Which is more difficult?

Note: this post has to do with motherhood.

This Momversation is a discussion about which is harder: being a mom or being a wife.

Dooce, having experienced post-partum depression, says that marriage was much easier, and she shares many good reasons why. She votes for Motherhood as the more difficult.

Finslippy says (among other things) that it’s easier to neglect marriage, making it the more difficult of the two.

GirlsGoneChild, who experienced marriage and children in rapid fashion, also agrees that marriage is the more difficult.

Dooce got more than 700 comments on this and has shut them down. There are conversations going on at GirlsGoneChild and at Momversation, but I was wondering what my readers think about motherhood vs wifehood, either in the concrete (you are a parent) or in the abstract (you will one day be a parent, and you give your best guess as to which will be more difficult for you).

Conventional wisdom might say that for Infertyls, motherhood will be incredibly rewarding after the long and tortuous route to get there. And that, consequently, achieving that hard-won dream would make parenting less difficult than marriage (especially a marriage that has been tested by IF).

But my own experience did not fit into that mold. Regarding marriage, I know how to navigate a peer relationship, a (mostly) rational relationship of (mostly) equals.

I struggled then, and I still sometimes do, with the irrational relationship I have with purely emotional beings. As they become more rational, parenting them becomes easier for me.

And in theory, I should be the One In Control in my relationships with Tessa and Reed, right? I am Authority and they should, at all times, defer to my more seasoned judgment. (Don’t laugh. My parents expected this of me, and I have forgotten that I rarely gave it to them.)

Smack! That’s reality hitting me upside the head on an almost-hourly basis. My kids DON’T stop fighting when I tell ask them to. They DON’T keep their dirty and clean clothes in different places. They DON’T accept my wisdom about not eating boogers as gospel.

Control is an illusion. Tessa and Reed just might have more of it than I do. It certainly seems like it at times.

These are some of the reasons why motherhood is, for me, more difficult than wifehood.

(Well, that and the fact that Roger cooks.)

So, for you, which is or will be harder — being a mom or being a wife? Please share why you think so.

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0 thoughts on “Which is more difficult?”

  1. Another insightful and thought provoking post. Hmm, it made me laugh too, “the wisdom of not eating boogers as gospel”. At any given moment, on any given day, at any given time, it could be more difficult to be a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a lover, a nurse, a waiter in line, whatever. I am just learning these are just titles for roles that really show “Control is an Illusion”. So true, thank you.Re.the ghost story, the commenter, Anne Did Not experience it with me, she is a medium/pyschic who I guess got a reading from my post. Cool stuff.

  2. I guess my feeling is that marriage remains semi-constant. If it’s working it usually remains working if energy is put into it and if it is wobbly, it can either be fixed or get wobblier based on how much energy is given to sustain the relationship.But with kids, it changes literally day to day. We’re in a great valley right now, but I also know that the next step is always the hills. Right now, they’re master of their skills, so they’re happy. Soon they’ll try new things but they won’t be masters yet and they’ll be frustrated and I’ll be frustrated and we’ll all have some hard weeks. So, I’m voting for motherhood just because when I ask Josh to get the clothes from the dryer, he does it with only a few reminders. And if I ask the kids to clean up their toys, they are still on the floor if they’re not in the mood.

  3. I don’t find marriage difficult in the least (and my husband agrees), but we have an uncommonly good relationship and we each have an unusually easy partner. We are a poor illustration of the hard work of marriage.But then I think back to the first year of marriage, and that was less easy. So if I’d become a parent soon after becoming a wife, as GirlsGoneChild did, instead of more than a decade later (and counting), it would have been entirely different. This is why I think that people should spend time being spouses before becoming parents, but I realize that not everyone meets their spouse as a teen and then has time to wait like I did.I find it hard to imagine that motherhood will be harder than infertility has been. So I will rank them in order of decreasing difficulty:1. infertility/getting to motherhood2. motherhood3. marriage

  4. I’ll say what I said in Dooce’s comments, because the odds of you seeing me there at #451 are slim. ;)“My hubby and I lived together for four years before getting married, and we were married for five years before our daughter was born. (And she just turned three.) So, we’ve been together for almost 12 years. We’ve been fortunate in that things have always clicked along smoothly for us. [Together, as a couple…I had a miscarriage prior to getting pregnant with Claire, so I’m not talking about that, and, compared to others’ stories, my battles were few…but even dealing with that issue, things went as smoothly as they could between us.]We were pretty much experts at our relationship before diving headfirst into parenthood, so I think that made parenthood easier than it could have been, and it also made it easier for our relationship to withstand the hurricane force winds produced by the introduction of a baby to the household.Personally, one hasn’t really been harder than the other. I know that sounds like a cop-out, but it’s true! I’ve been trying to weigh them against each other, but they seem pretty equal. We found our groove pretty quickly with both. How lucky is that??”So, that’s my answer. For me, it’s 6 of one and half-dozen of the other. ;)

  5. Parenting is harder. But, like you, I have an awesome husband. Not that my child is not awesome. She’s just two (and all that entails.

  6. I find that, in retrospect, everything that came before motherhood was a breeze. If only I’d known that then. Now, I don’t see how I could separate the two. The state of my marriage is inextricably linked to my experience as a mother, and his as a father. Also, the ease or difficulty of motherhood is tied to the support or non-support I get from my spouse. How’s that for a non-answer? Maybe I should read the post you linked to. But, if you are asking if marriage with a child is easier or harder than marriage pre-child, I’d have to say it’s harder by far. But in ways, of course, it’s better, too. Still, a non-answer. And my child is still very young.

  7. Another insightful and thought provoking post. Hmm, it made me laugh too, “the wisdom of not eating boogers as gospel”. At any given moment, on any given day, at any given time, it could be more difficult to be a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a lover, a nurse, a waiter in line, whatever. I am just learning these are just titles for roles that really show “Control is an Illusion”. So true, thank you.Re.the ghost story, the commenter, Anne Did Not experience it with me, she is a medium/pyschic who I guess got a reading from my post. Cool stuff.

  8. I guess my feeling is that marriage remains semi-constant. If it’s working it usually remains working if energy is put into it and if it is wobbly, it can either be fixed or get wobblier based on how much energy is given to sustain the relationship.But with kids, it changes literally day to day. We’re in a great valley right now, but I also know that the next step is always the hills. Right now, they’re master of their skills, so they’re happy. Soon they’ll try new things but they won’t be masters yet and they’ll be frustrated and I’ll be frustrated and we’ll all have some hard weeks. So, I’m voting for motherhood just because when I ask Josh to get the clothes from the dryer, he does it with only a few reminders. And if I ask the kids to clean up their toys, they are still on the floor if they’re not in the mood.

  9. I don’t find marriage difficult in the least (and my husband agrees), but we have an uncommonly good relationship and we each have an unusually easy partner. We are a poor illustration of the hard work of marriage.But then I think back to the first year of marriage, and that was less easy. So if I’d become a parent soon after becoming a wife, as GirlsGoneChild did, instead of more than a decade later (and counting), it would have been entirely different. This is why I think that people should spend time being spouses before becoming parents, but I realize that not everyone meets their spouse as a teen and then has time to wait like I did.I find it hard to imagine that motherhood will be harder than infertility has been. So I will rank them in order of decreasing difficulty:1. infertility/getting to motherhood2. motherhood3. marriage

  10. I’ll say what I said in Dooce’s comments, because the odds of you seeing me there at #451 are slim. ;)“My hubby and I lived together for four years before getting married, and we were married for five years before our daughter was born. (And she just turned three.) So, we’ve been together for almost 12 years. We’ve been fortunate in that things have always clicked along smoothly for us. [Together, as a couple…I had a miscarriage prior to getting pregnant with Claire, so I’m not talking about that, and, compared to others’ stories, my battles were few…but even dealing with that issue, things went as smoothly as they could between us.]We were pretty much experts at our relationship before diving headfirst into parenthood, so I think that made parenthood easier than it could have been, and it also made it easier for our relationship to withstand the hurricane force winds produced by the introduction of a baby to the household.Personally, one hasn’t really been harder than the other. I know that sounds like a cop-out, but it’s true! I’ve been trying to weigh them against each other, but they seem pretty equal. We found our groove pretty quickly with both. How lucky is that??”So, that’s my answer. For me, it’s 6 of one and half-dozen of the other. ;)

  11. Parenting is harder. But, like you, I have an awesome husband. Not that my child is not awesome. She’s just two (and all that entails.

  12. I find that, in retrospect, everything that came before motherhood was a breeze. If only I’d known that then. Now, I don’t see how I could separate the two. The state of my marriage is inextricably linked to my experience as a mother, and his as a father. Also, the ease or difficulty of motherhood is tied to the support or non-support I get from my spouse. How’s that for a non-answer? Maybe I should read the post you linked to. But, if you are asking if marriage with a child is easier or harder than marriage pre-child, I’d have to say it’s harder by far. But in ways, of course, it’s better, too. Still, a non-answer. And my child is still very young.

  13. I think marriage is harder than motherhood. That’s my opinion at the moment at least. My daughter is a very easygoing and loving 8 year old so that’s easy.My marriage however has been through alot of stress with trying to conceive #2. We are working on trying to make it better but defiantly more work at the moment then motherhood.

  14. If I get to be a mother, I think that’ll be much much harder. I’m very lucky to have a husband who finds my craziness cute and charming and even goes so far as to laugh at how crazy I am. He helps out without me asking. He communicates what his issues are easily. I don’t think my kids would find my craziness cute – just insane. I’m pretty sure they won’t help out even when I DO ask. And I’m pretty sure the communication will be an issue cuz they’re kids, and how we vs they communicate will be totally different. If that makes any sense at all.

  15. Before I read how everyone else has responded, I have to say this is an unanswerable question for me. It changes daily around here.I cannot bend my husband to my will (as much as I try). I cannot reason with my children all the time. My husband is by far the more rational of the five. My children are by far more emotional than their father. Somedays I need the emotion, other days I need stability & rationality.So maybe it’s me that’s the issue. Maybe being <>me<> is harder than being a mother or being married.

  16. Parenthood is harder, make that STEP-parenthood. If being a parent is hard, being a step-parent is harder. But sometimes when my hubby acts like a child, I feel like I have another kid in the house (grrr). But, there are always rewards, so maybe the question should be which is more rewarding – marriage or parenthood. Ohhh, that’s a sticky subject! I mean it’s kinda like asking which is harder, having a left arm or a left leg?

  17. Hmnn.I wonder if stepparenthood is a whole other ballgame — because it made everything hard…the early years with G were difficult in the sense that — we had this amazing love, this wonderful ability to communicate — this bond — but the difficulties of negotiating the finalization of the divorce (his), all of the space required on his part — learning to co-parent on all of our parts when W was three…oy. It’s a whole different deal. Parenthood, at times, has evoked anger in me that no other relationship in my life ever has — and it has also required of me to find a way to express it in a healthy way…it’s really been transformative — but by far more challenging than the marriage…and again, this is all part and parcel — marriage/stepparenthood/coparenting…time has made things so much easier.Ask me again in a few years :)

  18. I’m obviously very new to the motherhood thing, but I really think parenting must be harder than navigating a marriage. At least with respect to my marriage. We spend our whole teenage and adult lives preparing for marriage, building peer relationships and dating. But I don’t think anything can really prepare us for parenting.Hey, did you see Dooce is going to be in Highlands Ranch in April for a book signing? Maybe we should make a ColoBlogger event out of it.

  19. I don’t feel qualified to answer quite yet. My son is only 6 months old.So, when he leaves his socks on the floor I can’t really expect him to put them in the hamper. But my husband? I really wish he would. But I think this is a very interesting topic for a great discussion and I expect my own answer will change back and forth a few times over the years!

  20. Parenting is harder for me. My husband and I have a very easy relationship (although we work hard at keeping it that easy…LOL). There are so many more ups and downs with kids.

  21. Good topic!For me, I’d have to say that it depends on the day.I have an amazing husband, who works so hard to allow me to stay at home with our 2 little ones (2 1/2 and 1).We were together for 2 years before we married, with me having been married once before. I think that helps my marriage because we both knew going into to it that our friendship had to be the foundation, and what we would/wouldn’t tolerate.We knew what we wanted, have great communication, and then, we had to wait 3 long and difficult years with lots of visits to lots of specialists to have our precious children.I think that some days, life pre-kids was SO easy, and I miss those days of coming home and just being. Then, I see the kids, hold them, smell them, feel their little arms around my neck, their sticky fingers on my cheeks as they snuggle in for kisses, and I know that no matter the struggles, I wouldn’t trade it for those days of just BB and myself.Parenting is tough, especially when you have to follow through on something you hollered out at the kids, and I know it will get tougher as they grow older, but oh, how sweet the reward!So my answer is : they are each as difficult as the other, just at different times, and in different ways.How’s that for long-winded and not really concrete? Oy!

  22. I think marriage is harder than motherhood. That’s my opinion at the moment at least. My daughter is a very easygoing and loving 8 year old so that’s easy.My marriage however has been through alot of stress with trying to conceive #2. We are working on trying to make it better but defiantly more work at the moment then motherhood.

  23. If I get to be a mother, I think that’ll be much much harder. I’m very lucky to have a husband who finds my craziness cute and charming and even goes so far as to laugh at how crazy I am. He helps out without me asking. He communicates what his issues are easily. I don’t think my kids would find my craziness cute – just insane. I’m pretty sure they won’t help out even when I DO ask. And I’m pretty sure the communication will be an issue cuz they’re kids, and how we vs they communicate will be totally different. If that makes any sense at all.

  24. Before I read how everyone else has responded, I have to say this is an unanswerable question for me. It changes daily around here.I cannot bend my husband to my will (as much as I try). I cannot reason with my children all the time. My husband is by far the more rational of the five. My children are by far more emotional than their father. Somedays I need the emotion, other days I need stability & rationality.So maybe it’s me that’s the issue. Maybe being <>me<> is harder than being a mother or being married.

  25. Parenthood is harder, make that STEP-parenthood. If being a parent is hard, being a step-parent is harder. But sometimes when my hubby acts like a child, I feel like I have another kid in the house (grrr). But, there are always rewards, so maybe the question should be which is more rewarding – marriage or parenthood. Ohhh, that’s a sticky subject! I mean it’s kinda like asking which is harder, having a left arm or a left leg?

  26. Hmnn.I wonder if stepparenthood is a whole other ballgame — because it made everything hard…the early years with G were difficult in the sense that — we had this amazing love, this wonderful ability to communicate — this bond — but the difficulties of negotiating the finalization of the divorce (his), all of the space required on his part — learning to co-parent on all of our parts when W was three…oy. It’s a whole different deal. Parenthood, at times, has evoked anger in me that no other relationship in my life ever has — and it has also required of me to find a way to express it in a healthy way…it’s really been transformative — but by far more challenging than the marriage…and again, this is all part and parcel — marriage/stepparenthood/coparenting…time has made things so much easier.Ask me again in a few years :)

  27. I’m obviously very new to the motherhood thing, but I really think parenting must be harder than navigating a marriage. At least with respect to my marriage. We spend our whole teenage and adult lives preparing for marriage, building peer relationships and dating. But I don’t think anything can really prepare us for parenting.Hey, did you see Dooce is going to be in Highlands Ranch in April for a book signing? Maybe we should make a ColoBlogger event out of it.

  28. I don’t feel qualified to answer quite yet. My son is only 6 months old.So, when he leaves his socks on the floor I can’t really expect him to put them in the hamper. But my husband? I really wish he would. But I think this is a very interesting topic for a great discussion and I expect my own answer will change back and forth a few times over the years!

  29. Parenting is harder for me. My husband and I have a very easy relationship (although we work hard at keeping it that easy…LOL). There are so many more ups and downs with kids.

  30. Good topic!For me, I’d have to say that it depends on the day.I have an amazing husband, who works so hard to allow me to stay at home with our 2 little ones (2 1/2 and 1).We were together for 2 years before we married, with me having been married once before. I think that helps my marriage because we both knew going into to it that our friendship had to be the foundation, and what we would/wouldn’t tolerate.We knew what we wanted, have great communication, and then, we had to wait 3 long and difficult years with lots of visits to lots of specialists to have our precious children.I think that some days, life pre-kids was SO easy, and I miss those days of coming home and just being. Then, I see the kids, hold them, smell them, feel their little arms around my neck, their sticky fingers on my cheeks as they snuggle in for kisses, and I know that no matter the struggles, I wouldn’t trade it for those days of just BB and myself.Parenting is tough, especially when you have to follow through on something you hollered out at the kids, and I know it will get tougher as they grow older, but oh, how sweet the reward!So my answer is : they are each as difficult as the other, just at different times, and in different ways.How’s that for long-winded and not really concrete? Oy!

  31. Marriage pre-kids was a piece of cake. Neither of us are high-strung people. Marriage post-child is harder, but still not as difficult as mothering.When I’m 70, and he’s 80, and very sick, I might have a different opinion. It’s all about what other major stress you have in your life. My best friend who has a husband with a malignant brain tumor might think my c-section/BF-failure/up all night for 8 months/constantly sick/24-hour job is a breeze. Because it is more likely to end well.

  32. Marriage pre-kids was a piece of cake. Neither of us are high-strung people. Marriage post-child is harder, but still not as difficult as mothering.When I’m 70, and he’s 80, and very sick, I might have a different opinion. It’s all about what other major stress you have in your life. My best friend who has a husband with a malignant brain tumor might think my c-section/BF-failure/up all night for 8 months/constantly sick/24-hour job is a breeze. Because it is more likely to end well.

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