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

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Study with infants suggests language not necessary for reasoning ability

March 16, 2018
A team of researchers from Spain, Hungary and Poland has found via a study with infants that language may not be a necessity for the ability to reason. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes ...

Hep C compounds alcoholism's effect on brain volume

March 16, 2018
(HealthDay)—Alcohol dependence has deleterious effects on frontal cortical volumes that are compounded by hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and drug dependence, according to a study published online March 14 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Older adults' difficulties with focusing can be used to help put a face to a name

March 16, 2018
Everyone has experienced the awkward situation of meeting someone and then forgetting their name shortly after. Among older adults, this happens more often than not.

Study casts doubt on ketamine nasal sprays for depression

March 16, 2018
Researchers from the Black Dog Institute and UNSW Sydney have questioned the efficacy and safety of intranasal ketamine for depression, with their pilot trial stopped early due to poor side effects in patients.

A little anger in negotiation pays

March 16, 2018
During negotiations, high-intensity anger elicits smaller concessions than moderate-intensity anger, according to a new study by management and business experts at Rice University and Northwestern University.

Research reveals brain mechanism involved in language learning

March 15, 2018
Learning a new language may be more of a science than an art, a University of Sussex study finds.


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.