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Kids Can Make a Beautiful Marriage Ugly

Study: Marital Satisfaction Takes a Dive When Baby Arrives

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Stanley says women “showed more immediate, good-sized changes in their report of poor conflict management” than men.

“I think it’s easy to imagine the woman being worn down more,” he says, “and just getting worn down and stressed, and then getting, perceiving, or feeling things to be more negative.”

Women, for instance, often breastfeed their babies and are “more likely to be the first one up at night” when infants awake, Stanley says.

“The results of the present study suggest that parents and nonparents generally show similar amounts of decline in overall relationship functioning over the first eight years of marriage, but that these changes tend to occur suddenly following the birth of a baby for parents, and more gradually over time for nonparents,” the researchers write.

“We have found that couples who have a child show a quicker decrease in marital happiness than couples who don’t have a child,” Markman says in a podcast on the University of Denver web site.

In a news release, Stanley points out that although children may erode “some luster” from marital satisfaction, tots also add “a whole dimension of family happiness and contentment.”

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