Can a Baby Save a Marriage?
A few days ago, my mother-in-law picked up our two older children for an impromptu visit to tag along to their aunt's volleyball game. And, although our 1-year-old son was still home with us, an eerie silence descended upon our house– a silence completely void of screaming, fighting, or random requests for bathroom checks. My husband and I eyed each other suspiciously.
The truth is, we hadn't been “alone” together like that, honestly, in many, many months.
Marriage with children is an interesting beast. And on some level, I know that my life could have panned out very, very differently; my then-boyfriend and I decided to get married after finding out that I was unexpectedly pregnant. And although we had definitely discussed marriage seriously,
I have to admit that I have wondered what effect having a baby in the midst of our newlywedded bliss had on our relationship.
Did our baby strengthen our marriage or threaten to destroy it?
Did our baby strengthen our marriage? Or threaten to destroy it?
Daniel Gilbert, a Harvard professor, maintains that having kids is absolutely no way to save a marriage, let alone find personal satisfaction. Gilbert is the author of “Stumbling on Happiness” and said simply in a presentation about kids,“they’re not a source of happiness.”
“Once people have kids, there’s a downturn in happiness,” he said in a presentation documented by The Harvard Gazette. Gilbert himself is both a father and a grandfather.
Well, what's eating Gilbert? Seems a bit harsh to me. I mean, yes, my kids can drive me absolutely bonkers sometimes, but to say I'm perpetually more unhappy than I would have been without them seems to be taking things a tad too far. I honestly do believe that there is something to be said about those moments of connection between me and my husband when we are watching our kids' antics or cheering for them on the sidelines or recording the baby's first steps for posterity on our phones.
But are those moments enough to sustain a marriage?
Can the bond of a child forever bond his or her parents?
The Relationships Research Institute of Seattle has found so much evidence that a baby can stress a couple's relationship that they actually advise parents-to-be to take marital counseling courses before their baby is even born. Programs like the ones that the institute supports have couples completely hash through all of the stresses that a baby brings into a marriage–from nighttime feedings to who pays the bills to the constant struggle of balancing work and family life, especially for mothers.
Bottom line: However wonderful a baby is to bring into the world, having a child brings a whole host of new challenges to a relationship, and if the marriage was rocky to begin with, a baby may help bring a couple together–or completely force them apart. But more importantly, if you're considering having a baby so that it can strengthen your relationship, please keep in mind that the baby is going to grow up.
One day you're going to find yourself alone, staring suspiciously at your husband from across the living room when the kids have gone.
Do I think having a baby can create an incredible bond between a husband and wife? Of course! I even think that, quite honestly, babies and children are great distractions for parents who may not have the energy or effort to put into their own relationship.
But it all goes back to the fact that, somehow, some way, at the end of the day, it's just you and your husband in that marriage. So, for everyone's sake, let's hope you can find something to say to each other.