R JFF: What Is More "Work" or Harder- Marriage or Parenting

Updated on July 11, 2015
R.B. asks from Frisco, TX
24 answers

I too sometimes say "marriage is work" but usually I'll catch myself and say something like you have to make time for it or be intentional about it. I wouldn't feel this way if we didn't have kids. Foeme, marriage before kids and w/o kids seems like a,cake walk to me. I am curious what is harder / more work to you: marriage or parenting ?

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Just curious what people's perspectives are...for me parenting is a challenge almost every single day. I have a good spouse so our relationship has always been the easy part. Not to say we haven't has our share of life's curve balls (layoffs, special needs kids etc ) .

Featured Answers



answers from Boston on

Marriage, but my husband has an untreated intermittent mood disorder, a personality disorder, ADHD, sexual identity questions and a wandering eye. The 4 kids combined are a piece of cake compared to dealing with him.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

Hmm. Tough one!

Thing is, parenthood is no longer a choice once you've hopped on that wagon....marriage still is.

for me? Its an ebb and flow situation. At first? Marriage was harder. Had a kid, parenting was harder. As he's gotten older/easier, marriage. Then the terrible twos: parenting. Now I'm pregnant again: everything is hard haha.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

Raising kids is way more work.

Marriages should be easy. I never understood the whole "marriage is hard" thing. My friends who have amazing marriages may have their struggles, but having a partner to share life's loads cancels that out imo. My husband was a piece of work and a cheater so I'm divorced. But before him I had lots of great long-term relationships. They made life so much easier and more fun than being single. I don't think loving, adult relationships are all that hard if both people are being good partners, and if the relationships are that hard they probably need to end. That's just been my own experience though, I know the "marriage is hard" mantra is probably there for a reason...

Kids are a huge and ongoing and rewarding challenge though-especially with no husband!!! :)

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Boston on

Well, the snarky is that both are difficult because neither kids nor husbands are all that mature sometimes! (This presumably is not a problem in lesbian marriages, right?) LOL.

You're kind of stuck with your kids, so you may put in more work because there's no choice, no divorce option. But then again, you're the authority figure and the final arbiter on decisions, and ideally you have a partner in parenting with your spouse. But I also think parenting is tough if the 2 parents don't agree (either within the marriage or in the case of separation).

One of the reasons parenting is more challenging is that, if our kids act up, we think it's a reflection on us. If our spouse is an idiot, we say it's the person's fault alone and not a reflection on our bad "spousing".

But I think a lot of us neglect our marriages when our kids come along, saying we'll get to it later. We forget that we're supposed to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first (either with "Mom time" or "marriage time"), and then take care of the kids.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I say marriage. I am on my second marriage. The older I get, the more I realize how wonderful life is if you have a great marriage. If you don't have a good spouse to love and support you, then parenting is much harder also. Both spouses need to be able to compromise and work together to build each other up and to be happy. A good marriage is the foundation of the family structure. The old saying, "happy wife, happy life," is very true.

Just my two cents.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Can't wait to read what others think.

For me, my marriage is more work, at least emotionally. I have a high maintainence husband. Parenting feels pretty natural to me. It's easy to have a good relationship with my kids and for us to stay on each other's good sides.

I guess physically, parenting is harder work, they have a lot of personal needs that they can't meet themselves (making food, hygeine, getting places). And they are really messy! My husband doesn't require quite as much physical labor as the kids do.

But I work a lot harder to keep my marriage balanced and my husband relaxed and happy. I honestly think he is little more difficult than the average dude... but I am not sure because I've never been married to anyone else ;) I don't have to put a lot of thought into how I parent. That's more instinctual for me and feels "easy".

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

hm. good question.
i'm not sure there's a right or wrong answer. both of them require commitment and work, but in such different ways.
i will say this- my marriage is easier as an empty nester. it's been years since the ol' man and i had any serious issues, and we really loved the parenting years. but just the pressure of accommodating two fewer personalities in the house has made our own relationship even more relaxed and groovy.
i suspect this isn't a question i can answer quickly or lightly, since i'm certainly guilty of having a degree of rosy-colored glasses when it comes to the challenges of the working/parenting littles years. i do remember how hard it was. my marriage was barely in the equation at all, and it suffered for it. but mostly i remember how fiercely i loved being my little boys' mom.
i'll be pondering this one. i know it's JFF, but i'm taking it seriously!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Danville on

I think ALL relationships (married or not) need, require and deserve attention/nurturing/work.

Adding children into the mix surely complicates things.

Doesn't make it 'harder' per se, just means one has to be flexible, and adapt and consider additional relationships.

In my experience, people most often try to meet the challenges with with they are faced. DINK couples face challenges as well! And sometimes (with some couples) having NO kids (even by choice) can become a relationship challenge of it's own.

Not sure if this makes sense.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I would have to say parenting.

I have a great husband, but I have more nuts than branches in my family tree= no role model how to parent or have family relationships.

Which of course is why I have mamapedia :-)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

From my perspective, this evolves with the seasons and the moments. Some seasons are difficult as parents, and we can learn and grow together with our son. Sometimes, being a partner to another fully autonomous human being is hard and then, growth is required.

I don't look forward to the hard or stressful times; I do see them as opportunities to change things for the better in some way. This is due to the 'luxury', I suppose, of having done a lot of work with my husband on our relationship before we had a child. We love and respect each other and try to keep that in mind when we are stressed, giving each other the benefit of the doubt. We try to treat Kiddo as we, ourselves, would like to be treated, and sometimes that takes a lot more work and time, but the results are usually far better and everyone feels respected. We have our challenges all around, all of us in our family do-- fortunately, my husband and I are a strong team and that makes things 100% easier.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Louisville on

For me, definitely parenting. I have such a laid-back nature that there isn't much my husband can do to really make me angry. I'm almost always willing to compromise. I actually become upset or refuse to bend my stance on something, it's out of character enough for my husband to re-evaluate his own position. My husband is good about recognizing what is important to me, and we each give without resentment when we know the other has strong feelings about something.

Parenting, on the other hand, is harder for me. The responsibility of taking care of her physical and emotional needs while guiding her to grow into a responsible, well-adjusted adult is pretty daunting.

Meanwhile, my little sister tends to struggle with her relationship, but they do make it work... It just TAKES more work. Her personality is more dominant, and she is a bit of a drama queen... She and her husband are able to come to compromises most of the time, but only after quite a bit of debate and strife. Lol. But they have actually been together longer than my husband and I, and I feel like they have a good relationship.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

honestly I think it depends on your partner and/or your kid. My first marriage was HARD because it was the wrong person and just wrong in general. Now I am with someone and it's EASY. We chose wisely this time. Our relationship does need some occasional maintenance but not the constant emergency work that my first one did. (I think of it as, my new relationship just requires routine oil changes and occasional tune-ups, where as my previous one - the transmission went out and we had to fix that. The alternator went out and we had to fix that. The head gasket blew and we had to fix that. And on and on.)

I suspect the same is true for kids, but in general of course I think they take a lot more work than most marriages. My child is high maintenance and a challenge. Other kids might not be.

Everyone is different. But both the parenting and the marriage relationships are extremely important. Both take work. Some more at some times and some less at other times. The key is to give it the attention it needs when it needs it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Fayetteville on

Parenting is way harder! My husband and I have a great relationship and we were married 4 years before we had our children. We both wanted "our" time before kids and we know we'll have more when they all move away. Parenting is work--almost every minute of every day.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Parenting, by a landslide. I'm sure this will come to bite me in the rear, but I find marriage easy. It's the best part of life and I adore my husband. The kids, on the other hand, require constant energy.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Boy, I had to think about this one! Honestly, I think marriage is harder overall. I think because I have unconditional love for my kids, it is hard to really get "mad" about some of the ding dong things they do. However, with my husband, I love him, but not unconditionally like I do my kids. So, when he does something that makes me mad (or sad), I actually feel mad and then have to figure out a way to deal with why I am mad, should I even be mad, do we need to talk about this, am I overreacting, etc. I will say one thing, we rarely fight about the kids anymore (I guess with 6 kids, you figure out a few things along the way).

However, right now I am mad (well, more irritated than anything) with my husband. If this question was posed two days from now and my 17 yr old had just blown curfew or something, maybe my answer would be different :)

I don't remember marriage before kids . . . did that time in my life even exist? Oh yeah, it was nearly 30 years ago. No wonder I can't remember it! I can say that both my husband and I are really looking forward to being empty nesters in 4 - 5 more years!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I think parenting is harder because it's all-consuming. At least it was for me. In addition, the biggest problems in my marriage stemmed from kid issues. If we hadn't had kids, I don't know what we would have fought about. When I hear of childless couples fighting, I wonder what the heck there is to fight about. I remember fighting with boyfriends back before I had kids (I was young), and I think, what the hell was so difficult?

Some of my friends' marriages have been sorely tested by their teenagers. My marriage is finally getting better since the kids moved out.

So I vote parenting.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

For me, both have challenges... Although, parenting is more challenging but not because of my child. but rather because parenting has forced me to constantly look at my own behavior which often or at least sometimes, my child might mirror back and I have to say... I don't always like it. However, I can't blame my child because I know that he learned some things from me.. Parenting has challenged me to become a better person and in doing so, it's not been easy because to look at ones own faults can sometimes be painful.. I am not the best parent nor the worst.. however, I strive every day to try and do better... In terms of marriage, that to me seems a bit easier because I am not raising another human being... it's tough business to help bring up a child.. I feel blessed for having this opportunity and a chance of a lifetime..

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Both are WORK, but marriage is more work and marriage also lasts (hope fully) longer than day to day parenting. Kids leave the nest, but you might be looking at your spouse for 50 years, and trying to adapt with each change in lifestyle, health, etc.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Marriage before kids was enormously hard because we both rushed to marry each other after our first marriages ended. In hindsight we should have done the sensible thing and worked out our baggage individually prior to getting married. Where's the fun or challenge in being sensible, though? Neither of us regrets getting married because in the end we are incredibly well suited to each other and have learned to work through tough times united as a team. The year we spent in counseling made us stronger individually and collectively.

Now that we have kids I find parenting to be insanely difficult at times. Much more so than my marriage. I know where I stand with my husband and we can have adult conversations to work through our issues. The kids on the other hand are a ton more work both mentally and physically. Not a day goes by that I do not thank my husband for standing right beside me so we can sort through this parenting thing together. Parenting has forced me to confront parts of myself I don't like and change is always difficult especially because the kids never stop long enough to let me take it all in. I love my kids to bits but there are days I feel remarkably unqualified to be a mom.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Hands down it's parenting for me! I have 2 daughters, 13 and 17. My husband is a wonderful, kind, caring man who fully participates in our marriage and parenting so our marriage is not "work" for me.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Asheville on

Parenting is harder. There are so many unknowns with parenting and I am constantly asking myself if I am doing the right thing- I think we all do this. I have never felt like my marriage was work, nor have I ever really had to work at it. So when I hear people say that marriage is work, I'm not exactly sure what they mean. Maybe I'm working at it, and just don't realize it's work??

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

Since I was a single parent by choice for most of my daughter's life, I definitely put more work into parenting.
And when I did marry, I made it clear that I considered parenting her MY prerogative, not my husband's. I would consider his position on parenting issues, but the final authority on her was mine.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Parenting. I have a second husband who is nothing short of a blessing from God. He is nothing like my ex and I'm thankful every day for him.

Our kids are 19, 15 and 12 and although I have not had any major problems with any of them (other than a major custody battle over the oldest), I feel like I screw up every day. lol I know none of us are perfect but I wish I was better at so many "mom" things that I'm not.



answers from Los Angeles on

Marriage is harder/more work because you have unconditional love for your
When your child does something, you still love them in spite of that particular
action because of the unconditional love.
In regards to a mate/marriage, if they do something hurtful (let's say cheating), that is much harder to get over/passed because it's not the same
kind of love. When you have a child, your immediate first response is to
protect and love. You love your kids no matter what they do.
It's just a different kind of love.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions