Water is wet …

by An Ordinary Man (the novel)

The sky is blue …

Birds can fly …

The sun is hot …

Children can damage a relationship ….

For the second time in two weeks, the popular press has carried a story about how having children can damage a relationship.  This time it’s Matthew D. Johnson, a professor of psychology and director of the Marriage and Family Studies Laboratory at Binghamton University-State University of New York, writing about his book Great Myths of Intimate Relationships: Dating, Sex, and Marriage on CNN.com.  I’m not knocking Mr. Johnson or his book, but as he says in the article, “[f]or around 30 years, researchers have studied how having children affects a marriage, and the results are conclusive: the relationship between spouses suffers once kids come along” – few things are more obvious, at least to married men.

However, he does make an important point, one that should be made: “While the negative marital impact of becoming parents is familiar to fathers and mothers, it is especially insidious because so many young couples think that having children will bring them closer together or at least will not lead to marital distress.”  In my book, fatherhood is so inconsistent with some basic happinesses that I no longer congratulate men on the pregnancy of their wives or the births of their babies; about all I can say is best wishes; I hope everything works out okay.

But, again, there is something left unsaid. In addressing the question of whether the departure of children is then good for a marriage, he makes the observation that many empty-nesters “discover they have few shared interests [other than the children] and there’s nothing keeping them together.”  As true as this may be, I submit that it is the loss of the sexual bond between parents that distances the couple from each other; simple maintenance fucks, as unromantic, quick and dirty as they might be, could be all that is needed to keep them together during their ordeal.

Just ask Richard Wilson, an ordinary man.

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