Study Finds Moms’ Marital Satisfaction Actually Declines with More Children
Could having more kids mean a less happy marriage for mom?
While adding more kids to your family is an exciting adventure, a larger family also adds a new level of stress, especially to a marriage. With more kids there are more people to manage in one house, more people to feed, more bills, and less time for a couple to be together without their kids. So while the more the merrier may work for the family, could more kids mean less happiness in a marriage? According to one study, for moms, the answer is yes.
Research from a new study says that for moms, more kids can often mean less wedded bliss. However, the same was not true for dads.
For the study, researchers wanted to look at this issue globally and surveyed couples in 33 different countries. With over seven thousand married people, all of whom had been married for an average of 14 years, the couples completed questionnaires asking about their marital satisfaction. With questions like "Do you enjoy your husband’s/wife’s company?" and "Do you enjoy doing things together?" researchers said moms and dads had very different answers if they had more than one child.
So what were some of the factors that led to a mother feeling less happy in her marriage? Researchers say cultural expectations where women are expected to take on the brunt of raising children, maintaining a home, and working were consistently mentioned by mothers in the study.
"According to the social role theory, it is women who are culturally pressured to fulfill tasks related to childbearing and housekeeping, while men provide for their families outside of the home" the study says. "In such a situation, having more children generates more home duties for mothers than fathers."
However, researchers note that the mental load of raising a family is different for moms. "Caring for children and their safety is a typical female role, men may solely focus on having fun and playing with the offspring, and thus, men may experience less distress and, in turn, more positive emotions regarding their spouse." So while mom is feeling stressed and the pressure to care for her children, dads get to have more fun with their kids. "Considering the imbalance between spouses’ duties related to having more children, results of the present study are in line with the equity theory, which predicts that partners, who invest more in the relationship than their spouses, experience more severe distress."
Money was also an issue that many couples raised as a reason for dissatisfaction in their marriage. With more kids and more bills, often couples are put to the test with balancing budgets and stretching their dollar. Often these issues lead to more fighting and stress in marriages.
Another factor to a decline in marital satisfaction was with more kids in a family, the more parents felt exhausted and felt less motivated to have quality time together. So date nights, romance, and intimacy declined in families with more children.
While this study brings up some interesting conversations that we can have with our partner about the division of labor at home, it’s also a good reminder of the importance of making time to be with just your partner. We know how tricky this can be when you have kids — so we rounded up some great date night ideas to inspire you and your honey. So get a babysitter and get to planning some quality time together so you can both increase your marital satisfaction.