What’s Harder: Marriage or Parenting?

Here’s my answer, and I want to hear what you think.

Click here if you are unable to view this video.

Comments (29)

(29) Anonymous, March 31, 2019 11:49 PM

Parenting is harder

Being a parent and keeping a healthy relationship with a husband is much harder than just keeping a relationship with a husband.
Parenting requires sleepless nights and often times it involves guilt when the children make mistakes. we think of our children in a way that we are the ones responsible when they make mistakes.
It is much harder to separate their mistakes and who we are.

(28) Dave, November 17, 2016 4:57 PM

It's all one

The greatest gift you can give your children is a happy stable marriage.

(27) Esther, January 14, 2016 3:24 PM

I think marriage is harder than raising children

Marriage is much harder to me than raising children !

(26) Eric Wood, January 3, 2016 1:05 PM

I say Marriage.

Prepared for neither but must make success of marriage before any chance of success with children. Fine for me to talk, my wife was fantastic. 50 years, I'm alone now and wonder how she did a job, raised the children and ran the house. Proverbs 31 woman. Could not have done without her!

(25) Anonymous, January 3, 2016 8:32 AM

Raising yourself is the hardest. Marriage and parenting show you how to raise yoruself and your success is reflected in your marriage and kids.

I really like your videos. You deal with live issues that pertain to everyoone. I use them in teaching English in a relevant and interesting context. ( I hope that's OK with you.)
In a marriage we have the opportunity to work on ourselves, as we do in raising children. Each close relationship in our lives demands of us to refine our characters. this is the challenge of life which the mitzvot guide us through so beautifully.
Thank you for raising this thought provoking question.

(24) Anonymous, January 2, 2016 1:28 AM

Good Marriage Makes Parenting Easier

The answer to the question is greatly dependent on who a person is married to, and the characters of both spouses. If both spouses are loving, kind, patient, supportive, wise, and selfless, it is a lot easier to be married to a person like that. And the children will mostly copy what they see in the parents which would make parenting a lot easier. A lot of problems with parenting children begin with the marriage relationship. But even with the natural challenges of a good, solid, loving marriage, if you have more than one child I agree with Lori that you will have to give more of yourself to invest in another person. The more children, then the more challenges because of each individual relationship, but also the more rewards. :) If the marriage relationship is not good, then you will most likely have far more challenges with parenting. I like that Aish encourages character development which is key for success in both marriage and parenting.

(23) Laercio Motoryn, December 31, 2015 3:30 PM

marriage is more difficult

When you have children the love you have for them is unconditonal,they are part of you, and you love them even with selfish components.An altruistic love is something that you develop in your personal life, and then you love more your children as a result.On the other hand , your wife or your husband is someone that you know superficialy at the begining of the relationship , and you have to work a lot to accept things that you do not like in your spouse and vice versa,besides the fact that this person is not your imediate family. He or she becomes your family .Making the long story short, I can say that that your question can not be answered clearly becaause everything is relative. I can ask a question Why can be easier to develop a relationship when there are just two people without children?Can be easier to raise a family when you have to work on raising children and working the couple's relationship?

(22) Hana, December 31, 2015 12:48 AM

It's a too simplistic question...

From the comments so far one can see the different sides and facets and situations and points of view.
Hashem challenges some with marriage and others with kids.
It is a matter of tikun...every Neshama has a unique deal.
I think that the question is interesting because people' answers are so revealing...
Someone should study that and make a classification by groups so that each could be guided best.
Each situation challenges a middah.
I would say that child rearing is so much more challenging because it demands such Investement physically, emotionally, and so on. With a bad marriage you can take time away to yourself and lead an independent life (unless abusively controlled) besides the time being with your spouse whereas with children there is a great responsibility for SHAPING a future human being to be at her best. You cannot not show up! Kids read you and know if you are not 100% given over and will let you know by acting out the lack of appropriate nurturing/disciplining with thought out balance....
It is true that some people seem to parent so naturally that it does not take such effort. As others bang their heads on a wall from not getting how to get along and figure a person from the opposite sex...or with themselves !!
That what Inwas saying in the beginning. I don't think that there is a book addressing both roles simultaneously ...which would be unsanely complicated ...Parenting with an uncooperative/ clueless mate is that much more of a challenge....
May G-d come and help us all!

(21) Zvi, December 30, 2015 6:06 AM

Marriage, after having kids

Disagreement over HOW to raise kids is the biggest problem. My wife decided that being the kids' servant and relegating the marriage to 2nd place was proper. I (and nearly all sane child/family psychologists) disagree. As a result the kids do not listen to her and disrespect her and she yells at them and complains to me that they don't listen to her. On the other hand, I shower them with love, leadership and authority, and they listen to me just fine - and they love AND respect me. .

(20) SusanE, December 30, 2015 2:04 AM

Children were the easy part of marriage.

Children are forever. The very best and most satisfying years of my life, first child at 19 and last at 30. I only saw difficulties where mothers had children so close together that they were exhausted. They were not able to satisfy the needs of each child - - - Marriage is great if you have meeting of the minds. You can sort out differences adult to adult. When one has anger with violence, or substance abuse or infidelities in a marriage then it becomes a non marriage. Very hard to manage.

(19) Anonymous, December 30, 2015 1:42 AM

Parenting is much more difficult

Parenting is far more difficult than marriage. Nothing prepared me for the 4 years of needing to survive on only a few hours of sleep as I had to deal with fussy and sick children, plus work full time outside of the house. Each child is different and requires a different parenting style which is very difficult to figure out. After pouring my heart and soul into being the best parent I could and to have my adult child reject his Jewish heritage that I tried to instill in him in Day School for many years and summer camps for 6 years is especially painful. Sadly, this child is no longer a part of my life. It is a profound sadness which is hard to recover from.

(18) Anonymous, December 29, 2015 11:05 PM

Marriage is much harder. Having children you're the adult in control. They come from your blood, there are natural things given to you. I have older teenagers too. Marriage you got to work on without the blood and motherly things your given. In addition it is a prerequisite for raising healthy children so it is imperative to work on it.

(17) David Schrader, December 29, 2015 9:47 PM

Get marriage right and you can get raising children right

We learn from day one, from our parents, we pick up obvious things and, sometimes to a greater extent, subtle things.
Children need unconditional love, just as adults do, when a man can love his wife, he is free to love his children. When a wife is a support to her husband, they are free to work as a team. When the children feel they are a very important member of a very important team, they can do anything they put their mind to. Guided by Torah they will unstoppable.

(16) Jill Moroson, December 29, 2015 8:29 PM

Babies are so cute to ease us into the hardest job of all

Absolutely, raising children is the more difficult challenge. Its not so much that there are more children than spouses, there are 101 issues that arise that you had definite philosophies about only to discover implementing those ideas is a whole different story (ie bedtime, eating healthful foods, cleaning your room, sharing, separating combatants, addressing individual needs, jealousy, fighting etc). On top of that you are you now supposed to be clear and consistent in implementing these ideas? And some issues you havent even fully figured out. What about wanting your children to do and be things that you havent yet perfected in yourself. What about the unresolved issues, you may not even know you have until your always intuitive children reveal them to you. With a spouse you are dealing with another adult. If you are each sensitive to one another and good communicators, you can work out almost anything--and it doesnt really matter if it takes a while and lots of processing to do it. That’s what dinner out with a glass of wine or late night talks or conversations with close friends are for. But with children, you are supposed to be the role model already processed:) I suspect those who claim marriage is more difficult dont have a sensitive &/or communicative partner. How much more difficult that must make child rearing! I worry that those couples may switch some roles around so the spouses get from the children what they should be getting from one another. Oy.

(15) Jerusalem Reader, December 29, 2015 6:34 PM

Parenting is pure selflessness

I think raising kids is a TON of (very rewarding and beautiful) work! To me, being married is not work--it's support, it's fun, it's companionship. (No, I'm not naive, I have been married 25 years and have 6 kids.) Raising kids challenges you to give everything--and most of the time you do not get anything in return (or at least not any immediate reward). Parenting is ALL giving. Marriage is giving and receiving. Of course, both develop us and are the most wonderful and rewarding relationships in life.

(14) Anonymous, December 29, 2015 6:30 PM

Children are harder.

(13) Dvirah, December 29, 2015 5:14 PM

Re the Dog

Why go thru all the red tape? There are plenty of dogs (and cats) to be rescued wandering around the streets. They will love being taken care of and no one will ask questions; just invite one in!

(12) Anonymous, December 29, 2015 4:47 PM

Marriage involves your own commitment and responsibility whereas raising kids means empowering them in the best possible way,accepting them even when they do not live up to our expectations. It is harder to face their shortcomings than our own. As the word raising implies, we have to lift them up, inspire them, instill within them a driving force,true emunah. Is it easy? definitely not but this is the source of jewish nachas that makes everything worthwhile.

(11) Anonymous, December 29, 2015 4:43 PM

Marriage is harder because it goes against our human instincts

As challenging as raising children is (I have four kids), and it IS, it is human, and even animal instinct to care for, raise, and provide for a child. Raising a child into a mentsch, into an independent person/thinker, a baal a chesed- of course, all of these things are extremely challenging. But raising a child overall very much in line with who we are why we were created, and even the basic animalistic instinct to preserve our species. Marriage, on the other hand, goes against all of our human instincts. It requires someone to constantly give and give, and even harder, to think not just about someone else, but to learn to think LIKE someone else. To be able to see things from a totally different, or even opposite, perspective. All of these things are beautiful, and perhaps even one of the great purposes of marriage, to help transform us from selfish, self-centered people, into giving, loving, and nurturing people. But, very challenging nonetheless. Thanks for an interesting video!

(10) Anonymous, December 29, 2015 4:19 PM

Raising Children

Within the marriage relationship, you are ( hoperfully) two committed adults. Marraiges requires constant work, but ideally you both have the same long term goal. The commitment and the long term goal are in front of you both as you deal with the challenges, in a mature manner. There is the added advantage that one has only one spouse to deal with!

Children, however, have a long trip ( over 2 decades) till they mature. During this time, there are many challenges and the parents must change gear constantly. If one has 5 children one can concurrently be working with 5 different modes of perception-basically drivinga car with five gears simultaneously.... This is only within the parent-child relationship, and not even dealing with siblings or their peers..

(9) Anonymous, December 29, 2015 3:37 PM


A first marriage comes with no experience, just as a first baby. Being the youngest of two, I wasn't even allowed to baby sit for the family in the very next apartment. Thank goodness my husband was raised in a family with more open mindedness, which allowed him to make his own decisions, right or wrong.

(8) Anonymous, December 29, 2015 3:20 PM

Children by far!

My varied five children have challenged me to grow in so many ways. The role of parent has tapped my patience, values, boundaries, beliefs, flexibility, energy, judgments and capacity to love unconditionally. It has been my ultimate test and often times, I'm not sure if I'm passing or failing. Yes, indeed, by far, a tremendous, yet worthwhile endeavor.

(7) Buba, December 29, 2015 3:17 PM

The one time Torah is not a great example

Lori, I loved the topic. B"H I have "only" 4 kids and a husband who was always very involved in their lives, foregoing promotions that meant time away from them. But looking to the Torah, and the Tanach in general, provides us with mostly negative examples. So are we to learn from that what NOT to do? Most of the patriarchs and kings had no control over their children, or at least some of them. Abraham? Isaac? Jacob? Judah? King David? Largely absentee parents! They barely knew what their children were up to. Again, B"H, mine turned out just fine, all married "in" though some more observant than others. All fine adults and raising wonderful children full of Yiddishkeit and kindness. It's the luck of the draw, prayer, and some common sense. It can't be taught. Please tell me where the Torah teaches the "right" way to raise children so I can pass it on to the new parents in the family/friends! And I'm still willing to learn even though my job is done as far as parenting. OK, it's never really done. We always need to be supportive.

(6) Reuven Frank, December 29, 2015 3:09 PM

Which one lasts?

You can always walk away from a marriage.
You can't walk away from being a parent.

But, on a deeper level.
In a marriage, you have a chance. You have a partner. You can reason, get help, talk to a Rav.
In parenting, sometimes there are too many opinions, yours, your spouses, the Rav, the doctor, the psychologist, the neighbors, the relatives. If you live in Israel, even th other people on the bus.

In a marriage? Pick a mature, Torah-true spouse like yourself.
That's all it takes. Everything else is gravy. (Heard from Rav Aaron Feldmn, shlit"a; Rosh Yehivas Ner Yisrael.)

In parenting? Best of luck! You're going to need it.

(5) Susan Goel, December 29, 2015 2:59 PM

Rising kids.

If you are not happy in your marriage you can get divorce, but you can not divorced your kids.

(4) Tamar, December 28, 2015 4:09 PM

I vote for Marriage and I'll tell you Why

Being a baalat teshuva and coming from a not easy family background, I've been fortunate to pursue therapy to help me do the best job I can do in both marriage and raising children. These are THE most important jobs and relationships in our lives, though I bought into feminist and Western ideals of what's the "most important" things in your life before I was frum. I work with frum therapists, and it's been immensely helpful. Interestingly, I am also studying to be a psychotherapist and am in the dissertation phase of my degree now. I guess I had to go through difficulties and therapy to be able to better help future clients.

The consensus seems to be among therapists I've worked with, that marriage trickles down into children. Everything children learn about social relatioships, emotional health (or lack thereof), and how to respond to the world around them, starts with the parents. If the marriage suffers, it not only creates anxiety for kids, but also teaches them how to relate to future spouses and friends, just by watching their parents interact. Parenting is by no means easy, and I've got two kids with special needs so I attest to that. However, marriage is so much harder because kids are watching and learning even when you don't realize it. Their entire future is completely molded by your marriage. Though they can make choices when they're older to undo damage done in childhood and break out of bad cycles, it's much much harder to do when you're older. Make that marriage work! You have no idea how much your children's future success hinges on it! I know from personal experience!

(3) Avigail B, December 28, 2015 2:58 AM

Depends what your personal challenge is!

I think really it has less to do with the general challenge of marriage or children, but more to do with who those individuals are and what your personal challenge is in forming and nurturing a relationship with them. Depending on the home a person was raised in also really shapes and defines which areas come easier or harder to some. For example, my mother had a bad marriage, divorced, and subsequently married a great man. But she was an excellent, completely selfless and loving motherhood. In part because of my own upbringing, and also because I have always worked with (and loved!) children, I find marriage a much greater challenge. I can also add that because of my husbands background, he's a challenging (but wonderful!) person to share a life with. I think the answer to this question requires so much background information to understand how everyone gets to that conclusion, and there's really no one answer. Ultimately, we are paired with the right children and right spouse (neighbors family friends too) Hashem wants us with to work through our issues to try to be our greatest selves. And in everything, some struggle a little more or less with parnassa, shidduchim, shalom bayis, health, fertility, raising children, etc. Whatever the most difficult challenge in our own lives, we know it's the exact amount we need.

(2) Nancy, December 27, 2015 4:52 PM

Both are equally hard in their own way.

With all due respect, I don't think it is fair to ask which is harder. However, consulting the Torah is excellent advice. I also like what commenter #1 said re: improving character traits. I work on this every minute of every day!

(1) Henny Walkin, December 27, 2015 1:46 PM

Both are challenging

Both are challenging and require preparation. A young husband asked a great Torah sage: "My wife is expecting our first child, what advice do you have to prepare me for parenthood?" The sage replied: "Now you ask? You should have begun preparing years ago..." Improving character traits is the best preparation!


Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment

Receive Weekly Spirituality Emails

Sign up to our Spirituality Newsletter.

Our privacy policy