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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.

    Child-Free Couples: Still Battling Stigma continued...

    "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."

    Making the Choice to Remain Child-Free

    In an ideal world, both partners would be in agreement on the issue of having -- or not having -- children. Some couples, like McKay and Gomez, discussed the possibility at length early in their relationship and agreed not to delve into parenthood.

    "We discussed the pros and cons of having kids and came to the conclusion that there are too many reasons not to have them, and not enough good reasons to have them," Walters adds.

    But sometimes the issue must be negotiated.

    Atlantans Duane and Robin Marcus married young -- at age 20 -- and have been married for 34 years. Duane says he never felt "capable of being a father." His position was resolute.

    But 12 years into their marriage Robin's biological clock started ticking. "I was never a strong believer in having kids -- I was about 75% sure I didn't want them," she tells WebMD. "It was more a body urge."

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