Darling, this baby is coming between us

One's enough, thank you. Having children is supposed to bring couples closer together, but a new study supports the notion that baby drives them apart and many families call it quits at one


Adriana Barton

Vancouver —

Before they had a baby, Mel Jahnke and her husband, Mike, were “best friends,” Ms. Jahnke says. They laughed a lot, did chores together and coasted through five years of wedded bliss.

Then came a bouncing baby boy – followed by sleepless nights, endless laundry and Mike's retreat into what Ms. Jahnke calls “the man cave.”

Bickering ensued.

“The more I nagged, the less stuff got done,” Ms. Jahnke explains, adding that her husband's diagnosis with multiple sclerosis made matters worse.

What little free time they had, the couple stopped spending together.

“It was really hard for both of us,” says Ms. Jahnke, who lives in a suburb of Milwaukee, Wis.

Eventually, they got help with childcare so they could reconnect emotionally. Now that their son, Gabe, is more than two years old, the couple is happier than ever, she says.

But the Jahnkes have ruled out having a second child, which Ms. Jahnke fears could injure their marriage beyond repair. “I guess I'm not willing to take that risk,” she says.

Today's parents seem prepared to set aside all kinds of pleasures to nurture a child – from their sex lives to careers, not to mention happy-hour beers – but there's one thing even the most kinder-friendly couple is loath to give up: their marriage.

And when one child rocks the marital boat, a growing number of couples are sticking with just one to keep their union strong.

That doesn't make them wimps, though. In fact, research suggests that children are more taxing on marriages than they used to be.

In an eight-year survey of 218 couples, 90 per cent reported a decline in marital satisfaction after the birth of the first child. The recently published study noted a spike in communication problems and a crisis of faith in the marriage, especially during the adjustment period after the birth.

Some of the couples said their relationships were stronger post-birth but the vast majority reported a general deterioration in their marriages over time that was more pronounced than for childless couples.

For most parents, marital satisfaction doesn't rebound until after the last child has left home, according to Daniel Gilbert, a Harvard psychology professor who analyzed studies and made the conclusion in his 2006 book Stumbling on Happiness .

The problem may be partly a modern one, social scientists say. Couples are having children later, are more invested in their careers and don't get as much help from extended family members as they did in the past.

Given the fragile state of the modern marriage, it's no wonder only children are on the rise.

In 1980, just 10 per cent of American kids were “onlies.” Today, more than 20 per cent of children are singletons and the figure is closer to 30 per cent in cities such as New York, based on data from Rutgers University.

In Canada, one in four children is the only child living at home, according to the 2006 Census. But the figure doesn't indicate whether the child has younger siblings on the way or a brother or sister who lives in a different household.

Parents end up with just one child for all kinds of reasons, including finances and fertility problems, says Carolyn White, editor of Only Child, an online magazine launched 12 years ago. Nevertheless, marital tension is high on the list.

“We get thousands of letters from all over the world and this issue of having a child affecting the marriage is pretty common,” she says.

Some couples stop at one child as a preventative measure.

Jen Arbo of New Westminster, B.C., remembers suffering emotionally during her parents' messy divorce when she was a child. As a new parent, Ms. Arbo says, she's very protective of her decade-long relationship with her husband, Ross.

The couple argued more after the birth of their son, Kale, now 10 months old, she says. Their marriage has bounced back since then, she says, and the couple is determined to keep it that way. Having another child would add stress to their lives and “you don't want to mess with a good thing.”

Adult children of divorce may be particularly sensitive to changes in the marital climate, says Robbie Wagner, a family therapist for 30 years and chief executive officer of the Calgary Counselling Centre.

“The risky times for people are generally in the first three years after a baby is born,” Ms. Wagner says.

Most people adjust to their new role as parents, she adds, but the time available for the couple decreases with each child. “Having two is more than double one,” Ms. Wagner says.

Baby-induced marital stress can range from a brief cranky period to what some parents describe as a form of trauma.

“It was really sudden and quite destructive,” says Petra, a mother who declined to give her real name to protect the privacy of her husband and four-year-old daughter.

Both partners were even-tempered before their daughter was born, she says. But Petra began to snap after she developed Type 1 diabetes during pregnancy and then coped with a child who didn't sleep through the night for two years.

Petra's distress made her husband anxious, she says, so “I stopped talking to him about things that would worry him.”

The couple drifted apart before they went into counselling four months ago, she says. Sometimes Petra dreams of having a second child but her husband doesn't want another, she explains, and their marriage is still on shaky ground.

“I have to choose what's good for our daughter, too, and I think that having a good relationship [with my husband] is better for her.”

Other parents say they've made peace with the decision to have a one and only.

Ms. Jahnke is delighted to be a mother without the burden of caring for multiple children or the added strain on her marriage, she says. “It gives me the best of both worlds.”

More kids, less happiness

Having more kids isn't merrier, according to research from the University of Pennsylvania.

In a 2005 study of almost 35,000 adult identical twins in Denmark, sociology professor Hans-Peter Kohler concluded that mothers with one child are about 20 per cent happier than their childless siblings.

But mothers with second or third children are less happy than mothers with only one child, the study found.

A father's happiness increases after the birth of the first baby, however, additional children have little effect on the father's mood.

By studying identical twins, researchers were able to zero in on external causes for happiness and control for genetic predispositions, according to Dr. Kohler.

His advice to married couples who expect children to bring joy? Stop at one kid.




6/2/2009 10:56:12 AM

Bellboy, Thanks for the stats, dramatic stats that show a "feminization" of society. One unspoken reason for the birth decline is that men are unwilling to take on the liability of childbirth and marriage. Most marriages end in divorce, most fathers have problems seeing their children after separation.

The solution is for a Legal Presumption of Equal Parenting after separation, child support guidelines determined solely by the income tax returns of both parties and variation on a monthly reporting system with revenue Canada. Other jurisdictions do it by the annual tax return. NOT ONTARIO, support once ordered is almost impossible to vary, an unemployed father with no money cannot afford a lawyer to litigate a variation and most judges refuse reasonable variation requests.
Its a feminization of law, a feminization of teaching, and a Sharia Law for men.
Boys learn differently, think diferently yet, most male elementary teachers quit in fear of unfounded feminist inspired allegations.
To top it off, judges like the Dishonourable corrupt Allan Sheffield terminate children's relationships with their fathers on "summary judgment" , NO TRIAL, Claiming "no genuine issue for trial" when a string of other judges ordered a TRIAL. They make private arrangements to hold kangaroo court hearings that are shockingly obviously corrupt.

That's why Canada, has a declining birth rate. There is no recourse, Canada has a politically correct system called the Judicial Council, with a mandate that could have been written by Gobels himself, its a sanitizing , get rid of complaints, protect judges at all costs mandate.

The Court of Appeal has its feminization with the dishonourable Katherine Feldman who, orders security for cost s on an appeal of security for costs regarding access and custody. Feldman says, its OK for a fake criminal charge to be laid, and that criminal record has no effect. With Feldman's legal reasoning, pigs fly to.


Children are a very serious commitment. Increasingly, father's don't have any choice in becoming a parent. Increasingly, feminist, who choose to live with another female instead of a male, choose to "find" a "sperm donor"
This is typically called 'a one night stand' but can also amongst the more devious involve extensive background checks, hereditary checks, academic checks, before he is "chosen" to donate his sperm at that precise time she knows she will probably conceive and when she tells him "I can't get pregnant". Its all too easy.

As much as he may have a Ph.d , be a vascular or dental surgeon, earning a six figure income, he may literally have a sign around his neck, saying "sucker". He may well be a mommies boy, trained to believe what ever a woman tells him, again a result of the feminization of society.

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The Globe's E-Sensorship has gone stark raving mad. I tried a variety of six posts about parenting, nothing really controversial with acceptable language. Every single post had Globe's filter reply that it contained "unacceptable language".. Its time for the Globe to trash its E-sensorship filter system.


Once pregnant, stage two of the show evolves, its often a 911 call, with no evidence to make sure he has an unfounded criminal charge to ensure HE never gets to be a real father.

The only solution is DNA testing at birth for EVERY Child born in Canada and of the Father named on the Birth Certificate. Fact is, one in six children have a father on the birth certificate who is not their father.

Children have a right to know who their father is and DNA testing at birth is the only solution.

Most Canadian Provinces, with the exception of Quebec, have Feminist Law, not family law, that dictates children go with the mother regardless of the circumstances, not in the statutes but thats how judges especially in Ontario treat children, with contempt.

Our birth rate will increase when Canada introduces a Legal Presumption of Equal Parenting after separation and compulsory DNA parential testing at birth for all children and when child support is factored upon the incomes of both parents.




AlbertaGirl is typical of a percentage of females who have made their own decision not to have kids and who apparently get all the satisfaction in their lives from things other than having kids and having to go though that experience of "marriage" and "kids".

Having kids is a choice that many women and men choose not to make, its "too hard" , "too many risks" and the result is, "a declining birthrate" that is contrary to the public interest and a problem of gigantic economic consequences to all Canadians, that will mean the cost of being elderly, will be borne increasingly by the working generation, it can't go on, it must change and the only way that can occur is for Government to promote marriage between men and women and for children to have stable long term families.

The only way that can happen is for a legal presumption of equal parenting, child support that is factored on both incomes, variable on tax returns on a monthly basis, and, DNA testing for every child upon birth and the father named on the birth certificate to ensure that parental fraud is not taking place. At present, one in six children has a father on the birth certificate who is not the biological father. Our Charter needs to include the rights of children, to know who their real daddy is and for real dads to know who their children are.