 24 had much less chance of ever marrying than a single woman that age today. She was what the Japanese called "Christmas Cake," unlikely to find a buyer after the 25th. If she had a graduate degree, her chances of marriage were particularly slim. As late as the 1980s, women with PhDs or the equivalent were significantly less likely to marry than women with high school degrees.

But all this has changed in the past 25 years. For one thing, the age at which people marry has risen considerably. The median age for a first marriage nationally is now 25.5 for women and 27 for men. It is even higher for those with graduate degrees. In Massachusetts, the median age at first marriage is 27.2 for women and 29.2 for men. The state's high proportion of never-married individuals (the country's third highest) primarily reflects the fact that Massachusetts residents marry at an older age - not that they will never marry.

In fact, educated women nationwide now have a better chance of marrying, especially at an older age, than other women. In a historic reversal of past trends - one that is good news for young girls who like to use big words - college graduates and high-earning women are now more likely to marry than women with less education and lower earnings, although they are older when they do so. Even women with PhDs no longer face a "success penalty" in their nuptial prospects. It might feel that way in their 20s, when women with advanced degrees marry at a lower rate than other women the same age. But by their 30s, women with advanced degrees catch up, marrying at a higher rate than their same-aged counterparts with less education.

The same holds for high-earning women. Economist Heather Boushey of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C., found that women between the ages of 28 and 35 who work full time and earn more than $55,000 a year or who have a graduate or professional degree are just as likely to be married as other working women of the same age. And among women aged 30 to 44 who earn more than $100,000 a year, 88 percent are married, compared with 82 percent of other women in the same age range.

Despite the many scare stories aimed at educated black women, this is one area in which the usual double jeopardy of being black and female does not apply. True, educated black women are less likely to marry than their white counterparts, reflecting the fact that marriage rates among African-Americans are, in general, lower than marriage rates of whites. But having an advanced degree is not an additional impediment to a black woman's chance of marriage. In fact, says economist Elaina Rose of the University of Washington in Seattle, there is now a "success premium" for highly educated black women, who are more likely to get married and also more likely to stay married than other black women. Fewer than 50 percent of African-American women with a high school education are married, compared with more than 55 percent of African-American women with 19 years of school.

All women with PhDs are still slightly less likely to have children than other women, but the difference has been shrinking rapidly. And high-achieving women in general are as likely as other married working women to have children, although, again, they often do so at an older age.

ONE REASON EDUCATED WOMEN are more likely to marry today than in the past is that modern men are less threatened by equality and more interested in finding a mate who can share the burdens of breadwinning. Many studies show that men now want a wife who is at a similar educational or occupational level. The 2001 Journal of Marriage and Family paper found that in mate-preference surveys taken in 1985 and 1996, intelligence and education had moved up to number 5 on men's list of desirable qualities in a mate in both surveys, ahead of good looks. Meanwhile, the desire for a good cook and housekeeper had dropped to 14th place in both surveys, near the bottom of the 18-point scale. And in choosing a spouse, males with a college degree rate good looks much lower in importance than do high school graduates. "In a high-achieving man's definition of an A-list woman, the A increasingly stands for 'accomplished,' " says Deborah Siegel, former director of special projects at the National Council for Research on Women, in New York, and coauthor of the forthcoming book Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild.

Furthermore, college-educated couples have lower divorce rates than any other educational group. And in the last 30 years, while the marriages of less-educated women became less stable, the marriages of college-educated women became more stable. College graduates are more likely to have egalitarian ideas about sharing housework and breadwinning, and recent research shows that egalitarian ideas and behaviors improve marital satisfaction for both men and women.

Highly educated women are more likely to work outside the home than less-educated women, even after they become mothers. In the past, employed wives tended to divorce at higher rates than non-employed wives, not because working harmed the marriage, but because women who worked had more options to leave a bad marriage. But just last year, a study discovered that wives' full-time employment is now associated with increased marital stability.

So the doomsayers are wrong. Educated men and women are more likely to marry and less likely to divorce than others . And guess what? They have better sex lives, too. According to sociologist Virginia Rutter of Framingham State College, surveys show that educated couples engage in more variety in their sex lives. They are, for example, more likely to participate in oral sex, and educated women are more likely to receive oral sex as well as perform it. "Education breaks down gender taboos that can be at the heart of a lot of sexual disappointments," notes Rutter, "and education helps men in particular to loosen up sexually." Educated husbands are also more likely to help with housework, which turns out to be a potent aphrodisiac. Psychologist John Gottman, professor emeritus at the University of Washington in Seattle, found that when men do more housework, their wives are more likely to be "in the mood" for sex.

So what's left for the scaremongers who want us to believe that women's education and equality are messing up their prospects for happy marriages? It appears to be a variant of my fifth-grade teacher's advice to not use big words. Columnist Noer writes on forbes.com that if a wife outearns her husband, both will be unhappy. And pundits have seized on the work by sociologists Wilcox and Nock to suggest that wearing rose-colored lenses and maintaining a "family myth" of fairness will help women bolster their marriages more than trying to get husbands to share housework and child care. Today's advice to educated women seems to be, have a job if you want, but don't earn too much money or expect too much help at home.

Wrong, and wrong again. Psychologist Rosalind Barnett of Brandeis University and journalism professor Caryl Rivers of Boston University have found that 42 percent of college-educated married women who work outearn their partners, and their marriages are just as stable as those in which the husband makes more than his wife. In fact, Barnett's new study of dual-earner couples, based on data from the 1990s, found that as the wife worked more, the husband's view of the quality of his marriage actually improved. Surveys also show that the longer a woman holds a job, the more child care and housework her husband is likely to do, and that well-educated men have increased their housework more than less-educated ones.

How about the suggestion that women tamp down their expectations and create a "family myth" of fairness? That's one way to achieve family harmony. But another way is for men to actually do their fair share at home. Studies have shown that men whose attitudes become more egalitarian during their marriage report higher marital satisfaction, and so do their wives; they also have better sex lives and more socially aware children. Among couples with both partners in the workforce - the majority today - men and women who adopt less egalitarian ideas over the years become more psychologically anxious and depressed than their more progressive peers, according to an analysis of dual-earner couples conducted by Jacquelyn B. James, director of research for the Boston College Center for Work & Family.

It's true that when men don't live up to women's expectations of fairness, contemporary wives often become unhappy. And, as my mom's favorite T-shirt put it, "If mamma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." But one of the biggest predictors that a marriage will be stable and happy, according to Gottman, the psychologist, is if a husband responds positively when his wife expresses a desire for change. It helps if she asks nicely. But it doesn't help if she avoids the issue and lets her discontent simmer.

Modern couples have more to negotiate than couples in the past, and that sometimes leads to conflict. But healthy conflict is often the way to marital growth. And besides, there's always make-up sex - at which college-educated couples no doubt excel.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 1:55 PM

YMMV= Your Mileage May Vary

Posted by: Daisy | May 25, 2007 1:56 PM

Tina Fey- Which part didn't I check? 99% is about what you get out of the pill, depending on the type of pill, etc. So, half of the 50% "used birth control in the month they conceived." 100% of the time? Doesn't say. From what I've read, failure tends to be user failure, not device, etc failure. So, someone "uses" condoms as their primary BC, but not necessarily all the time. So there.

Posted by: atb | May 25, 2007 1:56 PM

Is this really the case in other marriages? I mean, where men are giving ultimatums and vetoing stuff on the basis that they make more money?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 25, 2007 01:15 PM
=============

On this, I'm like Arlington Dad. No ownership on money. All in one pot. Best use of pot decided together.

===
Maude,

I said standard disclaimer applies. Just because all of us grow up in differing situations growing up doesn't mean nothing can be gleaned from concepts, or that all of history no longer applies (or never existed for comparison).

Sheltered or not, my offerings don't become unture because other examples exist. Were I to have grown up in any other cuircumstance, would it be impoossible for me to hold my positions? Or would it make my positions more (or less) true?

I said in my latest post that I'm a romantic tradionalist of sorts. Does that mean that the real world doesn't fall short? Of course not. Cynicism is one way to gear an outlook, but I've really known pure cynics who lived happy lives. So forgive me my rose colored glasses.

I guess I'd rather rejoice in what nobility we have left than wallow in our obvious shortcomings. We have enough of that as it is...

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | May 25, 2007 1:56 PM

Worker Bee -- thanks for clarifying. And it's like you are talking to a brick wall with me! Despite how hard I try to understand that everyone makes different choices, the happy parent in me is screaming...

What do you mean "people who already have kids, and didn't find true meaning in them"? How can that be?!

I find true meaning in my kids, so does my wife, so do my neighbors, my family, her family... this scenario is outside my realm of possibility. It doesn't mean it doesn't happen, but the very idea baffles me.

By the way, regarding the study, how do you measure happiness?

Posted by: Arlington Dad | May 25, 2007 1:59 PM

Arlington Dad, rereading what each of us wrote, maybe I need to clarify that I am talking about the parents who said, in the survey, that they were unhappy (or less happy). Not about anyone who said they were happy.

Posted by: worker bee | May 25, 2007 2:00 PM

"Long, but interesting"

Long - yes
Interesting - no

A rehash of ideas that have been around for a long time - nothing new here.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 2:01 PM

"What do you mean "people who already have kids, and didn't find true meaning in them"? How can that be?!

I find true meaning in my kids, so does my wife, so do my neighbors, my family, her family... this scenario is outside my realm of possibility. It doesn't mean it doesn't happen, but the very idea baffles me."

That is sweet, and a testament to a lovely sounding family!

Posted by: worker bee | May 25, 2007 2:03 PM

My husband and I have two guidelines:

1) Gang mentality -- we are in a gang and it is us against the world. That's how we approach everything now and how we plan to approach kids.

2) Keep your butt clean -- we recognize that it is imperative not to let things fester because they just get to be so much worse than what they started as.

Posted by: Danielle | May 25, 2007 2:03 PM

I thought it was long and interesting.

I am:

1) childless
2) married 21 years
3) earn more than double what my husband does
4) am a doctor

and we're both happy!

Different strokes for different folks, right?

Posted by: Gee whiz | May 25, 2007 2:06 PM

I really hope my life never comes to wishing I didn't have my daughter. Of
course, that's easy to say when my greatest joy is waking her up in the
morning and seeing the world's brightest smile. That sounds like some family
counseling is in order. I wonder how families come to this... So sad...

Posted by: atb | May 25, 2007 09:04 AM

Actually, I disagree (and I love my 2 little girls). But being a parent (and a GOOD parent) is a full time job, and many people don't get adequate training for it. It is extremely exhausting - physically, emotionally, and mentally. In many ways, it's the only "job" where you may never get a break. And many people (myself included) may not get any help on this, as they have no family nearby.
Kids are a HUGE responsibility, and when they are little they are dependent on you for everything. They can be very needy and very demanding - which is not necessarily a bad thing. But it can be draining to deal with constantly.
I've certainly felt at time "it would be nice to only have to worry about myself", "my life would be so much easier without kids", etc. I think that can be natural and normal if you do it occasionally. It doesn't mean I don't love them or wish I didn't have them. Just that I'm human and tired, and they are a big reason for that.

Posted by: ATL Dad | May 25, 2007 2:06 PM

Worker Bee -- well, it all makes more sense now that you point out that you were suggesting an explanation for the parents who said they were "less happy."

Yes, we are a lovely family -- but that doens't mean my wife and I aren't dying for a night out alone! Or -- how's the song go -- "or cool quiet, and time to think."

Posted by: Arlington Dad | May 25, 2007 2:08 PM

Arlington Dad,

It's funny, but I've found so often that I have an easier time respecting people's choices when I don't know how or why they were made.

Posted by: pittypat | May 25, 2007 2:11 PM

Pittypat:

"It's funny, but I've found so often that I have an easier time respecting people's choices when I don't know how or why they were made."

And why would you ask? How would you ask? There are so many landmines and wounds that could be opened.

Also important to control my urge not to speculate!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | May 25, 2007 2:17 PM

ATL Dad- That didn't disagree with me at all. It was the "wishing" she didn't have kids that was sad. It's one thing to acknowledge that life would be easier without kids and another to wish you'd never had them. Well, at least for more than a minute.

Posted by: atb | May 25, 2007 2:18 PM

I was married for seventeen years and most of the highlights revolved around my children, a son and a daughter, and a very egotistical husband. When my children got older, I went back to school and the workforce, and I felt really happy, even though I was dog-tired when I got home. Now my children are married, and I have grandchildren. I love my life, as a single person with a wonderful career and family and community involvement. For me, marriage means family and family means developing to one's fullest potential. My ex-spouse disagreed, and that was his loss, not mine.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 2:20 PM

I hope the parents of younger children, the ones who demand so much time and energy (been there, know what you're talking about) will hang in there. It actually does pass, and maybe quicker than you think. My children are 14 and 10, and it is easier. My wife and I both have time back to be a couple, or follow our individual interests. There, the secret to marriage - patience, optimism.

Posted by: bob | May 25, 2007 2:22 PM

I also think it depends on the couple...I know happy couples with children, but one of the happiest couples I know are DINKs...They are mid/late 50s, very well off and about ready to retire. But I think it has more to do with their personalities...they are so close and alike, I really think a child would have somehow upset their balance. But again, that is the way I see this particular couple.

Posted by: Me | May 25, 2007 2:23 PM

255th! Yes!

Posted by: howdy | May 25, 2007 2:25 PM

I'm with Meesh. The idea that one has to have children in order to empathize with the experience of parenthood is insulting.

This single most moving book I've read in the last five years is "Gilead" by Marilynne Robinson. It's a beautifully crafted novel about an aging father's deep and unexpected love for a very young son. The parental love Robinson depicts brought me to tears. More than once. Highly recommended. Did I have to be a father (or even a parent) to get it? No.

The existence of literature (movies too) depends entirely on our ability to empathize. I don't have to be a plane crash survivor to enjoy "Lost" or a 19th century prospector to get "Deadwood" And I don't need to be a parent to find joy and sustenance in a book like "Gilead."

The person (atb) who wrote he/she can't understand migraines or depression because he/she hasn't experienced either one is very fortunate AND has either never read a good book or is pathologically un-empathetic.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 2:26 PM

Daisy, happy after 19 years is a nice feat, with or without kids. I hope you find time to spoil the nieces and nephews rotten. I had some uncles who took an interest in me growing up, and their influence is part of the reason that I ended up witha PhD. People without kids should never underestimate how much of a difference they can make just by being a good outside influence.
Leslie, I'd like to know about the people that have kids and still report being very happy. Who are these people, and what are they doing? I had a daughter recently so far I'm happier than I was before (at least when the sleep thing is going okay) but it would be nice to know what others are doing right. Nice column today.

Posted by: rumicat | May 25, 2007 2:27 PM

The parental love Robinson depicts brought me to tears. More than once. Highly recommended. Did I have to be a father (or even a parent) to get it? No.

Right. But you have to be a parent to feel it and hence, completely understand it.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 2:29 PM

I absolutely believe that you can have an egalitarian marriage with one person working and another staying home.

But, I'll surprise everyone by than admitting that I'm childless, just married (well, for 18months now) and work just as much outside the home as my husband does.

Having an "egalitarian" marriage has very little to do with who works outside the home and who doesn't, IMHO, because having a happy marriage is based on working well As A Couple.

That may look different for different couples....

Posted by: Seattle | May 25, 2007 2:35 PM

"The parental love Robinson depicts brought me to tears. More than once. Highly recommended. Did I have to be a father (or even a parent) to get it? No.

Right. But you have to be a parent to feel it and hence, completely understand it."

And then there is grandparental love. Unique, and only completely understood by a grandparent.

Posted by: Top Cat | May 25, 2007 2:36 PM

The parental love Robinson depicts brought me to tears. More than once. Highly recommended. Did I have to be a father (or even a parent) to get it? No.

Right. But you have to be a parent to feel it and hence, completely understand it.

Posted by: | May 25, 2007 02:29 PM

You know, you are overlooking that the person who posted probably has a parent, maybe even a father, somewhere in their background.

Unless you are suggesting that before someone reads a particular book, they have to be screened first?

"Sorry, this is about a parent loving a child, you aren't a parent, you are not allowed to read this. It's beyond you. Particularly if you are a daughter. Be off!"

"Gilead", 'It's a beautifully crafted novel about an aging father's deep and unexpected love for a very young son.'

Posted by: Maaco, not mako | May 25, 2007 2:37 PM

On the birth control topic:

I know several people who have relied on the withdrawal/rhythm method. We now call them parents.

It's baffling, but not really surprising.

Also, everyone's definition of "what makes me happy" and "what constitutes a family" is different. Again, not right or wrong, just different.

I personally don't see that my family is incomplete without children. My husband and I are a family all on our own.

Posted by: JRS | May 25, 2007 2:37 PM

You know, you are overlooking that the person who posted probably has a parent, maybe even a father, somewhere in their background.

Unless you are suggesting that before someone reads a particular book, they have to be screened first?

What an absurd thing to say. No. I'm stating that you can't understand how it feels to be a parent by reading a book.

Posted by: puhlease | May 25, 2007 2:40 PM

to 2:26 anon- Get over yourself. If you truly believe you can experience things like being a parent or having chronic pain by reading a book, you are delusional. You can empathize, sympathize, and appreciate, but you can't experience it. No book or movie is that good.

Posted by: atb | May 25, 2007 2:41 PM

Here's the thing - you can empathize with people who are going through an experience you've never been through but you can't fully UNDERSTAND it if you've never been there. It's not insulting or patronizing, it's just a fact. For example, I never understood how having a miscarriage felt until I experienced it myself. Before then whenever I heard someone had a miscarriage, I always thought, well at least it's better than losing a child and you can always have another one, it's not like you've developed a relationship or anything. But when I miscarried, I felt a great loss that only my other friends who had miscarriages could understand. So I do agree that until you have a child you can't really understand what it means to be a parent. Of course, all parents can understand what it means to be childless because we were all childless before we had kids - we've been where you are but you haven't been where we are. We can say things like, I never knew what joy I was missing out on until I had a child. However, we shouldn't impose our feelings on others who have decided after much thought not to have kids.

Posted by: fabwm | May 25, 2007 2:43 PM

When I married, in 1980, I hoped and planned for an egalitarian marriage. Now that I've been divorced for 8 years, I can
see that while it was possible to have it as a childless couple, we -- and society -- still weren't far enough along to have it once we had kids. My mother told me that even *SHE* had an egalitarian and happy marriage when she and my dad married in 1952 (!) and during the 5 years (!!) they
didn't have kids before I arrived. Once I came, she automatically quit working and equality was over. Mom and Dad reverted to
old-time sex roles. When my son was born, I continued to work full time, but the sex roles kicked in. Ex-husband pursued work that put pressure on him to be an old-time
"breadwinner" with long hours, lots of travel, last-minute changes to childcare on the days he was responsible for picking up our son, and he didn't/couldn't/wouldn't change to remain equal. Hope it is different now, will be different in the years ahead when
my son marries and had children.

Posted by: SFMom | May 25, 2007 2:43 PM

atb

"If you truly believe you can experience things like being a parent or having chronic pain by reading a book, you are delusional. You can empathize, sympathize, and appreciate, but you can't experience it. No book or movie is that good. "

Some porn movies are pretty good at helping me experience things ....

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 2:44 PM

'The existence of literature (movies too) depends entirely on our ability to empathize. I don't have to be a plane crash survivor to enjoy "Lost" or a 19th century prospector to get "Deadwood" And I don't need to be a parent to find joy and sustenance in a book like "Gilead."'

I think you are overlooking the message in your zeal to find fault. Or perhaps you are lacking in imagination and hence, empathy, yourself?

Posted by: to atb | May 25, 2007 2:46 PM

As said yesterday,

YMMV=You Make Me Vomit

Take your choice, they may both apply to some postings!

Posted by: Fred | May 25, 2007 2:46 PM

"The person (atb) who wrote he/she can't understand migraines or depression because he/she hasn't experienced either one is very fortunate AND has either never read a good book or is pathologically un-empathetic."

I'm going to jump in and disagree here.

One can have empathy for someone without having directly experienced their hardship/accomplishment. For example, I had great empathy for my husband when he was recovering from his accident, and I didn't have to fall off a scaffolding and break multiple bones to accomplish that feeling.

I do think the DEGREE of empathy changes with one's experience. My former roommate suffered from chronic migraines. About once a month, she'd lock herself in a dark room and vomit periodically for about 24 hours. I of course felt horrible for her and tried to help however I could, but never having had a migraine, I didn't know how she felt. Just knew she was feeling really awful and needed my assistance.

Then I contracted meningitis a few years ago, which the doctor told me was like having a sustained migraine for 7-10 days.

It was truly HORRIBLE, and I felt bad for my old roomie all over again, knowing exactly what she was going through.

Not sure if I'm explaining this as well as I'd like, but wanted to make the point.

I don't think atb is incapable of empathy. I think she's just expressing that one's degree of empathy changes depending upon one's personal experience. This might change how you help the person in question. I might have handled roomie's migraines differently if I'd had more direct experience. As it was, I felt a little helpless and had to ask how I could best help.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 25, 2007 2:48 PM

Perhaps the person posting was commenting upon how loved the child was--and as a non-parent how moving the reader found that fact.

Maybe the tears were for having been so loved.

Posted by: Consider this | May 25, 2007 2:49 PM

You know, you still had to ask your roommate what would help. No migraine sufferer is exactly like the other.

What worked for her may not ever have worked for you, in fact, it may have made your migraine worse.

People do vary.

Posted by: to Vegas Mom | May 25, 2007 2:52 PM

I think one more thing people don't realize, too.

Love is never enough. You can have all the love in the world, it is not going to make a great marriage, a great parent, a great anything. Of course, it's a wonderful thing, but if you're ideas, morals, values, etc, are not similar (or you haven't discussed the differences and can live with them), then you're going to have a very difficult time.

Just another thought.

And, from another point of view, someone was discussing - child and dh (or dw) drowning, who would you save (a totally moot point, really, cause it's never 'all things being equal' - it could be one knows how to swim, the other doesnt, etc). I know that in childbirth, if the dr says: i could save one or the other, my DH would, 100% of the time, say: save my wife. Why? One reason: a child without a mother isn't the best way to start out. It's a totally Jewish idea. We discussed it when I was pregnant and my DH never hesitated that that was what he would do. I know the Christians have a completely different view.
I know it's not the same (one is considered a fetus, what we're discussing is really a 'real' person who is 'grown,' i.e., maybe 10 YO, right?).

But it's another view...

Posted by: atlmom | May 25, 2007 2:53 PM

I think Leslie's original post is based on a false assumption. In the real world, no one is "completely selfless and self-sacrificing." If they were, they would be happy in a so-called non-egalitarian marriage, because they would be completely fulfilled by the simple act of caring for their spouse's (and children's) needs morning, noon, and night.

Even people who try their hardest to fill the "endlessly giving" role in the marriage expect something in return for that, be it similar consideration or simply recognition and appreciation for their sacrifice. When they don't get the response they expect, they become understandably resentful.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 2:55 PM

Empathy only gets you so far. I don't believe for a minute that just because I empathize with the McCann family (missing Madeleine) over having their child disappear, I actually know on ANY LEVEL what it really feels like. I read "Into Thin Air" and had dreams about being at Camp IV where I would wake up shivering and gasping for air. Does that mean I know what it's like to sleep at 25,000 feet above sea level?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 25, 2007 2:57 PM

"In the real world, no one is "completely selfless and self-sacrificing."

Yes, there is. They are called "martyrs" and there is a reason that people kill them.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 2:58 PM

to 2:46 anon- I'm confused. Is that to me? Of course one can enjoy books and movies, which, unless autobiographical, are about experiences you've not had. That's the whole point of book and movies. It still doesn't get you close to the real thing.

Fabwm- A perfect example.

Posted by: atb | May 25, 2007 3:02 PM

This blog has jumped the shark yet another time today!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 3:07 PM

.......we need to know how many times today the shark has been jumped!

Posted by: Where is blog stats | May 25, 2007 3:15 PM

Just wanted to thank the poster who said she and her husband decided to be a great aunt and uncle. Not having kids doesn't mean taking no part in helping shape the next generation.

Posted by: ro | May 25, 2007 3:15 PM

i still say it's spinach ..... i'm pretty sure now that the cartoon was by charles addams. he drew for the new yorker. the tv show & movies the addams family were based on his cartoons. i haven't been able to verify it.

Posted by: quark | May 25, 2007 3:17 PM

altmom -

That's an interesting addition to the drowning discussion. My husband and I have had the same discussion, and he has said he would pick me over any child... Is this because we are childless and don't know the strength of a parent/child bond yet? Or something deeper?

Posted by: Seattle | May 25, 2007 3:20 PM

'we need to know how many times today the shark has been jumped!'

i think today has broken the record for multiple shark jumpings, and it's only 3:20.

Posted by: the original experienced mom | May 25, 2007 3:20 PM

I think the shark is double-dutching because it's a holiday weekend. . .

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 25, 2007 3:27 PM

"I know that in childbirth, if the dr says: i could save one or the other, my DH would, 100% of the time, say: save my wife. Why? One reason: a child without a mother isn't the best way to start out. It's a totally Jewish idea. We discussed it when I was pregnant and my DH never hesitated that that was what he would do. I know the Christians have a completely different view."

Posted by: atlmom | May 25, 2007 02:53 PM

all the Christian husbands i know would also say 'save my wife'

Posted by: london eye | May 25, 2007 3:50 PM

http://www.compedit.com/nygraphics.htm

If you scroll down, you can see the cartoon. It was by Carl Rose c. 1936.

"It's broccoli, dear."
"I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it."

Posted by: Marian | May 25, 2007 3:51 PM

Interesting drowning discussion. When I was born, my father was asked if the drs should save me or my mother if they couldn't save both. They already had a 2-year-old. My father chose my mother because he couldn't imagine raising 2 without a mother (it was 1956-LOL) and because he couldn't imagine how my brother would be if he lost his mother. My father was a non-practicing Lutheran.

My mother, however, thought that the baby should be saved. Her reasoning was that she had already had a full life (at age 23 LOL again) but a baby was just starting and deserved a chance at life. She was a practicing Catholic.

Don't know that this means anything - it's just my story.

Posted by: storyteller | May 25, 2007 3:53 PM

I think y'all are confusing sympathy and empathy. Vegas Mom had SYMPATHY for her roomate and husband, once she knew what migraines felt like she also had EMPATHY.

From dictionary.com:

Sympathy, compassion, pity, empathy all denote the tendency, practice, or capacity to share in the feelings of others, especially their distress, sorrow, or unfulfilled desires. Sympathy is the broadest of these terms, signifying a general kinship with another's feelings, no matter of what kind . . . . Empathy most often refers to a vicarious participation in the emotions, ideas, or opinions of others, the ability to imagine oneself in the condition or predicament of another.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 3:57 PM

True Story,

My FIL did have that choice, his wife or his to be first born child. He choose the wife and she became mother to my spouse and her brother.

Posted by: a regular but anon for this | May 25, 2007 4:00 PM

DH and I agreed we'd save the baby. We wouldn't be able to live with ourselves knowing we let the baby drown. That would be the end of the baby and our marriage.

When I was pregnant, we agreed we'd save me. It's the difference between the very real baby and the abstract one.

Posted by: atb | May 25, 2007 4:00 PM

Ex-hubby & I broke up when ds was very young. DS is off to university in the next year - and I've found myself wondering, if I get married again, do I want more children? I love ds, he's a great kid, responsible, smart, brings me endless joy & we have a good relationship but do I really in my late 30's want to begin child-rearing all over again?

Anyone else found themselves strugging with this?

Posted by: london eye | May 25, 2007 4:05 PM

Anyone else found themselves strugging with this?

I am not single, but I do have children in college. I can't imagine ever having more children. I wouldn't want to start all over with a baby, and I'm really not interested in adoption (great option - just not for me). I would take in the child of a relative if they lost their parents, but that is low on the probability list since I wouldn't be the only family member willing to take in relatives.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 4:12 PM

I'll quote a commenter on Judith Warner's NY Times blog: "Perenting [sic] is hard, hard work. Often the most difficult thing is that the tedium is so overwhelming. Children are relentless in their need."

On the days that I'm feeling this acutely with my young children, I do wonder if I would have been happier had I gone full force into career instead of having children. It's not in my make-up to combine a demanding career with raising children. Then I realize that I am experiencing selective memory with regard to how wonderful it was to throw myself so completely into work. There were wonderful aspects, but there were also times of great stress and fatigue. The rewards and downsides to each choice are too different for me to compare.

My children are a joy to me and to my husband. I find it the case that once you have them, you can't imagine life without them. They are such joy so much of the time.

Thanks to the gentleman who shouted out to the parents of young children to hang in there. The demands of day-to-day living do require a couple to be mindful of time together. We're starting to regain some of that now that we don't have toddlers. I do think that maintaining empathy for the other spouse is key to getting through the patches where one of both of us is close to hitting the wall in terms of fatigue/stress.

Posted by: Marian | May 25, 2007 4:19 PM

Thanks to the gentleman who shouted out to the parents of young children to hang in there.

IMO, being the parent of a young child is nothing compared to being the parent of a teenager. YMMV

Oh, it depends on the child as well. Some teen-agers are fairly easy but others can make every day miserable.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 4:23 PM

Speaking of shout-outs. Single parents are unbelievable. When we were discussing divide-and-conquer earlier this week, I meant to say something, but forgot. Single parents, I don't know how you do it, but it's pretty amazing.

Posted by: atb | May 25, 2007 4:23 PM

IMO, being the parent of a young child is nothing compared to being the parent of a teenager. YMMV
_________________

I've heard it said that when children are infants/small the physical demands are great. As they grow older, the physical demands decline, but the mental/emotional demands increase. I'm getting glimpses of this as my older child moves into school-age.

Posted by: Marian | May 25, 2007 4:29 PM

Marian,

There is an old saying. When children are young, they step on your toes, when they are older, they step on your heart.

Posted by: Fred | May 25, 2007 4:30 PM

Fred,

Oh, boy!

BTW, I got my floors and (2) toilets cleaned ;-). It'll be time for a grown-up beverage with DH soon (I hope--he's trying to leave early today but traffic will be beastly). If he's not here soon I may pour without him. Where's KLB?

Posted by: Marian | May 25, 2007 4:41 PM

I am still trying to figure out how to fix the creepy van. I called baby brother who is an ASC mechanic and he told me to take it to someone and PAY to have it fixed! The nerve of baby brothers!

I really cannot mop floor as the worker are here putting down the tile backer on the bathroom floor. Maybe I will take a nap!

Posted by: Marian | May 25, 2007 4:52 PM

Sorry to hear about the creepy van, Fred. Hope the tile job goes well and finishes up soon so you and Frieda can enjoy your evening (and long weekend).

Posted by: Marian | May 25, 2007 4:58 PM

Huh? Are Marian and Fred the same person with a creepy van?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2007 5:06 PM

ATL Dad- I really liked your post. I do not have kids, but I've tried to comprehend how it would feel to have a job from which I never have a break. The thought of it is so overwhelming that I know I'm not cut out for it on so many different levels. It's refreshing to see the honesty that you expressed regarding what a big responsibility parenting can be. Like you said, I know it's not to say that you wish you didn't have kids, but it does seem realistic to imagine at times that the responsibility is so huge, with no break, that a person could be exhausted. Thanks for your honesty!

Posted by: So. Virginia | May 25, 2007 5:07 PM

I think Fred is tired today--he signed my name by mistake.

Posted by: Marian | May 25, 2007 5:14 PM

to Marian:

Empathy - boy I couldn't agree more. Recognizing when your spouse has Just Had Enough makes such a difference. When our daughter was an infant and breastfeeding (and cried constantly from a milk allergy) I used to put her in a sling and walk around the neighborhood for an hour so my wife didn't have to listen to her cry. Husbands gotta carry every ounce of the burden they can in those first years, when, for the baby, there are only two people in the world: Mom, and Not Mom.

When my daughter was a few years older I met a young guy who was waiting for his first child to be born, any day. Oh I felt so experienced after a few years with a baby. But what could I tell him about how his life was going to change, that Girlfriend 1.0 who became Wife 2.0 was about to morph into Mom 1.X? Don't be afraid to let it change you, I said.

And Anon 4:23.... I'm a little wary of joining the chorus of people who slap their foreheads over those darn teen-agers and their antics. Yeah, it can get rough. But I think sometimes we flinch too much over what the teen-age years can bring. It's like what Mark Twain said: I've lived through some terrible things in my life, and some of them actually happened.

Posted by: bob | May 25, 2007 5:46 PM

Childfree is the way to go. Too many couples have children with no planning or reason- it was just "the thing to do".

Posted by: agree | May 25, 2007 6:01 PM

Yeah, that was me at 4:52. I did sign Marian's name.

The van runs it just does not run properly. Baby brother finally called back to tell me to check a few things.

Posted by: Fred | May 25, 2007 6:30 PM

i think a good marriage needs two people ,co-working.

Posted by: crocodile107 | May 26, 2007 3:17 AM

314th!

Posted by: Yea! | May 26, 2007 5:02 AM

If children make marriages "less happy" then how do you explain the fact that so many couples have more than one child?

My mom always told me, and now I believe it, that people have the first kid for themselves, and then the second kid for the first kid!

I didn't want my oldest to be an only child, I have siblings and love it. And it's been borne out from a selfish perspective, they entertain each other and it's far easier in many ways than having just one.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 27, 2007 9:12 PM

Of course, all parents can understand what it means to be childless because we were all childless before we had kids - we've been where you are but you haven't been where we are.

-------------------

I don't see it... you knew what YOUR life was like childless not theirs. Simplifying many years of someone else's life to yours when you were young is just as insulting and presumptious.

Posted by: way too late... to fabwm | May 28, 2007 10:58 PM

Couples with children where both parents work are happier when the husband is helping with the childcare... well that really is not so surprising. Maybe the fact that the husband is helping with the childcare is a sign that he is very committed to the family and also to his wife who would otherwise be totally stressed out with so much to do. So I think the husband's reasons for helping out are at least as important as what he actually does.

Posted by: Lara | May 29, 2007 2:17 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company