This week two major studies came out dealing with couples with kids and couples who don’t have kids. Both studies offered different opinions on who’s happy and who’s not.
One study conducted by United Kingdom’s Open University concluded that the happiest couples are those without children. Titled “Enduring Love?” (how cheesy), and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the research involved interviews with more than 5,000 people or all ages and orientations in long-term relationships. The study noted that childless married and unmarried couples were more satisfied in life and felt more valued by their significant other.
The child factor also influenced intimacy levels among couples. Fathers were twice as likely to cite a lack of sexual intimacy as the biggest downfall of their relationships, while mothers reported that they want to have sex less often than their partners do.
According to the research, simple expressions of gratitude play a big role in fulfilling marriages. Small gestures, such as telling a partner “thank you” and giving compliments, were shown to be among the most important factors in maintaining healthy relationships.
“What this study shows us is that couples need to keep investing in their relationships.It’s reassuring to know, especially in these tough economic times, that it’s the small gestures of appreciation and affection, rather than the big romantic displays that really make the difference,” said Ruth Sutherland, chief executive of the relationship support organization Relate, which contributed to the study.
So there’s that study. Couples without children are happier. Because kids suck and suck all of the love and time out of your life. Joking.
On the flip-side, another study released this week doesn’t exactly see it as the childless couples being happier, at least in the United States. According to a published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, people in the U.S, with and without kids rate their lives about the same, but globally children tend to diminish well-being.
One survey covered nearly 1.8 million Americans from 2008 to 2012 and the other interviewed 1.07 million people from 161 countries between 2006 and 2012. Participants were asked how close their lives were to being ideal, and what kinds of emotions they felt the day prior. Potential responses included happy, sad, angered, worried or stressed.
Parents reported more ups and downs than non-parents. Those with children at home reported higher levels of all the emotional responses, including happiness and stress, smiling and anger.
But when researchers took into account other attributes that parents tend to have — higher education, more income, better health and religious faith — they found similar levels of life satisfaction as reported by non-parents. On the whole, both U.S. groups rated their lives about a seven on a scale of one to 10.
Adults of all ages with children at home rated their lives 6.82 while the childless came in at 6.84.
“It is simply a mistake to presume that because people deliberately want children and deliberately bring them into being that those people with children should have better lives,” said Angus Deaton, lead author of the study and an economist at Princeton University. “Non-parents are not ‘failed’ parents, and parents are not ‘failed’ non-parents. Some people like oranges, and some like apples, and we do not think that orange eaters should have better or worse lives than apple eaters.”
There’s the saying, life is what you make it. If you don’t feel the need to have children, then by all means, don’t. But don’t think that your life is going to be a walk in the park 24/7. Also, if you’re going to bring children in this world, you better be ready for what life (and your children) will throw at you. No one’s situation is going to be perfect. It’s your life, you choose either to be happy or not. You shouldn’t need a study to tell you that.