Is parenting today slowly killing our marriages?

This week I read a very thought-provoking piece called “How American Parenting is killing the American marriage” by Danielle and Astro Teller. This piece truly spoke to me on many levels and I basically agreed with 99% of the content.

The gist of the whole article is that at some point between the previous generation and today’s parents we’ve shifted from trying to create a self-sufficient functioning adult to holding up parenting as a religion. We have somehow put our children on pedestals worshiping nothing else besides them. With this shift the american marriage has suffered.

The idea that if you ever speak ill of your child you’re blasphemous and to not constantly put them first makes it seem like you do not love “the gods” aka children enough. Even worse if you do not put all of your time, focus and love on the “gods” then you are not a good parent. Because of this trend most marriages in America are not surviving or having major issues.

I will say that I have been lucky thus far that my mother (mother of four daughters and still married for 37 years) repeated to me over and over that I needed to foster and nurture my marriage and friendships. She repeatedly told me that your children are important but not everything.

I have seen this over and over again with friends and even myself that it is easy to almost lose your identity and only become “MOM” or “DAD”. I hate to say this but I see it more so in women where they no longer foster their relationships including the one with themselves. We put everything into our children and unfortunately forget to put anything into our own happiness.


Why must we worship our children? A 90-year-old woman told me “Children were a wonderful addition to the family and yourself, they were not the only part of it or the sole focus!” She continues “God forbid your children are wrong? Your generation has no trust in anyone including teachers, friends, community, or yourselves. You take the word of a child as scripture and it is ridiculous.”

As much as I hate to agree, I do. We no longer believe in ourselves and we sure as hell don’t trust others. We live in this constant, anxiety filled world where we are thinking if I am not perfect my kids will suffer. If I am not protective enough something will happen, and if I ever try to put me or my husband before my kids I will somehow explode.

Do not get me wrong I am a scientist by training I understand that it is in our nature to protect and love our children so fiercely but how about a little self-love and a little love for the partner whom you chose to have these fabulous kids with? I hate the term “date night” – maybe we should call it “Happy SANE Parents” night.

I speak to countless friends (and feel it myself sometimes) and they speak of the problems, stress and craziness that comes when children come. They always feel disconnected and downright annoyed with their partners. When I ask “When is the last time you and your partner did something without the kids that didn’t involve grocery shopping?”

Most cannot remember.

When is the last time you and your partner had fun without kids????
When is the last time you and your partner had fun without kids????

I remember people giving me and my husband looks and comments when we planned a week-long trip alone without our son (he was 2 years old). The plan was to have some fun before we got pregnant again with our second.

“Oh my god! How can you leave your child? I would be so nervous? I would miss them so much. I could never do that!”

Well first off I did miss my son but you know what I realized on that trip? I realized I missed me and my husband even more. We reconnected in every fashion and were carefree, rested and loving for a whole week. It re-energized us to get back up on the saddle for a newborn. We all know that a baby equals no sleep which is torture. That awesome trip lingered in my mind while I wanted to murder my husband only after our 2nd baby was born because I had not gotten more than two hours of sleep in 3 weeks.

Americans need to realize that while it doesn’t have to be a trip away to an island, we do need time away from our kids. You have to nurture your relationships. It is also okay to not always put your children first ALL THE TIME. It is OK to not “like” your kids all the time either. I do not like my husband, my parents, friends or siblings all the time. I’m pretty sure they don’t like me all the time either! This does not mean I do not love them or wouldn’t die for them in a second if need be. Recognizing that children are people and flawed as opposed to perfect is imperative to relieving the pressure that we must always be working to make a perfect child and thinking they are perfect. By changing the way we think, and including ourselves into our daily happiness equation we can probably relieve extra stress. Who wouldn’t agree that happy parents make for a happy family life?

IMAGINE less tension with your partner, and even less stress/pressure/anxiety within yourself.

We have enough pressure and stress from parenting, work, and society to add in our own.

So to my hardworking, stressed out disconnected mothers out there, I say plan an overnight, date, or even a walk with your partner and then plan a get together with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. You will be shocked at how much better you will feel about yourself on a personal level but also a parenting level.

15 thoughts on “Is parenting today slowly killing our marriages?

  1. Katie, you hit the nail on the head with this one 🙂 I’m on my journey back to self, I was lost for 8 years… having 4 kids in 6 years is a complete blur!! The funny thing is, I actually forgot who I used to be after my second child…I had no time for me: my favorite music was replaced by the wiggles or Thomas the tank engine songs, my entertainment weekly was replaced by board books, my Bon appetits piled up unopened, recipes untried, and I was ok with it because my kids were little and needed me. But then I had 2 more and got completely lost in the daily grind of parenthood and working mother guilt. I am one of those people who are completely happy as a stay at home mom, but am also happy as a scientist and I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoy my quiet lunches at work. I also don’t ‘like’ my children all the time, they can be entitled, needy, whiney, and downright rude some days…but I will love them always and I constantly try to teach them to be kinder and more respectful. I leave the house with screaming children saying ‘I want you mommy’, knowing they miss me more than I miss them, but I’m not sacrificing a quiet trip to the grocery store for a screaming child. I wish the home:work balance were actually a balancing act…I feel like its more like a juggle, and I let the balls drop all the time. Whether it’s forgotten meetings, bills, permission slips, raincoats on days I had no clue it was going to rain since I have no time to check the weather. I can’t do it all, and I’m still hard on myself for my failures, but I’ve grown more accepting of them. I’m not afraid to say that my kids ARE my life, not because I put them first, but because there’s just too many of them to ignore their daily needs. My husband and I are in “divide and conquer” mode, he does the dishes and homework with the boys while I bathe the girls…but we still get an occasional kiss or secret grab while passing in the hallway to acknowledge our passion for eachother. I also, sadly, have no money to go out to dinner with my husband regularly, but when we do, it is a breath of fresh air to be alone with my best friend again. I know the kids will be gone in, say, 15 years and we’ll be alone again. I actually daydream about it sometimes, but for now, I’ll have to settle for a secret chance embrace in the hallway before someone screams “mommy” again.

  2. Great post! We do date nights, and have left our little ones behind for a couple of weekend getaways. Despite the anxiety I’ve felt boarding the plane, it is invaluable and awesome to feel like a couple again. It’s time (and money) well spent.

  3. This is very timely for me as my husband and I are about to leave for a week long trip to Europe – without our kids. While I am super excited, I am nervous as hell. I have to say that while most people have been really supportive, a couple of folks have seemed shocked and a little judgmental that we are not taking our kids (who are ages 6 and 9 and will be left with their loving grandparents). While I am usually impervious to those types of things, this has really bothered me because I am already feeling anxious about being so far away for so long. I know that it’s important for the two of us to have this time, it’s hard!!

  4. I concur! When the husband and wife are happy aka Mom and Dad..the children will be happy. Wonderful blog!

  5. Guilt, baby. I’m wracked with guilt. I work a full time job and the evenings after work, my interactions with my daughter often feel rushed and chaotic. I always try to get a run in on the weekends, which is something I usually do by myself. The rest of the weekend is filled with cleaning, fitting in time with family, friends, parties, etc.

    But then I think back to my memories growing up. I have a pretty great mom, who did a pretty good job momming me. But I certainly don’t remember her doting on me or spending much time actually playing with me. I do, however, remember KNOWING and FEELING that she loved me very much. And I suppose that’s the stuff that kids really remember. She was kind and loving with me, even though she was always cleaning the house, grocery shopping, doing dishes, clipping coupons, weeding her flower gardens, or running errands and doing chores all weekend, every weekend.

    So, thanks for writing this. The examples that you are providing for your kids – a healthy relationship with your husband and a good life balance – are pretty powerful, Katie.

  6. Bravo! So very true. Guilty here, too, but working to change it. I adore my kids but there is much more to life than just them, and my marriage is high on that list!

  7. Thanks for a great post. So true. I feel like I’m living on the dark side here, as I always put my kid first from the time she was born. Once it started, I didn’t know how to stop it or change it. Slowly I’m working on it though and it’s really hard. It also has to be a two way street where both of you want to make the time and not always put the kid first.

  8. Thank you for this post. I have so much more to say but I will just leave it at that. THANK YOU. (Hub thanks you too)

  9. GREAT post. I’m definitely guilty of viewing my child as the absolute most important thing and not prioritizing time with my husband.

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