The UC Berkeley Institute of Personality & Social Research Study followed 100 women participants through various stages of life — early marriage, child-rearing, and (quite often) divorce and remarriage/new domestic partnership – and asked them to identify their levels of marital satisfaction.
This begs the dramatic question: does the very experience of having and raising children imperil an otherwise happy marriage? Thankfully, according to study leader and UC Berkeley psychology Ph.D. candidate Sara Gorchoff, the answer is no — or, at least, not really.
Gorcoff suggests that the issue here is not actually about having or raising children in-and-of-itself, but the fact that, with kids around, spouses typically spend less quality time with each other — which diminishes marital satisfaction.
To that end, Gorcoff says: “The take-home message [of this study] for couples with young children is, ‘Hang in there.'” Study co-author Oliver John goes a bit further and offers this to married couples with at-home children of any age: “Don’t wait until your kids leave home to schedule quality time with your partner.”
It’s good advice and makes “common sense.” But given the everyday sacrifices of having and raising children, and the inevitable strain it puts on parents’ preciously limited time for each other, is it practical?
The answer to this still eludes us. However, the fact that we’re now in a position to intelligently ask it is a testament to the illuminating nature of this study. Doubtless — and thankfully — there will be many more to come.