More Young People Refuse to Let Relationship Issues Get in the Way of Parenthood

February 1, 2012 by

As a Portland marriage counselor, I work with a lot of couples with children who struggle with relationship issues, so I was interested when I saw a 2010 Pew Research Center report saying that young adults are making becoming parents more of a priority than professional success, faith, or even romantic relationships.

Essentially, single people who want children but fear divorce and other relationship issues are deciding in larger and larger numbers to go it alone and raise a child – or children – as single parents. Many of these people believe that being in no relationship is better than a bad relationship, or simply don’t believe that marriage and parenthood have to, or even should, necessarily go together.

This thought process seems to be borne out by the picture in popular culture of parenthood getting in the way of relationships, and it’s hard to argue with this. Simply put, kids make things more difficult for couples. They cause rifts and relationship issues by their very existence. I see this firsthand as a Portland marriage counselor with my clients who have children. Their priority is their children, which often really means something like:

1. Children
2. Jobs so they have money to support children
3. Their relationship

Parenthood can’t help but displace your relationship as the most important thing in your life, and you’ll most likely have to work harder in your relationship to keep things as good as they were before you had children.

If things are just going to go south anyway, why even bother with the whole relationship or marriage thing? That seems to be the thought process, anyway.

Here’s where things get interesting, however. A separate report from Stateofourunions.org cites information saying that cohabiting parents are happier and suffer fewer bouts of depression than single parents, and married couples are the happiest parents of all.

Married Parents Are Happier and Have Fewer Relationship Issues

Now, before you and your spouse decide to solve your problems with your own little bundle of joy, take care to read carefully. Of all parents, married couples are the happiest. There are plenty of very happy couples out there who don’t have children.

If parenthood is something you want in your life, though, it seems like it’s a pretty good reason to work through your relationship issues with your spouse so that you can stay together in a happy marriage when you do have children. And while married parents do have to work harder to find satisfaction in their relationship, they also say that they feel more meaning in their lives when compared to couples without children.

It makes quite a bit of sense if you think about it. Becoming a parent, while amazing and joyful and beautiful, is also an exhausting nightmare of worry and sleeplessness and responsibility. As a single parent, you have to deal with all of that alone. But if you’re married, someone is there to share both the burden and the joy. And unlike an unmarried live-in partner, your husband or wife may be more likely to work through problems rather than simply leaving.

If you and your spouse are considering having children, contact a Portland marriage counselor today to work through relationship issues.