Why Parenthood Causes So Many Divorces
While divorce statistics certainly shouldn’t frighten most emotionally healthy, well-adjusted individuals, if you do plan on building a life with someone through major commitments like marriage and parenthood, you should be aware of the things that can put your union to the test. There’s no getting around the ways that having kids will be hard on your romantic bond with your partner. But if you lie to yourself and tell yourself, “It won’t affect us—we won’t change” then you’re probably first in line to see your marriage decline due to the trials and tribulations of parenthood. A couple’s bond needs to be strong to survive parenthood—very strong. Of course you feel connected when the main relationship you need to focus on is that between you and your partner. But all of that changes when your kids have to be number one. Or, perhaps more confusingly, there have to be two number ones in your life: your marriage and your kids. Here are reasons parenthood causes so many divorces.
Differences of parenting opinions
Almost every hour, there is the opportunity for a dispute. Every day brings a new kind of argument that you’ve never encountered before and don’t know how to handle. The fights you had just as a couple, about your relationship—you were used to those. You had a handle on those. But now you get to tackle new arguments that you don’t know how to deal with swiftly or fairly, multiple times a day.
Secretly pushing your agenda
It’s common that one (or both) parent begins secretly pushing her agenda, making executive decisions about the rearing of the children, without consulting her partner, behind the partner’s back. Parenting is something people can feel very strongly about, and are willing to be dishonest about in order to make sure their kids are reared in the way they feel fit.
Breaking the trust
Once one or both parents begin going behind each other’s backs and disrespecting the authority of the other on parenting decisions, there is an air of deceit and dishonesty in the household. It spreads quickly, and it becomes difficult to get the trust back.
The bad cop/good cop dynamic
If the good cop/bad cop dynamic sets in, the two parents quickly feel like they’re working against one another rather than with each other. It’s hard to feel romantically close to someone if he feels like you’re his nemesis in parenthood.
The kids get all the affection
The kids get all the cuddles. If there is a choice between giving the kids a huge greeting when you get home, right before having to dive into errands, and giving your partner a big hug and kiss, you give it to the kids.
The kids get all of the free time
Free time is devoted entirely to the kids. You find yourselves with a free afternoon and immediately brainstorm things that would be fun for the kids. That’s great, of course, but sometimes you should grab the nanny and find something to do that would just be enjoyable for the adults.
No mental real estate left
You only have so much mental real estate to rent out to other people’s problems, updates, feelings, etc. When your partner gets home, you just can’t listen to him complain about his colleague. You’ve listened to the kids complain to you about their sister stealing their toys and their friend who has a new best friend all day. You have nothing left to give to your partner, so you don’t listen to him, and you don’t connect.
Splitting up the responsibilities
There will often be arguments over who is putting in more work, and each person believes he or she is doing the most work. It’s easy to quickly feel as if your partner is putting all of the burden on you, and he’ll feel the same about you, because neither of you is really familiar with all the other one does. In other words, there is a lack of appreciation felt from both parties.
One person acts like the boss
It’s common for one parent to take it upon him or herself to behave like the boss. It might be you, and you don’t even realize it. You may behave as if you have the final word on things and what you say goes. You may talk to your partner like he’s your assistant rather than your partner.
The tone is all business
You know that sweet, playful tone you have with your partner? That can go away when you have kids. Every sentence uttered is urgent. You’re all business, all of the time. Whether you realize it or not, it’s bad for your dynamic to lose that playful tone.
Having children is a financial burden, and it ushers in a new series of financial decisions you have to make. Maybe you had your finances down to an art when it was just the two of you, but now you have to incorporate in diapers and karate lessons and college funds. Everything shifts, and you can argue a lot about how to make ends meet.
Attachment vs hands-off approaches
If one parent becomes a helicopter parent and one prefers more of a detached parenting style, it can be very hard to feel close. The helicopter parent feels that her partner is trying to take away the most precious thing from her by saying things like, “The kids can’t sleep in the bed with us.” Meanwhile, the more detached parent feels that his partner has completely given up on their romantic connection.
Insecurity spurs jealousy
Both parents can feel some insecurity around the ways their appearance changes with parenthood. You get too busy to work out. You eat your kids’ food. You wear sweatpants. You can both feel insecure, and then you can worry that your partner’s eyes will stray. This spurs jealousy, paranoia, and distance.
Bringing the outside in
It takes a village to raise a kid, but that means welcoming in the opinions and practices of other people. All of the arguing around that—around who you allow near your kids—can cause distance.
You just change
Parenthood changes you. For many, it changes them to their core. They are no longer the people they were before having kids. Parenthood can actually show that some people were, sadly, not meant to be parents. They’re still too immature or too self-involved. That discovery can naturally drive a couple apart.