In the Childfree community, there’s a lot of talk about how having children can mess up a marriage. Check out the new book Being FruitfulWithout Multiplying or any “childfree” website for lots of testimony from writers who cite that as one of the reasons they didn’t want to have children. There’s no question that having a baby can lead to sleepless nights, attention going to the child instead of each other, endless expenses, and physical and emotional changes.
Are you or your partner hesitant to have children because of the effect it would have on your marriage?
I’m reading this book called Marriage Confidential: Love in the Post-Romantic Age by Pamela Haag. It’s not about childlessness, but about marriage. It’s very interesting, and it makes me feel about a hundred years old. Apparently things have changed since I got married in the last century.
In Haag’s view, marriages alter irrevocably with the arrival of children. Instead of focusing on each other, the mother and father turn all their attention to the children. They become sexless partners in the business of raising children. One of my favorite lines is: “As far as erotic charge goes, one day you’re sleeping with a lover-husband, and the next you might as well be in bed with a toaster.” In this age of two-income families and “helicopter parenting,” Haag suggests, there is no time or energy left for each other, or for a social life outside the family.The romance goes away.
I think back on my marriage to Fred. We acted like newlyweds for over 25 years. If we had had children, would that romantic feeling have been destroyed? Is that part of what happened to his first marriage? I’ll never know. I do know that when I was raising my two puppies, everything was about the dogs, and I sometimes made their needs a higher priority than Fred’s needs. Would it have been even worse with children? I don’t know. Maybe this is just how it’s supposed to be; you have children and marriage morphs into something different–but not necessarily something bad.
What do you think? Have you ever experienced this or worried about it happening? Is this why your partner doesn’t want to have children?