The Brutal Truth About Life After Marriage

The Brutal Truth About Life After Marriage

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I recently answered a question on Quora (a popular question and answer site):What is the brutal truth about life after marriage? More than 50,000 people found this answer helpful. Here is the answer:

The brutal truth of life after marriage is really about the brutal truth of life after kids.

Chances are, a man will not change too much post marriage and post kids. A woman, however, will probably do a lot of changing. Once kids are born, most women become “mommy first, wife second”. Most husbands, on the other hand,just seem to keep rolling along as their old self, albeit their old self with kids.

I have had hundreds of complaints over the years, from my male clients (I am a divorce mediator) that their marriage was pretty much over once the first child was born. Well, that is true. The relationship, as you knew it before kids, is over. Gone. When a man feels neglected — which is often the end result — he either clams up and hides in the basement or the liquor cabinet, or finds someone who will make him feel appreciated and important again (i.e., cheating). That is the brutal truth of life after marriage if a man feels neglected.

The ugly truth from a woman’s perspective, after marriage and kids (from what I hear from my divorce mediation clients), is that they end up doing the lion’s share of the work. They do most of parenting, most of the planning and scheduling of family life, most of the housework, most of the shopping, most of the cooking, and most of the chauffeuring. If that mom makes a similar income to the dad, I get a phone call. They often get divorced. The mom feels disrespected, unappreciated, let down, and is resentful. That is the brutal truth of life after marriage if a working mom is left to do most of the work at home.

None of this needs to be the case. Marriages that survive, and that are happy, have a “Marriage 1 and a Marriage 2” sort of dynamic.

If you try to make your post-kid marriage feel like the pre-kid marriage, you will probably fail. The trick is to create a new marriage, which is also full of love, appreciation, respect, and fun, within the post-kid reality which includes a very needy young human being, a lot of tedium, patience galore, and the non-stop hard work of living within a family system without a lot of help from outside (for most people).

There is nothing brutal about having a little family of your own. It is beautiful. But it is a lot of hard work, constant communication, sharing of your feelings, and being intuitive of what makes your spouse happy and what makes your spouse upset.

Note from Author: This article is in no way intended to be "pro mom" or "pro dad". I am just reporting what I have been hearing from my divorce mediation and coaching clients since 2009.

If you are thinking about having kids, you and your spouse need to think long and hard about what your roles will be in terms of the work of parenting. Talk specifics, not just generalities (such as "50%/50%"). Who will do what? The tasks don't need to be equal; just clear and divvied up in way that prevents resentment. Do what what you say you are going to do and be grateful to each other for all your hard work (whether your spouse does the task "your way" your not).