Our thanks to Jula Pereira of No Kid Woman for today’s guest post.
Jula Pereira is a freelance writer and childfree blogger living in beautiful Sonoma County with her partner and their dog Timmy. She is the creator ofwww.nokidwoman.com. Follow her on Twitter @nokidwoman.
According to a recent study conducted by the U.K.’s Open University, it appears that couples without children are more content in their relationships. The survey called Enduring Love included 4,494 participants, the majority of which were women. In the summary of the results, they state that “childless married and unmarried participants are happier with their relationship and their partner than parents.” I am not surprised by these results, as it seems to boil down to a question of time and availability in relationships. With children, there’s so much less energy to go around and it’s difficult to maintain a primary relationship.
The notion that a woman can have it all has been hotly debated in the press. Women are being pulled in multiple directions and the notion of supermom is still embedded into our collective consciousness. I work a forty-hour week job and I still don’t feel as though I have enough time in the day to complete everything I want. I have no idea how people can extend themselves even further and answer the demands and needs that children bring at all hours and minutes of the day. And then after those needs are addressed, there is the primary relationship to nurture.
The study also reports that “parents appear to engage in less relationship maintenance than childless participants.” I can see this being true. What I really appreciate about partnership are the little things on a day to day basis. I think that it is important to say thank you often, to show gratitude and physical affection and to demonstrate that you are still deeply attracted to each other. It’s so easy to snap at each other when you are tired or exhausted. And that can lead to taking your partner for granted.
Obviously I’m most likely coming from a very biased place because my partner and I don’t have children, but I’ve been observing some of my immediate friends and their relationships. Couples who used to prioritize their relationships with nightly walks or frequent date nights barely have the time to check in with each other anymore. And if there is a fleeing moment to chat, it seems like the conversation is probably saturated by the next day’s schedule and who will accomplish what. It’s super kid-centric.
One of the happiest couples I know have consciously chose to remain childless. They take care of developmentally delayed adults in a group home, acting as foster parents in this respect. They have to work closely together and communicate with each other about the health and well being of their “guys.” What I see in this couple is a deep respect for each other and a prioritization in their relationship that naturally comes with spending quality time together.
It seems as though even the most devoted couples who have kids struggle. Kids forever change your relationship. I really don’t know how they manage to sustain the basis of their foundation and nurture their unit on a daily basis. Sure, there is probably also satisfaction garnered from having children. In fact, the study from Open University actually said that the mothers were overall happier than childless women. However, the area that they suffered the most was in their relationships.
But nowadays, a lot of people feel guilty if they don’t prioritize their children above everything else, including their primary relationship.
The article How American Parenting is Killing the American Marriage states that “parenthood has become our new priority and religion.” Basically parenthood takes an all encompassing priority, resulting in neglected marriages. The article also points out that mothers in particular are expected to be the holy ones who don’t want sex or can’t take pleasure in anything that does not relate to her children. What type of quality of life are we expecting of women?
Your primary relationship provides love and sustenance that is very unique to your health, well-being and happiness. In a way, I do think that this comes first. Perhaps that is one of the main reason that the Open University Study showed that the childfree women were happier in their relationships.