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Childlessness helps marriages last

My wife and I have been married for about 30 years, and we are childless by choice.

We decided long ago that we did not want to bring any children into this world. I realize now that choosing not to have a child is one of the most radical acts one can commit in our society.

We’ve never had any regrets about our decision. Every day I am more convinced we made the right choice. Unfortunately, most people don’t even consider child rearing a choice, they just do it. Half of all pregnancies in America are still unplanned.

Luckily, neither of us had parents who were selfish enough to demand grandchildren from us. They allowed us to make our own decisions, and because we both grew up in an environment free of religious dogma, there was never a stigma attached to being childless.

We never bought into the argument that children are “blessings” or “miracles,” either. Children are simply the result of a biological process — a process that we can now control, thanks to the wonders of (not so) modern science.

Childless marriage is an option more and more couples are choosing; a childless lifestyle can be happy and fulfilling in many ways. The traditional status quo in most societies involves procreation. After all, many people ask, why even bother to get married if not to have children, be fruitful and multiply or carry on the family?

How about love? Companionship? Children are certainly not a requirement for marital bliss. In fact, studies have shown that in many cases, having children can be a hindrance. The recent “Understanding Society” study in the UK shows that young married couples without children have the most satisfying relationships.

The survey tracked 40,000 households over two decades.

Kids aren’t for everybody. Many couples enjoy their time together and aren’t willing to do anything that might jeopardize their relationships. They feel content in their marriages and don’t see the need to have children to make their lives complete.

Fifty percent of all marriages in this country end in divorce, and growing apart due to lack of time for one another is a major contributor to unhappy marriages. Bringing a child into the mix can produce all kinds of changes, and greatly increase the tension in a relationship. Couples have less time and energy for sex, less leisure time to be together socially, less discretionary income and far more responsibilities. These changes can all put tremendous stress on a marriage, even one that’s solid.

Childless married couples who have had the opportunity to be around friends and relatives with children recognize that even if they like kids, the lifestyle and the sacrifices they’d have to make to be good parents are not for them. My wife and I are the only members of our family who have decided to go this route, but we certainly don’t feel deprived. As much as we enjoy the company of children, we are grateful for the opportunity to go back home to our quiet little house and our six cats. They are our children.

Some of the comments childless couples have to put up with:

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“You’ll miss out on being a parent.” I certainly don’t want to have a kid just because I might regret not having one.

Unfortunately, even if you love your kids, there is no guarantee they will love you back. Children can be wonderful little angels, but they can also make your life a living hell — especially when they grow up and have to move into your basement because they can’t find a job.

“You’ll have no one to care for you when you’re old.” If you have to use this as an excuse to make babies, then you are truly sick.

There’s also no guarantee that your children will be there to take care of you when you’re old. I’ve heard enough stories of elderly people wasting away in rest homes who never get a visit from their children to be fooled by that logic.

“What’s a marriage without children?” It’s extremely fulfilling, thank you very much.

“You’re selfish if you don’t want children.” If you insist on going there, I look at it this way: You’re selfish for thinking the world needs to be populated with your genetic spawn. Sorry, but there are more than enough children in the world. Many of them are starving. Rejecting the natural desire to replicate one’s self for the good of humanity seems pretty darn unselfish to me.

Most people today still seem to get married because they have to.

They are either expecting a baby or they’ve already had children together and they need to make it “official.” Sometimes these arrangements work; usually, they don’t. Marriage puts a lot of stress on a relationship and I’ve seen too many good ones ruined by it. Why not just live together?

There are many valid reasons to have kids, but I’m sorry to say that there are also far too many parents today who never should have had children, or even be allowed to have them, for that matter. It breaks my heart to see so many horrendous crimes committed by parents involved in custody disputes. I’ve grown tired of the almost daily news stories about parents who kill their own children as revenge against their ex-spouses.

How can people have such hatred for someone they’ve had a child with? How can they justify taking the life of their own flesh and blood? Clearly, these selfish creatures are unworthy of the privilege to bear children and should never have been allowed to reproduce in the first place — yet this issue is never discussed in polite society.

I’m truly inspired when I see married couples with children who are genuinely happy. I have seen some really incredible parents, and some atrocious “what were you thinking?” parents. I know in my heart not everyone is cut out to raise a family.

To those of you who were born to be a parent, who always wanted to raise children: Please continue to bring forth and nurture positive life energy on our planet. God knows we need it. If you have any doubts at all about whether you want to be a parent, however, then I say leave it to those who know for sure. Just be certain that whatever path you choose in life is the right one for you. Children are not for everyone. There is no shame in that.

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