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3 ways your kids make your marriage stronger
Children add so much joy and enrichment to family life and marriages. Yes, they take work, and so does marriage, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. - photo by Wendy Jessen
Many married couples put off having children until they know the relationship is going to work out, they are financially "stable" or they have completed all the things they want to do before they get "weighed down" with children.

According to a Washington Post article, "Respected psychotherapist and marriage researcher John Gottman studied couples from the newlywed period through the transition to parenthood. He discovered most couple break-ups within the first seven years were because they became parents. A staggering 67 percent of couples in the study reported a decline in relationship satisfaction after the arrival of the first baby."

This way of thinking may be true for some, but it doesn't have to be.

Many potential outcomes can be averted if you try to see circumstances differently. Children do make an impact on your family; they cost money and time, rob us of sleep and some free time and take extra planning. However, children also offer many benefits to your family and marriage.

Children give you more reasons to laugh.

If "laughter is the best medicine," then kids could quite possibly be the no. 1 supplier. How often do your kids say or do things that send you into fits of giggles? The mispronunciation of words is hilarious. Their interpretations of life events warrant lots of laughter.

One of my children at four years old once said, "I can't go to sleep because my hair is all crappy." It doesn't make any logical sense and it's funny. The logic (or lack thereof) of children is truly laughable.

Laughing reduces stress levels and makes you feel good. This can help ease marital tension and dissolve anger. It's hard to be mad when you're laughing.

You no longer take alone time for granted.

When you're single-married (that's what my husband and I call married couples without kids because it's almost like being single, except you're married and still have lots of freedom), it's easy to take for granted the ease and freedom of being together without obstacles other than work or schooling.

It's different when you have kids. Date nights or quiet evenings become special times for spouses. They take planning, effort and often a babysitter (get grandparents, family members or do a swap with friends to reduce the cost). You no longer take your alone time for granted; it's a commodity that you highly value and appreciate, and that time helps to bring you closer as a couple.

Caring for babies and children reduces selfishness.

Nothing can change your perspective on life more than caring for another human being -- especially when that person is cute, tiny and unable to do much on his or her own. Being a parent gives you a new outlook on the world.

Parents will do anything to protect their children, to make sure they have food and are healthy and happy. These efforts make us concerned with more than just ourselves. An unselfish parent is also more likely an unselfish spouse.

Though having children is a personal decision, married couples should not put off having children simply because of the perceived risks. Everyone handles hard circumstances differently, but it is often through our struggles that we become stronger, better people. The same goes for marriages. If you think of the people in your life whose marriages are rock-solid, you'll also find that they have suffered through many trials -- and overcame them -- together.

Children add so much joy and enrichment to family life and marriages. Yes, they take work, and so does marriage, but the benefits far outweigh the costs.
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