Being a parent kills the marriage .

Charlie - posted on 06/06/2011 ( 30 moms have responded )

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A new relationship advice book published on Wednesday in the US suggests the high rate of failed marriages is linked to couples trying to do too much and be the perfect parents.

Marriage Confidential: The post-romantic age of workhouse wives, royal children, undersexed spouses and rebel couples who are rewriting the rules — written by Pamela Haag — introduces a range of new terms, including "divorced cohabitators", "affair tolerators", "new monogamists" and "workhorse wife".

Haag used some unorthodox research methods for this study of modern marriages, including her joining an online adultery network, the Washington Post reported.

When asked how parenting is affecting marriage, Haag's answer was blunt: "Parenthood is swallowing marriage."

Haag herself is a mother and while she isn't suggesting a return to the more detached parenting styles from the 1940s and '50s, she does think trying to give your children everything could be damaging to your relationship.


"It's not clear to me that the way we parent now, with all the extracurricular activities, is helpful. It may be hurting our marriage more than it's helping our children," Haag told the Washington Post.

"Children are at the centre of a family now. From a historical perspective it's a departure. Go back to the '50s and husbands and wives had many different roles — as hostess, decorator, breadwinner, volunteer. They weren't just parents. Today, parenting is the sole priority. It crowds out other functions."

Do you think trying to be the perfect parent is what's damaging modern marriages?

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[deleted account]

Face it, kids are work -- fun, but work. If the marriage isn't strong in the first place, if you can't talk, laugh, and be yourself with your partner, then of course adding 2, 3 or more helpless little human beings who need lots of care and attention into the mix will "damage" the marriage.



I'm not a fan of hyper-scheduling and helicopter-parenting, but I'm a little sick of this trend of "blaming" children. Well, not blaming them exactly, but there have been a slew of studies/articles about how children make people less happy, how miserable parents are, and all the rest of it. My childless friends (whom I don't judge -- I was childless myself for a long time) chortle smugly when reading this stuff. And I just feel it all misses the point.



Children do not cause misery. What causes misery is having unrealistic expectations, thinking a spouse and children will fill a void that has nothing to do with them, and trying to base one's life on the pervading images seen in advertising designed to make people feel inadequate so they will spend more money in a vain attempt to measure up.



I have no more desire to be the perfect "hostess," "decorator," or "volunteer" than I do the perfect Mother. I want to live within my means, as simply as possible, and enjoy my life with my husband and son, while coping with the day-to-day stresses. This means shutting out a lot of stuff, including gimmicky books like this one.

Lady Heather - posted on 06/07/2011

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Well of course anything that takes up your time to the point where you neglect your relationship is going to contribute in some way to the downfall of that relationship. That sort of makes sense. But I think there is more to it than this. People weren't blissfully happy in the 50s. Relationships were neglected. People just didn't get divorced. You want to talk affair tolerators and women workhorses? My grandmother raised 7 children, kept the house, baked bread and treats everyday, and volunteered all over the place. If she had any time left for a relationship, I'll eat my hat. These were my grandfather's expectations of what all women should do because he was a spoiled brat. He even made his daughters clean up his sons' rooms. He started drinking first thing in the morning and didn't stop until he went to sleep at night. Sure, he was successful at his job, but it did nothing for his relationship. And he was a serial cheater and my grandmother knew it. The kids all found out at the eldest son's wedding. Their perfect family turned out to be a sham. And don't think that didn't fuck them all up. My dad was just a kid at the time and ended up believing that all the men in his family were cheaters and guess who ended up that way too?



They were married for 45 years before grandpa died of alcholism related cancer. Is that something to be celebrated? Sorry if I have a rather jaded view of this whole thing, but I'm quite sure my grandparents weren't alone in faking it.

Laressa - posted on 06/08/2011

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We attended a marriage seminar last wkd. The speaker told the guys " for the majority of women they need to either remember recently going out with you or anticipate an upcoming date."

We find it hard to do. I have been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for almost 3 years straight. But children are also benefited by their parents having a great relationship. We were a couple before we were parents. So we will have to work on it!

So yes I mostly agree with the book. But its the parents who allow it not the children who are to blame.

[deleted account]

But to keep a marriage strong and fun, you have to spend time together. Each partner has to have time for their own
interests. Otherwise they can't be a complete person, and the marriage will suffer.And children need to grow without being hovered over.

Jenny - posted on 06/07/2011

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If he understands completely, why is it causing problems in your marriage?

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Dana - posted on 06/08/2011

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I could see where trying to be the perfect parent doesn't help marriages. Especially when you're running all over for extra curricular activities or spending too much time doting on your child and not your spouse.

But, I think it's only one aspect of what's hard on marriages in these modern times.

Joanna - posted on 06/07/2011

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I don't hover. Okay maybe my posts are making me sound too obsessive. Do I love my kids more than my husband? Yes. He knows it, I know it, and we both know that we may end up divorced. Not good for the kids. I guess I should also add that there are other factors, like lack of communication, and my lack of physical attraction to him (he let go of himself after marriage). It's not just this one thing. But now that I have my girls, that is what I focus on, not my marriage.

However I don't hover, I agree it's not good for kids to be smothered. I let my oldest be her independent self and do whatever she loves/wants, with guidance.

Joanna - posted on 06/07/2011

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Just because you understand something doesn't mean you have to like it. He understands why I want him home at night to play with the kids, but he'd rather be out with his friends. He understands why I'd rather spend time with them than him, though he'd like more alone time with me. He understands and respects my love for the children, but he doesn't like that it doesn't leave much love for me to give him.

[deleted account]

Joanna, I do feel that any sort of obsession is an unhealthy thing. As you say, kids need to play and explore, but, as an experienced mother, I would definitely counsel against being too obsessive. It can be detrimental to the kids' balanced development.

Joanna - posted on 06/07/2011

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I am the person Jenny described. My children are my obsession, I mainly talk about them, I eat sleep and breathe motherhood. And I wouldn't have it any other way. My kids come before my husband. He's an adult, they need me more than he does. Has it caused problems in our marriage? Yes. But he understands cometely, and he respects me for my devotion to them.

Though we don't have them in extracurriculars. I can't stand overscheduling them. They're kids, let them play and explore. We may sign our daughter up for soccer next year though, because she loves it and asked to play on a team with her friends. We won't do more than 1 thing at a time though. I like spending time with them too much.

[deleted account]

My marriage is still going strong after 33 years and 3 kids (now adults.)

As well as being lovers, we are such great friends, and I think that's the key. We talk about absolutely everything under the sun. That includes parenting - now matter how well you think you're in synch with your ideas on parenting (and everything else for that matter!) situations always happen that you hadn't considered, especially as the kids become teens. That's when our ingrown habit of talking is vital. And I use the word "habit" intentionally. It's a habit you have to develop. Then it's automatic to discuss situations as they arise. Being such good friends, it's automatic that you respect and understand the other person's point of view. We don't always agree - that would be a bit boring! But often we had to compromise. and compromise is NOT a dirty word. It's often the only way to go.We always saw the kids as a joint responsibility. No-one had a bigger say than the other.

Incidentally, we've always included our kids in our conversations too. We aimed to turn them into great communicators!

Above all, marriage is fun. Kids are fun. Put them together and you get double the fun!

Rosie - posted on 06/07/2011

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i agree that kids are damaging to marriages, however i dont think i'ts cause of the reasons stated in the article. i think kids have ALWAYS been damaging (in ways, some to a lesser degree) you just couldn't get divorced cause you'd get looked down upon. it wasn't socially acceptable.
now i'm not saying all kids ruin all marriages, but i am saying they do effect things. alot of times it strengthens the marriage to bring kids into the mix, but i do feel it changes the relationship-alot of times for the worse.

Stifler's - posted on 06/07/2011

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I agree with this. Some people just don't have a life without their kids and it's like their marriage is only about being parents to their kid and buying their kid everything that opens and closes, name brand clothes, structured activities, sport and music lessons, pushing their kid into dance and drama to make sure they will be something when they grow up, routines, rules, disagreeing on rules, spoiling their kids with lavish birthday parties and thousands of dollars worth of presents to look like a good parent. Apparently the parents birthdays don't matter anymore, they don't need nice clothes or to be attractive for each other, they don't get a babysitter and go out alone and be lovers because it makes them look like people who "ditch" their kids with people to go out. I actually know people who won't be friends with people who don't have kids anymore because "they can't relate" as if they should have to. I prefer my old friends, at least we're friends and not just friends because we're in the same situation.

Jenny - posted on 06/07/2011

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I can definitely see that with some people. We do have an obsession with children in our culture that I don't understand. I know a few people who are not able to have a conversation unless it revolves around their kids, they just have nothing else going on in life.

Lissa - posted on 06/07/2011

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I think what causes problems is when you have not talked about your expectations and what roles/duties you will each take on when you become parents. Often couples don't discuss things like parenting styles, who will work/stay home, how the load will be shared. Then they have a baby and suddenly everyone is unhappy about who is doing what.

[deleted account]

Heather, you are right. We've just traded in one set of problems for another. It's just more evident now because divorce is socially acceptable.

Jenn - posted on 06/07/2011

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I think there is a lot of merit to that. Maybe this is why my relationship is still hanging in there - we don't have the kids involved in extra-curricular activities and we don't hover over them 24/7.

[deleted account]

I agree with Amy. Partnership came first (I had to edit that from marriage came first). Children find security in the bond between their parents.

Also, I see in a lot of my peers a fear that if their children don't do everything...t-ball, junior football/cheerleading, dance, church choir, preschool at age 3, boy/girl scouts, soccer...they will somehow be deficient. It's stressful on everyone involved.

Tara - posted on 06/07/2011

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Yes I can agree with that to a degree, but it's not just the actions of parents today, it is the attitude of parents today.
This attitude that kids need constant structure, constant monitoring and mentoring, constant lessons and tutorials, constant shuttling from one place to another.
This idea that kids need parental involvement in their entire lives is leading to depression in children and now as we see a break down of marriage.

Parents are people. They were people before they were parents. When two people start to see their whole lives as being about the children they lose sight of some of the most important parts of partnership.
When you spend so much of your energy driving kids from one thing to another, when you spend hours going over your kids report card together to determine why he is failing history, when you spend all your free time scheduling next weeks events and activities, when you spend all your extra money on kids's stuff, leaving nothing for the adults to play with, when you start taking all the waking hours of the day up with kid stuff, you are stealing from the moments that keep couples together.
When families eat dinner separate or on the road, when do mom and dad have a chance to steal a knowing glance across the room, above the chaos?
I think with two parents working full time outside of the house, there is a lot of guilt when it comes to the kids and time. So... a lot of parents try to make up for that with more stuff to do when the family is together.... but that usually means driving and dropping off or picking up kids from things.
When the night time rituals leave no room for mom and dad to steal a half hour of time for their favourite show, or who don't have sex except every 3rd saturday when all the kids are at a friends or grandmas house, or only see each other long enough for a quick peck on the cheek and an update on who is going where and when they are expected back.... the relationship will suffer.
When two people involved in a loving, committed, sexual, intimate, and caring relationship and then become not much more than house mates, or staff in a children's home how is the relationship going to survive and grow?
Too busy with "life" to remember your SO means you have forgotten how you got those kids in the first place!
I agree that the busy lifestyles of todays parents can contribute to a decline in marital happiness. But I don't agree that it is the same for all parents.

Amy - posted on 06/07/2011

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I think that making the child/children the center of it all damages it. You were first and foremost a couple. I love John Rosemond's stuff about parenting. Because I do think we try to have kids in too much "stuff" instead of just spending time with each other or alone. I love that daddy comes home, kids hug him, but then they go off to play and he and I talk and are just pretty much together while cooking supper. We have our family time after supper and then back to parent alone time after kids go to bed. It's more important to us than the stuff.

Maureen - posted on 06/07/2011

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Shannen i`m so sorry to hear of your situation my hat goes off at you being a solo mom it a load of hard but rewarding work your doing keep it up and remenber when your babies are bigger they be proud of you and have a respect they`ll lack for their dad . He sounds really selfish from what yourve posted to say the least all the best :)

[deleted account]

It's not people blaming the parents it's the parents trying to be the perfect parent they forget that they had a relationship before kids.
My relationship of 7 years had just fallen apart and reading this makes me look at myself and think maybe part of it does relate to being a parent.
For the last 5 years i have either been pregnant or breastfeeding. So i haven't been the social outgoing person i was before having children and i think this may have a lot to do with what went wrong.
Part of the problem was that my ex would go out every weekend while i stayed at home looking after the kids, i thought this was the right thing for me to be doing but i honestly didn't like how much my ex was going out and it constantly cause problems because all he would ever say was "tell me when you want to go out and i'll stay in with the kids" So not what i wanted i wanted us to go out together but we couldn't afford that.
I kind of agree with it in terms of my own experience. But then again if my ex had tried to talk about these things and we had tried everything we could now that our youngest is almost 1 things would have gone back to us finding our relationship again but he didn't want that. I honestly feel he doesn't even want to be a parent and the only reason he even sees the kids is because his family would frown upon him if he didn't.

[deleted account]

I agree modern parents tend to hyper-schedule and helicopter-parent, but she has a very idealistic view of the 50s, as if she watched Mad Men as research or something.

Maureen - posted on 06/07/2011

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wow thats a little extreame it takes 2 people to make a good marriage and a lot of positive communication to lead a sane house hold let alone marriage !!

You need to work out whats important to each other so you can have date night , girly weekeneds or poker nights etc be respectful of each other and have boundaires also helps; i sometimes hear women speak to their partner or hubby no better than their dog !

However i also think she may be right with the perfect parent thing christ we had kids partys in our day 80`s you went took a present had a blast playing eating junk blah blah now you need a themed circus then a bloody present to say thankyou for comming !!

Not no climbing tress cos you might fall no dairy no nuts because some has a allergy which was what in the 80s ??

so i agree we`re a little over the top in raising our kids compared to our parents were of us .

But to blame kids for your marriage break up is hardly fair , not to mension dammaging to them like any relationship you need the right tools to work it weather its adults or children .

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