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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.

Remaining Child-Free: Handling Birth Control

When couples have decided to forgo childbearing, birth control is of paramount importance. Many couples opt for male or female sterilization because of the near-100% success rate, though experts recommend exploring all the available options.

Robin took the birth control pill for years. When the issue of whether to have children was resolved, Duane opted for a vasectomy. Duane candidly admits that, "If for some reason Robin came up pregnant, I would have bolted."

Authors and self-help gurus Debora and Mick Quinn say the kid conversation was concluded in the "first five minutes of our meeting." Debora says she happily sought a sterilization to "close the door."

Child-Free Couples: No Regrets?

None of the couples interviewed by WebMD expressed regrets about their choice to remain child-free.

Buckley says the couples she sees don't really have regrets either. "They might have curiosity, wondering 'what if.' But once you've made a conscious decision and you have clarity about your choices, then chances of regret go way down," she says.

Mick says that when he first emigrated from Ireland, he asked an 85-year-old woman if she regretted not having kids. "She paused the longest time and then said 'no.' She just missed company and camaraderie. The connection Debora and I have is phenomenally stronger than having kids."

Child-Free Couples Living Happily Ever After

Can couples remain child-free and have a lasting, satisfying relationship?

Absolutely, says Gibson.

"When couples have kids they sometimes forget about being a couple," Gibson says. "[Child-free couples] often have something they share instead of children, such as a cause, animal, a dream, fabulous annual vacations."

It's also a myth, say experts and the couples themselves, that people who chose to remain child-free lack nurturing skills.

The Marcuses, for instance, have taken a young man in his 30s under their wing and poured their energy into building a successful gardening business. "A psychology student friend of ours says that the 50s are the 'generative phase,' a time to give back to the younger generation," Duane says. "Our participation in the community as elders is very nurturing."

The Quinns agree. They've written a book in English and Spanish and teach classes together.

"I always give the same answer," says Mick, when asked if he and wife are happy with their child-free relationship. "Separately and together, the work we do is way more important in our opinion than putting the time, effort, and focus into raising one or two children -- especially when there are billions of spare ones around."

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Reviewed on January 25, 2008

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