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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 continued...

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.

"Most people say that we are the type of people who would be the best kind of parents," McKay tells WebMD. "They feel we could financially and emotionally offer an excellent environment for a child. Our friends see how we cared for our dog for 15 years and felt that we had all the nurturing skills we would need to be good parents. We disagree."

"I tell people that we are very comfortable with our decision not to have kids and have no regrets," Gomez adds. "Not everyone's priority is to be a parent. We direct our energies elsewhere, such as animal-rights causes and politics."

Barbara Fisher, a licensed professional counselor in Atlanta, says that for some, the choice not to have children is spiritual. "For many people, being child-free has to do with their destiny. They may not be here to parent."

Scott says her research has shown that couples, more so than singles, suffer the greatest pressure to have kids and the greatest social stigma.

Vincent Ciaccio, a spokesman for No Kidding, believes that women more than men bear the brunt of the stigma. "I am aware of [some women] who just don't mention they are child-free in mixed company."

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