Parenthood, worse than divorce?

For many couples, the natural progression of their relationship takes them through marriage and onto parenthood. While traveling down relationship road, most people expect a few bumps along the way. Although many couples may look to their future bundles of joy as a sign of perpetual happiness, it may be shocking to find out that their little bundles of joy may actually make big waves of something other than joy.

A study in the journal Demography shows a link between parenting and happiness, and no, it’s not that being a parent makes people happy. In fact, the study suggests that the level of overall happiness felt by a parent temporarily dips after the birth of their first child before resuming normal levels.

These results come after participants were asked to rate their overall happiness before, during and after the birth of their first child. While it was reported that only 30 percent of participants had happiness levels equal to or slightly better than before their baby’s birth, the dip was only temporary. However short-lived this dip in happiness is, some soon-to-be parents may read more into it than they should. While this study and others like it measures happiness in units, the dip after a first born was slightly higher than the dip shown after negative life events like divorce. Although considering the studies were completely independent of each other, many feel it’s not fair to compare them, and that the results of this study should not give new couples a reason to worry.

Although these findings are hard for many to believe, it helps to know they are only temporary. In fact, the study may help explain why so many new couples experience difficulties early in their marriage and then even out later on. For couples worried about how children will impact their happiness, discussing concerns with each other may help.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Is Becoming a Parent Really Worse Than Losing Your Spouse?,” Jill Suttie, Aug. 18, 2015