Marriage vs Motherhood

Today on Momversation: what's more difficult: being a mother or a wife? For me? Being a wife is infinitely harder, mainly because there is always, in the back of one's mind, a way out. (One cannot divorce their children.) And that can be tempting during times of stress, anger, crushes on other people, etc.  I don't necessarily believe that monogamous relationships are realistic nor do I believe that "forever" is foreveryone. 

I happen to be very happily married (now) but Hal and I have both admitted to each other (and the interwebs) that those first few years together were very hard. A lot of that had to do with the fact that we barely knew each other and were suddenly sharing parenting responsibilities. Mainly, though, I think we don't give ourselves the credit we deserve for sticking out our marriages when the going gets tough or awful. Equally I absolutely believe that if therapy (which Hal and I attended) doesn't work and two people just aren't in love anymore that divorce most def is the right way to go. Staying together for the kids is great as long as the kids aren't living with two monsters. There's a fine line, I think. 

For Hal and me? We were able to come together with a vengeance after almost breaking up but it took work and 69879878676530987875534234 tears to get there. Anyway, I'm totally blabbering on. 

Behold:



What about you, ladies and gentlehusbands? Do you find marriage or parenthood to be the bigger challenge? What advice would you give a mother (or father) struggling in his/her marriage? What worked for you and/or when did you know when to call it quits?

GGC

74 comments:

Miss M | 10:13 AM

I'm with you and Alice on this one. Being married is 100% harder than being a mother. There are so many ways out of being a good wife, but it's not easy to be a bad mother. There's serious guilt when you are a bad mom, but if you ignore your husband, the guilt doesn't necessarily follow. I think it takes much more work to be a good wife because the expectations are less clear, and the rewards not as quick to come.

Congrats on breastfeeding for 3 months! Thats how long I made it with my first, and I can't wait to see how I do on the second! I WANT THE COOL MEDAL WITH THE GREEN STRAP TOO! Can I register for that?

Erin, Nick and Merrick | 10:59 AM

Marriage is WAY harder!
My gut/intuition lets me know (most of the time) when I have screwed up big time with my son, if he is hurt,in a bad situation, etc.
A connection like that does not exist with husbands and wives.
And the "I can always leave" whispers that exist in your head don't make it any easier.
Maybe because as adults you are in charge of your children- you can make decisions for them. But not with marriage partners- it is hard to exist on the same level.
Marriage takes work-

Average Girl In Average World | 11:31 AM

Wifeyhood is harder in my eyes. I can be selfish towards my hubby and not mean to be. After being together for almost 10 years, sometimes I "forget" to think about him and his feelings and his needs and he reminds me! You can not be selfish with your kids. You just can't.

Chantelle | 11:38 AM

Being a Mother is a more natural existence for me. I just know what to do and do it.

Being a Wife takes much more thought and work. I have married the most amazing man, and our love is very strong - but it takes a lot of work, good work to make it this.. fun.

My parents had an icky relationship for much of our childhood and I would say to them that we'd rather have two seperate HAPPY (ie not fighting) parents, than a couple of hotheads in a marriage. Don't do us any favours by staying together.

I keep trying to link to your 'things' on Babble but your links always take me to the Australian site (where I live) and the srticle is lost. I'm sure there is some good shit going down there. One day I'll find it.

Congrats on hitting the 3 month mark. I am up to month 9. No medal - just a bunch of sagginess. ;)

Sarah | 11:39 AM

Hmmm. Really good topic!

For me, I think it's a tie. Or a tie-in. Before child, marriage was challenging, but because my parents divorced when I was in college, I was sooo motivated to make it work. Thus, every time an issue came up, we talked, talked, talked about it + solved the problem. Now, post-child, it is SO MUCH HARDER! I definitely feel trapped in my marriage in a way I don't feel trapped in motherhood. I can't leave my marriage even if I wanted to! Can't afford to, and wouldn't want to put my daughter through that.

That said, motherhood has been much more challenging than I ever anticipated, mostly because my solution for the problems in my marriage - communication - does not work as well with my 3.5-yr-old. And trying to depend on a partner WHILE doing the mothering is even more difficult for me.

I don't believe monogamy is realistic for everyone, either. Not something I believed in pre-child, btw!

Tanya | 11:47 AM

For me being a mom is WAY harder! Sometimes our marrige needs a bit of work, but not nearly the work that our kid needs. It sounds bad that i am referring to caring for my son as "work" but it really is! Everything is a battle!!! So maybe raising my kid is more like a war. If my marrige was like that we'd be long divorced. You can leave a marrige but you can't leave a kid. With my husband we can talk about things and when either of us are doing something the other doesn't like, we can talk about it. With my son it's a bit hard to talk to him when you are trying to deflect playdough and those horrible little metal cars all over a diaper change or something just as silly! SO yeah, kids ..... WAY HARDER!

A. H. | 12:08 PM

omgawd. Marriage is waaaay harder. Seeing as how I'm rather young and on my second marriage (and first baby), I understand the whole "there's a way out" mentality about marriage...and how that makes it harder for some. I really choose not to live my life that way. I kind of have the "this is the second time, so it better freakin' work" mentality. So, for me...I think it (marriage) is harder because loving a baby is SO SO SO easy!
Marriage is something you have to work at, and it is a freakin' tough thing...even when you know how lucky you are to be married to such a wonderful partner (as I am). I can get mad at him. I can yell at him. He can slam the door in my face and storm out on his way to work. I can sit and pout all day. But, there is no way you can do that with a baby...unless, like Alice says, you're a little bit crazy.
And the number one reason marriage is harder than a baby...is that babies have the incredible ability to lay their little head on your shoulder, and melt away all that anger about getting up at 3 in the a.m....hubby often gets slapped at 3 in the a.m. if he wakes me. ;)

My best advice for working on the marriage is to laugh at yourselves when you know you are being ridiculous (like that time that I yelled because he broke all the eggs on the way home from the market, and how if he'd be just a little bit more 'sensitive,' these things wouldn't happen).

Kimberly/Mom in the City | 1:00 PM

Being a mother is more difficult for me in the sense that I have to give up so much more of myself (time/energy/money/etc.) My life is definitely not my own anymore. Everything has to be scheduled. (As a "get up and go" type of person by nature, that has been the biggest challenge.) Having said that, the challenges are more than outweighed by the joys!

cocosmalls | 1:04 PM

i think being a wife required more attention and purposeful action although i am not sure what is harder. still i am always saying to myself, be nice to the hubby because if you raise your kids right they will leave you and being alone and old does not seem fun.

messyfunmommylife | 1:16 PM

Never having been married it is hard to imagine how hard it could be. I find motherhood challenging because I have little patience. I think however being a single parent has its benefits as well as disadvantages. While I don't have a partner to constantly be there to give me a hand and I dont get the support you receive in a marriage. I do get a break. When Aiden is at his fathers it gives me time to myself to be and get stuff done. I think that time almost makes me a better mother sometimes.

sheSaid.purplehouseonpearl.com | 1:29 PM

BEING A MOM!
It is inescapable, demanding, self-sacrificing.
In marriage I have a partner, in motherhood I am alone.

But relationships are hard, they require work, but becoming a mom has been even harder work for me. Harder emotionally. Feelings of failure, of being pushed to my edge and beyond. I have never been pushed like that in my marriage.

Kendra | 1:32 PM

Marriage is so much harder for me than motherhood! I think there are great mommy role models everywhere, but my only real marriage role models were my parents. And they split up just before my second was born. So I feel like I'm kind of winging it there. Plus, as you so rightly point out, there's a built in "out" of marriages, and you can't help but remember that you always have the option of leaving (and so does your spouse, which makes it hard for me to believe in "forever"). But my kids? If I leave, they die. I mean, sure, my husband is great and they have extended family and everything, but kids depend on their moms the way no one ever depends on a spouse. Plus, frankly, their cuteness makes up for lot more than my husband's sexiness can make up for!
Congratulations on the 3-month mark! I'm nursing #3 now (went over a year with the last two, and she's 10 months old now). And of all the things I knew before I was a mom, I never heard a word about how hard it was to breastfeed. Congratulations on the accomplishment, and thank you for admitting what a challenge it is. Hopefully other new moms won't feel as alone as I did if they have trouble. It's all been worth the saggy boobs and plugged ducts, though!

angela | 1:38 PM

I have a long, baggage-filled comment for my first here at GGC! My mom was married 5 times, my dad 4 (working on divorce #4 as I type). My parents were both crazy in their own ways, and my biological mom died when I was 10. So... crappy marriage and parenting role models! Though I swore off of marriage, I got together with the man who would become my husband when I was only 17 and we've been married since I was 20. We waited until I was 25 to have kid #1. Our marriage was pretty solid though we went through some hard times, but having a kid really put it to the test. It also brought forth all sorts of issues especially since I never really had a mom. So while marriage is hard, learning how to be a mom with not very much guidance was much harder for me. I'm proud to say we have two kids now and our marriage is going really well. But, man, it's tough sometimes. My advice is to remember your partner even when you are extremely tired and covered in baby vomit. Most importantly, do not try to live up to some bullshit ideal; it's different for all of us. And, for your kid's sake, if you're going to get divorced, don't put him/her in the middle. Handle your business like an adult!

EdenSky | 2:45 PM

Hmm, this is a hard question, which perhaps I'm not qualified to answer. See, I'm not married. I got pregnant at 17 and my SO would have married me if that's what I wanted ....isn't that romantic? No Thanks. I decided I would not marry him on principal, because how would I ever know if he was with me because he wanted to be, or because of the baby? Did you and Hal ever experience that kind of nagging question in the backs of your minds? We moved in together and raised that baby and now we've had another. We have grown up together really, and in so doing we have grown to love each other very much.
I don't think I'm a very easy person to be in a relationship with. I was raised by a single mother and I pretty much suck at compromising. In my world mothers made decisions concerning their kids and that was the end of the matter. That being said, I am SOOOO glad I'm not raising my kids by myself. I don't know what I'd do if there was no one to turn to when I was depressed and worn out from dealing with my first child, we might not have made it out of that first year alive if not for Adam's presence. So for me parenting is hard...marriage impossible.

clueless but hopeful mama | 2:45 PM

I find this fascinating! I have to say I agree with sheSaid.purplehouseonpearl- motherhood is way harder because I'm in it all alone and often feeling unappreciated. I can't really turn to my daughter at the end of the day and say what I really need from her. I find that my husband is a great partner and being with him has required very little change in me, I can be myself much like I was before I met him. I had to find more compromise with motherhood.

Molly | 3:00 PM

I love this topic. I really do. For me, being a mother is a million times harder than being a wife. For me, being married, particularly married to the person I'm married to, has felt like the most natural state I've ever been in. I compare it to the year that I taught skiing--by the end of that winter, I felt more normal walking around in ski boots than I did in my bare feet. In almost five years of marriage, I've never felt like the work of marriage was really work somehow, although I know we've worked at it.

The work of motherhood, however, has always felt like work to me--rewarding, amazing, incredible, and transformative work, without question, but work nevertheless. It's the work I was meant to do, but it's work.

I agree with your commenter above who said that in marriage you have a partner, whereas in motherhood you're alone.

This is such a great topic. I might write a little about it on my blog. Thanks for starting this conversation.

Denise Karis | 4:29 PM

parenthood is a lot harder.
Eric and I were both married when we were really young and it didnt work out. By the time we met each other, we already knew that marriage COULD become a 'hell-ish, nightmarish prision' and we didn't want that for us. So we didn't get married. And so far it's worked. Neither of us are in that, "You can't leave me, I'm your WIFE!" mindset - we dont take each other for granted.
In answer to one of the questions, "What makes a good wife?" I think that a good wife puts her husband before herself and a good husband puts his wife before himself. This way BOTH of them are 'first' without being selfish assholes.
Motherhood is a constant learning experience for me as well -sometimes I just look at my two year old after all the toys are played with, after all the house is cleaned and I say, "now what?"
I seriously feel like I don't know what to do with him sometimes - love him, yes. Feed him, yes. Keep him alive, yes. Entertain him... how?

maria | 5:13 PM

15 years ago, I would have said marriage was the hardest thing I had ever done. And seeing as I was a single mom for 2 years, that says ALOT. However, now that my children have and are entering young adult/ adult hood, parenting has easily taken over the top spot.

Not that I would ever "divorce" my children, even if it was allowed, but it gets tough, and it was bittersweet to send the oldest off to school 250 miles away. I know moms of 7 year olds, who finally think the hard part is over, do NOT want to read this, but it's true. The trials and tests we have been through, never knowing if what you are doing is right. If the decisions you have made were for the best, if you gave too much freedom, not enough. The list is endless, and with each child come new rules for the game.

Meanwhile, the marriage part has gotten easy. I know what to expect, when to expect it and am never surprised any more. Which is a good thing! ha

mames | 5:14 PM

hmmm, i totally do not want to sound pollyanna about this, but it is not motherhood or marriage i find the hardest....the early days with the twins were dark but that was more about ppd and less about the mothering part. i really like both (right now, anyways). i find it a lot harder to be a woman, navigating the odd currents that come with having a pair of boobs, a womb and that sense of wishing/knowing/hoping for certain things all throughout life. i am just starting to find my feet in those currents. it took until about this year of 33 to even want to.

courtney | 5:39 PM

I'm still new to the motherhood thing (my daughter is just 4 1/2 months old), but so far, I have to say that marriage is WAY harder. With Ana, my daughter, no matter what she does, I know that i LOVE her and I want to be there for her, but with my husband... sometimes I just want to kick him to the curb because my god, he's an adult, doesn't he GET ME!?

nancy | 6:14 PM

The day my kid puked several cups' worth of milk in the car, being a mom was harder.

The week my husband was in Japan with no international phone access and with his wireless internet out in the hotel, being a wife was harder.

For me, there's no clear-cut black/white answer here. Sometimes I hate being too tired to have a scintillating conversation w/ my hub because I lugged around 28 pounds of whininess all day. Sometimes, I hate that I'm barking at my son because of a fight hub and I are still in the middle of. Sometimes, the sun and moon align, and we all get along perfectly, and I know what "happy family" means.

It's just life. Life isn't always easy or always hard, and for me, there's a lot of overlap between the various compartments.

pamela | 6:51 PM

this is a great topic and for me i say marriage... hands down.
i absolutely love being a mom but i do not always love the relationship i am in. when people say relationships are work, i always think to myself... what is their definition of work??
i know you said that you and hal went to therapy. when did you decide that enough was enough and that if you didn't see someone that was it? my parents have a horrible relationship and i'm so afraid of repeating that for my daughter. i don't want her to grow up in a house with people that argue all the time... how do you prevent that?? it sounds like a simple question, but seriously. christ, i feel like i'm writing to Dear Abby!

Haley-O | 6:57 PM

Today, I definitely think parenthood is more challenging. It's just challenging on so many levels (as is marriage) -- but with marriage, you can get away. You can go to a movie if you want to; you can go to the washroom by yourself. I find parenthood's lack of me-time really difficult, especially now that my second child is totally mobile and hitting his terrible twos already at almost 16 months....

But, my kids are 3 and 1. Very hard for anyone to manage as a SAHM. I'll have more me-time when they're a little older (and I can definitely wait...!)

BUT.... I think that, when I have to stay with my in laws over passover this year, I'll be singing a different tune....

Sabrina K. | 7:18 PM

I think they're equally challenging in different ways. The "I can always leave" whisper doesn't apply to me, but I think it's generally easier to deal with an adult who is being irritating, frustrating, rude or lazy. When your child acts that way you feel guilty and sometimes you're not sure what you can do about it, whereas you'd probably just tell your husband to "grow up" and move on (you in the general sense). In that way motherhood is harder.

Marriage is harder from the aspect that you don't automatically have unconditional love for your spouse like you do a child. You could grow apart. And you sometimes have to worry about your spouse's loyalty, whereas children can never "cheat" on their mother.

Prasti | 7:39 PM

Molly put what i would have liked to say so much more eloquently.

For me, motherhood is more challenging whereas being married to my husband seemed "right." Sure we have squabbles, whatever, but we fit each other so well that it doesn't seem like work.

I think part of the challenge of being a mother for me is that I am also a full-time mom to my step-son (my husband and i also have a 2 y.o. daughter)...not that I mind it in the least. He still has a relationship w/ his bio. mom and I think I sometimes feel more under-appreciated (or less of a mom) in his eyes bcs. I'm not his "real" mom. And there's all this underlying control issues w/ his bio. mom that she pushes through him and it makes parenthood so much harder that way.

Krystal | 7:44 PM

Marriage is way harder than being a mama! My kids think Im pretty cool, my husband on the other hand I still have to impress!
Side bar thought! I ordered Rockabye, and the UPS man finely brought it to me today! I was so excited I almost kissed him when he handed over the package!

Meg | 7:49 PM

I feel that motherhood is harder. Sure, it's natural to love and nurture that child, but there are days when she drives me so insane and I can't explain that to her. I'm so afraid of screwing her up in some way or not teaching her what she should know. I worry that she doesn't eat enough vegetables and that she watches too much tv. It's constant worry, even with all that love.

Marriage is so much easier for us. We dated for years before we got married and we got all of that hardship out of the way. We are so much alike that we just work well together. I don't give a damn what he eats or how much tv he watches. I'm not worried about screwing him up. He's my rock that I lean on and his being there makes parenting easier.

kittenpie | 10:41 PM

To be honest, I have never found marriage all that hard. There are occasional nights that feel stupid, but on the whole, Misterpie and I work well together. I chafe more at motherhood because it is more constraining, more demanding, and requires more patience, something I'm not great at.

Fairly Odd Mother | 4:34 AM

Motherhood has been WAY harder. I'm with the kids 24/7, almost every day, and that kind of closeness could make anyone twitch.

My husband and I are both over 40 and I personally think that we worked out a lot of our 'issues' in previous relationships. Now, we know what we want/need and can pretty much work through what we need.

My kids? Yeah, they don't really care what I need; they just know what they need, and they need it NOW!

Candace | 6:27 AM

Well I think parenting is much harder than marriage. I feel like, most of the time anyways, that Jason and I are just on the same page and when something isn't working we just fix it. We can talk to each other and get things out in the open.

However, parenting is totally hard. Emma is only 3 months but I'm constantly freaking out that I suck at this mothering thing.

Maybe I'm not a great wife but at least when I start sucking he lets me know. I guess we have had 10 years of practice.

Tracey | 7:19 AM

Wow! A lot of different takes on this.

Personally, motherhood is harder. I mean, I hand picked my husband and said "This guy! Right here. I want to spend my life with him."

With kids, I rolled the dice and got 3 very lovely kids, for sure. But WOW. Their personalities and mine don't always meld as well as my husband's and mine do. AND, they can be taken away from me if I mess up too badly. No pressure!!!

If my husband and I disagree or even fight (rare) we are adults and on an even playing field. We can work it out. I still flounder with trying to make the best choices that aren't going to mess up my kids' heads too much...

So, for me, Being a Mom is HARDER!!
(Though I wouldn't change a thing, blah blah blah...)

Also, once they get past that sweet toddler stage, and start saying "dude!" and "Sweet!" and talking about girls, your brain starts to fizzle and fry.

bitemycookie | 7:50 AM

i will say only this: anyone with whom you are required to spend every day and every night and every minute in between is going to pose some challenges in any relationship, whether with wee folk or grown ups.

being a mom and a mate/partner are two different jobs that require full engagement from totally different facets of your body and your mind.

that said, i find that our marriage takes care of itself with much pre-emptive awareness of the other and not much work as a result. mothering is a totally different scam. 24-hours on call? the most unconditional of the the most unconditional? snap. that's some exhausting shit.

the kind of stuff to which the narcissistic, single, who-gives-a-shit, 20-year-old me could never have possibly related.

tougher than being a wife or a mother, i find it difficult to just be ME without those other two (wonderful, though not defining) monikers laying around and convoluting that crazy notion.

D | 9:18 AM

I have to say, I think parenting is harder. I have to learn all over again, how to prioritize and balance my time.

Stacy | 9:33 AM

I find motherhood much more challenging.

I was an only child, my parents divorced when I was 8, and consequently I grew up spending a lot of time alone. I liked that. I'm the kind of person who likes my space. I work best when I can give all my focus to something, when it's quiet, when I'm not distracted.

For me, marriage is pretty easy. I'm good at anticipating my husband's needs, and he's a very giving person. He's also pretty self-sufficient, as am I. I like knowing that neither of us really NEEDS the other...we're together because we enjoy each other's company, because we make each other better people...but we could certainly survive apart. That just takes so much pressure off of the relationship. I don't have to be anything for him...I'm just me, and I just do my thing, and he loves me for it.

My son, on the other hand, does not understand that mommy needs space. That relationship is more all-consuming, and children by their very nature are selfish creatures. It's all about him (as it should be...I mean, he's a toddler!), and I find that a lot harder to deal with at times. While it's natural for me to love him and want the best for him and do anything I can to protect him and make him happy, it's not as natural for me to be so self-sacrificing of my time, my sleep, etc.

I find the demands of motherhood much harder to deal with than the demands of marriage. But then again, my husband is amazingly laid-back and low-maintenance, while my toddler is...well...a toddler!

Mamalang | 10:23 AM

Marriage is hard, and I admire both you and Hal for working so hard to make it work. In today's world, that seems so rare.

I think which is harder relates to the stage of life your child is in. And sometimes, it's easier to ignore your spouse, because they are an adult and can handle it, when your child can not.

But both are hard, and both are awesome.

Anonymous | 10:46 AM

I have been reading your blog for quite some time and have never really understood or could relate to your POV on marriage. You have always used the qualifier that you and Hal didn't know each other before you married, but I met and married my husband in two months' time and pregnancy didn't come until five years after wedding vows.

Specifically, the whole "monogamous is difficult" baffles me. Are you and I made of different stuffs? Have you been in love and been able to stray? Because I haven't. When I'm in love I'm like Cher in Clueless whenever another man hits on me, "As if!!!" And it's so more profoundly so with my husband. As if anyone one else could compare to my husband. As if anyone one else could capture me so completely. As if anyone one else could tap my ass like he does.

Sorry, but I've been curious about this for quite some time (at least I've given you a new blog post topic).

As far as your question, I find both equally hard. I'm a better mother because I'm a wife. I'm a better wife because I'm a mother. I, however, had five years with my husband before we became parents and know that I will have (God willing) decades with him once they leave the nest. We are our childrens' guides until they can negotiate on their own, but we are each other's bashert forever.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 11:24 AM

Interesting. I guess I just don't expect anyone to have eyes only for me... I've never been jealous of Hal checking out other chicks, for instance and don't feel that sex and love are one in the same. I don't like the idea of people belonging to one another and would feel smothered if Hal thought the world revolved around me... I'm in full agreement that nobody could "tap my ass the way he does"... I won't go into TMI but Hal's for sure the sexiest dude I know. He's a stud, he is, but OF COURSE I fantasize about other dudes from time to time just like he fantasizes about other girls. I think it's insane that so many people find a problem with that... with their husbands or boyfriends watching porn, flirting with other women, etc... I feel like in a secure relationship we should be able to feel comfortable with each other's need to stay mammalian... and realistic that love does not mean "eyes only for"... Not for most people, anyway.

I guess for me, love doesn't mean gazing longingly into someone's eyes for eternity.

As for our marriage? Having a baby after knowing someone for a year is hard. We were married for three months before Archer was born -- show me someone who had a baby with someone they just met (and gotten married during pregnancy) who didn't have a hard time with that adjustment. I was also young. And in no way looking for love, let alone marriage and certainly not motherhood. It all happened at once and my world was turned upside down. But Archer? He CAME from me and I never felt resentment for him like I did Hal when times were tough.

I think Hal and me, both, weren't the "marrying type" persay and suddenly we woke up and were like "fuck. we're married. fuck."

Also...

"tougher than being a wife or a mother, i find it difficult to just be ME without those other two (wonderful, though not defining) monikers laying around and convoluting that crazy notion."

Nail on the head BMC, my love. I think the hardest part about being married is also the hardest part about being a mother: you are no longer YOU singular... and that's hard for those of us who always identified as independent wanderers.

I will say this: today? My marriage is a piece of cake. I just needed to get my ducks in a row. Still, I'd day keeping the peace in my marriage is more difficult than keeping the peace as a mother. For now. I'm pretty sure these things are constantly changing...

Interesting comments, you guys. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous | 12:35 PM

"each other's need to stay mammalian"

See that's not a "need" my husband and I have in terms of other people. We are both pretty hot and so got the attention from others (once from the same guy on the same night, which we still laugh about), but when we got together and since we've been together, it's as though our brains turned on to each other and turned off others. Almost as if my brain chemistry altered to no longer pick up another's man's pheromones. The degree of bonding you have with Archer and Fable, my husband and I have with each other. It's a different sort of bonding, but it's like it. I've read some of BMC's blog and her marriage seems (from what one can glean from blogs) more like mine than you and Hal's.

I know I am in a marriage that is the exception rather than the general rule, but it may be a wiring difference- http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/01/04/true.love.found/index.html

Dh and I have been married well over a decade now.

P.S. My word verification is "hally".

bmconlyhaseyesforggc | 12:39 PM

i love you, mybecca.

Talina | 4:30 PM

I am just becoming a mother this summer so I have nothing to compare to yet but I would think the marriage would be harder.

Vodka Mom | 5:42 PM

marriage is very hard work. It's a lifetime commitment (hopefully) and it has high high's and low lows.

But, it takes work.

dammit.

EdenSky | 6:48 PM

Wow,
"show me someone who had a baby with someone they just met (and gotten married during pregnancy) who didn't have a hard time with that adjustment. I was also young. And in no way looking for love, let alone marriage and certainly not motherhood. It all happened at once and my world was turned upside down."
This pretty much sums up my life perfectly...bar the minor detail that we decided NOT to get married because I also happen to share your stance on the undesirableness of "belonging" to someone. It never occured to me that we could get married without that. Maybe this is why the relationship wasn't all that hard for us. Early on we were both focused on the baby, and not having to work on a marriage made that a bit easier since we didn't feel trapped together, instead we were partners who chose to stay together because that's what we both wanted for our baby. We learned to compromise and work as a team, but didn't feel the crushing need to Make Our Relationship Work. If it didn't work out we could go our separate ways without the mess of divorce. As luck would have it we grew to know and love each other more and more over time and we now consider ourselves to be in a long-term, committed relationship. Any 2 people living together will rub each other the wrong way from time to time, but I don't find this to be anywhere near as stressful as taking care of a child's physical, spiritual, and emotional needs. Yes, loving them is easy, but sometimes just getting through the hours before nap-time is pretty darn hard!

The Slick Mom | 8:01 PM

I believe mothering is harder. With motherhood there's never a moment off. It's a 24/7, 365 thing. When you're a wife, although you are in it the same, you can check out for periods. You can take off for a few days or a night with no worries. It's not as much work in my eyes. My husband can feed himself, dress himself, drive himself to work... My child can't.

t | 11:34 PM

go away "anonymous"! guess what, we love ggc here, we happen to think she fucking rocks. we think she's an incredible, awesome inspirational mom and the type of wife that inspires us to be kind to our husbands. take ur perfect marriage that doesn't even exist some place else. can you say JEALOUS? sorry rebecca, i'm sure u don't want that kind of bickering on ur blog but she just got under my skin.

Little Miss Moi | 2:13 AM

Oh my gosh. this is a real wake up call for me. I'm soooo baby orientated that i haven't even really thought about our marriage - it just plods along. At the moment, with a four month old and no family around (except on Skype!) i find it a zillon times easier to be a wife than a mother...

jane | 9:02 AM

ditto 't'! go away anonymous. we get it your awesome, hot and perfect.

bitemycookie | 10:19 AM

heh. anonymous. unless you and your husband are a couple of pheromone-huffing oversexed adulteenagers who assess every single person (of the opposite sex) in the room for fuckablity -- and at the most inappropriate times -- and then sit around discussing it ad nauseum, you probably don't want to going around saying your marriage is much like mine. especially since im not hot.

you have NO IDEA how many times a day i have to listen about all of the really, very dirty things my husband tells me he wants to (and intends to, so arm yourself, bec) do to rebecca. sounds kinda hot, actually.

your mother would not approve. mine certainly wouldn't.

Juggle Jane | 10:38 AM

Since I am in the middle of a divorce, I'm gonna say marriage is/was much harder for me. I never thought I would take to motherhood as easily as I have - there was never an adjustment period. It was the most natural transition in the world.
Marriage on the other hand...not so much.

Anonymous | 10:59 AM

This is going to be the meanest thing you've ever heard. Delete now if you aren't feelin' it. But, the reason you need those crushes is because you get off on external validation. It's not exactly healthy honey, it's insecure.

Toodles.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 11:26 AM

It's amazing how the anonymous so always get me.

mothergoosemouse | 11:39 AM

First off - Bec, you have my greatest admiration for all that you have accomplished, professionally and personally.

BMC is dead on (not surprisingly). A major reason I knew I wanted to marry Kyle was that I could stand to have him around 24/7. We meshed together very well in that regard, right from the start.

That said, because I prefer a lot of alone time - which is a major luxury in motherhood, especially for someone with three kids - being a mother is harder for me. The demands, the needs, the NOISE - it's rough.

The upside is that I expected motherhood to be far less rewarding than it has been. So while it often takes a toll, it gives back so much more.

Woman on the Verge | 11:55 AM

I would say equally hard although I AM presently going through a divorce...ahem.
They can both be challenging but as I'm finding out, being in an unhappy and miserable marriage makes parenting much more difficult. The added stress of the relationship cuts down on your patience big time and even though you may think you're keeping it away from your kids, you really aren't and it's easy to unwittingly take it out on the little people in your life.
As far as myself, I'm happier, less stressed and a much better mom because I left his ass.
Thankssomuchhaveaniceday.

bluejeanamy | 11:55 AM

it's not healthy to enjoy external validation? that's insane.

of course you need to dig yourself without it - but denying that some eye contact with the latte boy feels good? that’s pretty ridiculous. i’m married and quite in love with my husband – but i’m not dead! if i’m looking hot and someone recognizes it – it’s nice. simple as that.

thanks, becca, for being candid/normal/kick-ass.

She Likes Purple | 11:58 AM

I'm not a mother yet (any day now, though!) but after reading some comments, I do have some things to add about marriage.

I do have a slight problem with people who think as soon as they said "I do" their eyes (and the eyes of their partner) became securely locked on one another and there will never be a need to look at another person. I find that unrealistic and, also, insecure. If I was threatened by my husband going to a strip club for a bachelor party or admiring another woman's physical appeal or finding a celebrity fantasy-worthy, then what does that say about us? If those trivial things could crack our foundation, was it really all that strong to begin with? I spent years as a very jealous person because of my crippling insecurities and it's what lead me to say to past boyfriends, "Don't look at her! Don't have female friends! Don't be turned on by anyone but me!" I thought that was the only way to really be sure he wouldn't cheat or betray me but ... see ... someone isn't going to cheat because you weren't jealous or controlling enough, you know? They're going to cheat or stray (for the most part, I don't think it's entirely black and white) because of a flaw (usually not a physical flaw) in the relationship. And I've been in relationships and seen relationships where that flaw was insecurity that dictated what one person should or shouldn't do if they were really "in love". (The kind of thinking that leads one to say, "You wouldn't go out with your friends if you REALLY loved me." Which is so unhealthy, in my opinion.)

I also think these grand romantic declarations that "I only have eyes for my partner, the end" aren't really strengthening our culture's view on relationships and marriage. I don't want my husband to spend his every waking moment staring into my eyes. I'd like him to support my passions, listen to me when I talk, laugh with me and give me space to enjoy my friends and personal interests. I don't want a marriage where it's all rainbows and sunshine because how does that challenge me to grow as a woman/person? How does that really strengthen me or make me into someone I can be proud of. Someone my children can be proud of.

In short, I completely understand your point of view, Rebecca, and I not only find it refreshing, I find it ridiculously important.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 12:03 PM

I fucking love you, SLP. You totally just inspired my next post. As soon as I can get my baby to remove her mouth from my boob.

My husband doesn't and shouldn't be expected to give me "everything" I need. I'm a complex person with complex needs -- beyond my marriage and children. And THANK GOD. There are too many great conversations, moments, life experiences to be had on the other side of the tracks.

Issas Crazy World | 12:31 PM

So I'm confused now...I've been married almost 10 years and I'm not supposed to dream about Will Smith or Michael Weatherly? Not gonna happen. I think saying that you are married and now have blinders on to anyone else is just not logical. Now that being said, one man is enough for me. He's a lot of work.

For me personally, it depends on the day. There are days when being a wife is tough shit. There are days when I find mothering to be so difficult. Especially in the beginning. Mostly though, those days come from me having issues with being me, when I am feeling insecure in my own skin, feeling like I've lost myself in all of them and I start to feel resentful.

Mostly though, I am just plain thankful for my husband and kids. I think I have it pretty lucky.

Little Miss Moi | 12:46 PM

I hear was She Likes Purple says. I met my husband when I was 21 and loved myself and my life. I was so happy with who I was, the was 'the coolest person I knew' (not really, but you know!)

Unfortunately, caring for someone as much as i care for my husband turned me into that little jealous demon. Not quite so bad as SLP says, but still a little resentful of time spent away from me. This was also in part because we moved interstate and had to rebuild a circle of friends, and he made great friends through work, while I didn't. I became the uncoolest person I knew, and I think I am still recovering from that.

Fast forward a few years, and I was making great friends at work, while he was in a new job and didn't have great friends there, and jealousy reared its head in Mr Moi.

Now we operate on a nice balance, been together almost eight years. It's a nice coexistence - probably a bit too comfortable at times, but living in Ukraine has really sapped any romance (in the non-kissy romantic sense) from our lives. Our marriage is a comfortable place to be in this city that saps inspiration and energy from the best people I know.

That being said, we openly admire beautiful women or hot guys to each other. But, we've never viewed marriage as a contract of belonging to one another. We just viewed it as a declaration to the world that we love one another.

Ugh enough blethering soppy crap! Sorry!

Rita Arens | 1:36 PM

Hoo, boy. My love in life and I just got through a rough patch, and we realized that rough patch was caused partly because since the little angel was born, we've focused almost all our energy on being good parents and not enough on being good friends and lovers. Since realizing that, we've spend many nights on the couch talking about we want from this thing called marriage and have realized that at the end of the day, we still very much want to be together.

I believe every single day you wake up and choose your spouse. Yeah, we said our vows on the beach seven years ago, but I chose him again this morning. I choose him every day. I can't go through life thinking I am trapped by something I said when I was 28. I have to still want and need it now. And I do, very much I do.

Karen ~ | 2:48 PM

I was married for 17 years, have been a mom for nearly 15, and since I am still the latter but not the former I say marriage is harder. But I do'nt think in general that has to be the rule -- my marriage died peacefully in its sleep, we have been told many, many times that we are "role models" on how to get divorced because we kept the kids central, we never bad-mouth each other, and we continue to celebrate all the family holidays and events together. So for ME, and how weird is this, divorce is the easiest of all!

Perhaps because in the marriage, I think I did lose my own identity and now that I have it back, I am such a happier person. When I read the comments that talk about the comfort of a good marriage, I am jealous because I didn't have that.

My dream is have a marriage that is so easy I don't even have to think about it.

B | 2:49 PM

I think this topic is great (I totally stole it) and I second SLP. Your view is refreshing and in my opinion pretty damn realistic.

P.S. Good on you for just leaving anon's comment. It only make s/him look like a junior high jackass.

Candace | 3:17 PM

Everyone already knows that anonymous is a troll right??? Remember as a kid when your parents told you to ignore the bully and they would lose interest, I believe that applies here too! It is so obviously a 13 year old boy trying to get some moms is a tizzy!

Serial Mommy | 10:59 PM

i've been divorced once and i have since remarried...being a wife is hands down much harder than being a parent..with being a parent, you are raising and shaping your kids in to the adults you hope they will be, the kind of adults you want to interact with, however when you are married, you are thrust in to a relationship with someone who was raised VERY differently than you (just having different parents makes it VERY different, other similarities aside) and you have to learn to co exist in a peaceful manner...some times you can find the way to make it work, some times you can't....it does take work, at lot more than raising kids (even extremely challenging kids) and a lot of compromise for both of you...however, when it's right, it's all worth it in the end...by the way, i'm in therapy now, just me, i'm rather screwed up, and i'm there because i recognized that it is what i needed to make my marriage work...trust me, he works at it too, just more at home...

Scott | 1:20 AM

Well I've never been married, and I have no children. This wouldn't be so unusual, except that I will be 43 in March! But maybe we're not meant for marriage. After all, the institution of marriage was not developed for love, but for security, possession, and tribal alliances. Marriage is a creation of man, not God.

Sometimes I think an institution of serial monogamy would be more practical. In this plan, vows would not be taken "for as long as you both shall live," but for a set number of years (7-10). Then each spouse would marry a different one for another 7-10 years--resulting in several consecutive wives in each man's life, and several consecutive husbands in each woman's life.

The primary flaw of this plan is confusion for the children ("What happened to my real mommy/real daddy?"). The secondary flaw is that love is not practical!

Melissa | 7:19 PM

Motherhood is harder for me. I had lots of experience with other kids, but not this kid and he's way harder. He needs a lot more from me a lot more of the time than my partner.

My man and I aren't married, but because we met in our 40s, we were already settled and clear about what we wanted. We get along really well and we have a much better relationship than almost all of my married friends! I never thought it would be this easy.

Anonymous | 3:07 PM

They're both hard. But it's easier being married after living together for a year or so and waiting five years after we were married to have children.
That way, we got to know each other well, we got to travel all we wanted. Australia! Tahiti! Europe! India!
And we had good careers underway, a beautiful home that we own and money set aside for our babies.
Of course, I was 30 when my eldest was born so I wasn't mistaken for his big sister when we went to the playground, but so what?

pinksundrops | 5:49 PM

Aw, I loved reading this. Marriage is hard as hell, and I love when people can freely admit that they have been through hell and back and are still together. Myself included!!

Nina | 2:02 PM

I get you on the monogamy is hard front. I've been relationshiped for four years, married for 2 and three quarters...we have a baby... and I am happy where I am but I still miss flings. I miss the possibilities of flings, the thrill of having a new lover. But it is what it is.

Having said all that though, I found motherhood soooooooooooooo much harder than marriage.

I think ultimately because my husband is a reasonable human being even when he is being a blockhead, and I can walk away from him. And then we can talk things out and apologise. We can talk things out and make compromises and negotiate.

My son? Not so much. His (highly effective) negotiation strategy consists mainly of screamingness.

Marriage may have restricted some of my life's possibilities, and that made and makes me a little wisful sometimes, but I'm fine with it. On the other hand I experienced motherhood as a sort of tyranny and HATED a lot of it and lived for moments when people came to take the baby off my hands and I could just be ME again, without an inconsolable limpet attached to me.

So, husband easier than son. Because unlike son, husband cooks me dinner when I've had a hard day. also because he can entertain himself and go to sleep without any help from me.

foodiemama | 2:05 PM

hmmm... neither are any harder than the other for me. They just are part of my life. i suppose i could analyze them to death but where would that get me. i think the most important thing is happiness-my role as a partner and a mother both make me happy. Getting over the initial shock of being pregnant-having that take the whole lonely 9 months- that was hard and hard for our relationship despite being together for 8 yrs when i got knocked up. Now? they are both wonderful. We aren't married legally. we aren't religious so it holds no meaning to us. Being together always felt right- its always been what i never knew i wanted. we make no expectations of each other. we love each other as people who are different and who could never imagine themselves apart. we work well and adding the kid made it even stronger but it took some shaking out the kinks to get there. we all have our difference in opinions of relationships and what we want and that's hopefully how we find someone to click with. if we're happy i don't care what makes us a couple or family its just us. together. laughing and farting.

Anonymous | 7:29 PM

Marriage is way harder. In my opinion, teaching relationship skills should be #1 in high school as having a successful relationship can really contribute or take away from one's happiness. And keeping families intact is of paramount importance. I gotta level with you, I've been married 3 times, always well-meaning and wanting to believe in true love and happily-ever-after but I either picked the wrong man to marry or just didn't know how to deal with issues (or see them coming!). Still with #3 though it hasn't been easy, the older I get the more I think I have finally figured things out, but OH NO I HAVEN'T!!! As for children, yeah they can tear your heart out and make you crazy at times, but when you know that what you do will impact them forever, you do your best to love them unconditionally.

Anonymous | 9:09 AM

I agree with everything you said. Especially the whole couple and foreverness thing! Couples therapy is good. Everyone should workshop things every once in a while.

Being a wife is nuts and is one of the hardest jobs EVER! I work outside the home and have a pretty successful and demanding career. My husband likes the financial security of that and the upgrades we can get flying first class but is ready to nominate me for worst mom of the year when I get home 10 minutes late and I receive a sharp tongue lashing about not taking this mom thing seriously. Seriously, I breast feed my kid the first 4 months of her life, feed, clothe, make her laugh and found her an amazing bff (nanny) who couldn't love her any more than I do. So why do I suck at being wife? The juggle and struggle is like nothing I ever expected and constantly surprises me. Thoughts? Feelings? Bueller?

Also, wife and mother don't define me totally. It has definitely taken some edge off of me in both good and bad ways but I like being Mom and am as proud of my chicklet as my Mom is of me and my sibs and as I know my sister is of her chickens.

Despite being married but waiting a longggggggasssssssssss time to do so, I come at the whole marriage thing as a cynic and don't necessarily believe that we could or may be together forever or that we are soulmates. My husband thinks we are soulmates and makes that declaration all the time. And I question that. I know I love him enough to have a child(ren) together. We are both committed to not make the same mistakes our parents made or replicating their marriage. We are both painfully aware of that and call each other on it all the time. Bottomline: try to better. check.

That said, growing up with a mother who spends her non-sleeping hours helping to save those people who's lives are no longer meant to be makes me pretty comfortable with the idea of leaving and knowing that I can be happy or happier on my own too.

I have friends who were married 10 -15 years ago that are at a very unhappy place (to put it mildly) in their marriage and trying to find some happiness, self-respect and show their kids how to define and find happiness. For me that is the $1M question. What really is a happy marriage? Thoughts? Feelings?

Off my soap box and will stop my ranting.

Connie | 6:00 PM

For me, no contest. Being a Mom is way harder. To begin with, kids take a very long time to reach the age of reason. :) I've raised 4 kids out of the home, so I"ve been there. :) Interesting post,though.

Anonymous | 2:08 PM

For me, motherhood is harder. I chose to be with my husband, but I have these 3 personalities that I *didn't* choose, hanging around all the time! My patience is tried like never before. As someone else said, my husband can dress himself and get himself a cup of milk, unlike my 3 children. :D

I don't think "there's a way out" of my marriage. I think of it as the escape from my mothering! If I could only just be with the person I chose... our time is so short together, since our children are so young. I know, I know, in a few years, I'll be begging my children to acknowledge me on the way to the bus stop in the mornings. But, now, I'd like just a few minutes to use the bathroom by myself. Pleeeze?

-DQ

Rock It | 6:26 PM

So I can't wait to read your book...honestly I feel like I can relate to you so much. But at the same my story is so full of drama...but it's so funny how everything works out...I find being in a relationship much tougher although sometimes I don't know what to do as a mom.

Jenny O | 11:23 AM

I was so glad you linked to this post in today's post. It is unfortunately apropos to my marriage at the moment and I'm hoping that I can take in some of the comments to help me understand my husband better. I was feeling at one with everyone bashing the anonymous troll and then they said something that I have definitely thought - if not actually said out loud - at my husband: that his need for flirtations and attention is because he's insecure and desperate for validation.

Granted, he has been making noises about wanting an open relationship, so our current tentative compromise that he can flirt and carry on by email and occasional phone calls is going much farther than the checking out of hot latte boys/girls that other commenters are describing. It's a daily struggle with myself to understand that as you say perhaps monogamy is not natural; we all have natural mammalian urges; as a comment I read elsewhere said, "You would support the one you love in other urges they have towards happiness, why stifle them here?".

But it is so hard to discern where happy-ever-after monogamy is bred into me, and how much of it is actual pain to my psyche at my husband's desire to share physical and emotional intimacy with others. The little voice in my head says "If he wants to have physical and emotional intimacy with other women, how does our relationship differ from that? How does this make me not just one of many?"

OK THANKS FOR THE FREE THERAPY. Keep doing what you're doing, it's lovely.