I went to a wedding a few weeks ago, and at the reception, couples married for around 50 years gave advice to the newlyweds. Most of the advice was a bit clichéd (though not necessarily untrue), and it got me thinking about all the lies and myths about marriage that are out there, especially marriage after kids.
Myth #1: An equitable partnership means an equal 50-50 split.
There is this misconception that in an equitable partnership, each person should be doing half the work. Not only is this impossible, but it is a recipe for the scorekeeping game of “who’s doing more” in a relationship. Believe me, no one wins in that game.
In reality, there will be times when you are carrying the load, and times when your partner will. Sometimes it will feel like you are doing more than your share, but there will be times when your partner picks up the slack—in a healthy relationship anyway.
Myth #2: Your sex life is all downhill after having kids.
The stereotype that kids destroy your sex life is so pervasive that there are countless memes and jokes about the topic. In reality, however, your sex life will have ups and downs. You may have less sex during the postpartum period (thanks, episiotomy and raging hormones), then your mojo might ramp up once the baby is sleeping through the night before falling again when bedtimes get later and little ones scamper into your bed during the night.
The good news is that most moms are pretty happy with their sex lives. In Motherly’s 2022 State of Motherhood survey, more than half (54%) of millennial and Gen Z moms reported being “satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” with their sex lives. Almost half of moms (45%) said they were having sex at least once per week and 87% of those moms reported being “satisfied” or “extremely satisfied”.
Myth #3: Marriage means no time for friends.
Let’s be honest, after having kids, getting together with friends does become harder—but it’s not impossible. And you don’t need to sacrifice your friendships for your relationship; they can coexist. In fact, in Motherly's 2022 State of Motherhood survey, more than half of moms (53%) said they connected with friends one to three times in the last month.
Myth #4: Say goodbye to fun date nights after kids.
Again, date nights are harder but not impossible. Babysitting swaps with friends who also have kids are a great way to get cheap or free childcare. And if you can’t find childcare, put the kids to bed a little early and create an at-home date night. Like time with friends, it’s all about perspective. Sure, you might not have as many date nights as you had before kids, but they don’t need to vanish. Almost half of parents polled in Motherly's State of Motherhood survey (44%) said they had one to three date nights or alone time with their partner in the past month.
Myth #5: A healthy relationship means you don’t disagree in front of the kids.
You are two individuals, not the same person. This means you will, inherently, have different experiences, opinions and beliefs. And these differences will be amplified after having kids. You’ll have plenty of disagreements about money, childcare, household obligations and family expectations. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s normal and natural. What matters is how you work through those differences. Do you compromise? Do you avoid resentment? Do you communicate compassionately?
And yes, sometimes these disagreements will happen in front of the kids. When these disagreements are handled with respect and kindness, your kids will learn that it’s okay to disagree and that you’ll sometimes fight with those you love most. But most importantly, they’ll learn how to disagree respectfully, how to work through these differences and how to forgive when tensions rise.
Myth #6: After kids, your relationship becomes kind of… boring.
I’ve been married for nearly two decades and I can honestly say that I love my husband more than ever. What’s more, I like him more than ever too. Sure, your relationship might become less spontaneous after kids, but that doesn’t mean it’s less exciting. You’ll settle into routines, you’ll struggle together and you’ll thrive together too.
There might even be stretches where you feel like roommates, two ships passing in the night, but if you are patient with yourselves and each other, you’ll move through these phases stronger than before. You’ll grow, together. You’ll change, together. There is a misconception that a happy and healthy relationship means that you are each other's everything, that you always see eye-to-eye and that the relationship is as passionate as it was in the early days. But this is a myth and a recipe for disappointment. As writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wisely stated, “Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”
Sometimes you’re looking in the direction of your children. Sometimes you’re looking in the direction of that mountain of obligations that comes with raising a family. And sometimes—most of the time—you’re looking outward toward your future together.
Motherly designed and administered this survey through Motherly’s subscribers list, social media and partner channels, resulting in more than 17,000 responses creating a clean, unweighted base of 10,001 responses. This report focuses on the Gen X cohort of 1197 respondents, millennial cohort of 8,558 respondents, and a Gen Z cohort of 246 respondents. Edge Research weighted the data to reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the US female millennial cohort based on US Census data.