New research shows children take a toll on marital bliss

April 8, 2009

What married couples have suspected for years is now proven by researchers at the University of Denver (DU) and Texas A&M - children can add problems and stress to a marriage. According to an eight-year study of 218 couples, ninety percent of the couples experienced a decrease in marital satisfaction once the first child was born.

" who do not have children also show diminished marital quality over time," says Scott Stanley, research professor of at DU. "However, having a baby accelerates the deterioration, especially seen during periods of adjustment right after the birth of a child."

The research recently appeared in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and was funded by a grant to the University of Denver from the National Institutes of Health. The paper was authored by Brian Doss, assistant professor of psychology at Texas A&M along with the team of researchers from the University of Denver, including, psychology professor Howard Markman, senior researcher Galena Rhoades and Stanley.

The research also showed couples who lived together before marriage experienced more problems after birth than those who lived separately before marriage, as did those whose parents fought or divorced.

However, some couples said their relationships were stronger post-birth. Couples who had been married longer, or who had higher incomes, seemed to have fewer marital problems related to having a baby than those with lower incomes or who had been married for a shorter period of time.

Stanley cautions against concluding that children damage overall in life. "There are different types of happiness in life and that while some luster may be off marital happiness for at least a time during this period of life, there is a whole dimension of family happiness and contentment based on the family that couples are building. This type of happiness can be powerful and positive but it has not been the focus of research," Stanley says.

Source: University of Denver

Explore further: Premarital counseling reduces divorce risk

Related Stories

Marriage improves after kids fly the coop, study suggests

December 3, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- So much for the empty nest blues. A University of California, Berkeley, study that tracked the relationships of dozens of women has found evidence that marriages improve once the kids have flown the coop.

Probing Question: What predicts a happy marriage?

February 19, 2009

You’ve planned the perfect Valentine’s Day, booked the candlelit restaurant, bought chocolate and flowers. (Or, depending on your darling's taste, bought tickets to a monster truck rally.) The night couldn’t have gone ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.