It used to be part of the norm. Couples courted, they got married and immediately got to work on starting a family. Many of us who are parents today grew up in the throes of that era, where moms were just beginning to enter the workforce and become contributing factors to the household income.
Now, with more women focusing on career and making an equal contribution to the household finances, many couples put having children on the low-end of the marital priority list. In fact, according to statistics revealed by the New York Times article, “Do Kids Still Matter to Marriage,” only 41% of couples stated having children was an important part of their marital plan.
Ranking #8 as a priority essential to cultivating and maintaining a healthy marriage, most couples listed things like having a good sex life, sharing household responsibilities and staying faithful to one another higher on their lists than having children.
More couples are having fewer children, despite reality television shows portraying families with upwards of eight children. Many couples tend to be more relationship focused, working hard at maintaining the adult factors of their marriage, rather than worrying about adding children to the mix.
In a related New York Times blog, “Priorities: Children or Spouse?” the question was raised on whether devoting more time to one or the other meant someone would be neglected. Children who have to compete with parents for attention suffer insecurity, while spouses who feel the need to compete with children grow distant.
As I am about to marry for the second time in my life, my fiance and I talk from time to time about whether or not we even want children. I have a teenage daughter from my first marriage, but now in my mid-thirties, my biological clock tolls the motherhood bell from time to time, reminding me my chance for another child is nearing an end.
On the one hand, I would love to have a child with my future husband. On the other hand, I think about how taxing young children can be on marital relations. Not only is there the time factor, which heavily interferes with couples getting to spend quality time together outside of parenthood, but stress levels tend to be raised as careers, finances and relationship maintenance require more effort.
How do children factor into your marriage? Are they essential to providing harmonious balance in the family unit, or are you among the many who now see having children as an interference in marital relations?