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    Child-Free Couples: Thriving Without Kids

    Relationship experts and couples who chose not to have kids reveal the secrets of a successful child-free marriage.

    The Many Reasons for Remaining Child-Free

    The reasons child-free couples give for not having children are as varied as the couples themselves.

    For many, the biological clock never ticked and they lack a strong urge to parent. Numerous couples cite the financial restrictions, the childcare challenges, and the time constraints of parenting. Some opt out of child rearing due to environmental, political, and overpopulation concerns. Others endured abusive childhoods and are too bruised to parent. Some reject the career limitations that parenting imposes. Some admit to disliking children or lacking the patience to parent. Still others are caretakers to aging parents and feel children would further deplete their energy. Some are dismayed with the direction parenting has taken today.

    Many voluntarily child-free couples are loathe to sacrifice a rewarding, creative, and often spontaneous lifestyle that includes travel, entertainment, sports, and hobbies. In short, they cherish their unfettered freedom. Couples also mention the peace, quiet, and order of a child-free home. Minimizing stress is yet another common factor many child-free couples consider when making their choice.

    Walters and her husband, Brian Edwards, a commercial real estate broker, worry that children would undermine their relationship. Research done by the web site No Kidding bears this out: 62% of surveyed couples had concerns.

    "We've seen relationships deteriorate after couples have kids," says Walters. "The husband is suddenly a 'distant second' to the kids or they disagree on how to raise them. Often there is little or no romantic energy left for each other. Brian and I enjoy being each other's No. 1."

    Child-Free Couples: Still Battling Stigma

    Elaine Gibson, an Atlanta-based marriage and family therapist and professional counselor, says that many outsiders still make negative assumptions about a couple's child-free status. "Couples who are clear that they don't want to have children don't find there is as much social stigma," she says. "When couples are forthright and have a lot of interesting things going on in their life, people experience that positive energy from them."

    Cynthia McKay is the CEO of her own gourmet gift basket business; her husband, Paul Gomez, is the assistant attorney general for Colorado. They've been married for 18 years. They are up-front about their decision to remain child-free.

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