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Dad Says Marriage Is Hard For One Reason Only — And It Has Nothing To Do With Him Or His Wife

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married couple stressed because of kids

Justin Kellough, a father and parenting content creator, candidly admitted the one thing that makes a marriage incredibly strenuous and often unsuccessful. In a TikTok, Kellough responded to a video of another content creator asking married people what they mean when they say marriage is sometimes hard. Kellough's answer surprisingly had nothing to do with him or his wife.

He claimed that marriage is hard for one reason only — and it has to do with having children.

"It's the children. The children make it hard," Kellough bluntly admitted. While other factors go into making marriage difficult, in Kellough's experience, kids have a major impact.

Having a child inevitably changes the dynamic in a relationship, as two people now have another person to care for and share between them. They are now responsible for another life, and can no longer be selfish — which, unfortunately, often means putting romance on the backburner.

   

   

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Kellough explained that it doesn't matter how much you love and care about your spouse. When you have the constant added pressure of "small humans demanding your attention, time, and energy," it's difficult to be a patient, kind, loving, and attentive partner, at least to the extent you were pre-kids.

"It's just hard. That doesn't mean parenting isn't worth it, doesn't mean you shouldn't have kids, it doesn't mean I hate having kids," Kellough said. "I am just saying, when you have kids it drastically reduces your ability to be an attentive and engaging partner. It's just hard and then everybody's tired, everybody's frustrated, it's just harder."

There is a correlation between the decline of marriage and the recent welcoming of children. A 2021 study from the University of Born showed that, on average, relationship satisfaction fluctuates over time — and declines during the first 10 years of being together — whether couples are parents or not.

However, the more children a couple has, the less likely they are to feel satisfied with their relationship. Mothers of infants particularly are the least happy: 38% of married moms have high satisfaction, compared to 62% of married women without children.

   

   

Despite the data, Kellough pointed out that many married couples have children without issue.

"There are some people who are married and have kids, and they have no problem," he said.

Kellough emphasized that he doesn't understand how that is, and commended their ability to navigate a marriage after having children, calling them "superheroes." However, for the many couples who find marriage challenging, children are likely part of the equation. 

Providing an example, Kellough recalled that he'd come home one day and he and his family were having dinner. He explained that his children are at the age where they constantly bicker, which gets on his nerves. His annoyance prompted his wife to point out that whenever he got home from work, she found that he wasn't in a good mood at all.

Kellough argued that there is no possible way that he could be in a good mood when his young children are constantly arguing and at each other's throats. He promised his wife that she was not the cause of his bad mood, but that when he has to shout over children fighting just to have a conversation with her, he just ends up choosing not to converse at all.

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Dad Says Marriage Is Hard For One Reason That Has Nothing To Do With Him Or His WifePhoto: Ilike / Shutterstock

"It is the environment of chaos that kids bring," he added. "That's just one of the thousands of ways that kids make it more difficult to have a good, solid, strong, loving marriage. Now, there's some trauma bonding that brings you closer together as well, and having kids, I think, is worth it."

He admitted that having children made him more selfless, and more mature, but if he's being asked why marriage is hard sometimes, he can't help but find that children are the culprit.

While speaking with YourTango, Brian D. Doss, Ph.D., marriage and family researcher, and author of "Reconcilable Differences," admitted that a lot of the time, couples struggle to take care of themselves much less take care of their marriage after having kids.

"Couples are sleep-deprived, stressed, and putting their relationship on the back burner to care for their infant. They also have to navigate new challenges, decisions, and stressors," Doss said. 

Similarly, Matthew D. Johnson, Ph.D., chair, and professor of psychology at Binghamton University in New York noticed the same trend among new parents through his line of work. Many individuals don't realize just how taxing a child can be in a relationship, especially in the beginning.

Dad Says Marriage Is Hard For One Reason That Has Nothing To Do With Him Or His WifePhoto: PeopleImages.com - Yuri A / Shutterstock

"I don’t want to be a buzzkill or discourage people from having children, but we need to go into this with our eyes open," Johnson said. "It’s taxing and vexing — children at any age use a lot of resources and leave you depleted."

Kellough's candid admission that children can make marriage difficult emphasizes that it shouldn't be a bad thing when married couples choose to wait as long as they need before expanding their family. There is nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy your partner one-on-one before having children, especially when the stark reality is that once kids enter into the equation, there's no question that things will change drastically.

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.