Returning to Romance
In Real Life continued...
Eventually, they talked about how to become a couple again.
"Once my husband got over the shock that someone was screaming in the next
room and wasn't going away, he decided to join the party," she says.
The marriage is better -- although different -- now. "We
have a shared focal point, a new dimension." It's not perfect. "We
never go out as a couple," Jill says. "He thinks we should." She
agrees, but has not yet been so motivated.
After the McGills had their second baby, now age 1, they found
life got back to normal more quickly. They used the same strategies to preserve
their satisfaction with the marriage. Yet a recent study done by Rebecca Upton,
PhD, an adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan,
suggests that having two children is not the cakewalk many parents imagine.
Upton followed 40 couples after the birth of their second
children and presented her findings at an American Anthropological Association
meeting in November. She found that "women's full-time participation in the
labor market drops off dramatically with the second child. While most paid
professional women return to the office full-time after the birth of their
first child, over 50% change to part-time work or take a leave of absence after
the birth of the second."
The implication is that such changes may have significant
negative impact on the couple's ability to comfortably support their lifestyle
under such circumstances, and therefore their level of stress. But Upton also
found an upside: Men feel more like fathers after the arrival of a second child
and tend to get more involved in childcare.
Remaining childless is no guarantee of marital satisfaction,
either. In the University of Washington study, childless wives reported less of
a decline in marital satisfaction than those who became mothers, but they also
had less satisfaction as newlyweds than did the women who eventually became
mothers. And, during the course of the study, 20% of the childless couples
divorced. But none of those who became parents did.
Kathleen Doheny writes columns on medical and health issues for
the Los Angeles Times and Shape magazine. Her articles have
appeared in Self, Glamour, Working Woman, and other