Sharing Children Can Increase Relationship Length

by Amanda Ng (’17)


Fig. 1: Studies have shown that couples that share children are more likely to exhibit behaviors conducive to a lasting relationship.

Past studies have shown that there are multiple factors that can make or break a relationship, and that these factors grow even more complicated as a relationship matures and people grow older. Conflict can arise because of work and family obligations, as well as because of personal growth. However, recent research has shown that there is one factor that seems to have the power to keep partners together: children.

In a recent study completed at Oakland University in Michigan, researchers investigated the presence of children in a relationship and how it affects its longevity. 1003 participants were recruited through a magazine advertisement for the study, and were then separated into two groups based on whether or not they had a child with their current romantic partner. The participants then completed the “Mate Retention Inventory-Short Form”, a 37 item questionnaire that assessed the quantity of behaviors that increased mate retention and decreased infidelity. The frequency of these behaviors was rated on a scale from 0 (never) to 3 (often). These behaviors were then sorted into beneficial (love, care, physical and verbal possession) and costly behaviors (jealousy induction, emotional manipulation, derogation of competitors).

According to correlation analyses, both men and women whom share a child with their romantic partners exhibit a higher frequency of mate retention behaviors, conducive to a lasting relationship. These participants were also more likely to exhibit these behaviors and rely on close friends of both genders.

In order to confirm these findings, future research should work to isolate which behaviors are most conducive to a lasting relationship, and find what other factors these participants have in common besides having children with their current romantic partners.



  1. Barbaro, et. al., Mothers and Fathers Perform More Mate Retention Behaviors than Individuals without Children. Human Nature 27, 316-333 (2016). doi: 10.1007/s12110-016-9261-z.
  2. Image retrieved from:

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