A recent study suggests that childless couples are happier than parents. The couples in a childless relationship are often more satisfied with their lives and are more likely to feel they are valued by their other half than those couples who have children. The counter argument however, is that couples with children find their lives have more meaning and are far more enriched.
The study was conducted by the Open University in the United Kingdom. Researchers surveyed more than 5,000 participants of all ages, sexual orientations, and statuses. When they were asked to rate the quality of their relationships the childless couples were reported to be happier overall. Childless couples also reportedly do more to maintain their relationships such as spending more time together to talk or go out than the couples who have children.
Interestingly enough, the study showed that mothers were the happiest overall while childless women appeared to be the least happy. This is in stark contrast to the men with children who were proven to be slightly less happy than those who were without offspring. Also, fathers are twice as likely as mothers to claim a lack of sexual intimacy as the main thing they dislike about their relationships.
The study that suggests childless couples are happier than parents was not limited to heterosexual participants. Same sex couples were found to be more positive about the quality of their relationships and tend to take extra efforts to maintain it.
The most surprising finding may have been that unmarried parents are slightly happier than their married counterparts.
Dr. Jacqui Gabb, an Open University senior lecturer in social policy, led the survey that was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. Dr. Gabb and her team discovered that those couples who had previously been in a long-term relationship were more likely to understand what it took to keep their next relationship going. Dr. Gabb says that this is a definite shift away from the thinking that couples never learn from their mistakes. She claims that it shows that they have learned from previous relationships and are able to make their next one a more enriching experience. The study shows that this is very good news for those who have suffered through a divorce or painful breakup.
Childless couples are often thought to be more selfish than couples who have children. While that may not be the case, childless couples certainly don’t find themselves arguing over childcare costs or who is going to drive the children to their soccer games. Childless couples have the ability to travel without worrying about who is going to watch their children.
The new study that suggests childless couples are happier than parents is certainly eye-opening. Perhaps the most interesting finding is that across the board one simple response was noted as being the most important element in a strong relationship. A simple “thank you” means more to all couples, those with children and those without, married couples and same-sex couples, than anything else.
By Mary Kay Love