Family historian Stephanie Coontz has an op-ed in the New York Times today, “Till Children Do Us Part.” It’s less historical than sociological, suggesting that in order to overcome the inevitable stress that children put on a relationship, parents should take time together away from their child/ren in order to preserve a happy relationship. Coontz also suggests that “traditional” households are unhappier than feminist ones:
Marital quality also tends to decline when parents backslide into more traditional gender roles. Once a child arrives, lack of paid parental leave often leads the wife to quit her job and the husband to work more. This produces discontent on both sides. The wife resents her husband’s lack of involvement in child care and housework. The husband resents his wife’s ingratitude for the long hours he works to support the family.
Gee–who ever would have predicted that? What I wonder is, on what basis did people ever think that adding children to a household decreased marital tensions? From what I’ve observed, even when a child is dearly, dearly wanted and loved, ze creates a lot more work for everyone (as well as, eventually, a lot more fun, but at first it’s just a lot of work.)