The Reality of Married With Kids: Is it worth getting married?

“I hate that you are right,” My friend with her gorgeous dark loose curls sat across from me, bringing her latte up to her glossy lips, meekly suggesting something I already knew.

She had gotten married. About a year prior. During our friendship, I had let it slip out that I found weddings to be depressing. “You’re watching this huge production knowing one of the two walking down the aisle is making the biggest mistake of their lives.” I hadn’t meant to be offensive, only honest. I’ve made these comments for years.

Is it worth getting married?

At the age of 10, I was learning about stocks and bonds. Interest rates, dividends, and how the market fluctuates. I also discovered what was included in a marriage contract. I remember after understanding the significant implications of what it meant to be married, I looked at my mom and murmur, “this is a bad business deal for me.”

married with kids
truth about marriage

My ultimate reason for not wanting to race down to city hall to sign a legally binding contract is, “there’s only two ways out: death or divorce. Quite frankly, neither sound appealing.”

“I don’t want to be right.” I say as I sip my oat milk latte. It doesn’t make me happy to be right about this. My viewpoint and outlook on marriage is depressing. I’m the first to admit it, but I also cannot deny what I’ve seen.

“We’re struggling,” She admits. “We might move out of Manhattan to see if more room will help.” I listen to her as she explains in detail what’s been occurring since the wedding. The details for me are never important. It’s how much the personality has changed.

Having witnessed enough engagements, weddings, and child births, I started tracking at what point my friends and family lose themselves. Further collection data on the ultimate question, is it worth getting married? Sometimes the change in personality was immediately after the engagement. Others it’s after the second kid. They were once bubbly, full of dreams, passions, energy, excitement to try new things. To a blank faces with low enthusiasm that masks the stress and anxiety that boiled underneath.

I don’t hate the concept of marriage and having kids, I purely dislike the reality of it.

Is it worth getting married: The Stats

  1. Cost of Raising a Child: The average cost of raising a child from birth to age 17 is estimated to be around $233,610 for a middle-income family.
  2. Median Household Income: The median household income in the U.S. was approximately $68,700 in 2021.
  3. Unmarried Women Without Children: Research indicates that unmarried women without children report high levels of happiness and life satisfaction. A study by Paul Dolan, a professor of behavioral science at the London School of Economics, found that women who are single and childless tend to be happier and live longer compared to their married and child-rearing counterparts.
  4. Married Women with Children: On the other hand, married women with children often report lower levels of daily happiness due to the demands of marriage and parenthood, although many also report finding deep meaning and purpose in family life.
  5. Homicide: A significant portion of intimate partner homicides involves current spouses (husbands or wives). However, the specific percentage of women murdered by their husbands alone (excluding other intimate partners) is generally around 30% to 40% of all female homicides.
  6. The national average cost of a wedding in the U.S. was approximately $30,000 in 2023.
  7. Average divorce: The average cost of a divorce in the U.S. is approximately $15,000 to $20,000. This figure includes attorney fees, court costs, and other expenses such as mediation or expert fees.

Are the pros worth the cons? Does this even help answer is it worth getting married anymore? Many a few personal experiences will help elaborate on the current temperature of marriage and child bearing.

Confessions I’ve heard

is it worth getting married
is it worth getting married

These are confessions I’ve heard through the years. Sitting with my friends as they breakdown the reality of their current situations. Not once did I ask for these confessions, they kind of fell out of their mouths and onto my listening ear. I wish I had a single confession that exclaimed how happy and fulfilled they felt being married and a mom. But as of right now, that hasn’t occurred. Instead it’s:

“I don’t think marriage is for me,” another friend mentioned off the cuff. She had three different weddings, which to me is always a red flag. Eloped, court house, and then one for the family.

“We said things I don’t think we could ever recover from,” yet another whispered while rocking her baby. Later after a round of margaritas it was also announced she is having an emotional affair.

“I googled when does this get easier.” A colleague who just gave birth and confessed over coffee. Yet on her social media, it looks like the most perfect family unit.

“He buys all this crap with my money. He can’t even pack the kid’s lunch. I had to prepare a week’s worth of food before leaving to help my sister.” All the signs were there for this one, but for some reason it took the second child to be born for the confessions to start pouring out.

“He’s a narcissist. Did you know?” This was a confession from the first person I watched drastically change after the wedding. Yes, I did know.

Sadly, these friendships dissolved (and most of their marriages did too). Not because I wanted them too. Not because I hadn’t tried to save them. But because I became the inescapable punching bag for their misery that forced me to leave these friendships behind. That’s the other part of being married with kids, you will lose friends.

But why not kids?

“I understand you don’t want to get married, but don’t you want kids?” a common question.

In order to understand my perspective a bit better, know this. I’ve raised humans. I was a kid raising my parents and brother. My ancestors had a very similar cycle of kids raising everyone in the family. You understand first hand, how exhausting, demanding, and unthankful the job is. You do it out of pure love, it is rewarding when and if they head down the right path. But it’s not easy and most often not fun.

In my opinion, I think it is also our responsibility to take into consideration the current state of the world. We are running out of water. Climates are hitting new temperatures that are unlivable. Production of food is drastically impacted. Crime has increased. Literacy has decreased. Wars are ongoing. Is this a state in which new life should even be created? I think about how hard my life has been, it’s only going to be more challenging for them.

All and all these are my opinions

I love kids. Heck, I love love. I’m also essentially grateful that most people don’t see the world like I do, because it would make life boring. I’m glad to know there are successful marriages out there, and also joy in having kids. The few parents I have seen from afar who have gotten it right were very realistic about what it means to be married and raising kids from the start. But is it worth getting married?

I am not sure, but I do think of how many lives could have been saved if we started making it acceptable to not be married or have kids. From lower homicide rates, to lower depression levels, to less financial disasters.

If there’s one thing to take away from this article I hope it is this: being married with kids is only one of the limitless pathways you can choose for yourself. Reflect on your core values, and make a decision that is aligned with what makes you fulfilled and ultimately happy. Who cares what the rest will think.

Written by Ellese Launer.


Marriage and Divorce Statistics

  1. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). “Marriage Rates in the United States, 2020.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed May 28, 2024.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Births: Final Data for 2021.” Accessed May 28, 2024.
  3. U.S. Census Bureau. “Living Arrangements of Children Under 18 Years Old: 2021.” Accessed May 28, 2024.
  4. U.S. Census Bureau. “Income and Poverty in the United States: 2021.” Accessed May 28, 2024.
  5. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). “Expenditures on Children by Families, 2017.” Accessed May 28, 2024.
  6. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). “Crime in the United States, 2020.” Accessed May 28, 2024.
  7. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “Child Maltreatment 2020.” Accessed May 28, 2024.

Mental Health and Quality of Life

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Children’s Mental Health.” Accessed May 28, 2024.
  2. U.S. Census Bureau. “Household Pulse Survey.” Accessed May 28, 2024.

Intimate Partner Violence

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS).” Accessed May 28, 2024.

Cost of Divorce

  1. Nolo. “How Much Does a Divorce Cost?” Nolo. Accessed May 28, 2024.
  2. Forbes. “How Much Does a Divorce Cost?” Forbes. Accessed May 28, 2024.
  3. LegalZoom. “How Much Does a Divorce Cost on Average?” LegalZoom. Accessed May 28, 2024.

Cost of Weddings

  1. The Knot. “The Knot 2023 Real Weddings Study.” The Knot. Accessed May 28, 2024.
  2. WeddingWire. “How Much Do Weddings Cost?” WeddingWire. Accessed May 28, 2024.
  3. Brides. “How Much Does the Average Wedding Cost?” Brides. Accessed May 28, 2024.

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