The birth of children has an immediate negative impact on even blissfully happy couples, raising stress and reducing satisfaction levels of husbands and wives, new research says.
Reasons for the negative toll kids take on marriage vary between men and women, but researchers say satisfaction levels start dropping as soon as children are born.
The findings of the study, by Brian Doss, PhD, of Texas A&M University, and University of Denver psychologists Galena Rhoades, PhD, Scott Stanley, PhD, and Howard Markman, PhD, are published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
They studied 218 young couples (about 26 years old), 132 of which had their first child in the first eight years of marriage and 86 who had no children. Marital satisfaction declined in both groups, but more suddenly among those who had children.
There was a significant decrease in marital satisfaction for both men and women after the birth of a child. Sudden increases in problem intensity and poor conflict management, and decreases in relationship confidence, were seen in mothers after birth; a sudden decrease in relationship dedication was seen in fathers.