Finding the joy and the fun
I have just started reading Jennifer Senior's All Joy and No Fun, perhaps the most depressing book for any first-time parent. Its main message is that you're going to love your children, but hate spending time with them.
I loathe the idea that forming a family, something I have wanted for so long and worked hard to achieve, is going to make my husband and me miserable. Unfortunately, the evidence, as cited in Jennifer's book is against me: in numerous studies childless couples are found to be happier in their marriage.
In her book and this TED talk Jennifer Senior mentions results from Matthew Killingsworth's research on happiness:
"Interacting with you friends is better than interacting with your spouse, which is better than interacting with other relatives, which is better than interacting with acquaintances, which is better than interacting with parents, which is better than interacting with children. Who are on par with strangers."
It made me think because I'm pretty sure I prefer my husband's company over my friends. Why might this research state the opposite? I couldn't find any clear details on that particular study itself, but based on this talk, I assume that the participants were asked about their level of happiness and the company they kept at the time.
This suggests that perhaps it's not your spouse per se who is the problem, but the things you do with them. I definitely do more unfun things with my husband than with my friends: he's with me in the overcrowded waiting room to the doctor's office or in the queue at the supermarket, he's the one I discuss boring topics like finances and car insurance with. When I see my friends I'm usually enjoying a chai latte at a café, so of course I'm happier!
In the same way, perhaps it is not our children that make us unhappy but the things we do with them. Fortunately, Jennifer Senior's book provides a pretty comprehensive list of the attitudes and activities that make parents miserable. Now it's up to me to find a way to work around them.