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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Nanyang Tech chapter.

Recently, I have come across a number of Tiktoks on how couples with children often lose romantic feelings for one another when children enter the picture. Take this Tiktok for example, which takes a study from this article on Guardian about how childless couples are significantly happier than couples with children. 

Childless couples often report higher marital satisfaction and feel more valued in their relationship. It is possible that when their children are born, they become first priority and demand full attention, leaving little to no room for quality time among couples. Despite this, the study shows that women without children are the least happy and women with children are the happiest; this is a common sentiment across the board. Some mothers say that though their marriages have failed it, at the very least, gifted them with children, and that is what matters. I feel this sentiment is particularly strong for mothers and daughters, as we understand the pains of being a woman; the constraints of marriage, or devaluation one can feel as a person just meant to produce children, not forgetting the stress one undergoes to raise them, run a household, perhaps leaving personal aspirations and dreams unfulfilled. From a child’s perspective, the sad irony is that we would rather them be happy and fulfilled instead of being born. 

Michelle Obama once shared, she “couldn’t stand” Barack Obama for the first 10 years after the birth of her daughters. It is rather unanimous that marriages are unsatisfactory until their children grow to about pre-teens. There’s no doubt that children require attention and care, and parents often feel a huge responsibility on their shoulders. Sometimes, that pressure, stress and obligations can cause couples to take out their frustrations on each other. Child-rearing is no easy feat, and it can be easy to start measuring tasks and comparing who is contributing more, which leads to resentment, bitterness and anger between a couple. As Michelle Obamamentioned, marriage isn’t 50-50, and neither are relationships. 

The debate about  50-50 has been ongoing within the Tiktok community and in daily conversations, and has specifically been narrowed down to the finances. If feminism fights for women’s equality then shouldn’t the relationship be held financially accountable at 50-50? However, historically, women have been financially and socially disadvantaged. Even though we are slowly closing the gender pay gap, women still earn an average of 82% of what men earn, as of 2022. Is it fair then, to ask them to shoulder the same amount of financial burden? This is just one of the many aspects of a relationship that can’t be 50-50. Relationships can never be equal or balanced in such calculative senses; as life naturally has its ups and downs, there will be times where one partner will have to contribute more than the other, and resentment towards this should not build. Instead, it is about expectations and understanding, giving and receiving. 

In our society, building a family is a societal obligation that is salient. Policies like HDBs, insurance, health, bank accounts and more are all tied intrinsically to family support. For example, without a spouse, you can’t get a house in Singapore until you’re 35. There is a constant, almost all-present atmosphere that pressures one to find a partner. Sometimes, we find a partner for the sake of it, even when you do not like the person. Adding children into the mix, that dislike is only amplified by the stress and obligations of child-rearing, and the initial good feelings are lost in the chaos, whereby children seemingly result in love lost between a couple. 

However, it’s not really the children that causes love between a couple to be lost is it? More often than not, it seems like children are blamed for their parents’ poor marital relationship or failed marriages, which leads to some wishing they were never born to prevent the unhappiness caused. Fundamentally, I believe it is how the couple copes with the additional responsibilities of having children;a simple thank you, or a dinner date once in a while is more than enough to spice the relationship upa little and bring it to life. The breakdown of relationships after having children reflects more on the couple’s efforts and commitment to work on their relationship, rather than the effect of having children. 

Ironically, what is supposed to be a product of love has become the very catalyst of many marriage breakdowns. This, however, is a superficial observation. The real issue lies in the matters of respect, understanding, commitment and expectations that can only be negotiated and solved between a couple, and not by their by-products. 

Emmy Kwan

Nanyang Tech '25

The embodiment of a "material gworl" but with no money, if she isn't complaining about capitalism, the economy or the patriarchy, you can find Emmy in the aisles of a clothing store, ironically selling her soul to the corporations she often critiques.