Gay or straight, even the closest and best-prepared couples eventually realize -- probably around the first time that they have to yell over the cries of an inconsolable toddler, "Where's the binky? I don't have it! You had it! WHERE'S THE BINKY?" -- that raising kids is not for the fainthearted. One of the biggest rewards for gay couples raising children is the knowledge that, if your relationship survives, your love is probably stronger than ever.
In many instances, raising kids together forces gay couples to forge a tighter bond because of all the teamwork involved in bringing up happy, well-adjusted children. Even in the midst of an argument over who forgot to pay the cable bill, gay couples have to put their squabbles aside and work together to make the baby stop screaming, since -- no matter whose fault it is -- Dora the Explorer isn't going to come on. Gay or straight, couples raising kids often grow inevitably closer, kind of like war buddies or hostage survivors.
Although gay couples in many states aren’t allowed the same rights and privileges as married heterosexual couples, the act of raising a child indicates a desire to stay with each other for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, through diaper changes and sippy cups. This is further evidenced by the fact that gay couples can't accidentally have a baby like straight couples can. The serious thought and advance planning that necessarily goes into having a baby for same-sex couples, according to Clark University psychologist Abbie Goldberg, "translates to greater commitment on average."
Gay couples are sometimes directly and indirectly told they’ll never have a “normal” life, but bribing a two-year-old with candy as long as she promises to keep on her pants in the grocery store is about as normal as it gets, regardless of your sexual orientation. While going through the everyday motions of parenting -- mashing potatoes, reading stories, kissing boo-boos and clapping for pee-pees in the potty -- gay couples receive constant validation that they’re just like everyone else.
Raising kids together often makes couples better partners, according to psychologist Craig Malkin, Ph.D., writing for "Psychology Today." The positive traits required to successfully survive parenthood -- such as patience, problem solving, compassion, spontaneity, optimism and a sense of humor -- tend to trickle down to spousal relationships as well. If a new dad can pretend to be enthralled while his three-year-old sings her ABCs (again), he can also give his husband undivided attention while he tells the joke about the two-legged horse and the ice-cream truck (again).
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