The New Disconnect: Kids and Marriage

The nonpartisan Pew Research Center yesterday released an 88-page demographic recap of surveys and interviews of 2,020 adults on the subject of marital satisfaction, including nine factors that make up a happy marriage. In what the report described as "the single most striking finding," only 41 percent of Americans said children were very important to a successful marriage, a 24 percentage-point drop versus 1990, when 65 percent of Americans described children as very important to a successful marriage. Children still matter -- 85 percent of parents with children under 18 described them as a top source of personal fulfillment -- but kids are not as integral to a happy marriage. The other major difference versus 1990 was chore-sharing, which increased by 15 points to 62 percent. For a recap of the survey results, see yesterday's Washington Post To Be Happy in Marriage, Baby Carriage Not Required.

I wonder whether this decoupling of marriage and kids is an unexpected side effect of several major work/life trends of the past 40 years: Widespread availability of birth control that allows women to better plan their educational and career paths as well as allowing couples to choose when and whether they have children, the flood of working moms who don't rely on men for financial support, and the dramatic increase of time dads spend with their children. Perhaps now neither men nor women see a member of the opposite sex as a prerequisite for children. Is this good? Is this bad? I haven't a clue.

Clearly, you can be happy or miserable in a marriage without children. And you can be a satisfied, involved parent without being married. However, although I love my husband and my children in different ways, I can't imagine separating the two and still being happy. And -- no small factor -- there is no way I could tackle working motherhood without my husband as a supportive partner.

What about you? Do your children contribute to the happiness (or unhappiness) or your marriage? Or are the two completely separate as you go about finding "balance" in your life?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  July 2, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Research
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Personally, while I don't think the children of single parents are any worse off than those with two parents, I do think that two parents are much better at handling the task. Most single parents have no time to themselves; it's much tougher to raise a child on your own. To hear children aren't as important to marraige overall isn't surprising to me. People now are more focused on their own self-actualization. Many may worry that they'll have to raise the children themselves if the marraige fails. Some just opt out of the responsibility. Of course I've seen some cases of "competitive parenting" that disgust me; so I wonder how much is hidden or simply missed by such statistics.

Posted by: CommonSense | July 2, 2007 7:33 AM

I really don't trust polls that ask, basically, "are you happy?" I think the tendency to stretch the truth and lie a bit has got to be pretty high on a question like this--a decision that for many is not a decision but no longer an option due to age and the such. I think many people make the best of things as they are presented and if they don't have children (or do) they often seek to just 'deal with it' and go on as happy as they can be.

Posted by: Andrew | July 2, 2007 7:46 AM

I haven't read the survey, but I think the point is supposed to be just that a marriage can be happy without kids. Not that you don't need a partner to have kids. Or that people are separating their life with kids from life with their partner. True, false, or otherwise, that seems like a strange leap in logic based on the results published in the first paragraph, and not what the survey was addressing.

Posted by: usually lurking | July 2, 2007 7:47 AM

Very funny that "chore-sharing" outranked kids as a "very important" factor in marital happiness!

Posted by: Leslie | July 2, 2007 8:04 AM

Fourth!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 8:04 AM

I will be happier when the kids move out of the house!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 8:07 AM

Usually Lurking - I agree. The survey didn't address single parenthood or decoupling children from marriage, so this post is a strange departure.

Bottom line, while children of single parents CAN do as well as children of married parents, they don't do as well in the aggregate. Some of this has to do with socioeconomics - single parents tend to be younger and poorer when they become parents - and some of it with simple logistics - it's much harder to raise children as a single parent.

Posted by: NotAMom | July 2, 2007 8:09 AM

"I haven't a clue."

Leslie, this is about the first thing you have ever printed that I agree with. LOL!

Posted by: Lil Husky | July 2, 2007 8:18 AM

This study/survey made sense to me, or at least in terms of what I've seen. It seems that as long as the marriage is strong, anything added to it (be it grad school, kids, moving, etc.) will be enriching and rewarding. A marriage that's shaky to begin with will just fall to pieces when additional stress (be it good or bad stress) is added.

So, sure, I can see how kids are not a 'happiness factor'; they CAN be, but only if the parents/marriage are doing fine to begin with.

Posted by: Just wonderin' | July 2, 2007 8:22 AM

"Very funny that "chore-sharing" outranked kids as a "very important" factor in marital happiness!"

I don't think this is such a leap. All married couples have chores, but not all have kids. And kids don't automatically equal happiness. They're a huge strain on a marriage, despite the fact that you love them to death. They certainly do inspire you to make your marriage work, and, for me at least, this means truly forgetting about the small, petty stuff and focusing on communicating and making time for us.

The thing I was most impressed with in the survey is how supportive people are of getting married older and having involved dads. Sounds like a recipe for happiness to me.

Posted by: atb | July 2, 2007 8:27 AM

I think that being honest with your partner, and willing to share the good and the bad with them (and the chores!) helps to foster a great relationship (marriage or live-in, whichever). If you don't have trust and respect, other lesser problems tend to get magnified and blown way out of proportion. So, I can see where sharing of chores is high on the list; plus, I'd think that women are the ones most answering these polls, and having someone sharing the work around the house goes a long way to fostering marital happiness.

Posted by: John L | July 2, 2007 8:27 AM

I am confused -- why WOULD children be necessary for a happy marriage? A marriage is a relationship between two adult partners who share their lives together, which may or may not include kids. Might kids enrich that life together, if both partners want them? Sure. But I can't see why kids would be necessary for two people to have a fulfilling relationship. Heck, my marriage would probably be better without my kids -- my huband and I would have more time for each other and more disposable income for hobbies and fun.

Don't get me wrong -- I wouldn't trade my kids for anything; my marriage might be better, but my life would be infinitely poorer. And my husband and I were happy to trade the time and money to have those kids in our lives. But that's the point: it WAS a tradeoff. So I have a lot of trouble seeing how someone who chose not to make that trade couldn't have just as good a marriage as me, if not better, because there's more time and energy to devote to its care and nurturing.

Actually, what I think is the "single most striking finding" is that the study's authors did NOT focus on the chore-sharing, which quadrupled in importance. How does a 24% drop outrank a 47% (4x) gain in the "important findings" category?? Chore-sharing is a lot more critical to the success of my marriage, because there's simply no way one person could handle everything.

Posted by: Laura | July 2, 2007 8:33 AM

"Do your children contribute to the happiness (or unhappiness) or your marriage?"

Yes.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 2, 2007 8:46 AM

My four children are a key component of the satisfaction and happiness of my marriage. True, I would love my husband if we had no children - after all, we did not have children for the first 4.5 years of our marriage - but I know that the presence of my children has given our marriage a depth of emotion and experience that would have been unattainable without children.

Posted by: BoysRUs | July 2, 2007 8:53 AM

Most kids are accidents anyway and drive a wedge between the parents. Their only purpose is to be used as pawns in a divorce settlement. If you don't believe this, ask a few divorce lawyers.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 8:55 AM

...annnddd - the first anonymous troll hits at 8:55 am. That's later than on some other days. :-)

Our kids are an important part of our marriage, and we always wanted to have kids. But I'd like to think that we'd still have a happy and successful marriage even if circumstances had prevented us from having kids.

Posted by: Army Brat | July 2, 2007 8:57 AM

I am not surprised by these results at all. I think that a lot of people have watched their parents and friends' parents divorce and remarry. While some of these remarriages have lead to children many have not. And these people are happier then they ever were in the first marriage.

Second point, perhaps this survey and a cultrual shift in this direction will help stop people from having a baby to "save" a marriage. I cannot imagine this evr working. If your marriage is unhappy before kids, kids will not make it a happy one.

Posted by: Raising One of Each | July 2, 2007 9:05 AM

I love that sharing chores ranks first in the recipe for a happy marriage! This is probably a stand-in for sharing in general - marriage as a true partnership. That sounds like a sound basis for intimacy and happiness. Children don't make a marriage happy, as wonderful and amazing as raising them can be.

It sounds like we want more from our marriages as a society now, and we want them to be about our relationships as partners rather than business arrangements to raise children and earn the money to keep a home. Hooray! I think children benefit from this change.

Posted by: equal | July 2, 2007 9:16 AM

One of the funniest things I ever heard from someone was that kids make a marriage stronger. The woman was divorced four times, and on to husband number five.

I am sure that for some, parenthood is very rewarding and fulfilling. Unfortunately, I don't hear about that nearly as much as the complaints and worries. And sometimes it just boggles my mind when our friends rattle off all these complaints and gripes about kids, but then in the next breath tell us we should have some of our own. But they can't really answer why. Is it just some autopilot belief that because they've done it, everyone should? I have a theory that it's some deeper "misery loves company" mindset.

Bottome line for me, whether or not anyone is married, the decision to have kids is just as personal as religion. You choose to have them because you want them. If you're like me, and you don't, why would anyone ever try to push that on someone who doesn't?

Posted by: JRS | July 2, 2007 9:19 AM

I think the point here (the "striking" one, anyway) may be summed up in a quote from the study's coauthor: "Marriage and kids were kind of hyphenated before, and now the hyphens have been removed."

My wife and I had a tiny bit of trouble conceiving our daughter, and before we succeeded we went through an emotionally difficult period, trying to accept that we may not ever be "blessed with" or "allowed to have" children. Eventually, though, we came to realize a kind of conceptual shift. We remembered that we got married because of each other, not because we wanted kids. Once we remembered that, we also remembered all the places we wanted to travel and everything else we wanted to do, and kids no longer seemed to be prerequisites for our happiness.

So- I think this survey is saying that couples in 1990 could not have made that shift as easily as we did. The survey may shed more light on preconceived ideas about having children than any actual effect children have on a marriage.

Posted by: Joshua | July 2, 2007 9:36 AM

If you are having kids to make yourself happy in the marriage, you are making a further mistake. The first was staying in a marriage you were not happy in and the second one was bringing an innocent life into the marriage just to make yourself happy.

My wife and I had children because we wanted to raise a family. We were already happy.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 9:37 AM

I've read that introducing children into a marriage (or partnership) tends to magnify everything in the relationship. IOW, they can contribute to increased happiness, or they can help make everything worse.

That to me makes perfect sense; if you're happy with your spouse (or partner) then having a child with that person would just increase the love and emotional ties between them. If there are already problems, however, then the child would just throw gasoline on the fire that's already getting started, due to the added stress, financial impacts, extra work, etc.

I know people in both cases; couples who had children and are happy and fulfilled with them, and those who have children with questionable partners and it's like watching a shipwreck take place.

Posted by: John L | July 2, 2007 9:38 AM

I phoned one of my old high school [childless] buds yesterday, and for the first time in 6 months I didn't get the recorded message "This number has been temporily disconnected..."

but anyway, he took off to South Carolina and married his internet girlfriend 7 years ago. He lives in a trailor, his wife works while he lays around the house smoking pot and watching the tube all day long. Every now and then he reports strapping on an apron to wash a few plates, bowls, spoons and busting open a can of Chef-BoyR-Dee.

Him and his wife are happy as larks. Good for them!

Posted by: Lil Husky | July 2, 2007 9:47 AM

Leslie - I really do enjoy reading your blog, find it often ccauses me to look at things in a new way. But, once again, I must quarrel with a statement you made - that you could not function as a working mother without your husband. I'm sure that you didn't think about this, but, as a working mother who is only single because my husband unexpectedly passed away, I find that kind of statement tough to read. Your blog would speak to a much larger audience if you wrote it in a less "I have a perfect life" way...

Posted by: jj | July 2, 2007 9:50 AM

I really was pretty happily married until we had kids.

I would say that it is amazing how much more you can love a man who turns out to be a good father; it is also amazing how much less you can love a bad one.

Posted by: bad mommy | July 2, 2007 9:56 AM

It seems odd to me that children were ever considered very important to the success/happiness of a marriage. (On a side note, why are success and happiness used interchangeably? Do they mean the same thing?)

I wonder whether what this meant about infertile couples. Does this mean that people believed that a lack of children imperiled the success/happiness of a marriage?

I really think this is one of the most bizarre poll questions I've ever heard.

Posted by: Ryan | July 2, 2007 9:58 AM

"85 percent of parents with children under 18 described them as a top source of personal fulfillment"

I was surprised by this quote and saddened by it. Of course we love our kids and yes they come before your job and having a nice car and those silly things. But your personal fulfillment has to be taken care of by you and you alone. Maybe I just don't get this statement or maybe I've watched too much Oprah and I think that you should create your own personal fulfillment. Should personal fulfillment be wrapped up in someone else, be it your child or spouse or significant other? That just seems unhealthy. Shouldn't you find personal fulfillment as an individual before you drag others into your life?

Posted by: dogma | July 2, 2007 10:04 AM

Perhaps the most amusing statistic in the survey:

Men think that women and men can be equally happy without ever getting married (73% of men think women can be happy single, 70% of men think men can be happy single).

At the same time, most women think that they can be happy single (83%) but far fewer think that men can be happy single (64%).

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 10:04 AM

Son #1 and I were talking about a similar topic a week or so ago. Apparently, some social psychologists did a survey or study (I don't recall right now) to rank the 20 things that made a marriage happy, and kids ranked near the bottom. The theory was that while thinking about one's children makes a parent happy, the aggravation they cause far outweighs that warm fuzzy glow.

I can see that!

I think the results Leslie wrote about today may be related in some form to parents realizing (again -- these things seem to go in cycles) that they should not stay in a horrible marriage for the sake of the children.

Off-topic OT to Fred:
Thank you for honoring me with my first ride in the Creepy Van (tm)! I'm so excited, I even came up with a modification. Why not change the horn so that, instead of honking, it goes moooo?

Posted by: educmom | July 2, 2007 10:08 AM

Hi JJ -- I am so sorry to hear about your husband. I am certain that being a single parent is far harder than anything I've ever tackled, particularly when facing the death of a loved one.

I don't ever mean to come off as if I have a perfect life. I definitely don't. This is my second marriage, and it is far from perfect, mostly because I am opinionated, hot-tempered and determined to live a great life -- a real pain to live with compared to a lot of people. (See my earlier entries if you don't believe me...) My first marriage was even farther from perfect because I married a man who physically abused me.

So you have all of my sympathy, and my apology that I made you feel badly today.

Posted by: Leslie | July 2, 2007 10:08 AM

Attitude is everything. If both husband and wife want children and a FAMILY and the responsibilities that come with children - then they will do well. If you want children; but NOT the responsibility and challenges,, then the marriage will struggle. Children do change your lifestyle. You can't do what you want, when you want, how you want. Life just isn't that way anymore. Your spouse will not be giving YOU undivided attention anymore at anytime. If you accept and understand that - then I think children can bring immense happiness to your marriage.

However, if you are happy together as a couple... then sure you can have a happy marriage without kids.

Marriages are happy when both people are committed to making it happy. Period. Kids or no kids.

Posted by: Starlight | July 2, 2007 10:08 AM

Do whatever you want in life and stop taking advice from stupid polls, disinterested bystanders, and bloggers who have nothing better to do with their time.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 10:13 AM

Another interesting survey result:

23% of men and 20% of women think it is a 'bad thing for society' that more men are staying home with children so that their wives can work full-time.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 10:15 AM

"I would say that it is amazing how much more you can love a man who turns out to be a good father; it is also amazing how much less you can love a bad one."

Very well put! I'll bet you're not a bad mommy at all. :)

What I found most striking, and depressing, in that article was the 27-year-old woman who won't marry the father of her three children because *marrying* him would be a "lifetime commitment."

Once you have kids with a man, you are committed to him on some level for life -- whether you remain romantic partners or not. Why on earth would a woman choose to allow a man she isn't sure merits a "lifetime commitment" to impregnate her three times? And don't tell me it wasn't a choice after the first one, at least. That's the decoupling of marriage (or marriage-like commitment) and kids I find hard to understand. Yes, marriages fail, partners die, etc., but if you aren't at least starting out with the hope and intention of commiting to that partner, why have children with him/her?

Posted by: To bad mommy | July 2, 2007 10:16 AM

BTW, I don't think my son was telling me about this survey; we were discussing it before these results were released. Also, now that I think about it, the survey/study he was talking about might have been related to personal happiness.

I'm sure I would have been a happy person without children; having had them, it's just difficult now to imagine what my life might have been like without them.

I'm also pretty sure my marriage would have ended much sooner, because once you have children, you are willing to put up with more aggravation than you would otherwise. That can be a good thing, or a bad one, depending on the 'aaggravation' you have to tolerate.

Posted by: educmom | July 2, 2007 10:19 AM

This study has been discussed on many of the forums and boards I read, and the varying reactions have been funny. It's like some people are actually horrified that there are happily married childfree couples out there!

As for me, marriage does not equal children. When we married at age 21, we married because we loved each other and were committed to spending the rest of our lives together. Children would come much later. As it turned out, children aren't in the picture at all. As we got older, we realized the reason we kept saying "later" was because we really didn't want them at all. It's been ten happy childfree years. I think if we had children, we would not be happy.

Posted by: DC Cubefarm | July 2, 2007 10:20 AM

Dogma -- I am not one to think of bearing children as an "achievement", but I do think that parenting cannot be a source of personal fulfillment.

I find personal fulfillment in my accomplishments. These include my successes in my career, as well as my successes in my family. I take pride in my ability to be a good partner to my husband and a good mother to my daughter. Getting pregnant and giving birth didn't require particular skills, as far as I am concerned. But being a good parent does, and I see no reason not to feel fulfillment in that "activity".

I guess it's in how you phrase it -- the fulfillment is not in the person, but in what you do to nurture and support the development of that person.

Posted by: DC Mom | July 2, 2007 10:22 AM

dogma, I'm not surprised that 85% of parents with children under 18 describe them as a top source of personal fulfillment. One definition of "fulfillment" is "a feeling of satisfaction at having achieved your desires". So if your desires including raising "successful" children, then yes, children can be a source of fulfillment.

That won't be the case for everybody, but I know that for me, my children are both a source of fulfillment AND a source of great aggravation!

Posted by: Army Brat | July 2, 2007 10:22 AM

Quick question for the group: I know research suggests that the first few years of a new baby are the hardest on a marriage. I've found it quite trying, even though I think my husband and I had a strong marriage going into parenthood (we have a toddler). But it really seems like we're struggling to find time for ourselves and for our relationship when we're not exhausted or busy doing something else.

Please tell me it gets a little easier! We are working on it, but our relationship is really not as happy as it once was.

Posted by: balancing marriage and kids | July 2, 2007 10:25 AM

That's funny, I never thought of my own happiness as a legitimate goal. What makes me happy is helping people achieve peace and calm in their lives.

Posted by: joe | July 2, 2007 10:25 AM

JRS- Maybe your friends can't tell you why having kids is great, but my child-ed friends and I can. Maybe you just have miserable friends who regret their life choices. I don't feel the need to force kids on anyone. In return, I expect my friends to repect my decision to have kids. It's not a war, it's a group of friends making choices that are best for ~their~ lives.

Posted by: atb | July 2, 2007 10:29 AM

I think many more people now actually decide whether or not they want children, rather than just automatically having them because it's just what you do next. People who truly want children are going to be happier with them that people who didn't really want them but had them anyway.

Children can be a terrible strain on a marriage. Many people will say there marital problems started when they had children. And I've read surveys where a high percentage (50-80%) of parents say that if they were able to do it all over, they would not have children.

I think a lot of people dislike the idea that a marriage can be happy without children.

Posted by: Childfree and happy! | July 2, 2007 10:31 AM

Correction: I meant parenting CAN be a source of personal fulfillment. Darn typos!

Posted by: DC Mom | July 2, 2007 10:31 AM

"Please tell me it gets a little easier! We are working on it, but our relationship is really not as happy as it once was."

It gets easier.

Then you have baby #2 and it gets more challenging again [pregnancy exhaustion much worse with a toddler].

Then it gets easier again.

Then you have baby #3 and you have to switch from man-to-man to zone defense and it gets more challenging.

Then it gets easier again.

Until they become teenagers and it gets more challenging.

Then it gets easier again.

Until they start getting married and it gets more challenging.

Then it gets easier again.

And then you have baby-sitting for you grandkids and that gets more challenging.

Then it gets easier again.

Then you die [which can initially be challenging, but then gets much easier].

[Repeat the process if you are Hindu.]

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 10:32 AM

To Ryan

I think unfortunately that society does put pressure on couples to have children, even in this day and age, and that infertile couples have to overcome this pressure from the outside and the inside of their relationship. Which may mean (I don't know and I haven't seen any statistics) that infertile couples are not as successful/happy. However, if a couple can emotionally survive the societal and any internal pressure they will probably be very happy together.

Posted by: LizHDinMD | July 2, 2007 10:33 AM

I have several friends without kids and we have kids and my son's friends who are kids have parents. Here is my analysis:

Couples without kids are dedicated to themselves, their happiness, and quasi-material things that separate them from the "rest of us." My friends without kids plan events like bicycling to Hagerstown or they buy expensive art or they decorate their house entirely in antiques or they form a band and play shows or they write books or they eat at every hip restaurant or they travel or they get PhDs. Those are fun things to do that strengthen their interpersonal bonds.

I had to sell the antiques to pay for daycare, I can't travel because it's a chore with kids and not relaxing, I can't see bands at night, let alone play anymore, I have no time to write more books (particularly since my last one bombed), my kids wouldn't tolerate a bike trip of longer than 1 hour, the hip restaurants don't tolerate kids.

Recently my kids stopped letting us watch netflix DVDs. Whenever we start one, the kids seem to wake up and harass us and we immediately turn off the TV, get them to bed, sit with them, and then one of us is asleep. That makes me intensely unhappy and absolutely drives distance between my wife and I. Last night I had to complete a report for work. I made dinner while my wife fed the baby, I gave the oldest a bath, I went downstairs and picked up toys and started the report at 9:30pm. At 1am I completed the report. The baby woke me up at 5:45am. My wife was in the shower. I changed the baby on 4 hours sleep and cursed my wife for not being there when I had a report due. My wife, on the other hand, had to watch the baby while I was in a shower and make the oldest one's bag lunch and cursed me for not finishing the lunch last night. We both hit the car this morning thinking the other one didn't hold up their end of the bargain. I can laugh about it now, but it's not a good thing for marital stability.

I mean, let's say you want to go to a nice restaurant. Well, a babysitter for two kids is going to cost me $50 over the cost of the restaurant. I have friends whose daycare bill is twice the cost of their mortgage- they could be paying for a beach house and a condo at a ski lodge for what they're paying FOR DAYCARE! I know a gay couple who is spending over $30k per year on their son's private school and summer camp. $30k is what they'll admit to! $30k per year would buy a nice new car.

Then, also, is the way the kids force us to find friends who also have kids. I have grown to dislike many of my son's friend's parents. At a party this weekend one of my better friends in that group lamented that really, truly, he's not friends with any of us. I wasn't offended, he's a nice guy, but he's completely right. I don't care about UK soccer teams, he doesn't care about music, neither of us cares about the lawyer's problems, and none of us want to know about another couple's infidelity and one of the couples is pretty racist. So we sat around the BBQ making small talk about the daycare center and our kids as we slowly went mad- each couple thinking the other couples are nuts.

And I know people who didn't have kids who were unfaithful or who drove each other crazy or who were just in bad relationships.

I'm not saying that having kids is even a bad thing. We do not have an option, if we want doctors to treat us when we're 75, then we have to raise kids to be doctors, you can't just decide not to have kids without negatively impacting the world around you. But I think that if I wanted to have a close relationship with my wife for the rest of my life the best way to do that would be to eliminate everyone from our house who was neither my wife or I. There's no other way around it- children are a wedge.

Posted by: DCer | July 2, 2007 10:33 AM

But it really seems like we're struggling to find time for ourselves and for our relationship when we're not exhausted or busy doing something else.

Please tell me it gets a little easier! We are working on it, but our relationship is really not as happy as it once was.

Posted by: balancing marriage and kids | July 2, 2007 10:25 AM

It gets better, but not for awhile. For us, it was around the time our oldest turned 5, but then we had another baby. Is your family complete or do you plan to add additional children? Planned, regular date nights are good if you can afford the sitter plus the cost of the date.

The problem for us was that one of the thing we most enjoyed was going to hear live music. Since the band doesn't start playing until 9:30 - 9:45, and plays until 1 - 2, live music dates didn't square well either with our parental responsibilities the next day, or with most baby sitters' preferences. So now we pay for a baby sitter so we can go out to eat, and going out to eat has never been a highlight of our relationship.

It gets better, but not for awhile.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 10:34 AM

balancing marriage and kids,
Your problems are no worse than any of those experienced by countless billions of other humans. I am not sure what you call happiness, but most people in this world would find a great deal of happiness simply in the comfort that middle-class American life affords. Maybe force yourself to look at your life with a new perspective.

I felt the same way you did, then I for many years I really thought about how spoiled I was, and my ingratitude began to make me even more unhappy. That is how I began to learn contentment.

Posted by: joe | July 2, 2007 10:35 AM

LESLIE,MN,MONA,FRED,SCARRY,PITTYPAT,EMILY,MEGAN,FATHER OF 4,CATLADY,WORKINGMOMX,WORKERBEE and my apologies to any regular posters I have left out.I have decided to retire from this blog. I have enjoyed reading your posts, arguing with you and sharing some laughs. I hope (and know) that each of you will continue to express yourselves and use the great freedom of this country to argue those things that are important to you. Good Luck! and goodbye. pATRICK

Posted by: pATRICK | July 2, 2007 10:35 AM

"What I found most striking, and depressing, in that article was the 27-year-old woman who won't marry the father of her three children because *marrying* him would be a "lifetime commitment."

Heh. Whether she wants it or not she's already got a lifetime commitment with that man, unless he just up and runs off from her and the children. Even if they live separate lives, there's still that connection between them, for good or bad.

I know someone like that, she detests her daughter's father, but he lives with her (at her request) in order to help raise the child. It's a sad situation all around.

Posted by: John L | July 2, 2007 10:39 AM

DCer - spot on. I would never choose the parents of my kids' friends as friends. They want to talk about remodeling, the cost of tae kwon do classes, and the online list of sexual predators. We'd prefer to talk about music and politics (even with people with whom we disagree).

I don't understand your opinion that we are obligated to have kids. There are plenty of doctors. Whether my husband and I contributed to more kids to society isn't going to amount to a hill of beans in the long run. Nonetheless, this one disagreement aside, the rest of your post perfectly captures the wedge issue and why kids are hard on a marriage relationship.

Posted by: MN | July 2, 2007 10:41 AM

Children will worsen an already shaky marriage due to the extra stress, financial issues and general hassle.

Children will also strengthen an already strong marriage due to the cooperation and emotional bonding between everyone involved.

So, if they become a "wedge" in a marriage, the crack was probably already there.

Posted by: John L | July 2, 2007 10:46 AM

I suspect this finding tells us more about how we define happiness than the relationship of children and marriage... Few people today seem to have a good definition of happiness, especially if material objects are removed from the definition. Today 'happiness' is more marketing tool more than emotion...

Posted by: HankC | July 2, 2007 10:47 AM

pATRICK -- why oh why? how can you break it off without an explanation...

men...

Posted by: Leslie | July 2, 2007 10:51 AM

That's funny, I never thought of my own happiness as a legitimate goal. What makes me happy is helping people achieve peace and calm in their lives.

Posted by: joe | July 2, 2007 10:25 AM

balancing marriage and kids,
Your problems are no worse than any of those experienced by countless billions of other humans. I am not sure what you call happiness, but most people in this world would find a great deal of happiness simply in the comfort that middle-class American life affords. Maybe force yourself to look at your life with a new perspective.

I felt the same way you did, then I for many years I really thought about how spoiled I was, and my ingratitude began to make me even more unhappy. That is how I began to learn contentment.

Posted by: joe | July 2, 2007 10:35 AM

joe, put down the bong and step away from it. maybe force yourself to look at your life from a whole new perspective.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 10:52 AM

To DCer -- I laughed while reading your post (particularly the piece about each parent blaming the other for not holding up his/her end of the bargain). It was one of the best descriptions of marital miscommunication that can happen when you are trying to balance work and family. Not that those things don't happen sans kids --but it just seems more salient. And the parents of kids things was even funnier -- we recently moved, and I found myself immediately navigating toward a couple with a child close to mine in age. Then I started wondering if we'd even have anything in common, other than the children?

Yet, despite the madness, I can honestly say that having a child is the most incredible thing in the world. It's so easy for me to complain -- and I do a lot of it -- but there's nothing like a child to help put life in perspective. It's exhausting, aggravating, and challenging, but for it's also been the most incredibly positive experience ever.

Posted by: DC Mom | July 2, 2007 10:52 AM

"Recently my kids stopped letting us watch netflix DVDs. Whenever we start one, the kids seem to wake up and harass us and we immediately turn off the TV, get them to bed, sit with them, and then one of us is asleep. That makes me intensely unhappy and absolutely drives distance between my wife and I."

Wow. Not watching DVDs makes you intensely unhappy. I don't even know what to say to that. I haven't seen more than 2 hours per week tv or movies for the past 12 years. It's no big deal. I'll have plenty of time to catch up when the kids are older and when I retire.

Taking care of our children is what we do together, not watching movies.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 10:54 AM

Wanted to add my two cents: I think the reason some people are happier with kids then their spouses is the control factor. You have more control over a child as you are raising them. With a spouse, you need to accept things about them that you did not consider before. For a lot of people who are used to having things the way they want them, it's tough to give that up when you marry someone. Necessary, yes, but not always easy.

Posted by: Bob | July 2, 2007 10:55 AM

So, if they become a "wedge" in a marriage, the crack was probably already there.

Posted by: John L | July 2, 2007 10:46 AM

I disagree and think this is too pat and easy a conclusion. Before children, there is more time to tend to each other and the marriage relationship, to work out miscues early before they turn into a pattern of hurts. There is more time for sleep. )Isn't it amazing how much more caring and considerate fully rested people can be?) There is less noise and chaos. There is time for sharing impulsive, unplanned moments of both whimsy and seriousness.

Kids add many other wonderful new and different experiences, but many good marriages don't have a crack in them until a child or events put a chisel at just the right point and hammer it in deep.

Would you say the same thing for those who experience the death of a child? That there must be a crack in the marriage if that death results in a permanent rift?

Some events are life and person-changing. They simply are. The arrival of a child is one such event.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 10:59 AM

My children have been grown up for many years, (ages 44 and 40). I find we never cease to "parent". They have been out of the house since they went off to college.
Their father died when they were 15 and 11.
When they need something, I fit the bill.
Otherwise, they feel they are justified in
attempting to govern my life. Funny, I am a working person, they are not supporting me. I do not get where they think I lost
my power of thinking just because they grew up.

Posted by: Ohio | July 2, 2007 11:01 AM

pATRICK -- You can't just break up with us without an explanation in a BLOG. Please, what's up?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 2, 2007 11:02 AM

"I think the reason some people are happier with kids then their spouses is the control factor. You have more control over a child as you are raising them"

Umm, Bob, are you even married? Do you actually have kids?

Okay, when we marry we accept things about our spouse. We give up on the "whatever I want, whenever I want, because I want to." That part is true.

But - control over children? Not in any universe with which I'm familiar. Yes, absolutely, children who live in our house live by our rules, etc. etc. But I've found that I have far LESS control over my life since children than I ever did before. It seems like the last 18 years have provided me with even less control than I could have imagined.

Posted by: Army Brat | July 2, 2007 11:03 AM

So, if they become a "wedge" in a marriage, the crack was probably already there.
----

I don't know a single relationship without a crack. None. Never met a single person in any relationship where there were no issues.

Of my high school friends I keep in touch with, my parents are the last undivorced couple. I have 3 friends from school who got divorced already.

This reminds me of a director I worked with, religious, always believed "everyone else" was too self-centered, self-analytical and found Seinfeldian fault with each other that people with "character" never fell into. I met his wife at a party and she HATED his holier-than-thou attitude and what he considered "character" was driving his wife so nuts, she complained about it to his employees and contractors as she got more and more drunk and embarrassed the kids. He didn't see the cracks, but that was because he blinded himself to them.

There is no such thing as a relationship without a crack.

Posted by: DCer | July 2, 2007 11:03 AM

"but anyway, he took off to South Carolina and married his internet girlfriend 7 years ago. He lives in a trailor, his wife works while he lays around the house smoking pot and watching the tube all day long. Every now and then he reports strapping on an apron to wash a few plates, bowls, spoons and busting open a can of Chef-BoyR-Dee.

Him and his wife are happy as larks. Good for them!"

Posted by: Lil Husky | July 2, 2007 09:47 AM

Wow. It's hard to count the examples of what's wrong with America contained in that simple post. I'm all for people finding happiness in their own way, but I think it's a little extreme to compliment lazy, freeloading drug-users (using improper grammar, I might add).

Posted by: LL | July 2, 2007 11:04 AM

"pATRICK -- why oh why? how can you break it off without an explanation...

men..."

Posted by: Leslie | July 2, 2007 10:51 AM

HEY! At least he did say goodbye. I thought that he just faded away!

It's not you, it's me!

Posted by: Fred | July 2, 2007 11:06 AM

I need to add my voice to the chorus of replies to Dogma. Fulfillment that comes entirely from myself and my own desires got pretty boring. When my wife and I had our first daughter four months ago, I realized for the first time what it is to care unselfishly about someone else. Maybe that makes me a bad person, but this is the first time I've unconditionally loved. It is immensely fulfilling.

That said, to Balancing Marriage and Kids: These have also been the hardest 4 months of my life. Last month a little easier than the week before, though, and that was easier than the month before that, so I just hope that eventually we will come out somewhere reasonable!

Posted by: joshua | July 2, 2007 11:06 AM

Hey, no one is perfect, and I wasn't implying that anyone's relationship was.

What I was saying was that, if there is something already existing that could split a marriage or relationship up, then adding a child to the mix could very well split it wide open.

Plenty of couples function just fine with all the bumps and warts between them, but the added stress of a child can make everything so much worse that what was acceptable before may become intolerable now.

Posted by: John L | July 2, 2007 11:12 AM

Oh, pATRICK, With whom will Emily and I share virtual flan in the afternoons? Woe is I!

Posted by: catlady | July 2, 2007 11:13 AM

(Caveat) This is just my experience...everyone's is different.

Having a kid has made my marriage harder. In my opinion, this is because Proud Mama and I considered ourselves to be 'complete' people before baby. The baby didn't contribute to completing us (as people) in any way. He's a fantastic part of our family and I always want him around. But marriage is about being a couple, and any third-wheel (fourth, fifth, sixth wheels) you add to the couple is going to leave less time for 'coupling'.

Posted by: Proud Papa | July 2, 2007 11:13 AM

Joshua --

Congrats on the new baby. And I agree -- it's so remarkable to so unconditionally love a little person . . .

Despite my question, I can say with 100% certainty that things between myself and my husband have gotten far better than they were those first few months. Life is much easier now, even if it's not quite where I'd like it to be. So I hope that's a note of optimism for you!

Posted by: balancing marriage and kids | July 2, 2007 11:14 AM

Great topic for someone like me who's struggling to decide whether to have kids. I am very happily married but sense that if we did have a child it would dredge up our differences (on religion, discipline, etc.) that we can live with, now. No doubt a child would put a strain on things. Not to mention it's such unrelenting work.
We really love and enjoy our little nieces and nephews, but maybe we're better suited to be the cool aunt & uncle than parents, and in the long run that may be a better choice for our marriage.
But I think I'll always wonder.

Posted by: Lucky to have options | July 2, 2007 11:16 AM

Hey Army Brat, Yeah I am married. Almost three years now. And our firstborn son is 8 months. I have to accept that my wife is not the same person as I am and I can't push her the way I push myself sometimes (that is a continuing lesson). But I can see the siren call that having a child gives: the urge to raise a child to avoid making all the mistakes you make (i.e. a second childhood done the "right" way). That's what I mean about control. I think this is the motivation behind a lot of "helicopter parents", sad to say.

Posted by: Bob | July 2, 2007 11:17 AM

"pATRICK -- why oh why? how can you break it off without an explanation...

men..."

Posted by: Leslie | July 2, 2007 10:51 AM

HEY! At least he did say goodbye. I thought that he just faded away!

It's not you, it's me!

Posted by: Fred | July 2, 2007 11:06 AM

I think pATRICK needs more personal space. He doesn't want to commit to just one blog!

_________

Otherwise, they feel they are justified in
attempting to govern my life. Funny, I am a working person, they are not supporting me. I do not get where they think I lost
my power of thinking just because they grew up.

Posted by: Ohio | July 2, 2007 11:01 AM

When their father died, and you had to assume the role of mom AND dad, I would guess that they had to assume more responsibility as well. Is it possible that they started thinking then that all of you were more or less equal, and maybe even that they felt like they had to take care of you -- even if you didn't need it, and didn't encourage it? If they assumed a caretaking role, perhaps as a way of coping, they might have gotten themselves stuck in that thought pattern. I'm not there, so I don't know -- I'm just throwing out a theory.

Posted by: educmom | July 2, 2007 11:18 AM

I think I had a maybe more realistic idea of what kids can do to a marriage, because my stepdaughter was in the picture long before I had children with my husband. Of course, I was just as unprepared as anyone for the sleep deprived, bleary eyed haze that you operate in after a child is born, but since it was never just the two of us to begin with, our relationship developed in a way that included an "outsider". I also try very hard to remember that raising children is ONE phase of a good marriage. We as a couple do not exist for the sole purpose of bringing up baby.

Of course, I should practice what I preach more. I am thrilled to report that my husband and I are going away by ourselves for a whole weekend soon. It's the first time ever since we had our first. I. cannot. wait.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 2, 2007 11:21 AM

Ohio,

Without knowing the circumstances . . .Is it possible view your children's attempts to intervene in your life as an expression of their love and concern for you? Perhaps you could thank them for their concern, and tell them that your appreciate their interest in helping you, but then politely suggest that you disagree with them and are more inclined to follow your own path.

Of course, that could be utterly naive, depending upon what's going on with your family. But it may help by giving them the message that you've heard them and considered their advice, while also hinting that they should respect your decision not to follow it.

Posted by: DC Mom | July 2, 2007 11:24 AM

Lucky to have options:
The best advice I can give you is to work out all those potential conflict issues BEFORE you have kids. Even though your marriage is strong, find a couples counselor who will help you negotiate the areas of difference, and who will help you decide if you want to have children in the first place.

Sometimes, on my darkest days, I think it was better when we all had arranged marriages, to spouses chosen by our parents, to people that they thought would be compatible. Then I remember that my parents thought STBX would be a good father and stable, sober, faithful husband...

Posted by: educmom | July 2, 2007 11:26 AM

Balancing Marriage and Kids--

Actually? It is. Thank you.

Posted by: Joshua | July 2, 2007 11:30 AM

Marriage and kids were connected at least in part by religion. Many religious denominations still require couples to agree that they will welcome children into their lives before they can get married in the church. While the impact of religion in politics has grown over the last decade, my personal impression is that its impact on individuals has diminished, to the point where couples don't feel obligated anymore to follow church guidance and issues like birth control and childbearing.

I vehemently disagree that children are always a wedge in a marriage. Its all a matter of perspective. My husband and I have three children. We knew before we had the first one that we would be giving up trips to restaurants, late nights at jazz clubs, travel to exotic destinations, sleep, money, etc. So when all of that actually came to pass, we simply decided not to feel resentful. We adopted more of a "misery loves company" approach and laughed our way through it. The shared experience has definitely made our marriage stronger. And while we are looking forward to having an empty nest someday, right now we are enjoying our children.

Posted by: MP | July 2, 2007 11:30 AM

Taking care of our children is what we do together, not watching movies.
---
Wow, that's a really sad story. Maybe you should hire a babysitter and get some time to yourself. There's way to find balance and you'll find it.

Posted by: DCer | July 2, 2007 11:30 AM

Late again. Figures.

Someone brought up they found it interesting, but not exactly groundbreaking, that sharing the chores in a way that feels equitable to both parties was important.

I call it the "roses vs. clover" effect.

Roses are not about everyday things. They are like exclamation points. Well, you don't get daily exclamation points in life. Not as a rule. But clover, it's quiet, unassuming, ubiquitous. Easily overlooked and undervalued. Look more closely and you realize it's not only a legume, it's the source of some really tasty honey.

As for kids--there are rewards. But it's a long hard slog to adulthood. And no matter how hard we try, what we say, when we say it, there's far too much luck involved in childrearing. I don't want to put the success, failure or raison d'etre for my marriage on my children's backs.

Anyone else remember being a teenager? Who here also made it to adulthood at least partially through sheer dumb luck rather than using good judgment? Maybe only once or twice, rather than all the time, but still.

[Raises hand]

Posted by: Maryland Mother | July 2, 2007 11:30 AM

Otherwise, they feel they are justified in
attempting to govern my life. Funny, I am a working person, they are not supporting me. I do not get where they think I lost
my power of thinking just because they grew up.

Posted by: Ohio | July 2, 2007 11:01 AM

Ohio,

I'm so glad to read your post. My brother treats my widowed father just the way you describe. Dad is a fully functioning, adaptable, resourceful human being, but my brother, for reasons of his own, needs to infantalize him.

Luckily, Dad pretty much lets it run off his back, but it's got to irritate the h&ll out of him!

Posted by: pittypat | July 2, 2007 11:34 AM

Y'all have mostly said great stuff.

Re: happiness. People typically won't admit to not being happy. They might anonymously-as a survey typically is. My sister is in an unhappy marriage (two unhappy ppl meet and have kids-guess what happens) and yes it is a train wreck to watch, not much I can do. I said to sis once-hey I don't think you're happy. Her response- of course I'm happy, I just had a kid (third). I tried to explain to her it's a lot of pressure to put on a kid to rely on them for your own happiness.

Of course, it also pains me that her first reaction was defensive rather than thinking I have her best interest at heart.

She also thinks admitting you've made a mistake is the worst thing anyone could ever do (when I think it makes you an adult...). So she would never get divorced no matter what's best for her, the kids, etc. So she compounds her bad decisions every day. The kids just add complications but they were already unhappy, before they even met each other...

Posted by: atlmom | July 2, 2007 11:37 AM

By the way, I think we could all use a re-read of Erma Bombeck's books.

"A Marriage made in Heaven; or Too Tired for an Affair" was her more adult-themed (but still clean!) one. But "The Grass is Greener over the Septic Tank" is darned funny.

It sounds like we ALL could use some levity.

Even pATRICK. Sorry to see you go, does this mean your father is doing significanly worse? Good luck!

Posted by: Maryland Mother | July 2, 2007 11:38 AM

As for kids--there are rewards. But it's a long hard slog to adulthood. And no matter how hard we try, what we say, when we say it, there's far too much luck involved in childrearing. I don't want to put the success, failure or raison d'etre for my marriage on my children's backs.
--------

I really like this sentence.

Not every family I know, but maybe 1/4 of them, their two kids are very different in temperament. With those striking differences I know that it's not the parenting that is forcing this behavior, it's the children's innate personalities or their reaction to the parenting.

I am reminded of my own childhood when at age 9 my parents had a financial breakthrough that meant we could go to the beach for vacation instead of Grandma's house. Up until then, scrimping and saving and clothes from cousins, after then, buying nice clothes and name brand food. How different that was for me.

Or which kid in your family has health problems? And what that means for the parents. Or those parents where none of the kids have any health issues and you look at them like, what do you know about the emergency room? Or the parents with one kid with Downs. Or the parents with one Austitic kid. Or the parents who never had a miscarriage. Or the parents who lost a twin.

How can your marriage be affected by hope and tragedy? How can you keep your romantic relationship romantic without it being pedestrian and parental?

Posted by: DCer | July 2, 2007 11:46 AM

I think too few people are willing to make the adults' relationship a priority in the household and then raise children to respect and honor that. We make a point out of both having adult conversations/movies that are not to be interrupted, and of involving kids in nontrivial, issue-oriented dinner conversation. In other words, our household doesn't revolve around kids and childish stuff, although it includes ample time for that. Parents who refuse to set limits for kids and to expect responsible, respectful behavior from them are indeed setting themselves up for marital strain. This is an avoidable problem, in my view, but our society is so kid-fixated that we're now polarized between a picture of marriage that is me-oriented and centered around entertainment, and one that views children as the end of all adult life.

Posted by: Bethesda | July 2, 2007 11:46 AM

"Many religious denominations still require couples to agree that they will welcome children into their lives before they can get married in the church. While the impact of religion in politics has grown over the last decade, my personal impression is that its impact on individuals has diminished, to the point where couples don't feel obligated anymore to follow church guidance and issues like birth control and childbearing."

Many denominations? As far as I know, only the Roman Catholic church makes any requirement of welcoming children, or any comment on birth control at all. What other denominations or religions have such a requirement?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 11:50 AM

Is our marriage better for our kids? Probably not. We used to dash off to dinner whenever we wanted, spend hours and hours giving each other our undivided attention.

Now that we're parents, we have date nights, and we work hard to make time for each other. But we can never maintain the same level as we did when we were childless.

But for us, it doesn't matter because our life is better because of our children. So to focus exclusively on marriage seems too narrowly focused to me, since a marriage is part of a life.

And I agree with the person who commented that the huge increase of the importance of chore sharing is *much* more significant than the smaller drop of how children factor in. Unfortunately, the headline is not as sexy, so the media didn't pick up on that one. It's a shame.

Posted by: San Diego Mama | July 2, 2007 11:50 AM

"Children will worsen an already shaky marriage due to the extra stress, financial issues and general hassle.

Children will also strengthen an already strong marriage due to the cooperation and emotional bonding between everyone involved.

So, if they become a "wedge" in a marriage, the crack was probably already there."

John L, I generally agree with you and some other posters who have said similar things. But what if you can't always "cooperate"? Sometimes having kids can actually create issues that never would have arisen otherwise.

Example: My husband and I have very different parenting styles: his dad was very authoritarian and a yeller, and he figures he came out ok, so what's the problem? Well, our daughter is very high-energy and sensitive, and that approach just makes her dig in her heels, which frustrates him until he yells, at which point she breaks down, at which point he yells again at her not to cry, at which point all hell breaks loose. So I'm left trying to figure out how to present a "unified" front to my daughter while calming them both down and getting frustrated myself wondering why such a brilliant man keeps doing things that he KNOWS will only make the situation worse. And pretty soon we're all a snit -- mine probably the worst of all, because someone's gotta be the designated grownup, so I HAVE to keep my temper and find a productive solution, instead of just making myself feel better by yelling at the lot of them.

None of this was an issue between us before kids. And quite honestly, it's the biggest recurring conflict we have in our marriage -- it's not a big huge crack, but it is this little chink-chink-chink, and if you don't take the time and energy to focus on healing those little chinks, it can grow into something irreparable. And when you look at the time and energy it takes to do that repair (get over my own frustration, figure out ways to help them get along better, figure out ways to help him lower his own frustration and get some more realistic expectations, etc.), together with all of the other demands of jobs and kids and chores, I'm not that surprised people don't always manage to fix those little things while they are still little things.

Posted by: Laura | July 2, 2007 11:52 AM

Lucky to have options - we really are lucky. Only a couple of generations ago, you and I probably would not have considered not having kids. It just wasn't done. While this decision can be a hard one to make, at least we have the power to make it.

Anyway, this is your decision entirely. Don't let anyone pressure you two into having kids or not. They aren't the ones who would be stuck regretting it. Good luck.

Posted by: DC Cubefarm | July 2, 2007 11:53 AM

New initiative: No children? Then no marriage
'Absurd' idea aims to start discussion

By RACHEL LA CORTE
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

OLYMPIA -- Proponents of same-sex marriage have introduced an initiative that would put a whole new twist on traditional unions between men and women: It would require heterosexual couples to have children within three years or else have their marriages annulled.

Initiative 957 was filed by the Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance, which was formed last summer after the state Supreme Court upheld Washington's ban on same-sex marriage.

In that 5-4 ruling, the court found that state lawmakers were justified in passing the 1998 Defense of Marriage Act, which restricts marriage to unions between a man and a woman. In defending the act, the ruling specifically mentioned a state interest in furthering procreation.

Under I-957, marriage would be limited to men and women who are able to have children. Couples would be required to prove they can have children to get a marriage license. If they did not have children within three years, their marriages would be subject to annulment.

All other marriages would be defined as "unrecognized" and people in them would be ineligible to receive marriage benefits.

"Absurd? Very," the group says on its Web site, which adds it is planning two more initiatives involving marriage and procreation. "But there is a rational basis for this absurdity. By floating the initiatives, we hope to prompt discussion about the many misguided assumptions" underlying the Supreme Court's ruling.

Gregory Gadow, who filed I-957 last month, said the three-year time frame was arbitrary.

"We did toy with the idea of (requiring) procreation before marriage," he said. "We didn't want to (annoy) the fundamentalists too much."

Gadow said that if the group's initiatives were passed, the Supreme Court would be forced to strike them down as unconstitutional, which he believes would weaken the original ruling upholding the Defense of Marriage Act.

But he said he highly doubts that any of the initiatives will pass, and that they are being done "in the spirit of political street theater."

"Our intention is not to actually put this into law," he said. "All we want is to get this on the ballot and cause people to talk about it."

Cheryl Haskins, executive director of Allies for Marriage & Children, agreed with Gadow's group on at least one point about the initiative: "It's absurd," she said. Haskins said opponents of same-sex marriage "have never said that the sole purpose of marriage is procreation."

The measure's backers said the two other initiatives they plan would prohibit divorce or separation when a married couple had children and would make having a child together the equivalent of marriage.

Gadow said his goal is to raise $300,000 to spend on advertising on the first initiative.


Posted by: Children required to legitimize marriage? | July 2, 2007 11:53 AM

From the marriage rites:

The gift of marriage brings husband and wife together
in the delight and tenderness of sexual union
and joyful commitment to the end of their lives.
It is given as the foundation of family life
in which children are [born and] nurtured
and in which each member of the family,in good times and in bad,
may find strength, companionship and comfort,
and grow to maturity in love.

Posted by: Anglican | July 2, 2007 11:59 AM

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/29/AR2007062900942.html?hpid=smartliving

Check out the article about the 5,400 square foot house in Loudon which includes a master suite for an 11 year old girl because, I jest not, the mother says, "I didn't want my daughter to live in a small room."

I can only hope that the 11 year old doesn't grow up to be a dorm- or suite-mate of my children, and that she never wants to run away to NYC. She'd be so horrified by a 600 sq. foot studio.

I wish more people would decide not to have kids rather than foisting such spoiled brats on the world.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 12:02 PM

I guess Gadow would find my wife and I heretics, then, since we've been married 23 years now without children. How does he feel about women having children without marrying? They're probably heretics too.

Posted by: John L | July 2, 2007 12:04 PM

"Absurd? Very," the group says on its Web site, which adds it is planning two more initiatives involving marriage and procreation. "But there is a rational basis for this absurdity. By floating the initiatives, we hope to prompt discussion about the many misguided assumptions" underlying the Supreme Court's ruling.

But he said he highly doubts that any of the initiatives will pass, and that they are being done "in the spirit of political street theater."

"Our intention is not to actually put this into law," he said. "All we want is to get this on the ballot and cause people to talk about it."

I don't see any religion that requires children in a marriage (R.C., sort of). But I'm not looking that hard, either.

Posted by: re: Gadow | July 2, 2007 12:07 PM

A valid Catholic marriage results from four elements: (1) the spouses are free to marry; (2) they freely exchange their consent; (3) in consenting to marry, they have the intention to marry for life, to be faithful to one another and be open to children; and (4) their consent is given in the presence of two witnesses and before a properly authorized Church minister. Exceptions to the last requirement must be approved by church authority.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 12:10 PM

Does marriage need kids? Do kids need marriage? Does ANYONE?

We sure are conducting one huge social experiment these days. Is it good? We will find out.

We commonly have pre-nups now. They should probably be mandatory - so the less-educated don't get shorted. The marriage contract could have an expiration date for the marriage - say 20 years from the birth of the last child, with optional renewals. Childless marriages could set other time limits.

No one should take anyone for granted. Or bug out on child-rearing responsibilties. Only really awful marriages would need to be granted "early outs".

Empty nesters may wish to part ways in order to pursue old dreams or new endeavors, even if just for a set "sabbatical" time period. Marriages used to be shorter because people's lives were shorter. Now we have to re-think the institution so it doesn't feel like an unwanted "life sentence"!

Everything in marriage should not be about the kids nor should it be all about the adults - another place for the ol' balancing act.

Posted by: bommerette | July 2, 2007 12:13 PM

My dad's 2nd wife refused to marry him until her Catholic church officially recognized the divorce from her earlier marriage, even though she had legally divorced him years and years earlier.

It took months after she sent in the application before they did, and she said later had they refused to recognize it she would have married him anyway, but it did make her feel better to get their approval.

Considering they were both well into their late 40's, I kind of doubt either of them were "open to children" by then, though.

Posted by: John L | July 2, 2007 12:14 PM

http://www.stthomasparishhuntington.org/id49.htm

Does this help?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 12:14 PM

http://www.stthomasparishhuntington.org/id49.htm

1664. Unity, indissolubility, and openness to fertility are essential to marriage. Polygamy is incompatible with the unity of marriage; divorce separates what God has joined together; the refusal of fertility turns married life away from its "supreme gift", the child.

Does this help?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 12:14 PM

By RACHEL LA CORTE
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

OLYMPIA -- Proponents of same-sex marriage have introduced an initiative that would put a whole new twist on traditional unions between men and women: It would require heterosexual couples to have children within three years or else have their marriages annulled.

* * *

Finally -- some common ground between the gays and the straight old people who want grandchildren!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | July 2, 2007 12:16 PM

Some people do NOT want grandchildren! They say it would make them feel "old". Haha. I am seeing lots of this among my boomer friends who make up all kinds of silly names because they don't want to be called "granny!"

Posted by: boomerette | July 2, 2007 12:21 PM

Regardless of what is in any particular marriage rite, there is no denomination other than Roman Catholics (who don't consider themselves a denomination, btw) which requires a couple to be open to the possibility of children.

To make a broad statement about the church requiring children and discouraging birth control when it's pretty much only a Catholic thing is irresponsible.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 12:26 PM

To make a broad statement about the church requiring children and discouraging birth control when it's pretty much only a Catholic thing is irresponsible.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 12:26 PM

Doesn't the Catholic church regard itself as the "the church"/"one true church"? Is it more correctly spelled Catholic Church?

Is anyone here Muslim, or Hindu, or something other than Christian who could tell us more? Directly and personally, rather than what someone may be able to pull from the internet.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 12:36 PM

"I can only hope that the 11 year old doesn't grow up to be a dorm- or suite-mate of my children, and that she never wants to run away to NYC. She'd be so horrified by a 600 sq. foot studio."

I have a friend who has always been a bit materialistic. Very much into big house, big cars, etc. She lived in a very nice house, not a McMansion. Her son grew up and she tried to talk to him about buying something rather than renting. He just wasn't interested. He'd rather rent a room from someone and have no management/upkeep responsibilities. He just wanted to concentrate on his job, his further studies, and his social life. He really couldn't care less about material trappings.

Posted by: me | July 2, 2007 12:42 PM

"Some people do NOT want grandchildren!"

I am one of them. My youngest is still a teen. Grandchildren might be nice someday, but I'd prefer not becoming a grandmother until I'm completely done with being a mother of dependent children.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 12:44 PM

Someone said something about materialism and if it really meant happiness.

A rabbi once said he was teaching teenagers and he asked them to write down five things they thought would make them happy (this was a while ago, so it was stuff like walkman, tv , computer, etc).

Then he asked them to write down the five happiest times in their lives, and he said that they mostly wrote, my bat/bar mitzvah, family event, family vacation, being with friends, etc.

So sometimes we get our values screwed up by things, but if we look back to when we were happiest, it's rarely because we bought those cool shoes.

Posted by: atlmom | July 2, 2007 12:46 PM

He'd rather rent a room from someone and have no management/upkeep responsibilities. He just wanted to concentrate on his job, his further studies, and his social life. He really couldn't care less about material trappings.

Where o where did I go wrong???

Posted by: Mom | July 2, 2007 12:48 PM

He'd rather rent a room from someone and have no management/upkeep responsibilities. He just wanted to concentrate on his job, his further studies, and his social life. He really couldn't care less about material trappings.

Where o where did I go wrong???

Posted by: Mom | July 2, 2007 12:48 PM

Her concern was that he was just "throwing his money away" by renting.

Posted by: me | July 2, 2007 12:51 PM

my bat/bar mitzvah, family event, family vacation,

Those usually involve someone parting with some cash.

Hanging out with friends is the only thing that sounds like it could be low-cost. Unless they are into hanging out at the mall.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 12:52 PM

Doesn't the Catholic church regard itself as the "the church"/"one true church"? Is it more correctly spelled Catholic Church?

Is anyone here Muslim, or Hindu, or something other than Christian who could tell us more? Directly and personally, rather than what someone may be able to pull from the internet.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 12:36 PM

The fact that the Catholic church regards itself as The Church doesn't mean the Reformation never occurred.

Protestant denominations have no such requirement and to equate the Roman Catholic church with Christianity is incorrect, much as it pains the Vatican to acknowledge history.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 12:55 PM

In Judaism, you are required to have sex as it is part of the marriage contract (no joke). if kids come along, it is a blessing from g-d.

This is whether or not you are able to have kids (and the no contraception thing is in there too - which is why many very religious jewish families have 8 or more kids - the Catholics got it from the jews - but if you shouldn't have kids because of some real reason, but you are still fertile, you are permitted to use some forms of contraception because you're supposed to have sex).

How's that?

Posted by: atlmom | July 2, 2007 12:56 PM

It is kinda fun to watch the gay lobby tweak the "I'm not homophobic" homophobe lobby.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 12:58 PM

to 12:52 : no one is required to make cash change hands for any of that.

It was more of: the accomplishment of studying and reading the torah in front of my friends/relatives - who I am spending a special day with and that's what is fulfilling...

Posted by: atlmom | July 2, 2007 12:58 PM

From the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

"In view of the Biblical command and the blessing to 'be fruitful and multiply,' it is to be expected that marriage will not ordinarily be voluntarily childless. But, in the absence of Scriptural prohibition, there need be no objection to contraception within a marital union which is, as a whole, fruitful."

Posted by: One Protestant Denomination View | July 2, 2007 1:06 PM

atlmom, Do Conservative and/or Reformed synagogues espouse those teachings, as well? or only Orthodox? I thought it was the latter, but seek to learn.

Posted by: MN | July 2, 2007 1:06 PM

As long as we're all going off-topic anyway, I have a weird question.

Poland Spring water is no longer sold in Maryland. In fact, it looks like it is no longer sold south of the Mason-Dixon line. I can't find it anyway.

Does anyone here have a "source" for overpriced bottled water? I tried the Staples site, but it's kind of a mess. I can't believe I'm looking for this stuff, but a friend of mine really does taste the difference and really hates Deer Park water. (Personally, I say get better acquainted with tap water, but I have my own weirdnesses.)

I knew from my Jewish friends that sex within marriage is a "must-have", but none of them are Orthodox so I was unaware of whether there were mandates on children or not.

Posted by: Maryland Mother | July 2, 2007 1:10 PM

I found this passage rather comforting.

Second, those of us beyond childbearing years must "put our money where our mouths are." That is, we must help to provide day-care arrangements and tuition aid for Jewish day schools, supplementary schools and camps.

Here the Talmud's insistence that grandparents have the same duty to provide a Jewish education for their grandchildren as parents do for their children is especially apt in our time. It is not a great favor when grandparents help with these costs; it is simply what our tradition expects them to do.

Third, we need to recognize that the emphasis on children in the Jewish tradition only exacerbates the problems of infertile Jewish couples. Not only do they suffer personally each time they see their contemporaries become pregnant or deal with their children, wishing that they could be in that stage of life as well; their own Jewish tradition seems to condemn them for not having children.

Here it is critical to note two things. First, like all obligations in Jewish law, the duty to procreate ceases to apply to those who cannot fulfill it through no fault of their own. Furthermore, adoption is an honored choice in the Jewish tradition that should be encouraged and supported.

Finally, we must impress upon Jews that even if childbirth is not an option, there are other ways to contribute to the nourishment of the Jewish people.

For example, the Talmud analogizes those who teach other people's children to those who give birth to them.

Second, we in the Jewish community must take steps to support and assist young adults who would love to get married and have children, but cannot.

Communal activities and Internet sites like JDate can help, but so can parents who host intellectual, religious and social gatherings at their homes for their children and their friends and their friends' friends.

We also must recognize that many couples in our midst would love to have children but cannot. That requires minimally that we must not badger couples without children with questions about when they are going to have them. We must instead try to be there for them emotionally as they struggle with this issue and support them in their efforts to have their own biological children or to adopt.

Moreover, in our programming we must plan for couples who do not have children as well as for those who do. Our Jewish institutions should not be only for couples with children, for that group constitutes a diminishing percentage of our people.

Instead, we must recognize the infinite worth of each Jew, married or not and with children or not, a value imprinted in each of us when we were created in the image of God.

Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff is professor of philosophy at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles.

Here's the link, too.

http://www.jewishsf.com/content/2-0-/module/displaystory/story_id/26770/edition_id/515/format/html/displaystory.html

Posted by: to MN | July 2, 2007 1:14 PM

Thanks, 1:06, notwithstanding MP's over-broad 11:30 post, the position of the Missouri Synod is typical of non-Catholic, Christian denominations. There's no child-bearing litmus test for marrying within the Christian church.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 1:15 PM

I thought Poland Spring was carried at Giant stores. Last I looked it was, anyway.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 1:16 PM

MN-it is typically only the orthodox who would not use contraception, and it is very controversial (well maybe not very) in the orthodox comm. As well. My cousin is what she calls herself 'modern' because they use contraception and she doesn't always wear a skirt and she doesn't wear a wig , etc.

So there are a zillion interpretations. But the sex thing is that the husband is obligated to provide it for his wife.

Posted by: atlmom | July 2, 2007 1:17 PM

Husband: Let's go out on the town tonight and have some fun.
Wife: Yeah, but if you get home before me, remember to leave the front door open.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 1:26 PM

Ohio and Educmom,
I saw myself in your post as well, although I am the child that sometimes tries to make decisions for my mother. My father died when I was 14, and Educmom was right-- the responsibilities were then shared much more and I began to have a "friend" relationship with my mother rather than a "parent/child" relationship. I felt as though I had to take care of her much more (and still do), because she had/has so much on her plate now that she no longer has a life partner. While it may be infuriating to you, try to let it roll off your back-- I have a feeling your children aren't trying to be demeaning and controlling, but rather are trying to watch out for you as best they can out of love and concern.

Posted by: MI | July 2, 2007 1:26 PM

Thanks, atlmom and anon at 1:14. Both posts were interesting and enlightening.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 1:30 PM

While it may be infuriating to you, try to let it roll off your back-- I have a feeling your children aren't trying to be demeaning and controlling, but rather are trying to watch out for you as best they can out of love and concern.

Turn that around for parent and child and it's the same thing.

I'm well over majority age and been parenting for some time now, but just yesterday my mother was telling me to do something that I was ALREADY DOING. She caught herself, apologized, and said it's simply a hard habit to lose.

We had a good laugh.

Come on, if we couldn't all agree that families can be crazy-making, what else would we all agree upon? Ever?

Posted by: Maryland Mother | July 2, 2007 1:33 PM

I think the importance of children regarding happiness in a marriage surrounds the desire of both partners wanting to be parents. Unfortunately, sometimes two people get married and one wants children and the other does not. Each thinks that the other will change his/her mind. This is setting up for trouble...

In worse scenarios, one of the parents decides AFTER the child comes that he/she does not want to be a rpent. I have known a couple of women whose husbands left them within weeks of giving birth because they missed their "freedom."

Our daughter did not drive a wedge between us--we both enjoyed parenting. Our divorce was the result of issues other than parenting.

Posted by: single western mom | July 2, 2007 1:33 PM

Poland Spring's web page purports to offer home delivery.

signed,

Girl Who Drinks Water From the Tap

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 1:33 PM

To have a valid Catholic marriage, it must be ratified and consummated (ratum et consummatum). Ratification is by a priest or lay person with the power and the consummated, you can figure that out. If a marriage is not consummated, it may be declared "annulled." How that one is figured out, I don't know.

As to the issue of children, the Church's requirement is that the couple is "open" to having children. If no children are possible due to a medical problem or advanced age, there is no issue for the Church. The couple is still married in the eyes of the Church.

What is the issue is that the couple does not take any action such the use of birth control to prevent a child. (although most US Catholics don't adhere to this requirement.)

Posted by: A Catholic | July 2, 2007 1:33 PM

Yeah, I put in the local zip code and up pops the message "delivery unavailable".

But thanks so much for looking.

Like I said, it is a weird request. I drink tap water too.

Posted by: Maryland Mother | July 2, 2007 1:37 PM

Being capable of having children as a requirement for marriage? What hogwash! That means that any woman over the age of 50 (plus or minus) would be barred from getting married. Any woman who'd ever had a hysterectomy would be barred from getting married. Any man who'd been left sterile from childhood cancer or other disease would be barred from getting married. Anyone who knew that s/he was a carrier of a genetic disorder and decided it was best not to pass that disorder on to a biological child would be barred from getting married. Etc., etc., etc. I think you get my drift.

Posted by: Murphy | July 2, 2007 1:42 PM

Murphy,

Pls refer to my 1:33 post.
Being open to children is not the same as having them.

Posted by: A Catholic | July 2, 2007 1:47 PM

Single western mom (and all):

But really people get married all the time not agreeing on tons of things and then expect the other to change. Happens every day. Kids, clearly, are more important to agree on, since you are more tham welcome to make yourself miserable, but when you bring an innocent child into that, it's heartbreaking.

Posted by: atlmom | July 2, 2007 1:48 PM

But that says that they have to want them or the marriage isn't "real". Not wanting kids, or not wanting more kids is grounds for annullment.

Posted by: to A Catholic | July 2, 2007 1:49 PM

From the larger branch of Lutherans in the U.S. (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America

"When a woman and man join their bodies sexually, both should be prepared to provide for a child, should conception occur. When that is not their intention, the responsible use of safe, effective contraceptives is expected of the male and the female. Respect and sensitivity should also be shown toward couples who do not feel called to conceive and/or rear children, or who are unable to do so."

They also say

"The purpose of marriage goes beyond the intimacy and companionship it provides the couple. The wider community is symbolically present when a couple publicly exchanges vows. Witnesses pledge to support the marriage, and those exchanging vows are reminded that their marriage will affect the wider community. They are to extend themselves for the sake of others."

It seems that they recognize that individual marriages may have different purposes, though not exclusively inward ones, say materialistic DINK purposes.

Posted by: Some Other Lutherans | July 2, 2007 1:52 PM

to 1:49, Yes, if it can be proven that one of the couple was not open to children and then married, a annulment can be granted.

I am not sure in the case of any additional children.

I also know that a couple even with children can be granted an annulment on the basis on immaturity. This is the usual basis of an annulment for a teenage marriage.

Posted by: A Catholic | July 2, 2007 1:54 PM

I think the saddest thing of all is when two people get married and both purport to want children, but when theory meets reality, one or the other takes off. Sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively (but for all intents and purposes).

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 1:55 PM

Now I'm a little scared (in the figurative sense, not literally.) I haven't gotten married yet (we're working towards that) and I don't have children. While the thought of having kids is nice, I'd really hesitate to do it if I thought my kids would be my biggest source of fulfillment. I'd rather not place my happiness in another human being--even one that I birthed, because that wouldn't be fair to them or myself. Besides, I already have things that fulfill me, and a special person that is a great source of happiness--me.
If I had children, I'd like to think that I'd be content with just providing them with love, nurturing and lessons, while continuing to live my own life, and letting them live theirs as they grow older. I know what it's like to have a mom who finds one of her greatest sources of happiness in me. I'm flattered, but I'd rather that she lived her own life, and found her happiness in something that has nothing to do with me.

Posted by: Just Me, Thank You | July 2, 2007 1:56 PM

I know for a fact that we read a British book in health class from the 1800s that said that a woman who got married knowing she could not have children was deceiving her husband and should not ever get married. This was a book the teacher had and used as an example of hard-to-believe changing sexual mores. This was not, as near as I remember, a Catholic book. That may not mean that entire protestant denominations followed these rules, but I've heard this same story from so many religious adults that I think it's part of general dogma that floats through the culture.

Posted by: DCer | July 2, 2007 1:58 PM

Last time I checked it was 2007!

Posted by: DC'er | July 2, 2007 2:02 PM

"...a woman who got married knowing she could not have children was deceiving her husband and should not ever get married."

Simple solution; have the woman inform her fiance' that she was incapable of having children (how a woman in the 1800's would know this is hard to comprehend, but still); that way, if he still wanted to marry her, I see no deception at all.

Posted by: John L | July 2, 2007 2:03 PM

The success behind any marriage is the ability to work together regardless of children or not.

Children offer a whole set of challenges that both partners need to be flexible to resolve. Every day is a new day - and mistakes will be made. Everyone is human.

The secret is the commitment to the spouse and children and doing what is best for the spouse and children. If that is your true mindset; you will have a happy successful marriage and family. The problem is one persons definition of how to commit to a family may be different than others. the ole "expectations" scenario... Keep it basic folks - and life will treat you good.

Posted by: C.W. | July 2, 2007 2:03 PM

pATRICK, we'll miss you! Sorry to hear you're retiring. But we all have to go sometime, I guess, because life calls. I've been pretty busy lately, and can't usually even read all the comments, when I used to scour each of them (on this and other boards). Now, I try to read them all, but usually only make it halfway through and comment only two or three times a day, sometimes none. It's just life. We're all so busy, I'm surprised any of us have time for the blog. I'm sticking around, for sure, but you'll see less of me, especially when classes start. It's been great talking to you, pATRICK. Good luck to you!

Posted by: Mona | July 2, 2007 2:04 PM

This is one of the reasons I'd make a terrible Catholic, I guess! The church's logic in this case makes absolutely no sense to me. No sense at all.

Posted by: Murphy | July 2, 2007 2:04 PM

"And -- no small factor -- there is no way I could tackle working motherhood without my husband as a supportive partner."

And so if something happened to your supportive husband, who will be raising your children? People divorce, get sick, die, and I am not aware of any way to ensure before embarking on parenthood that your life situation won't change.

I know someone whose husband became an alcoholic after they had two children. She left him. Although she has a law degree, she now works as an instructional assistant at the school her children attend. He was alive, so no life insurance was available; nor was he in a position to pay child support.

I know someone else whose husband suffered a traumatic brain injury after being mugged while on a business trip. They had one toddler at the time. For several years he was unable to work; she was the sole breadwinner, the primary caretaker of their child, the primary person taking care of their house. Effectively, she was acting as a single parent, AND she had caretaking duties of a relationship to maintain with her husband. No doubt there are many more and worse situations than those I had described.

I don't really think you would abandon your family if anything similar happened. You would take what life brings, just as the rest of us do.

Posted by: single mother by choice | July 2, 2007 2:05 PM

Just Me, Thank You- It may or may not happen that your child's life becomes the most fulfilling aspect of your life. If it does happen that way, it won't necessary ruin or burden your child. I have to say having a baby is the best thing I've ever done, but I don't think it's the thing that defines me. I'm still me. I don't, however, have much time to do anything for me, other than work, but I think that's only temporary, and entirely worth it. Don't be scared! I'm sure you have friends or family you can look to as role models. Not all parents are insane!

Posted by: atb | July 2, 2007 2:09 PM

Come on, if we couldn't all agree that families can be crazy-making, what else would we all agree upon? Ever?

Posted by: Maryland Mother | July 2, 2007 01:33 PM

I nominate this for Quote of the Day!

OK...
The Catholic Church says that a married couple should be open to children. That means not trying to avoid pregnancy. In theory, any woman can get pregnant if she's not trying. In practice, many women can't conceive, shouldn't conceive or have hit menopause.

The Church doesn't say you have to TRY to have children -- in fact, the Catholic church initially opposed IVF. The justification was that humans shouldn't try to play God and create life outside the sex act (the discarded embryo reason came up later).

I want to point out that the Church's justifications for oppoisng birth control are not even supported by its own logic.

The only acceptable 'family planning' method is a somewhat-more-sophisticated version of the old rhythm method, which purports to indicate a woman's fertile time. If you don't want kids, don't have sex at the fertile time -- a barrier to healthy marital relations.

The Church opposes condoms and diaphragms because they create barriers -- much like the barrier of not having sex at all.

The sympto-thermal method calls for intervention of an object, through using a thermometer to chart basal temperature. What are IUDs and sponges if not medical objects?

The Church does not oppose medicines -- and the pill is medicine. The big argument against the pill back in the day was that it might be an abortificent (sp?), which it is not.

No birth control method is 100% effective -- so there is always the possibility of getting pregnant. Birth control methods just lessen the chance.

This is one of my biggest bugaboos with the Church (the others are: just letting new priests be married already, ordain women, and ease up at least a little on the divorce issue).

Posted by: educmom | July 2, 2007 2:15 PM

"The secret is the commitment to the spouse and children and doing what is best for the spouse and children. If that is your true mindset; you will have a happy successful marriage and family. "

If it were this easy, "listen to this secret and, like magic, a good marriage will pop out", you could bottle and sell it. As you know, it takes two.

Two committed people can still be wrong for each other. Some parents are much better parents divorced than they were married to each other. Ditch the platitudes and do the best you can.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 2:16 PM

To make a broad statement about the church requiring children and discouraging birth control when it's pretty much only a Catholic thing is irresponsible.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 12:26 PM

But its not "just a Catholic thing." As I said in my original post, many denominations still link marriage and parenthood. Based on the information provided by other posters, it appears that the Lutherans, Anglicans, and at least some Jewish authorities still expect married couples to have children. I am an Orthodox Christian (which is NOT the same thing as being Catholic), and the requirement to accept children as God might bless us with them is part of the marriage rite.

I honestly don't care whether people are religious or practice the tenets of whatever faith they subscribe to. But religion certainly is one way in which marriage and parenthood have become historically linked.

Posted by: MP | July 2, 2007 2:17 PM

To single mother by choice:

You touched on some of the reasons I divorced my husband...it's easier to be a single parent than being married and having to deal with alcoholism and the resulting pathologies while trying to be a good parent.

And yes, parents become single parents for a variety of reasons. Last week my daughter's best friend's father died. He had a brain tumor. The family has struggled for two years, and this will definitely be a difficult road for the mother who is left with three children. I really feel for this woman.

Posted by: single western mom | July 2, 2007 2:18 PM

pATRICK,

I'm living too. I think I can sense why you're living. You remind me so much of someone I'm close to. I have often read this blog, but haven't commented. You have giving the push I need to say good-bye as well.

Posted by: first time | July 2, 2007 2:19 PM

When my husband and I got married in the Catholic church in 1991, we went through the required counseling. Our priest asked us what the key is to a happy family? After multiple "wrong" answers, he told us the most important thing is the love between a husband and wife -- everything else flows from that. When life get a little crazy at times with to full-time jobs and to children, we remember that advice and make time for "couple time." When we dated, we used to love to go out to nice restaurants. When are children were young, we would order great meals at nearby great restaurants, while my husband would pick up the food, I would finish putting the kids to bed, set the table (with the fine china!), light the candles, and turn on the stereo. I have very found memories of those times.......

Posted by: SLP | July 2, 2007 2:25 PM

I think the saddest thing of all is when two people get married and both purport to want children, but when theory meets reality, one or the other takes off. Sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively (but for all intents and purposes).
------
I agree that this is very sad.

I was totally prepared to have one child, but not very prepared to have a second. I spent 9 months building a nursery, reading books, planning with family and friends for baby #1. When our second came along I spent 9 months reading books, giving baths, making lunches and dinners and taking someone to soccer practice while Mom worked and rested. I was totally unprepared for the lack of interest from friends who by now also had kids or older kids, moderate family support (instead of major support the first time around) and the exponential increase in chores.

I am not sure how to best prepare people for children. I think the hospital did a great job with the first child but the "older sibling" class was about 90 minutes and written for kids. I did a great job reading about the first child, but didn't have the time to do that for baby #2 because I was already parenting. Throw in a few parents who had nannies who pooh-poohed the extra work and I "just didn't get it."

Posted by: DCer | July 2, 2007 2:30 PM

single western mom, I'm very sorry for your daughter's best friend's mom. How awful for her. I agree with your larger point, as well.

Posted by: MN | July 2, 2007 2:31 PM

"And -- no small factor -- there is no way I could tackle working motherhood without my husband as a supportive partner."

In regards to the criticisms of Leslie's comment above, I think a lot of people have taken it to be offensive when I really don't think she meant it to be that way! Rather, the way that I see it, she is trying to say that she cannot fathom handling parenting as a working mother alone because she recognizes what a challenge it is even with a partner. I don't think she means to criticize single, working moms or the circumstances by which they find themselves single parents. I think she was emphasizing how difficult parenting and working can be even with a supportive husband. I'm sure, were her situation to change and she were to find herself suddenly partner-less, that she would find the strength and means to adapt to her new situation.

Posted by: So. Virginia | July 2, 2007 2:33 PM

What I think is telling is that all of this discussion has focused around the fact that the study said kids were not required for happiness but there has been very little discussion on what WAS required for happiness, namely chore sharing. I know that our little family would be a lot happier if there was a more equitable division of the housework, but my husband does not seem to understand how his assistance would make me, and thus us, a lot happier. Chores are a balance we all must make, with or without children. I'd love to hear more discussion about that aspect of the poll.

Posted by: newmom | July 2, 2007 2:34 PM

pATRICK, and I just started having fun debating you... I hope it wasn't the heated religious debate of last week. I should just keep my paws off the keyboard when it comes to religion, I can be a real stupid cat sometimes.
Believe it or not I do think this blog needs to hear the other side of the discussion, which you often provide. I hope you change your mind.

Posted by: rumicat | July 2, 2007 2:35 PM

I think the best way to split chores is to ask him to pick the ones he wants to do and either stop doing the chores he picked forever or stop doing the chores you want to stop doing. The situation is, of course, is that it's easy to leave dirty dishes in the sink for him to clean BUT YOU HAVE TO ACCEPT DIRTY DISHES IN THE SINK and not hover around the sink. If you just keep washing them and cursing him, I can tell you as a man, I couldn't care less if you volunteer to do the work- be my guest! But before I go to sleep I clean the kitchen to make sure no roaches get anything. That means dirty dishes at 9pm. I do the laundry- it's easy to do and I like it. There were times my wife didn't like the quality of the folding. T.S. Or there were months when I made dinner that I relied too heavily on pasta. Or times when I picked up around the house and misplaced a bill. That's life. You can't make someone do something to your satisfaction, only theirs.

I am often reminded of one time where my wife complained that she "couldn't trust me" to take my 18 month old son to the playground. Why? I asked. "You let him ride on the big slides and he's not allowed." It took, well not too long, in discussing this for my wife to realize it's none of her business what slides I let my son ride when I'm watching him at the playground. He's absolutely "allowed" on the big slides. I'm a parent too and I'm definitely not her and it's not wrong for me to not be her. If anything the stereotype is that Dads let the kids explore and be adventurous.

But on the flip side, it's so so cheap to hire a maid these days that I couldn't live any other way. Having a cleaning lady come twice a month was the best deal I ever found.

Posted by: DCer | July 2, 2007 2:47 PM

pATRICK,

I'm living too. I think I can sense why you're living. You remind me so much of someone I'm close to. I have often read this blog, but haven't commented. You have giving the push I need to say good-bye as well.

Posted by: first time | July 2, 2007 02:19 PM

I'm glad you're living, although it would be interesting if you were typing away at us from the morgue.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 2:48 PM

to: Just Me, Thank You: "If I had children, I'd like to think that I'd be content with just providing them with love, nurturing and lessons, while continuing to live my own life, and letting them live theirs as they grow older. I know what it's like to have a mom who finds one of her greatest sources of happiness in me. I'm flattered, but I'd rather that she lived her own life, and found her happiness in something that has nothing to do with me."

I really think that there's a middle ground that you're missing here. Deriving fulfillment or happiness from your child's actions doesn't mean living your life through them or living their life for them.

I think that it's possible for me to live my own life, while also having my mother (Dad's been dead for 20 years) still derive happiness and fulfillment from me. Similarly, I think it's entirely possible for me to continue to derive fulfillment from my children while letting them live their own lives.

In my case, I made/make all key decisions in my life since high school graduation - where to go to college, what car to buy, where to go to grad school, what job to take, where to live, who to marry, how many kids to have (made jointly with DW, of course:-), etc. etc. Yet I know that my mother is still very proud of who I am and what I've become, and she derives happiness from that - she thinks that it means she did a good job. And quite frankly, I'm happy with that - I'd be upset if she really no longer cared whether I succeeded or failed.

I plan on being the same with my children. Oldest DD decided where she's going to college; my only significant input was that I just couldn't afford one of the schools she was interested in. She registered for classes last week; that's all her choice. So is the rest of her life. But even though I can step back and let her live her own life, I'll always be interested in how she does; I'll always be there for support if she really needs it; and I'll always derive some happiness from seeing her make her way through the world. And it will be the same for the other kids.

And I really don't see a problem with that.

Posted by: Army Brat | July 2, 2007 2:49 PM

"While the thought of having kids is nice, I'd really hesitate to do it if I thought my kids would be my biggest source of fulfillment. I'd rather not place my happiness in another human being--even one that I birthed, because that wouldn't be fair to them or myself."

I think it's possible that you're misunderstanding what some parents mean when they say their kids are their greatest source of fulfillment. To be sure, there are those parents who live only through their children in a way that is unhealthy or weird. But I'd hazard a guess that for most parents who say that, what they are getting at is not some kind of vicarious living or loss of self but the profound joy that comes from loving another being in the way they love their children. It's not about someone else being responsible for your happiness or being the source of your happiness, it is the act of loving itself that brings happiness and fulfillment, if that makes any sense at all. And I don't think that this is a feeling that can only come out of a parent-child relationship, but I do think that for many people that is the place in which they experience for the first time or most profoundly.

Posted by: Megan | July 2, 2007 2:50 PM

I agree that Leslie's comment was taken the wrong way. I read her comment to mean that she valued all of her familial connections in terms of her happiness and that she could not imagine her family unit separated.

I have a coworker who likened her own situation to my situation as a single mother because although she was married, she had to carry the bulk of the child-rearing responsibilities (i.e., she had to stay at home with the kids when they were sick). I know her husband, and he's a great guy (she thinks so too). I felt that she short-shrifted his contributions (i.e., income, love and support, fixing the cars, household repairs, etc.). And I felt she short-shrifted my responsibilities as a single mother. I have no safety net, I have no second income, no one to help with the child when I am sick, and no one to offer love and support when I am having a tough day. My coworker has no idea what this is like, and I hope she never does because she is truly blessed.

Folks, I've said it before and I cannot reiterate it enough: please let the little things slide, as annoying as they may be...and value your partner for what he/she brings instead of finding fault in what he/she does not do, or what he/she does not do as well as you would like.

Posted by: single western mom | July 2, 2007 2:51 PM

DCer, I think the bigger challenge is when both parents hate doing the same chores, e.g., each finds taking the clothes out of the dryer, or feeding the cats, an awful task, and you can't afford a cleaning service. Someone has to do the things neither of you wants to do.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 2:54 PM

Someone has to do the things neither of you wants to do.


_____________________________________________________

Grow up, doing things that you don't want to do is called being an adult!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 2:59 PM

It makes a lot of sense. Marriage was originally intended for the purpose of procreation, love or even companionship had nothing to do with it. Now marriage is seen more as a partnership that children aren't automatically a part of anymore. To think that you can only be happy in your marriage if you have children, does not bode well for any marriage.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 3:00 PM

I say HOORAY! The concept of two very
equal partners with grown up desires (let's
work together to do the stuff we need to do) in a relationship first finally
takes center stage when talking about
marriage. May the "Brood Mare Concept" --
you get married to have kids and you
are expected to have kids if you are
married -- rest in peace forever and
ever!

Posted by: SF Mom | July 2, 2007 3:00 PM

DCer, I think the bigger challenge is when both parents hate doing the same chores, e.g., each finds taking the clothes out of the dryer, or feeding the cats, an awful task, and you can't afford a cleaning service. Someone has to do the things neither of you wants to do.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 02:54 PM

And then there are those of us who simply do it all. Upside: no one to be angry with. Downside: no one to be happy with.

Posted by: single western mom | July 2, 2007 3:01 PM

Grow up, doing things that you don't want to do is called being an adult!

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 02:59 PM

If you were capable of following a conversation, 2:59, you'd appreciate that the comment to which you are reacting is in response to the following comment:


"I think the best way to split chores is to ask him to pick the ones he wants to do and either stop doing the chores he picked forever or stop doing the chores you want to stop doing."

It's not that hard to discuss a topic without accusing everyone of immaturity.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 3:05 PM

And then there are those of us who simply do it all. Upside: no one to be angry with. Downside: no one to be happy with.

Posted by: single western mom | July 2, 2007 03:01 PM


Some of us are married to alcoholics, too.

Some of us are married and have no one to be happy with.

Sometimes you forget that you are not the only one who is alone.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 3:07 PM

tickles

Posted by: test | July 2, 2007 3:08 PM

If DC'er would not write 42 paragraphs about some subjects maybe we would be interested in following the whole discussion!

Posted by: 2:59 | July 2, 2007 3:09 PM

Sometimes you forget that you are not the only one who is alone

oh please. she never said that. get over yourself.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 3:09 PM

DCer, I think the bigger challenge is when both parents hate doing the same chores, e.g., each finds taking the clothes out of the dryer, or feeding the cats, an awful task, and you can't afford a cleaning service. Someone has to do the things neither of you wants to do.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 02:54 PM

And then there are those of us who simply do it all. Upside: no one to be angry with. Downside: no one to be happy with.

Posted by: single western mom | July 2, 2007 03:01 PM

Oh I don't know. I bet your kids do chores too, same as mine!

Child #1 has had to do #1's laundry since the age of 9. Not to mention loading, running and unloading the dishwasher. There are other chores too.

Child #2 is pretty darn good with a vacuum cleaner and knows where dirty clothes live. Not on the floor, as I tell #2 regularly. Even puts toys away without TOO much hassle.

Sadly, I'm the only one who seems to feel that a semi-clean toilet is a household enhancement. I simply feel that some things should not have texture.

I'm still so thrilled that #1 has started taking on making dinner. Yes, it is cooking in self-defense, but what an invaluable skill. Although the day I called and was told to find fresh figs for a recipe that was being tried out was kind of funny.

"Umm, you do realize that figs aren't in season, right?"

"Oh, no. OH NO! Well, in that case, can you pick up a really good sharp cheddar cheese, I think I can salvage this..."

It was actually pretty darn good, for something that was made up along the way.

Posted by: Maryland Mother | July 2, 2007 3:10 PM

"I want to point out that the Church's justifications for oppoisng birth control are not even supported by its own logic."

If you're looking for logic in religion - any religion - you are in for a very long search. Faith is not logic-based.

Posted by: BLE | July 2, 2007 3:11 PM

IMHO, people who say they are very happy without children, are still in the prime of their lives and have plenty of disposable income to spend on entertainment and hobbies. I am only talking about people who chose not to have children, not those who couldn't. My husband and I went through a struggle with infertility, and I can tell you that even a very happy marriage sometimes does not make it through this stress. For me, the desire to have children just suddenly hit me in my early 30's... I think it hit my husband about 2 years later. After a while, you can do so much traveling, and remodeling, and volunteering, and concert going and whatever. I met a old childless couple when I was 15 -- they were friends of my parents. This couple lived all over the world, they were extremely self-involved and seemed to have a perfect life -- they could take off on a spur of the moment. But at the end they were lonely and did not want to do that anymore. They craved family gatherings. When we were trying to get pregnant I kept saying to myself I don't want to end up like this couple. Yes, having children is physically exhausting, but for me it is really a gift from God.

Posted by: former infertility patient | July 2, 2007 3:12 PM

MD mother- Well, figs are in season now! At least they are at Balduccis. Hoorah! So yummy. Summer rules.

Posted by: atb | July 2, 2007 3:14 PM

Some of us are married to alcoholics, too.

Some of us are married and have no one to be happy with.

Sometimes you forget that you are not the only one who is alone.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 03:07 PM

I absolutely agree: it's far more lonely to be living in a broken marriage. The last six months of my marriage, I was literally afraid to come home to the house where I made the mortgage payment and paid all of the bills. By then, my husband was drinking so heavily the bad days outweighed the good days, and I never knew when he would pick a fight.

I am happier now than I have ever been in my life, but I still mourn that my marriage failed. I love being a mother, but sometimes I am overwhelmed because I am doing this alone.

Posted by: single western mom | July 2, 2007 3:15 PM

I thought figs weren't in season until August.

How did the ones from Balducci's taste?

Posted by: Maryland Mother | July 2, 2007 3:18 PM

I would point out that marriage was not initially developed to insure procreation; there's certainly nothing stopping single men and women from making babies without a marriage license.

Instead, marriage was the method to legitimize an heir, since it was assumed that a child from a married couple was the man's progeny (there was no doubt who the mother was...). This was important among the nobility and ruling class to avoid bloodshed as to who actually WAS the heir; not so much an issue for everyone else.

It was only much later that the concept of procreation in marriage became the accepted method.

Posted by: John L | July 2, 2007 3:18 PM

to former infertility patient- Actually, that's the main reason my husband and I wanted kids. He works in health care and is always inspired by patients visited by their large, loving broods. I'm inspired by my family and the loud, happy get-togethers with all the kids and grandkids. We also just really like kids. If we could afford it, we'd take as many as I could have. I'm willing to sacrifice a little now to have that kind of future.

And for all the nay-sayers, ya, things can go wrong, blah blah blah. Most of us make risky decisions hoping for best case scenarios. Such is life.

Posted by: atb | July 2, 2007 3:24 PM

DCer, I think the bigger challenge is when both parents hate doing the same chores, e.g., each finds taking the clothes out of the dryer, or feeding the cats, an awful task, and you can't afford a cleaning service. Someone has to do the things neither of you wants to do.
------

My point was that it's very possible to:
1. outsource it for less than $200 per month- not a lot of money in the overheated DC economy. I'd sooner get a second job than give that up.
2. determine the chore isn't worth doing anymore. Most of us have abandoned dusting and washing the car every weekend, but some people still have high standards they can't live up to.

Part of my take on it is that your standards of cleanliness can be ratcheted downward. the situation is, are you looking to complain about a situation you don't want to change or are you looking for a solution to a problem? Ask yourself that. I would not let anything get in my way if I wanted to solve a problem.

Posted by: DCer | July 2, 2007 3:24 PM

So, John L., since the US is no longer part of the world that has royalty or a ruling class, why is it so important for a male to have an heir? Sounds egotistical to me.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 3:26 PM

"Sadly, I'm the only one who seems to feel that a semi-clean toilet is a household enhancement. I simply feel that some things should not have texture."

What a stitch, if only the elves at our house would glom on to that idea, LOL.

Posted by: Megan | July 2, 2007 3:31 PM

"My point was that it's very possible to:
1. outsource it for less than $200 per month- not a lot of money in the overheated DC economy. I'd sooner get a second job than give that up."

Not to beat this particular dead horse, but not everyone is as well-paid as you. A dear friend of mine certainly isn't. Sometimes you simply have to do what needs to be done, because you cannot afford to hire someone else.

Not all second jobs are created equal. Ditto for first jobs.

In other words, kids--working hard in school and going to college or a really good trade school will afford you a lot more flexibility than a high school diploma. Or GED. Or less. Education really is the significantly easier way to go, in the long run.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 3:32 PM

Educmom, I think the Catholic church's position on contraception is very well thought out. If we're talking true love in the sense that we accept the fertility of our partner as part of the whole person, to consciencely deny procreation from the sex act intrinsincly impairs the love the partners can express to one another.

Now, if we can teach the next generation that the purpose of marriage is solely for the gratification for the couple involved to the point where the termination of human life becomes a widespread practice, don't expect that generation to have much respect for human life.

And when we create a generation that prefers instant gratification over the purpose of life, and place them in the position of taking care of us in our old age, and they have much less respect for the dignigy of human life, and have no understanding of the purpose of suffering, I can't see anything that will prevent euthanasia as a viable solution to the burdon of taking care of the elderly, handicapped, or otherwise members of the marginalized population.

Just something to think about.

Posted by: Lil Husky | July 2, 2007 3:34 PM

Parenting is about making choices and figuring out which battles are worth fighting.

I watched Netflix while my DH and DD
are at my inlaws. Why won't I go because
my MIL will spend the entire time insulting me and then can't understand
why her granddaughter is afraid of her. The
last time I went over DD was in tears.

DD only likes to go over when DC(Dear Cousin) is over. He is three she is five and they are allowed to run wild. Fortuantely DD knows in our home we have house rules and they are not many but they are enforced. DH and I also have chores but most of mine are done after DD is in bed.

I hope my MIL and FIL can find peace. If they can I will visit their home. If not
we will all do the best we can.

Posted by: shdd | July 2, 2007 3:38 PM

anon @ 3:26

Obviously US and Western culture in general no longer has to worry about civil wars caused by not knowing who the legitimate heir to the throne is. I'd say that religions seized upon the idea that marriage is for producing children for their own purposes, and incorporated it so well into their teachings that it's become more or less accepted as "the way things are done".

However, given that the % of unwed mothers (for whatever reason) is the highest it's been since records of such things have been kept in the US, I'd say that many men and women are no longer thinking one must be married to have a child.

Perhaps that is also due to women having more choices in their life, whether it is to have children (or not), career opportunities (if you can work do you need a man to support you and the children?), and a general relaxing of the oldfashioned stigma associated with unwed mothers in general.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 3:40 PM

anon @ 3:26

Obviously US and Western culture in general no longer has to worry about civil wars caused by not knowing who the legitimate heir to the throne is. I'd say that religions seized upon the idea that marriage is for producing children for their own purposes, and incorporated it so well into their teachings that it's become more or less accepted as "the way things are done".

However, given that the % of unwed mothers (for whatever reason) is the highest it's been since records of such things have been kept in the US, I'd say that many men and women are no longer thinking one must be married to have a child.

Perhaps that is also due to women having more choices in their life, whether it is to have children (or not), career opportunities (if you can work do you need a man to support you and the children?), and a general relaxing of the oldfashioned stigma associated with unwed mothers in general.

Posted by: John L | July 2, 2007 3:40 PM

"but anyway, he took off to South Carolina and married his internet girlfriend 7 years ago. He lives in a trailor, his wife works while he lays around the house smoking pot and watching the tube all day long. Every now and then he reports strapping on an apron to wash a few plates, bowls, spoons and busting open a can of Chef-BoyR-Dee.

Him and his wife are happy as larks. Good for them!"

or

And when we create a generation that prefers instant gratification over the purpose of life, and place them in the position of taking care of us in our old age, and they have much less respect for the dignigy of human life, and have no understanding of the purpose of suffering, I can't see anything that will prevent euthanasia as a viable solution to the burdon of taking care of the elderly, handicapped, or otherwise members of the marginalized population.

Just something to think about.

Posted by: Lil Husky | July 2, 2007 03:34 PM

Which one is the real Lil Husky

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 3:41 PM

"If we're talking true love in the sense that we accept the fertility of our partner as part of the whole person, to consciencely deny procreation from the sex act intrinsincly impairs the love the partners can express to one another."

I think kids are too expensive to raise to just be having as many as my body will make. I also want to actually have some time to spend with them, as individuals, rather than as a herd.

Or a litter, in your case Lil Husky.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 3:42 PM

"If we're talking true love in the sense that we accept the fertility of our partner as part of the whole person, to consciencely deny procreation from the sex act intrinsincly impairs the love the partners can express to one another."

Hrm. Really? Because I find the fact that he is infertile sexy. And the love I feel for him is indescribable. I don't know, I feel like I can express it more now that the risk of getting pregnant is out of the way.

Posted by: JRS | July 2, 2007 3:49 PM

"If we're talking true love in the sense that we accept the fertility of our partner as part of the whole person, to consciencely deny procreation from the sex act intrinsincly impairs the love the partners can express to one another."

Hrm. Really? Because I find the fact that he is infertile sexy. And the love I feel for him is indescribable. I don't know, I feel like I can express it more now that the risk of getting pregnant is out of the way.

Posted by: JRS | July 2, 2007 03:49 PM

The real reason older couples smile so much!


Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 3:54 PM

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 03:32 PM

3:32 - *claps* *cheers*

Posted by: MN | July 2, 2007 3:54 PM

Not all second jobs are created equal. Ditto for first jobs.
-----
I'm not blind to that, but the neighbor kid- in high school- bragged to us her new retail job pays about $15 per hour after commissions, that's pretty slick. $15.

See, the way I look at it is this, when I was about 24 I liked my job and made ok money. Then I ran up my credit cards. I sat down and realized and admitted to myself that no matter how much I enjoyed my job, that I could not, under any circumstances, continue working in a job where I made so little money. I finished my last year of college on credit cards, then got a totally different job with my new degree, worked a night job at a video store, and paid off all my debt. Then I wanted to buy a house- I could not do it on my salary. Did I buy a condo in Reston? No, I went to graduate school and got a different job.

That's what I did. People are not born into class in the US... essentially. We are upwardly or downwardly mobile. An educated alcoholic can end up homeless. My parents are academics, they do not like business people, we didn't know businesspeople, when I broke from that mold it was not easy.

So therefore, when I say that everyone is capable of hiring a cleaning lady, I mean it. It's not an overnight thing, particularly with kids, but nothing is stopping anyone except their ability to schedule these things in their lives.

For instance, around 1999 I in an office next to a receptionist who picked her daughter up from daycare, brought her and her snacks into the office, and almost every night this woman attended online college classes using her desk computer. Did not own a computer. Did not have aftercare for her daughter. But this woman had college prior to the baby and she was going to finish that degree. I don't know what happened to her because I left, but she had power.

Posted by: DCer | July 2, 2007 3:56 PM

And the love I feel for him is indescribable. I don't know, I feel like I can express it more now that the risk of getting pregnant is out of the way.

Posted by: JRS | July 2, 2007 03:49 PM

ain't it the truth? Fear doesn't make me feel sexy.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 4:01 PM

"And the love I feel for him is indescribable. I don't know, I feel like I can express it more now that the risk of getting pregnant is out of the way.

Posted by: JRS | July 2, 2007 03:49 PM

ain't it the truth? Fear doesn't make me feel sexy.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 04:01 PM"

What about risk-taking? Ever hear of the mile high club?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 4:04 PM

Former Infertility Patient:

You said:
"IMHO, people who say they are very happy without children, are still in the prime of their lives and have plenty of disposable income to spend on entertainment and hobbies."

Your not-so-humble opinion is ill-founded and naive.

Many of us get married knowing we don't want children. Just don't want 'em. We don't have "plenty" of disposable income to waste on entertainment instead of kids (quite clearly your implication).

Many of us stay happily married well beyond the prime of our lives (something about "'til death...") even though we don't have a bunch of money or travel around the world. We are tuned into each other in a way that enhances the friends-lovers-companions status of our lives. We don't need the money; we make something good of our lives without it. That is, we work at our lives to be good, useful, productive people.

You also said:
"My husband and I went through a struggle with infertility, and I can tell you that even a very happy marriage sometimes does not make it through this stress."

Well, yeah. When the be-all and end-all of your life becomes the "need" to have a kid, then it makes sense that the marriage suffers. This stress doesn't exist for child-free couples, so it's not a risk for maintaining the long-term relationship.

Seems to me that, having done the whole fertility treatment thing, you almost dare not acknowledge that NOT wishing to have children is an ok thing. To acknowledge this would undermine your belief that one must have a child to be happy, complete, content, etc. If all that misery you went through isn't prized by everyone else, then it maybe seems like a pretty ridiculous sacrifice, huh?

Glad you got what you wanted. But your wanting it doesn't make it any more appealing to me.

Posted by: ToFormerInfertilePerson | July 2, 2007 4:05 PM

What about risk-taking? Ever hear of the mile high club?

or on a beach in the moonlight with cars moving by?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 4:07 PM

You are right. You are upwardly or downwardly mobile.

But remember, some people make bad decisions, young, that will significantly impact the rest of their lives. Whose fault is it? Theirs.

It doesn't make their lives any easier.

If you do not have a high school diploma, or even a GED, and you are 40 year old woman (as in the case of my dear friend), whose husband wanted, begged, pleaded and got her to be a SAHM for 10 years and left her, let me tell you, she's not earning $15 per hour.

She just can't do it, not while trying to raise the kids that he can barely acknowledge, let alone pay the child support.

She's working at TJ Maxx AND Wal-Mart and still can barely keep her nose above water in a good month. She doesn't live in a palace, her car is hardly new, but she is NOT going to find the time, money and energy to go to college. I have advised she go for her GED, but I can't make her, nor can I take the test for her.

She'd be thrilled to earn $10/hour, under the table. As it is, she will be thrilled to earn $14.41, assuming the interview went well last week. Hell, at this point she'd be thrilled to have private insurance on herself and the kids, rather than relying upon the state to pay for the kid's insurance.

The working poor are all around you, but that doesn't mean they don't want out. Many do, but are finding out that it's darned hard to climb out of a hole made of molasses.

So, again, kids--stay in school. Work hard at it. Don't get married (first time) and pregnant at 17 to try and run away from your abusive family--that won't work!

It's a shame that her second marriage (at age 29) didn't work out any better. She really thought she had kicked aside the family legacy of abuse with husband #2. Sadly, she was wrong.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 4:08 PM

To Joshua: "I realized for the first time what it is to care unselfishly about someone else."

I feel really sorry for your wife then. Sure you love children in a different way, but I always thought the unconditional love was what made people realize they were meant to be together and get married.

Posted by: Erin | July 2, 2007 4:12 PM

Sorry,

"kids's insurance".

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 4:14 PM

Your opinions do not strike me as remotely humble. I guess you find it easy to stereotype the childless as materialistic - but as a childless teacher I have to say that I know many parents who are more material than I am. Your one true path to a fufilling life template seems awfully simplistic. I am left really curious what your view of extended family is?

Posted by: ToFormerInfertilePerson | July 2, 2007 4:16 PM

Where in the world did that extra s come from?

One last attempt, "kids' insurance".

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 4:16 PM

"So therefore, when I say that everyone is capable of hiring a cleaning lady, I mean it. It's not an overnight thing, particularly with kids, but nothing is stopping anyone except their ability to schedule these things in their lives."

DCer,

Sorry - This statement is breathtaking in its arrogance and its presumptions about everyone's lives and options. I am no stranger to work ethic, having made a career change to improve our financial position in my 30s. So? That doesn't mean that the cost of a housekeeper or maid is within the grasp of every hard worker, any more than fresh produce, or a lead-free home environment.

Not everyone's budget has an extra $200 or more of play in the joints. We don't all live in DC. We don't all have high paying jobs.

Some steelworkers returned to school to train for jobs in IT. Bye-bye jobs.

Some families struggle financially so one spouse can stay home when children are young.

Both spouses have to agree that this is a good expenditure of $200 per month and the partner doing less -- not surprisingly -- often doesn't see why $200 should be devoted to something he or she isn't bothered by.

Sometimes one spouse, or a child, becomes ill and the family's earning power is diminished. Medical bills can put a dent in that budget for some time.

I would not think it would be so difficult for you to understand that $200 per month is a mighty big number to a mighty big portion of the population of hard workers in the world.


Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 4:16 PM

DCer:

I agree with your views on work ethic, education and getting ahead. But the caste to which you are born frequently does determine where you end up on the socio-economic ladder of life (the New York Times did a great series on this, which is still available online). Some of us are able to beat the odds (I grew up in poverty and put myself through college, later joining the ranks of the middle class).

Then there is a balance between making money and doing a job you get gratification from. I am a lobbyist for a public agency. I make a decent living, but I could make much more selling my services to the private sector. But my own personal beliefs prevent me from doing so.

So, I will clean my own house, and yes, my daughter does chores to help out. Working for the private sector also would entail much longer hours, which I cannot do because of my status as a single parent, and quite frankly, I don't want to give up my time with my daughter.

Remember the Eagles song..."You can spend all your time making money; you can spend all your love making time..."

Posted by: single western mom | July 2, 2007 4:17 PM

but I always thought the unconditional love was what made people realize they were meant to be together and get married.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

What you say is true but only part of the picture. Another adult can survive without you. A child needs the unconditional sacrifice of an adult for many years.

Posted by: to Erin | July 2, 2007 4:17 PM

Someone has to do the things neither of you wants to do.


_____________________________________________________

Grow up, doing things that you don't want to do is called being an adult!


--------------
I think the point was that if she's married, one of them shouldn't be the one to always do the chores they both dislike.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 4:21 PM

"Your opinions do not strike me as remotely humble. I guess you find it easy to stereotype the childless as materialistic - but as a childless teacher I have to say that I know many parents who are more material than I am. Your one true path to a fufilling life template seems awfully simplistic. I am left really curious what your view of extended family is?

Posted by: ToFormerInfertilePerson | July 2, 2007 04:16 PM "

To Whomever Posted under MY Name (ToFormerInfertilePerson):

You're posting to the wrong person. I am TFIP; not you.

Don't post under my name. Go look up the actual posting you were responding to.

I am a happily married, child-free person.

Posted by: ToFormerInfertilePerson | July 2, 2007 4:28 PM

"Most kids are accidents anyway and drive a wedge between the parents. Their only purpose is to be used as pawns in a divorce settlement. If you don't believe this, ask a few divorce lawyers."

Yikes! First of all, with the rising incidence of infertility, I'm doubtful that "most" children are unplanned.

Secondly, as someone who is dealing with infertility issues, DH and I have spent a good bit of energy trying to sort out whether we think having kids will truly make us a "complete family". We've ultimately decided (through a few rocky months) that we are complete and fulfilled and that while we'd like to have children, the inability to will not make or break our relationship (as it has for some people I know who clearly did feel that children were an integral part of a completely fulfilling marriage).

Moreover, we've had to think a lot about why we want kids. Most of my friends/relatives who've had them just kinda thought, OK, it's time for kids. In not conceiving quickly or easily, we've put some thought into what we really expect to get out of parenting and whether or not we really expect kids to make us feel "fulfilled". That's a trickier question, I think.

But I guess the upshot is, I can see that more people are treating the question of having kids and the question of getting married and evaluation of both separately. I know I am. And I would agree with Leslie that it's in part due to better family planning methods (and I would add infertility)...essentially the fact that in general, children don't just fall into the picture any more.

Posted by: librarylady | July 2, 2007 4:30 PM

f you do not have a high school diploma, or even a GED, and you are 40 year old woman (as in the case of my dear friend), whose husband wanted, begged, pleaded and got her to be a SAHM for 10 years and left her, let me tell you, she's not earning $15 per hour.
--------
Ok, yes, I hear you. I do know people who were SAHMs and then faced the new economy of the 2000s ($3 gas, etc) and one salary wasn't enough. My mother had a friend who took all the money out of her 401k to save her house when her husband left and she retired on almost nothing.

I know in her case, she got defensive when my mother suggested she rent her basement to her nephew or sell her missing husband's golf clubs.

But you're right, it's one thing when some college-bound teen gets a job selling iPods and another when the person is 40 and hasn't been exposed to a lot of successful people. There probably is no way for her to easily accomplish anything in the next 5 years. Maybe a GED?

Posted by: DCer | July 2, 2007 4:31 PM

To Whomever Posted under MY Name (ToFormerInfertilePerson):

You're posting to the wrong person. I am TFIP; not you.

Don't post under my name. Go look up the actual posting you were responding to.

I am a happily married, child-free person.

Posted by: ToFormerInfertilePerson | July 2, 2007 04:28 PM

that was very funny TFIP, you should stick around

Posted by: MY name | July 2, 2007 4:41 PM

"Don't post under my name."

Don't have a cow, now, TFIP, ya hear?

Posted by: ToFormerInfertilePerson | July 2, 2007 4:45 PM

I guess "to nameofposter" should not be taken as a generic way to indicate that a post is a response to nameofposter. Or does leaving out the space count as enough creativity for a copyright? Do we have an official here for the rule change?

Posted by: creative | July 2, 2007 4:50 PM

To librarylady: it's not that infertility rates are rising, it's that more and more people aren't trying to have kids until they are past 35 and a woman's most fertile time is before she is 20 and declines from there.

And I hear you. My sister, 10 or 15 yrs ago broke up with someone she was dating and I asked her why. She said he doesn't want to have kids. And I said: oh I didn't know you wanted kids. And she answered: but that's what people do-you get married and have kids. I just really didn't even know how to reply to that.

Posted by: atlmom | July 2, 2007 4:58 PM

Do we have an official here for the rule change?

Posted by: creative | July 2, 2007 04:50 PM

The Grammar Sheriff should be arriving shortly.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 4:58 PM

Then there is a balance between making money and doing a job you get gratification from. I am a lobbyist for a public agency. I make a decent living, but I could make much more selling my services to the private sector. But my own personal beliefs prevent me from doing so.
-------

I have a question toss out to you then, is this different than someone who drinks a lot and can't hold down a job that pays more than your job. as an example. I'm aware that's a totally rude statement if someone thought I was judging them.

One of the jobs I talked about above was a government job that I loved, but it held me back from other parts of my life. I knew this and I kept saying to myself, why can't I have a job in a non-profit that still pays blankety blank? I did not want to work in business. But eventually I had an epiphany (aided by a former Nader employee) that part of my personality that valued these values held me back from buying a house and a "car that didn't break down" wasn't so different than an addiction that was hurting a roommate we both knew. He drank so much he never had a working car, couldn't afford his own place. Just like me. Uh-Oh.

I'm not saying your values are "bad" any more than I'm saying my need to work in a non-profit was also "bad." But those choices MAY hold you back in life, if not definitely so. And I found that most people I meet in these business jobs pine for careers that just wouldn't pay them what they needed to live the way they wanted.

And that's pretty much how I view this. I know what lawyers earn. I know what accountants earn. I know what teachers earn. If I wanted to send my kids to private school, and I do, I know what I'd have to do to get there. But I would never say that my job in my industry is limited to what I chose at age 21 or 28 or 35. When I was 13 I never said I wanted to be a web designer- because there was no such thing.

Posted by: DCer | July 2, 2007 5:02 PM

And I hear you. My sister, 10 or 15 yrs ago broke up with someone she was dating and I asked her why. She said he doesn't want to have kids. And I said: oh I didn't know you wanted kids. And she answered: but that's what people do-you get married and have kids. I just really didn't even know how to reply to that.

Posted by: atlmom | July 2, 2007 04:58 PM

If we can get away from this kind of thinking, as a culture, we'll all be alot better for it. Let them's that want 'em, have 'em. Take the assumptions out of marriage and let each couple do what's best for them and their lives.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 5:02 PM

but I always thought the unconditional love was what made people realize they were meant to be together and get married.

-Erin

There is no such thing as unconditional love between adults. There is always some condition that would cause the love to evaporate.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 5:07 PM

There is no such thing as unconditional love between adults. There is always some condition that would cause the love to evaporate.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 05:07 PM

There are also conditions that will cause a parent's love to evaporate for a child. Have you never heard of children being disinherited?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 5:10 PM

"And that's pretty much how I view this. I know what lawyers earn. I know what accountants earn. I know what teachers earn. If I wanted to send my kids to private school, and I do, I know what I'd have to do to get there."

I hear you, DCer, but I still don't think you're acknowledging that everyone's life and budget doesn't go according to plan. You've decided that a cleaning lady is a small cost to someone making X. As someone probably making X, I can tell you that, for a number of reasons I'm not going to disclose in this forum, there's no room in my budget for a cleaning service, much as I'd love one. Everyone's budget doesn't have $200 of play in the joints.

There are a variety of stressors, one of which is housework, in many marriages, and a lot of hardworking, smart people, who cannot have everything all at one time. Can't we talk about those stressors honestly, without suggesting that everyone who works hard should be able to snap his fingers and hire a maid? That just strikes me as incredibly presumptuous and somewhat naive.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | July 2, 2007 5:13 PM

Boomerang employees
Monday, July 02, 2007
By Jackie Farwell, The Associated Press

People increasingly are returning to previous jobs after raising small children or pursuing other opportunities. But can you leave the same company twice and still get your old job back?

By following a few tips, workers can return to a position for a third time around.

First, help to make your successor's transition as seamless as possible, and don't leave your desk or office in a mess, said Vicki Rossetti, vice president of talent management for Chubb Group of Insurance Cos.

"Leave the organization and your particular business unit in a good place," she said.

Maintain your relationships. Keep in touch with old colleagues and friends, even if you plan only a short absence. Check in with previous clients who can serve as references.

Keep a list of your accomplishments handy to remind your managers of what you offer to the company.

Remember, there's no guarantee that you'll get your old job back.

"We would expect that employees would still go through the interview process," Ms. Rossetti said. Boomerang employees do have an extra edge, though, because they already know the culture and value of the company, she said. Plus, the company wants to make good on its investment in training you.

Provided you don't burn any bridges, your old company just might welcome you back with open arms.

Posted by: Can you leave the same company twice? | July 2, 2007 5:14 PM

There are also conditions that will cause a parent's love to evaporate for a child. Have you never heard of children being disinherited?

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 05:10 PM

Adults don't confuse money with love. Disinheritance rarely has anything to do with not loving a child. It has everything to do with love of control and love of money. or both.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 5:18 PM

The fact that sharing the chores moved up so much implies that there were a lot more women than men in the poll.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 5:20 PM

Adults don't confuse money with love. Disinheritance rarely has anything to do with not loving a child. It has everything to do with love of control and love of money. or both.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 05:18 PM

Plenty of parents used to throw one of their kids out of the house permanently.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 5:21 PM

"and somewhat naive."

Only somewhat? That's generous.

Posted by: Megan | July 2, 2007 5:21 PM

Megan - I was trying to play well in the sandbox, LOL.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | July 2, 2007 5:30 PM

To DCer:

I'm not sure that I follow the logic...were you equating my working for the public interest to being an alcoholic that does not work at all? If so, I really don't get it.

I am able to provide for my daughter (I get no child support), I have a little security and I take pride in the fact that what I do contributes to public safety. I formerly worked as a book editor in WDC, and I made about 55 percent of what I make now. I loved being an editor--it certainly did not have the amount of stress that I have now, but I truly love what I do.

I don't feel that I am lacking in material items. I drive a Toyota, not a Hummer as do many of the folks in my zip code. I have a good standard of living because I sold my home in working class Virginia and bought in the most desirable zip code in the city of Phoenix before real estate here shot through the roof.

I guess the point is that we all value different things. I recently had a criminal defense lawyer comment to me that there are a lot of unethical people in my line of work (lobbying). I replied that I am not concerned about my ethical choices because I work on behalf of law enforcement and prosecution. Many of the folks I know in prosecution gave up the chance to make a lot of money because they wanted to make a difference instead.

Posted by: single western mom | July 2, 2007 5:31 PM

There are also conditions that will cause a parent's love to evaporate for a child. Have you never heard of children being disinherited?

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 05:10 PM


Adults don't confuse money with love. Disinheritance rarely has anything to do with not loving a child. It has everything to do with love of control and love of money. or both.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 05:18 PM

Plenty of parents used to throw one of their kids out of the house permanently.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 05:21 PM

If you are arguing that parents kicking their kids out is an example of love evaporating, I disagree. Kicking kids out of the house is the same as disinheriting them (unless there's a drug issue and the kid is risking harm to you or younger siblings in the house). Love is not part of that equation. Again, it's an act of control and power.

Start by eradicating the assumption that all parents love their kids, and the world becomes much more easy to understand. Bob made the same mistake last week in trying to discuss public policy and families by basing the discussion on the assumption that most parents love and want what's best for their kids.

If you only "love" your kids when they do what you want them to do, that's not love.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 5:37 PM

MN, you're a good soul.

And single western mom, so are you. Now if you could only give up that addiction to an honest living, you'd be all set.

Posted by: Megan | July 2, 2007 5:39 PM

There is no such thing as unconditional love between adults. There is always some condition that would cause the love to evaporate.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 05:07 PM

You know, I generally consider myself a jaded, old soul, but this comment is too harsh for me to let slide. I disagree with every fiber of my being that there's always something that can destroy unconditional love.

If you are careful about whom you love, and whom you give your love to, and love grows over time, it doesn't evaporate because circumstances change or times change. That person might hurt you or leave you, but you will still love them. That is, if you love HIM or HER, and not a lifestyle, or a look, or because you're both needy at the time you meet, or because you wanted to parent more than you wanted to share a life with your soulmate.

Unconditional love has no conditions - duh.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | July 2, 2007 5:48 PM

"I'm not saying your values are "bad" any more than I'm saying my need to work in a non-profit was also "bad." But those choices MAY hold you back in life, if not definitely so"

If you value money over everything else, then maybe yes, you would be willing to sacrifice a lot of other things, including time with family and quality of life, for that money. But not all people want to do that. Some people value a more laid back lifestyle and shorter hours over the big bucks. And so they choose to clean their own houses rather than shell out 200 bucks a week for a cleaning services. It's a trade off.

And not everyone has the education, discipline, or life skills to set a particular goal and meet it. Sadly, there are people out there who seem stuck for one reason or another. Getting ahead for such people is very hard.

Posted by: Emily | July 2, 2007 6:13 PM

or maybe you're already sacrificing to pay back that hospital bill from 2 years ago, or to help a sibling who's a single mom, or to pay for a better assisted living facility that your mom likes - instead of the one that's $200 per month less expensive.

You can't tell from the outside where someone else's money goes, but $200 is large in some budgets.

Posted by: MN | July 2, 2007 6:16 PM

I'm with you, MN. To me, money is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end. And if the end is helping family or digging out of debt or saving for the future, or having time to enjoy life, then that is a whole lot more important than the money itself. I once heard someones say, "People first, then money, then things." I think that is a really good philosophy.

Posted by: Emily | July 2, 2007 6:24 PM

or maybe they think they should put that $200 in savings for college or retirement or give it to charity because having a cleaning lady is a vile luxury item (VLI)

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 6:27 PM

Start by eradicating the assumption that all parents love their kids, and the world becomes much more easy to understand. Bob made the same mistake last week in trying to discuss public policy and families by basing the discussion on the assumption that most parents love and want what's best for their kids.

If you only "love" your kids when they do what you want them to do, that's not love.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 05:37 PM

I just can't let this go by. It may be true that not all parents love their children unconditionally -- but ALMOST all parents do! It's so common it is considered an instinct, and unconditional love toward one's children is exceptional only when it is absent -- and sometimes, it takes unhealthy forms.

Don't confuse disinheritance with "kicking the kid out of the house." The people who disinherit their children do, generally, want to control the child, and they use money to do so. In most cases, they love the child (or, love them as much as they can love anybody) and think they have the child's best interests in mind.

On the other hand, a lot of parents, especially working-class parents, think that adult children have no business living home. They think any kid still living in Mom & Dad's basement and working in some dead-end job is just being lazy and immature, and the parents think that some tough love will accelerate the maturity process. Anyone who has raised a teenager or two will understand where this instinct comes from.

Posted by: educmom | July 2, 2007 6:32 PM

Emily and MN, I agree wholeheartedly. The proposition that a cleaning person - or whatever other $200/month item some person thinks is the symbol of success - is something to evaluate your life by, and the idea that anyone who works hard can get that item, are both so wrongheaded to me.

Posted by: Megan | July 2, 2007 6:35 PM

I once heard someones say, "People first, then money, then things." I think that is a really good philosophy.

Posted by: Emily | July 2, 2007 06:24 PM

Spot on, Emily.

Posted by: MN | July 2, 2007 6:40 PM

Here I am.

The official blog rule to reply to a named individual is to write "to "name of poster."" A space is necessary between the "to" and the "name." When replying to an anon apply, the rule is the same, write "to" then "2:37" or the time of the original post.

Posted by: Grammar Sheriff | July 2, 2007 6:45 PM

Ugh, Grammar Sheriff, can't we make people come up with their own darned names? Because even with your rule it gets confusing - then someone responds to to: name-of-poster, and then name-of-poster thinks it's to them, not to to them, and it just all goes downhill. I mean, I know people will ignore the rule no matter what, but since that's the case anyway can't we make the official rule better? :)

Posted by: Megan | July 2, 2007 6:57 PM

No multiple "to" are allowed. Only to Emily or to pATRICK is proper. (That's right, he doesn't live here anymore.) No "to to to Megan" is allowed. As with most grammar rules, people ignore them out of ignorance, sloth, fat fingers or indifference.

What can I say? I was called upon and I tried to illuminate.

Posted by: Grammar Sheriff | July 2, 2007 7:03 PM

Fred's Quote of the Day
(Light Hearted Division)

awarded to 2:48 pm

I'm glad you're living, although it would be interesting if you were typing away at us from the morgue.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 02:48 PM

Honorable mention to Single Western Mom for all of her posts today.

The Creepy Van (tm) does have plenty of room to fit a coffin inside, if necessary!

(This is a holiday week so FQOTD awards will be biased toward humorous comments or satirical ones!)

Posted by: Fred | July 2, 2007 8:15 PM

The proposition that a cleaning person - or whatever other $200/month item some person thinks is the symbol of success - is something to evaluate your life by, and the idea that anyone who works hard can get that item, are both so wrongheaded to me.
-----

Gosh, how can people misread this. I proposed getting a cleaner as a way to rectify arguments over which spouse cleans more, not as a symbol of anything! It was a way to keep the peace in a relationship.

But everyone who is reading this board is capable of spending $200 per month on a cleaner. period. Don't pretend it's not possible. I've been through this with friends who have $200 cable/internet/cell phone bills, friends who have $500 per month car payments, friends who think nothing of spending $800 per month on groceries. Friends who spend $100 per DAY on daycare. Friends who think nothing of spending $50 a week eating out with the gang at lunch.

No one ever said that all we need in life is one job to get by, and most of the people I know scraping by have two, even if one is as sporadic as selling crafts.

There's nothing wrongheaded about it. What's wrongheaded is presuming that people don't have the smarts to make it happen if they want it.

Posted by: DCer | July 3, 2007 9:15 AM

pATRICK, I wasn't around yesterday to see your goodbye. I hope everything is well with you & yours. It's been a pleasure debating with you--best of luck!

Posted by: worker bee | July 3, 2007 10:37 AM

DCer,

Okay, but I don't have a cable bill. I don't have a cell phone. I don't have a car payment. I spend under $400/month on groceries. I take lunch to work. I buy gas from a station that no longer takes credit cards, and passes the savings on to the customers. My family goes out to dinner at the end of the month if there is $25 left in the grocery money. My sister buys clothes for my kids. Any clothes for me are from a second hand store. I don't drink coffee (and certainly not from Starbucks).

Yes, under your definition, I could cut out retirement savings, donations to church, child care fees (after all, I can just have them come home from school on the bus, and when CPS steps in and takes them away from me, I won't have to buy food for them either, saving me more money that I could spend on cleaning services). Oh, let's see, I could stop taking them to the doctor, cancel the health insurance, yeah, then I'd really have some disposable income.

You claim that your point is that we can all make choices about how we spend our money. But you also talked about getting a second job to pay a cleaning service, and you mentioned changing your profession at least twice in order to make more money. Well, it goes both ways. Two times I have changed jobs that resulted in a lower standard of living. From all of your posts on this thread, one could easily think you would think this irresponsible of me, or akin to being an alcoholic. That's your right, but I am comfortable with my decision.

Posted by: so late to the party | July 3, 2007 9:54 PM

Well, it goes both ways. Two times I have changed jobs that resulted in a lower standard of living. From all of your posts on this thread, one could easily think you would think this irresponsible of me, or akin to being an alcoholic. That's your right, but I am comfortable with my decision.
----------

well are you comfortable with your decision or defensive about it? I grew up in an area where at least a few lawyers worked like heck to buy the big house and then the beach house and then private school and then the retirement house for their parents and then collapsed and became small-time entrepreneurs. I'm not going to say their pursuit of money was the best way to go.

I just don't buy it that you switched jobs into downwardly mobile careers. Why would you do that or why would you view it as personally acceptable to live off charity or only have $25 to spend at the end of the month. Why would you view it as distasteful to get that second job? If you don't have the disposable income to afford these things that's the message directly to you to improve your life. If you ignore that message, then that's your personal decision to see the big sign ahead and act like it's not there.

This conversation was about spouses splitting household chores and I wanted to bring up the fact that Dad could eliminate buying lunch at work to be able to afford the cleaning crew. We can all budget that in- and I totally stand by that statement.

I mean really, I budgeted metro fare and if my wife and kids and I all took the metro to work and school it would have been about $240 per month for transportation. That's the reality of what things cost. I have a coworker whose rent was $1800 per month for a 2 bedroom basement apartment and now pays $2700 per month for their mortgage. That is the reality of DC economics.

Similarly, I asked a friend in Silverlake in Los Angeles how much he pays for a cleaning lady and out there she'll come after work for a few hours for $40! $40 per week! So in other cities, it's a lot cheaper than DC.

Now I won't deny that a single parent has very few options for night time work but single parents also are not arguing with their spouse over cleaning the house, which is the point of my post. That there is a solution to every problem.

Posted by: DCer | July 5, 2007 11:17 AM

I mean, I know people who took pay cuts to break into an industry (or company) they wanted to be in, who took pay cuts to be able to go to grad school, who took pay cuts to be able to walk to work, who took pay cuts to have much better insurance, but those are things that always improved people's lives.

I also knew one woman about 15 years ago who quit a high pressure job in order to avoid having to go for therapy or psychiatry, they couldn't cope with real life, so they kept scaling back, getting a divorce, selling the house, and kept going on this simplification process until she couldn't run from the anxiety/panic attacks any more- it wasn't the job or the marriage that was too high stress, it was her lack of training in dealing with ordinary stress that caused her problems. As I remember the story anyway.

Posted by: DCer | July 5, 2007 11:24 AM

I'm comfortable with it because the choices I have made have been the best choices for my family at the time I made them. When I need to make a different decision, I will do so. Why do I find it distasteful to get a second job? Because I am a single mom and I like to see my kids. My parents need help caring for my grandmother at times. I already have one fulltime job for which I get paid, and the rest of my time is family time.

You don't get that I think it acceptable to have only $25 left in the grocery money at the end of the month? Well, if I routinely had much more than that in the grocery fund at the end of the month, I would budget less for groceries. How hard is that to understand? And I should have said that my sister buys the girls clothes because she wants to (and trust me, I have asked her to buy fewer things, yet she continues to buy clothes that I end up donating to another secondhand store).

It's clear that you don't understand my lifestyle, and that is fine with me. I also can't understand the lifestyles you have described. I don't see the point of chasing money--what's so great about money? It's only a means to an end, and if you have what you need and want, there's not a whole lot of point in making more.

You have defended yourself several times by getting back to the post that led you into this series of postings about getting a cleaning person. Yes, this conversation was originally about spouses arguing. But if you go back and read all your posts on the subject, it is clear that you think there is something wrong with someone who doesn't want to acquire more, more, more.

I say there is much more to a job than a paycheck.

You said, "If you don't have the disposable income to afford these things that's the message directly to you to improve your life. If you ignore that message, then that's your personal decision to see the big sign ahead and act like it's not there." I say, "that's a pile of hog hooey." You think I should want to buy coffee from Starbucks, that I should want to buy lunch out every day, that I should want a cell phone. I am actively resisting a cell phone (don't want to be instantly accessible at all times). My coworkers don't eat lunch out, so I would be missing their company if I did go out--and when I eat in, I spend less time eating; that time can be better spent with my family (or the occasional me time). I don't like coffee, so that's the end of that. I don't feel that my life would be "improved" by the addition of more things.

If you would feel deprived living my life, then by all means, don't live it. It's a free country.

Posted by: apparently not too late | July 5, 2007 2:56 PM

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