I thought loyalty, fidelity and good parenting were key to a solid marriage. Since shared housekeeping now appears to be a top marital priority, however, it seems I should ditch Mr. Bookworm for my cleaning ladies, who are wonderful in rescuing my house from the layers of dirt that deposit themselves, no matter what I do:
The percentage of Americans who consider children “very important” to a successful marriage has dropped sharply since 1990, and more now cite the sharing of household chores as pivotal, according to a sweeping new survey.
The Pew Research Center survey on marriage and parenting found that children had fallen to eighth out of nine on a list of factors that people associate with successful marriages — well behind “sharing household chores,” “good housing,” “adequate income,” a “happy sexual relationship” and “faithfulness.”
In a 1990 World Values Survey, children ranked third in importance among the same items, with 65 percent saying children were very important to a good marriage. Just 41 percent said so in the new Pew survey.
Chore-sharing was cited as very important by 62 percent of respondents, up from 47 percent in 1990.
Of course, I’m not convinced that this poll is quite reliable, since it seems as if only faux adults responded. How else can one explain this response?
The survey also found that, by a margin of nearly 3-to-1, Americans say the main purpose of marriage is the “mutual happiness and fulfillment” of adults rather than the “bearing and raising of children.”
I’m not the only one who finds that approach to marriage a bit unnerving, not to mention the possible death knell of a healthy, future-looking society:
The survey’s findings buttress concerns expressed by numerous scholars and family-policy experts, among them Barbara Dafoe Whitehead of Rutgers University’s National Marriage Project.
“The popular culture is increasingly oriented to fulfilling the X-rated fantasies and desires of adults,” she wrote in a recent report. “Child-rearing values — sacrifice, stability, dependability, maturity — seem stale and musty by comparison.”
Frankly, I enjoyed life a lot more before I had children. I slept when I wanted and got enough sleep; ate when (and what) I wanted; needed a dictionary to figure out the phrase “car pool;” had a clean, organized environment; went out dancing; and seldom felt intense frustration.
I also knew that my life, while fun, lacked purpose, and represented a perpetual immaturity. That’s kind of high falutin’. What I really knew was that I was becoming incredibly selfish. That frightened me. Even if you’re like me, and have a reasonable degree of self-discipline and are not given to decadence, a life free of responsibility for others eats away at your soul.
Nowadays, while I regularly ask myself rhetorically “Why did I have children? I was so happy without them,” I’m always able to answer that question by looking at the fact that I am a much, much nicer person than I was before I had children. I’ve become more thoughtful, more flexible and more compassionate. Don’t believe me? Ask those who knew me 30 years ago. Children are a necessary step on the road to growing up, not just growing older. People who intentionally avoid having children (as opposed to those who for reasons beyond their control are unable to have children), are living a Peter Pan life that is neither good for them, nor for the world around them.
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