Becky posted this morning about a news article she read on Yahoo, "Kids Curb Marital Satisfaction". The article talks about an eight year study of 218 couples that found that 90 % of couples experienced a decrease in marital satisfaction after their first child was born. The study also showed that couples without children developed a dissatisfaction but having a child accelerated it.
I think the biggest issue with marital dissatisfaction is our cultures obsession with being autonomous beings without any real "responsibilities." Just take a look at the decline of marriage and the distaste for children. Yes, I did say distaste and that is what I think it really is. The culture has come to a place where the thinking is that children are a nuisance and a difficulty. How did we come to this place?
I believe it is because we are selfish. We don't want to be bothered to train our children, so they have become unruly and self centered themselves. It is not pleasant to be around disobedient kids, no one likes it, and when so many kids are that way...well, you can see how it has lead to this distaste for children. However, it is our own doing.
Many who decide to have children, are determined to only have one or two, or in the case of two children of the same gender, they may try for a third! But certainly not more than that! Children mean that you cannot be autonomous - you have to think of others and have certain responsibilities.
I have found in 21 years of marriage that it is responsibilities that make you grow up - so maybe that is what they are wanting to avoid. If you are only looking for pleasure for the moment and not long term commitment you will become dissatisfied everytime your spouse annoys you.
Adding children into our marriage has not lead to dissatisfaction it has enhanced our marriage. We are not obsessively focused on ourselves only, but work together to disciple and raise our kids.
On the flipside, we as a couple are not child centric. We love kids, especially ours and love to interact with them! However, our children do not run our home or our lives. They are a big part of our lives but not the number one priority. In doing this we have created contented children who are completely secure in their parents commitment and love for each other, and in our love for them. They tease us about kissing "oh, don't look! Their kissing again!" Then we all laugh. They see us work together, not against each other. They see me honor their dad and so they do it too. Likewise my husband honors me and so do the kids.
When we had our second child, a daughter who followed our 1st born son, everyone said "Now you have a boy and a girl. Your family is complete." Or they would say, "Are you done now?" After our third child, another daughter, was born we got "Don't you know what causes that?" and "Are the all yours?" I am not saying that you have to have a certain number of children or anything like it. I am trying to get to the attitude behind the statements. It is about seeing children as a gift from God, a blessing as He calls them.
I can't imagine my life without the blessings God has given to us in the form of my 6 kids...and if He were to give us more, either through birth or adoption, I would love it.
I guess maybe I am selfish, as well. I know the benefits and blessing my children are and want more of it. Who would I do without?
Would it be my oldest who has sharpened me and taught me so much?
Or should I have done without these delightful daughters, who bring us such fun and joy and real help?
I guess we must be odd balls...but even after 6 children our marital satisfaction is quite high, thank you very much.