Some studies comparing married couples with kids and those who do not have kids have led to some interesting findings. Apparently moms and dads tend to lose happiness in the marriage once the kids show up. In one study, there was an overwhelming (90%?) predilection for parents to be more depressed than married people who were childless.
The article points out some obvious issues: for one, in the past, when people tended to have a lot of family around, it was much easier to get help raising the kids. One not pointed out in the study is that couples without children tend to be younger, and happier just being around themselves, vs. later in a relationship that may be undergoing the adjustments that any couples might have after 5-10 years of hanging out with each other.
The study also points out that parents may need to re-evaluate the question of “what makes me happy” once the kids arrive. The fact that moms and dads are even grappling with that may be enough to cause a sense of feeling down (its one thing to say “I am not satisfied”, and quite another to say “Am I satisfied?” The latter may sound benign, but in some ways can be more maddening than simple unhappiness.
My mom and dad once told me that his children were instrumental in their marriage. I for one could not understand them. Still don’t. I have friends who desperately love their kids, and all seem to be in good marriages. They’re stronger than I am for accomplishing that.