This here bringer of the pooper to the fun party

For better, for worse

I wanted to post this episode of Momversation and open it up for discussion here because it’s not usual for me to have such a different opinion than that of the other panelists, and in this case it’s not so much of a different opinion than it is a different experience. What’s more difficult, motherhood or marriage? And when I thought about this question it was pretty clear cut for me. I mean, six months into parenthood I checked myself into a mental hospital. That’s a pretty good indication that the software was not compatible with my operating system.

Whereas my marriage has caused its fair share of wrinkles, but it hasn’t ever made me consider checking out of life.

In the original videos that I submitted to this conversation I go into my reasoning a bit more, but the constraints of the Momversation platform sort of make it impossible to include all the footage, and this is perhaps my only complaint about this project. Sometimes a key point or explanation is edited out or sentences are cut in half, and what I originally hoped to get across is compromised. In this instance I wish they had left in the part where I talk about how much easier motherhood has gotten for me, how the instincts I thought would kick in immediately took their damn sweet time and I had no idea what I was doing for about a year. Those instincts finally did settle in, and when I look back at those first few months the memories have the same tone and color as the memory of being dropped into a pool not knowing how to swim.

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I really had no experience with babies, whereas before I got married I dated a wide variety of men, some hairy, some bald, many of them gay. I’d lived with men before, had shared my stuff, had compromised my tastes and time to make things work, and so I understood what kind of energy it requires to make a relationship last. And when I started dating Jon I knew that he was the person with whom I could make it work, with whom I wanted to make it work.

This does not mean my marriage is easy by any means, and in the original footage I talk about the many years of therapy we have been in personally and together as a couple. Our therapist has been paid a lot of money to teach us to tell each other, hey, stop treating me this way, you’re not meeting my needs, I feel this way when you act like that. And yes, my nose scrunches up like that often when we have those types of discussions. And the argument usually ends with Jon going OH MY GOD I’M MARRIED TO YOUR GRANNY.

And while motherhood has become so much more natural to me there is still so much uncharted territory ahead, and I find that each age is so different than the one that preceded it that sometimes, although infrequently, it feels like we’re starting from the beginning all over again. Sure, there are similar surprises in marriage, but right now almost eight years into our relationship I feel like what we share is the rock I use to stabilize myself when being jarred by everything else around me.

I’m curious about your experiences. Do you find one is easier than the other? (And since some of us aren’t allowed to marry the ones we love let’s extend the discussion to relationships in general.)

  • Anonymous

    Thank God someone finally said how difficult parenthood is. Dropped in a pool not knowing how to swim? How about dropped in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a plastic lifeboat? I find that everyone I know just goes on and on about how wonderful and easy being a parent is. I love my daughter, she’s amazing, but this is damn hard. You worry all of the time, you wonder if you’re doing the right things, everyone makes comments on your parenting including your own parents and you think, “Can’t I get any part of this right?” Is parenthood harder than marriage. Hell, YES!

  • Interesting episode. I think marriage and motherhood are sometimes equally hard but in different ways. There have been times that making a “good” marriage has seemed like slogging through waist deep sand. Though to be honest after 11 years of marriage these days marriage seems easier than parenting. On most days anyway. I completely understand the “no way out” idea. We carry that in our marriage as well. With out an escape clause I think it makes working through things more of a focus. Which in turns means that everyday we are subconsciously juggling the load of being married and making a partnership that works.

    Motherhood has been a good fit for me from the moment my first child was born. But that doesn’t mean I think it is easy. The constant need to be mindful of our parenting philosophy which differs greatly from that of our own parents has weight. Balancing our desires against the abilities of the child. There is a constant questioning of “do we expect too much” or “not enough”?? As a mother you are always on even when your not. Even if your child isn’t there you mind will wander and wonder “are they having fun or learning or coping?” Even if you are out on the town part of you will still be wondering if the kids are asleep yet. For me I can’t turn either part wife or mother “off”.

  • Parenting parenting parenting – – harder harder harder. But it does get easier with experience. Like Heather, I had no experience with babies before my first was born – – had to ask in the hospital how to change a diaper. When the second came along she had serious health issues, so everything else paled by comparison (she’s doing great now!). But marriage I learned by trial and error, through dating and a couple of living together relationships, before getting married. And oh by the way, I lived with my husband for 10 years before getting married! So I knew he was the one for me and he still is.

    I think we should all be required to take a baby on loan for a year or so before we have kids – – or be reuqired to work in a kindergarten for a year – – it would make all the difference!

    Thanks for the great momversation! http://lipstickdaily.com

    Elaine

  • Hi Heather,

    Long time reader, first time commenter…

    I would have to agree with you that motherhood is much more difficult than marriage. I spent the first year or so of my daughter’s life (she’s 4 now) scared out of my wits. I had no clue what I was doing, and I had this terrible fear that everything I was doing was wrong and that somehow I was going to ruin her for life. Although parenting has gotten much easier over the past few years, there is always something new coming at me. It has gone from, “Oh my gosh, how do I breastfeed?” to “Oh my gosh, what do I do about her back talking? How do I help her adapt to her new school?” It’s never-ending and although I love being a mom more than anything, I know that I will always feel a measure of pressure and anxiety when it comes to my daughter.

    Not saying marriage is easy, because it isn’t always easy. But, my husband is a grown man and I don’t have to WORRY about him as much as I do my daughter. He can communicate his needs to be in a way that I can understand and respond to.

    Anyway, those are my two cents. Congrats on the pregnancy…I am expecting baby number two in March!

  • Relationships are easier, but the closest I’ve ever come to parenting is babysitting nieces and nephews or attempting to train my dog (fail). I think a parent has more power in the parent/child relationship than a spouse does in a marriage, but you can reason with a spouse and more assuredly trust a spouse to keep you safe. With parenting, the responsibility falls squarely on the parent’s shoulders to guide this little human and help him/her form a moral code.

    If an adult turns out rotten, people don’t blame his/her spouse. They blame his/her parents.

  • I definitely agree. Parenthood is way harder.

  • My husband and I were married for ten years before we had a child. Our partnership was seamless and we worked well together. We had lots of fun, never argued, had a fantastic sex life, and were tightly intertwined. Every day as a mother has been harder than those first ten years. My daughter is amazing, fills my heart with so much love, and makes me laugh each and every day. But she has also made me cry many, many times since she joined my life, just 18 months, ago. Her personality and energy is so different from that of mine or my husband’s, it’s hard to believe we made her.

    Loving her has meant that I am filled with self-doubt and often self-loathing. Loving her means that I am exhausted and sometimes empty. And that emptiness has opened up chasms in my marriage, spurred fights and hurt feelings, and exposed tons of quiet wounds that were manageable before she came, and seem unbearable afterwards. Motherhood, for me, is so much harder than marriage. But becoming a mother, has made my marriage a lot more difficult.

  • My parents have been married for 25 years and I’m pretty sure they fought through 23 of them. So, I guess I was also jaded to the idea of a “fantasy” relationship. A marriage can be tough work, but…

    My husband and I don’t even have children yet, and I’m going to agree that it’s easier to be married than to be a parent. I’m not really sure I can comprehend the idea that raising this screaming (or complacent) entity is easier than working with another adult mind that (supposedly) *wants* to be with you.

    I think I need more explanation on that viewpoint.

  • Katie

    I vote that parenthood is harder.

    You can walk away from a broken marriage, as I have done, but never from a child – no matter how hard the relationship gets. And that’s just it for me. I pour my heart and soul into my child, but she has all the power to devestate me. A man – I can recover from losing one.

    I find parenting emotionally draining and impossible to figure out. Just when I think I master something, she throws a new problem/issue into the mix. Of course, there are rewarding moments; but unfortunately, those don’t come with the frequency required to make me want to have more children.

    The ugly truth.

  • yay! I’m failing at both! Whoohoo

  • edythe

    sounds like you are lucky. so many women are saying that parenthood really changed the dynamic of their relationship with their husband.

    though i am not a mother, your view on it rings true to me. i think i would find it just as difficult.

    also, you are hilarious in the video.

  • JG

    After being together for 9 years and married for 5 and being a parent for almost 6 years, I would say that being a parent is more challenging. Sometimes I wish my husband would just dissappear from the face of the planet temporarily and I never wish that about my kids, but overall the parenting is harder because there are so many unknowns. Parenting demands constant adjustment to mostly irrational little humans that can’t be reasoned with. At least I pretty much know what to expect from my husband. We are a good team. As a parent I am outside of my comfort zone physically, mentally and emotionally much of the time. The upside of that is that I can feel really good when I do “accomplish”something as a parent like diffusing a sibling war or getting my son to eat a miniscule bite of broccoli without falling apart.

  • As the mother of a two-year-old, so far parenting has been much, much easier for me than marriage has. Not that I have a bad marriage, but I have to work a lot harder at maintaining a happy marriage than I do at maintaining a happy relationship with my daughter, which comes super easily to me. I get much more frustrated with my husband than I do with my daughter because SHE doesn’t know any better…he does!

    But I have a feeling that this might become completely the opposite for me as both my daughter and marriage gets older…it seems like it’s a lot harder to deal with your kids once they become more willful individuals, and it also seems like it would be easier (in an ideal world) to maintain your marriage the longer you’ve been together…

  • Joy

    i’m 50, married since i was 21, a mom since i was 22.

    marriage was hard at first, and baby was hard at first.

    but now, like you said heather, my husband is my rock, and my grown children are my friends. life is amazing.

    but in the trenches i know it seems oh so hard. but it’s all oh sooooo worth it.

    with love,

    joy

  • Hard to say. Parenting is hard, I think, because of the way you keep getting smacked with the unknown. First mysterious newborns, then defiant toddlers, and on and on. So just when you think you’re starting to figure it out, you have to start all over.

    I think marriage is harder after you become a parent, or so it has been for me. The difficulty being maintaining the marriage and the relationship beyond mutual caretakers of the child(ren). I’m a year and a half into this parenting thing, and I’m only just starting to get back to thinking of my husband as my love, not just my coworker.

  • Gillian

    For me, it’s marriage by a smidge. An honest assessment – I was always kind of a doormat, and I know it. I hated always being the “Angel in the House” and never getting my own way, but never had the bollocks to demand my own way, or even simply state my preferences. I was always all – what do YOU need? Allow me to bend over backward providing it for you. So, at age 28, when I married, I was determined to be more proactive with my own happiness, reasoning (correctly, I feel) that a happy me is a happy us. It works thus far, but I have little confidence in my ability to judge whether I am compromising well, too much, or too little. Is letting him select what we have for dinner tonight too doormatty? Was I a bitch when I demanded that he help me fold these clothes right this second, or was that an appropriate request? It makes me anxious, sometimes. With motherhood – well, I think being the oldest of 5 children gave me tons of baby experience, and it just felt natural. The thing about motherhood that’s so hard for me definitely isn’t knowing what to do – it’s finding the energy and patience to do it, again and again. And again. And again.

  • Just have to comment on today’s photo of Pippy … first thought? Well, maybe now the Internet will be happy and SHUT UP about the dear child’s hair already!

  • I’d have to go with Parenthood being easier on this one! However my son is only a year old and I haven’t had to deal with friends, homework, teachers, dating and teenagers yet so it may be up for determination!

  • Janet

    I had my girls 10 months apart and thier daddy was conveniently stationed in Korea for much of the first year or so. That space in time is largely just flashes of images that I got when the panic cleared enough to see clearly. 21 years later and I have to say that the marriage part was easier by far. I found that you can usually reason with an adult male, or atleast hit him hard enough to make him think about what he just said (grins). Kids however, there is no real reasoning with them. One of you just wears down after awhile. I did get lucky with both and wouldn’t change either now, in retrospect.

  • Kristi

    Since we had kids my marriage has taken a back seat. After 16 years, we’ve gotten too used to coasting through our relationship. This isn’t good, I know, but true. But we’re both so independent that I don’t think we can force ourselves to be as intimate as “the experts” say we should. That would be excruciating.

    Parenting IS hard. And those who say it came naturally are liars. Putting someone else’s needs before yourself ALL THE TIME is a huge adjustment. And that’s what kids require, especially babies and toddlers.

  • BOTH can be equally hard but motherhood IS harder. With a child you can’t say “I’m pms-ing – leave me the hell alone!” Motherhood is for life and I think if we all knew just how hard it would be we might well think again. My step daughter is pregnant right now and she is blissfully unaware of how her life will change. It is so scary to be responsible for another human being. Totally worth it in the end (wherever the ‘end’ is) but nonetheless, petrifying.

  • I raised two children. They are both 17 & 18. While we’ve had our fair share of troubles as mother and child they did survive. Unfortunately my marriage lasted for less than 1.5 years. I didn’t try to live with or carry on any other type of romantic relationship until my children were much older. I knew that I was the type of person who didn’t have the energy to be married and raise children. But then again I haven’t had the best luck with finding a partner who can BE A PARTNER. This is as much a failure on my part as it is my choice of partners in relationships.

    Marriage is rough because you always have the OUT option. Children will never go away!! Oh how I wish they would every now and then.

  • Love the video! I just found your blog and am an instant fan.

    I’d say marriage is harder than motherhood. Sometimes I wish I could take a marriage hiatus, come back next season, and begin anew with a fresh attitude.

  • ange

    Depends on which marriage….my first was a disaster, jerk-faced husband….then parenting was easier.
    Now on second marriage, and parenting is harder.
    Though I will say, generally speaking parenting can be more overwhelming because:
    1- you know you can’t walk away
    2- it really messes with your hormones, and hence your mind
    (not to mention your figure)

  • Sue Z

    Parenting is harder for me. I know I’m a great wife, my husband reinforces it all the time. But as far as being a mom, I’m not so sure. I feel like my instincts are not correct in the mothering area, I am making a lot of mistakes. If you asked the teachers and principal at my kids’ school, I think they would all agree.

  • Ninabi

    Parenting is harder.

    Our children are grown and for the first time in 22 years, it’s just me and my husband. Happy together. Our junior high sense of humor keeps us together. Every night is a slumber party with my best friend.

    Parenting took its toll on me. I love both my daughter and my son and what happened to them also impacted me.

    My daughter never gave us a bit of trouble. We never grounded her, her grades were perfect (indeed, I referred her to your website when she shared your views about being valedictorian) but her health is not.

    A call came her freshman year of college. She was sick with an overwhelming infection, in the hospital. Within minutes I drove night and day through three states to care for her, the mantra in my head repeating Don’t die, don’t die, please don’t die.

    She lived. My nerves, barely.

    We could have written parenting books explaining our success with child number one. With child #2, we needed parenting books.

    I got ready for each upcoming school year by unplugging the answering machine. He had so many behavior problems that my life was spent in conferences, doctor’s offices, appointments, the Parent Who Wasn’t Quite Good Enough. Each and every time he did something awful enough for me to get THE CALL I felt as though I had failed parenting. I believe the assumption was that if our child acted up as much as he did, well, we must eat Cheetos for dinner in front of a TV in a living room wallpapered with porn. With guns on our laps.

    It aged me, drained me, forced me, a teacher by degree, to retreat. Nobody could reconcile that the mother of the star of the school also birthed the class clown.

    Who was I as a parent? Was I as good or was I as terrible as the outcome of my two human biology projects?

    The gods smiled. Son grew up in his own time and in his own way and defiantly became the normal human being the school psychologist swore he’d never be.

    Parenting a difficult child shook my soul like a ragdoll in the mouth of a puppy.

  • Everyday I am flabbergasted by my two-year-old daughter. She is a manic bundle of energy. At the end of each day I am so exhausted I wish I could pour a bottle of tequila down my throat and pass out. Too bad I don’t drink.

    Being a mom is full of incredible highs but the thing is I am so frickin’s exhausted half the time I don’t remember them! Having a kid is the harded thing I’ve ever done. And I will never ever do it again. One child is plenty for me. I lover her madly and I just don’t have enough love, energy or time for another kid.

    Tracy
    http://themoxiereport.blogspot.com

  • Lee

    Marriage is LOADS easier…especially if you communicate well. Babies take years to get to know and their personalities are in a constant state of change. I was surprised that one of the other moms said, “I barely knew my husband when we got married and had the baby.” Pretty risky, raising a child with someone you barely know….I am very suspect of women who talk about how easy it is to raise children….Are they actually raising children or are they having children as a fashion statement, as in,”Well, I’m married. I guess I should have a baby next.”? I like to think, in a perfect world, that people actually take the time and think,”I’m married and I have a great partner and I’d like to raise a child with them.” After reading your blog for a while, Heather, you and Jon seem very thoughtful and considerate of how you are raising Leta. You are conscious of the fact that you are growing a person, another individual to add to the mix of society..

  • As a parent of a 13 and 10 year old, I ‘d say parenting is way harder. Especially since I had my 13 year old at 17. I pretty much have no clue what I am doing most of the time. And I have to disagree with one of the statements from the momversation. It’s actually easier than you think to neglect your kids. I don’t mean forget the to feed them, dress them, bathe them stuff. I mean that moment when you’re running around doing 5 things at once and they are trying to tell you about your day and you say not now for the third day in a row. Somedays I feel like I am screwing up all the time. Somedays I look at my kids and think, wow, maybe I didn’t do so bad after all.

  • another vote for parenthood…after all, how many blogs are there for parenting vs. marriage?

  • Katherine

    I’m with you Heather — I’m only 3 months into this motherhood thing, but marriage is MUCH easier. It helps that I picked an amazing man to spend the rest of my life with. Ayelet Waldman, a writer, got a TON of guff for admitting on Oprah a few years back that if she had to choose, she’d pick her husband over her 4 kids. She’s married to Michael Chabon so I get it. I’m not sure I want to weigh in on whether I’d save my baby girl or my man, but I do know that in the beginning when our baby was in the NICU with a life threatening issue, we kept telling each other that we can get through anything as long as we have each other.

    Kind of sappy for comment number 120, but there you have it.

  • Karen

    Hmmmm…. I, like you, had a hell of a ride when my daughter was born 12.5 yrs ago. My husband was in residency and gone ALL the time. I had a baby that literally cried from 3:30pm until 4 AM EVERY DAY- EVERY DAY – yes I typed that twice. I could not understand why people had children because – son of a bitch- this sucked. This went on for 6 months 1 week and 3 days…I have it written in my journal. I woke that morning thinking she had died – seriously

    I had no support, no friends had had kids yet (I was 28 at the time) and my husband just pretended that we did not exist. I should have checked myself into your mental abode for some help. I never wanted to hurt my child but I was distraught and too proud to complain.

    She finally decided that all the crying was getting her nowhere. And she was the perfect sleeper from then on.

    This is the kicker…my marriage went totally downhill due to this. I was really pissed at him for not helping, not caring, not anythinging. So after 10 yrs of marriage and the downward spiral (and one more child that was so quiet after her birth I thought there was something very wrong with her) we entered counseling. It saved our marriage but not that base that it was built on…those months of a crying baby and a desperate wife and mother changed eveything about me.

    Oh to be able to go back and have a do over! Life is good now, my girls are 12.5 and almost 10 and are wonderful kids. I am happier than I’ve ever been and am finally finding out who “I” am…and I like me..

    So the simple answer for me- to a very hard question is marriage at this point …. I’m not who he married and it drives him crazy, which in turn makes me want to scream at times 🙂

  • I totally agree with you Heather. Having kids is way harder than marriage. Although, I have to say having kids, especially the second one, has made marriage harder. I feel this way because there is just less time for each other once the second child moves into the house. And it has robbed my husband of much of his sanity. But there is no way I would want to do this without him. And we go on dates at least once a year so we can remember how great our marriage is. BTW you’re my favorite part of momversation. My only favorite part in fact. And mainly because you are different from the others, an in exciting and entertaining. Behold and beware the second coming.

  • Anonymous

    I enjoy your blog enormously, and have for a while. I sympathized with you when you miscarried. I’ve been through MANY.

    I’ve almost completely stopped reading you.

    Why?

    I’m tired of hearing for almost all bloggers how difficult it is to be a parent. How much harder it is to be a parent then married.

    I understand where you’ve been, my best friend suffered from post-partum after her first child. I spent days at her house cooking, cleaning and taking care of her child while she slept and coped.

    When I’ve miscarried, she’s glossed over the conversation and turned it back to her children. I have a hard time speaking to her.

    Enough is enough. I can get pregnant…and have been several times. I cannot stay pregnant. My marriage has suffered, we almost split up. Western medicine has offered me nothing but a hysterecotomy. AND, that comes from a fertility clinic…really…there is nothing they can do.

    I am so happy you’re pregnant again, but where the hell are the blogs for women like me…I don’t dwell in self pity (okay…sometimes), but I’m damn tired of all of the moms bitching about their lives. I’d give my right arm, ass cheek, severe disfiguring to be able to experience this.

    Which is hardest marraige v. motherhood?

    Try infertility…spending Christmas Eve in church (I’m not religious…went for the husband’s fam) where they spoke on the importance of creating family and children as they lead in the live nativity scene…complete w/ crying baby Jesus. Trying making it through events (famly and friends) where they look at you with PITY b/c you can’t carry. Try having hope, over and over, only to have that stripped away, leaving you a bleeding, sobbing mess.

    We’ve started the adoption process.

    All in all…this has to be way more difficult then either…and is far more difficult on the marriage the parenting.

  • My husband and I have been married for 19 years now, only a very few of them happily. We stuck it out when so many couples would have thrown in the towel. It was only after my complete nervous breakdown at almost exactly this day last year that we started marital therapy. Now, finally, we’re becoming what a happily married couple should be. We know each other inside and out. Disgustingly, we complete each other’s sentences, thinking the exact same thing at the same time. This drives me nuts because it has that cutesy ring to it. And I am anything BUT cutesy.

    Parenting? I had post-partum depression after the birth of my first child. I should have had help then, but my husband turned cold on me and blamed it all on my lack of mothering skills. We managed to have two more children, one every two years (pretty much the only times we had sex!), but the misery went on.

    Now I’m in therapy and seeing a psychiatrist to finallly treat my bipolar, my husband’s in therapy, and we’re in joing marital therapy. Honestly? When we started going to therapy I just knew it wouldn’t work. I thought we were done. Then something happened. Things started turning around. Our kids were 10, 12 and 14, and finally we were like a real family. My bipolar was under control, we’re continuing to see all the therapists, and things are better than they’ve ever been.

    So, which is harder? It’s hard to say. All of my life was difficult before I admitted I needed help. That’s a damn long time to scratch and claw my way through life with no intervention. I can’t separate the marriage from the children. They’re intertwined. Both are sometimes fantastic, and sometimes make me climb the walls. But everything in general is better now. Finally, for the first time in my life.

  • rachelle

    I find that marriage is harder BECAUSE I am a mother. My relationship with my husband is not the same since the birth of my daughter and not because of him but because of me. My daughter is 6 months old and before her birth my husband and I had a wonderful physical relationship. Now I have no desire for him to even give me a hug!! I’m hoping my hormones are still out of whack and I will get back to feeling like myself again but in the mean time I am struggling to fulfill his needs 🙁

  • See, I’m in the opposite camp.

    Motherhood came naturally for me – I don’t mean that in a high and mighty way..I just mean the instincts kicked in, I was never really scared of it. But, I’d had lots of experience w/ babies all through my teens.

    Marriage has been difficult to say the least.

    Although the pull to get married was very strong, I really had no idea what to expect. Most of what I did expect wasn’t realistic. My parents have each been married and divorced numberous times. I had a clear picture of all the marriage scenarios that I wanted to avoid – but no real life knowledge whatsoever when it came to the day-to-day makings of a good marriage.

    I love my husband and we’re still together. But I would definately say I was much more emotionally prepared to have children than I was to be married. Is that odd?

  • How funny that you posted about this today b/c as soon as I saw the video I wrote my own blog post about it. Thanks!

  • I feel like my husband and I have been blessed with a fairly conflict-free marriage. Not to say we don’t have problems, but we’re pretty committed to working things out, and neither of us ever seems to really dig our heals in.

    Parenting. Nothing has been more heart wrenching. It is hard. It is exhausting. It is thankless. I love my children like crazy, and wouldn’t want to see life without them. But they know how to push my buttons. And anytime I have to see them in pain rips me apart. But they always bring me back with some sort of “I want you to be my mommy forever…” Children are just intense.

  • So I have an 18-month old, and have been married for only 4.5 years.

    From my limited experience and my watching of people who have been married for 25+ years who now have grown kids, my assessment is that the first 10 years of marriage is harder than the first 10 years of parenthood, (for most people, not all, obviously)
    but then marriage is easier because you’re in the groove with each other, but your kids are now teenagers and so they are tougher to deal with.

    That’s at least our experience.

    Being the parent to a toddler is obviously frustrating and mind-boggling at times, but I think I have more patience with her than I do her father.

    He and I were together for 3 years before we got married, so we thought we were “prepared.” HA! Marriage is a completely different animal.

    Throw learning to be parents into that mix, starting careers etc., and you have the perfect mix for, as Alice said, forgetting to tend to your marriage.

    We agree that we have no “out,” and are committed to sticking it out regardless.

    Making that happen on a day to day basic can sometimes be really tough, however.

  • This is an interesting conversation indeed… Although, my sexuality is not really a factor, I feel compelled to mention that I’m gay. And I’m a recent single parent to two amazing children that were brought into this world during the period of my domestic partnership.

    “Marriage” wasn’t difficult prior to having children. There was plenty of time in the day to nurture the “marriage,” and I found that I could pretty much make that relationship (and any other relationship for that matter) last a lifetime given enough MUTUAL interest in one another. We just happened to lose interest in each other… it’s a universal problem in any family dynamic – gay or straight.

    By far, parenthood has been the most challenging and demanding task I’ve encountered in my life. The gravity of the responsibility I feel towards these little human beings is considerably more significant than the responsibility I ever felt towards my “marriage.” For me, marriage requires two people to tango, parenthood is in many ways a “solo” journey… forming relationship bonds between you and your child is very independent of the bond being built by your child and the other parent.

    Sure, marriage is challenging stuff (obviously coming from someone who’s experienced divorce) but it’s also not rocket science… I know where I messed up and I know how to do it better. You get what you put in and more times than not, when it doesn’t work out, you’ve got another adult to blame. With kids, you shoulder the brunt of all the good and the bad that comes out in the end. Talk about a serious job… hands down… the hardest job I’ve ever had and I feel like I’ll always be on the learning curve.

  • Biology helps you raise your kid. Therefore also easier than any other relationship.

  • Erica Hennings

    All the things were the EXACT OPPOSITE for me.
    I was always around babies and young children. I am the product of divorced parents. I went to daycare. Since I was an only child, daycare is where I got to play with other people. I found it easier to get along with those so much younger than me because they didn’t judge.
    Also as an only child, I never really learned to share or compromise. THIS was the reason why I have a failed marriage in my past. It sucked, I didn’t want to WORK on it. I do have a child from that relationship and she is the best thing I’ve ever done. As I learned what it was like to care FOR someone, I learned what it was like to care WITH someone. I learned how to love by having my daughter. My “new” husband (we’ve been together for 7 years) and I work DAILY on our marriage. We don’t brush stuff under the carpet or sweep feelings aside. We say EXACTLY what is on our minds, right then, right there. This isn’t always the best because it can be fueled with anger, but it works for US.

    *This is probably the MOST open I’ve ever been in a public forum (where you put stuff IN WRITING to come back and bite you in the butt) But, I feel like there may be others out there who need to hear this.

  • Lisa

    Being a parent … for me … has really come very naturally and easily. My boys are now 15 and 13 and I still pretty much know exactly what to do. It’s not always easy…but I know what “it” is. Since I am now divorced…marriage…not so much. I made a lot more mistakes in that deparment!

  • Somer

    I think this is a subject that’s hard to even think about. For me, the marriage part is harder. My parents split up when I was about 10 as well and I grew up with the mentality that all men are BASTARDS..because that’s what my mom said. So when I got with my husband, I got a gentle and kind and passive man. We were together for almost six years when we had our son. Motherhood is hard and trying and in the short-term so unrewarding..but my husband made things very difficult when my son came along. My husband spent six years being the center of my universe, and when my son was born he had to play second fiddle and he had a real problem with that. He started acting out and making things difficult for me. By the time my son was 6 months old, I was done and ready to talk to a lawyer, but we sat down and talked for about two weeks and worked some stuff out. I married someone that would be a good parent to my children and someone I wanted to be with for the entirety of my life and I still intend to make this work with all the stubbornness I can muster. I am of the same mindset as finslippy in that it was much easier to go into motherhood mode. But that’s just me.

  • lillo

    Marriage has been harder for me, but I think it may be a combo of how I came to be married and my particular set of coping mechanisms (denial, sweet sweet denial).

    I can identify with not having the instincts kick in. I hated being pregnant and couldn’t wait for it to be over. I don’t like babies. As another poster said, I expected to really suck at being a mother (my example was pretty awful). What I remember most about the first year or so was just being numb. Everything I did was out of obligation. But, bit by bit, as I managed to keep him alive and then see him flourish – I realized I kinda knew what I was doing. And now at 12, I truly enjoy the person he’s become and I have great deal more confidence in my abilities to figure this thing out. Of course, you may want to check back in with me in 5 years after we have a teenager.

    I was not in a committed relationship with my son’s father (now my husband) when I got knocked up. While he was at the time – and remains – my best friend, we chose to be parents before we chose to be married. Our commitment to our kid has been unwavering, while our commitment to each other was something we had to grow into.

  • Ana

    I have been married for a year and a half. We’d been together that long before we got married. My husband came with a child so I became a wife and a parent at the same time. I have tried to be everything a stepmom should be and not all the things they are hated and stereotyped because of. I have a really loving and wonderful relationship with my stepdaughter and I really enjoy her as a child. I find being a parent comes very naturally for me. Although I only have to be an acting parent 50% of the time. (And I have to admit that sometimes I look forward to the drop-off and the two day respite — but we miss her 2 minutes later!)

    My marriage has been a struggle and so difficult it is hard to fathom how we’re still in love and still trying to make it work. Our marriage has had to survive an insane ex-wife, my father’s two transplants, moving, money problems, employment issues, depression… compared to learning how to care for a child these “grown up” issues are so much harder. I think that in the age of divorce it is easy to look at marriage as temporary. My parents have been married for 40 years and my grandparents for 63 years; I aspire to be married for as long!

    And to the commenter that said that people don’t divorce their kids: foster care? child abuse? absent fathers? abandonment?

  • Kaffeine

    I’m laughing at the “I don’t have kids and I’m not married, BUT” people.

    Marriage is way, way, way easier than parenthood. My son is 14 and I still don’t know what the hell I’m doing most of the time. I don’t relate to or understand kids – I expect them to be logical and screaming is not logical.

  • Most days I think I suck at both equally.

  • My friend has a saying- Kids: Ruin a great relationship. Keep a bad one together.

    For me – definitely motherhood is harder. I was a successful,independent woman. I had lived in foreign countries, travelled the world – often by myself, had fantastic career – AND I’d been around babies a lot my whole life.

    That crying little baby sure knocked me flat though. I would say first time parenthood is like a smack in the face.

    It also put extra strain and drudgery on my relationship with my then boyfriend now husband. But, overall we had a good foundation so four and a half years later we are going stronger than ever. (Although we do still irritate each other regularly)

    I also had my second baby 15 months ago and while it definitely kicked the chaos up a gear, it was nothing compared to the first time. In some moments of insanity I wonder if I should have a 3rd because this time was so much easier (even though she is clearly more spirited than her big brother).

    But then I think “NO!” Let’s raise these kids and get them out so we can just hang out together again. xox