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Studies: Kids are hazardous to your marriage

In this film image released by Roadside Attractions Adam Scott left Jennifer Westfeldt are shown scene from 'Friends with Kids.'

In this film image released by Roadside Attractions, Adam Scott, left, and Jennifer Westfeldt are shown in a scene from "Friends with Kids." (AP Photo/Roadside Attractions, JoJo Whilden)

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Updated: April 10, 2012 11:46AM

Ads for the new movie “Friends With Kids,” in theaters today, feature the tag line, “Love. Happiness. Kids. Pick two.”

The theme of sleep-deprived new parents snapping at each other has some real life foundation.

More than 25 separate studies in the past two decades find that marital quality takes a dive with a baby’s birth: babies raise stress, reduce happiness and otherwise upset the household, experts say.

“Kids do lower marital satisfaction and there’s not much we seem to be able to do to prevent it,” says Brian Doss, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Miami.

Ninety percent of the 218 couples in an eight-year study Doss co-authored experienced a decline in satisfaction, he says.

Clinical psychologist Harriet Lerner, author of the new book Marriage Rules, which discusses “Kid Shock,” advises taking a long view.

“Relationships that appear to be falling apart ... may look entirely different down the road,” said Lerner.

New research by Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan of Ohio State University finds that parents show poorer adjustment if they think society expects them to be perfect.

“Worrying about what others think about parenting was bad for mothers because it lowered their confidence, and was bad for fathers because it increased parenting stress,” she says. The study was published last month in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

Gannett News Service

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