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How to be Happy When You Can’t Have Kids

Here’s the truth: there aren’t any quick tips or easy fixes for happiness in a childless life. But, my ideas on how to be happy when you can’t have kids may help you see things in a new light – especially if you haven’t chosen a childfree life.

Let’s start with one of my favorite quotes about being willing to accept the hard parts of life is from Dr Rachel Naomi Remen:

“The willingness to win or lose moves us out of an adversarial relationship to life and into a powerful kind of openness,” writes Dr. Remen in Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal. “From such a position, we can make a greater commitment to life. The willingness to win or lose moves us out of an adversarial relationship to life and into a powerful kind of openness. From such a position, we can make a greater commitment to life. Not only pleasant life, or comfortable life, or our idea of life, but all life. Joy seems more closely related to aliveness than to happiness.”

I’ll sprinkle more quotes from Kitchen Table Wisdom in this blog post. If you can take her wisdom to heart – really learn from and absorb it – you will learn how to be happy even when you can’t have kids. It worked for me, and I hope it’ll help you move forward in your life.

Being willing to win or lose in life is one of the ways I made peace with infertility. I decided that life itself is the gift – not children, a husband, family, or any of the other things I used to think were the source of happiness.

How to be Happy Without Having Children

Kitchen Table Wisdom is one of my favorite books because it’s all about accepting both the bitter and the sweet parts of life. Dr Remen is an oncologist who never had children. She struggled with Crohn’s Disease for most her life, and when she was in her 20s had surgery to remove most of her intestines. Remen knows failure and heartache…and she teaches people how to bounce back to live full, passionate lives.

Be willing to let go of how your life “should” be

being happy after not having kidsDo you associate not having children with feelings of failure, being a “loser”, or feeling less worthy or fulfilled than the mom next door? If you do, then you’re normal. Many women feel like they’re unworthy if they don’t have children. They feel less valuable and lovable. So, the first step to finding happiness without kids is express those feelings of pain and loss. Admit that it’s painful to not have children, weep over your loss, grieve the death of your dreams. Not having kids is a painful thing to accept, and it needs to be mourned.

Second, start thinking about how to be open to your life as it is. Instead of hating your body or wrestling with the fact that you can’t have kids, try opening your heart and mind to a life without children. You don’t have to love or be constantly happy about not having kids, but acceptance will help you heal and move on.

You might find 5 Ideas for Women Who Are Coping With Childlessness helpful. I wrote for a reader who asked for tips on how to be happy without kids in her life..

Change how you think about happiness

Happiness is a feeling that comes and goes. it’s not a permanent condition that you’ll always feel. A permanent feeling of peace and acceptance is the foundation of joy, and it can only come from a relationship with God. Everybody has problems; they just look different. My friend’s 19 year old son was recently killed in a car crash. I have ulcerative colitis; my husband and I are coping with male infertility (azoospermia). One of my writing colleagues recently had a stroke, and can’t think clearly enough to write anymore.

Having children won’t make you happy for the rest of your life. Problems will arise with them, and you may find yourself even less happy because of your kids! This is because people, places and possessions are not the true source of happiness.

“The strength that I notice developing in many of my patients and in myself after all these years could almost be called a form of curiosity,” writes Dr Remen in Kitchen Table Wisdom. “What one of my colleagues calls fearlessness. At one level, of course, I fear outcome as much as anyone. But more and more I am able to move in and out of that and to experience a place beyond preference for outcome, a life beyond life and death. It is a place of freedom, even anticipation. Decisions made from this perspective are life-affirming and not fear-driven. It is a grace.”

Spend time with childfree couples

Here’s a practical tip on how to be happy when you can’t have kids: avoid spending time with families, pregnant women, and child-oriented friends! It’s an easy, effective way to protect your mind and guard your heart from feeling despair.

We spend time with friends who have kids – but I most enjoy my friends who don’t have children, or who have grown children! I especially like my friends who have chosen never to have children. If it hurts you to spend time with pregnant friends or big families, then reduce those visits. I wouldn’t advise avoiding families altogether, but I think accepting a childfree life is easier when you’re with people in the same situation.

Another thing that helped me be happy without children is my dog. We adopted Georgie from the SPCA, and she adds so much love and happiness to our lives – and frustration too – that it helps take our minds off not having kids. I’d never call her my “fur baby” and I don’t see her as a replacement for a child, but I do enjoy having her around.

Accept the wisp of sorrow – and choose to be happy without kids anyway

I’ll always feel a wisp of disappointment and sorrow in my heart, but I’ve chosen to pursue a joy-filled, faithful, exciting life! I love God, and am building a closer relationship with Jesus. I’ve accepted the idea that I’ll be childless forever, and I’m deeply happy.

Getting and staying emotionally healthy is a daily choice. Accepting your childfree life and being happy without having children is something you have to choose to do. Being okay with your life doesn’t happen overnight. And, feelings of acceptance don’t last forever. It’s like showering or eating; you have to do it every day. Sometimes three times a day, or three times an hour.

To be happy without having children, remember that happiness is a daily choice.

Help Being Happy Without Kids

If you’re struggling with the pain, read How to be Happy When You Can’t Have KidsUnsung Lullabies: Understanding and Coping with Infertility by Janet Jaffe, David Diamond, and Martha Diamond.

It’s a valuable resource for women and men who are childless. Sometimes it’s the little things, like knowing you’re not alone, that can make a big difference. If you feel like you’ll never be happy without a baby, reading books for childless couples can help you accept and even be happy with your life.

You may also find it helpful to read How to Be Happy Without Kids – Inspiration From Lesley.

One last quote:

“The less we are attached to life, the more alive we can become,” writes Dr Remen in Kitchen Table Wisdom. “The less we have preferences about life, the more deeply we can experience and participate in life. This is not to say that I don’t prefer raisin toast to blueberry muffins. It is to say that I don’t prefer raisin toast so much that I am unwilling to get out of bed unless I can have raisin toast, or that the absence of raisin toast ruins the whole day. Embracing life may be more about tasting than it is about either raisin toast or blueberry muffins. More about trusting one’s ability to take joy in the newness of the day and what it may bring. More about adventure than having your own way.”

What do you think about my tips on how to be happy when you can’t have kids? Your thoughts – big and little – are welcome below. And don’t worry, I won’t give you advice! It’s your turn to talk.


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44 thoughts on “How to be Happy When You Can’t Have Kids”

  1. My experience: most people dealing with infertility are also dealing with other issues in life. Infertility, for those who want children, is like adding insult to injury. One of the best ways to overcome, or at least manage, the sorrow that comes with infertility is leaning on other areas of life that are more stable/doing better. This largely depends your present circumstances, location and support network. I’ve read that some women (and men) focus on their career; others lean on their partner, family members or friends. I’ve heard others say that they instead focus on nieces and nephews and/or children of their closets friends. Others have hobbies they greatly enjoy, other obvious purpose in life, etc.

    The question is, what happens to those of us who have none of those things + infertility? One rarely sees any advice on how to manage that.

  2. I’ve never been able to have kids. I feel like i ruined my ex husbands life because i couldn’t give him children and he could’ve been with someone else who could have. Everyone in my life has kids but me. i’ve tried but i just don’t see the purpose of life without children. I don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t see the point of living and working for myself and never having children. I don’t know if i can do this anymore. The pain is unbearable. People say how it’s the person’s fault because they waited to long. I think this could not be more wrong. I started trying when i was 24. Never happened. My sister in law had her first child at age 39, and had another at 41. you can either have children or you can’t. i really don’t think age matters as much as people say it does, i think that is just another way of blaming an infertile woman. “Oh, you waited to long.” No. I didn’t. My body just doesn’t work like it’s supposed to. I’m defective. I often wish i was dead. I’m not a real woman. I feel like i’m nothing. I don’t know what i am.

  3. Until this past December, my husband and I had been trying to have kids for about 11 years with 3 miscarriages in that time. Besides the fertility issue, I had been in intense amounts of pain about 80% of the time increasing to more like 95% last year from fibroids, severe endometriosis, and scar tissue. We finally sought the help of a fertility specialist last year, mostly to get answers to the “why” questions, which led us to find out that, not only was it likely I would not conceive again but if I did it could likely cause fatal complications to me. Since it was unlikely we would have a full-term pregnancy and because I was in so much pain we opted to do a total hysterectomy at the end of December (Merry Christmas! lol). I had so much peace with it in the beginning (surprisingly so…almost a relief). I started to look forward to possibly adopting, but as my husband and discussed it more, the more I realized he REALLY did not want to do it. He would do reluctantly it for me, but I need him in it with me and not just folding because he knows how much I want kids. So…here I am trying to figure out what my life looks like without kids. Every time I think about it my heart just breaks all over again. I have started re-analyzing the things in my life that bring me joy and satisfaction. I also started a book called Thankful, which is mostly a daily thankfulness journal and has helped to refocus me, albeit temporarily. But I just can’t shake the grief most days. I have always been an optimistic, glass half-full, hopeful person but this has sent me spiraling into depression, hopeless thoughts of “I guess I am just existing until I die”, and jealousy towards those who have been able to have kids (fully knowing they have their own troubles). I have just been searching for articles or really anything that can help me navigate through it all. Anyway, I am happy you had the option to leave comments, because it is really helpful writing all this out (painful but helpful lol). Anyway, thank you for your articles, they are very encouraging! 🙂

  4. For me this situation is so sad, I lost my husband becouse I can not cope with chidless life, I felt less than other women who can get pregnant, any woman needs help to cope with this, I like this page.
    It is necessary to read, to express your feelings, to talk about it with close friends, family and specially your husband.

    1. I also lost my husband when infertility changed me forever.
      You are not alone.
      3 years later he has had a baby with the woman he was with before, and briefly, during our marriage.
      Infertility is a sad and lonely disease ruining all in its wake. I totally sympathise with you.

  5. Dear Laurie,
    Incredible to find a site like this where childlessness can be discussed openly and honestly. My situation is, although I married late at 37 yrs, I always thought I would have children and so was surprised to find instead of a child growing inside of me, there was a slow growing cancer. My husband and I prayed into this and the battle against the cancer was fought over 11 long and painful years. No medical intervention. I would not have held on this long except that I had been given unsolicited words of knowledge by three different pastors and elders who saw me with a baby and children. The end result was I needed to have a radical hysterectomy at age 53. At this point in time my husband and I were too old to adopt a child, either from overseas or in our country. That was five years ago now and the feelings of sadness have never gone away. They come up especially when I think of my husband’s children and grandchildren. Unfortunately his ex wife poisoned his sons against him for many years and continues to be a controlling influence in all of their lives. Not once have we had a Christmas dinner with them coming to our place in twenty years of marriage because of her control and their ‘family tradition’ to always have Christmas at their mother’s house,or at a relative’s on her side of the family. All this has done is rub in more the feeling of lack of family. My sister lives overseas and has children and is oblivious to how I feel as she is so busy with her lot. My brother and I fell out about ten years ago and he has cut me out of his life. All I have are the positive memories of growing up in a loving family, and it saddens me to think of this and where we’re all at now with each other. I think the biggest issue is when you see others who’ve been able to have children, and you want to let them know how you feel, but you know they will never get it, and are often too busy often to hear the hurt in your heart. I had never thought of linking up with other couples who don’t have kids. One thing that is on my heart is to get involved with local and overseas mission or voluntary organisations where I can contribute and make a difference in others lives. And yes, being happy with what God has given you, and relishing the times you spend with husband or close friends – with or without children. Being thankful for good friends, health, pets, nature, being alive – the little things in life is really important. I’m not sure staying away from friends with children would be best for me though? Often you can feel a part of the bigger family of God by spending time with other families and enjoying time with them together. My husband and I did move away from our home town where his sons live. I needed to check with him several times if this was the right thing to do. ( We did have other reasons for moving away.) It was hurtful for us both to live close to his children and grand children but never really feel a part of the family because of the ex-wife’s need to control the children. I do think moving away has been a positive as it means if they do come to visit it will be genuine and not as the result of any kind of manipulation. So yes, the sadness comes and goes – and it’s good to know this is quite normal. Thank you for your post. It’s made me realize I’m not alone because I think often that’s the thing that gets you over and over – the aloneness.

  6. Is it possible for every woman to accept a childfree life, or to find ways to be happy without having children? I don’t think so. No.

    When I wrote this article in 2012, I really did think women could just choose to be happy. I thought they could rise above their feelings and emotions, and focus on the positive things in life. I thought women without children could rebuild their lives and re-adjust their expectations, and find different ways to be fulfilled and happy.

    But I was wrong. Life and relationships are very complicated for some women. It’s not easy to just “accept a childfree life” and move on. It’s hard, and painful, and sad.

    Recently, I expanded on this article because I don’t think it’s good or deep enough. If you’re interested in learning different ways to grieve and heal, you may find it helpful…

    How to Be Happy as a Childless Woman – Single or Married

    I will keep you in my prayers. May you grieve your broken dreams and find ways to accept the blessings in your life. May you see the good, and focus on the gifts you’ve been given.

    May you see every breath you take as a gift from God, and may you gratefully accept whatever else He chooses to bless you with.

    May you Blossom despite everything.


  7. Can I be happy without children? No, absolutely not. I wish I was dead. There is no point carrying on if I cannot fulfill this one basic task. My business is very successful, I have super friends and no financial worries. Still every single day I put a smile on my face to hide the fact that my shitty little life is not worth living. I just wish that I had been smart enough to not put this off for too long.

    1. A,

      I am childless, your comments about having a “sh*tty life” without kids (despite success) resonates with me, but the “not worth living” does not resonate. I connected with the short comments you wrote, I think you are someone who is loved, who gives love, and brings irreplaceable meaning to those in your life. I thought a life without children does not have meaning, but it does, I was wrong, it is worth living.

      Please, try to see yourself the way I, a stranger, already does. The collected “we” of people that also don’t have kids, we are with you, you matter to us. We love you. I love you.


    2. I have been feeling like it is pointless to keep living without being able to have children. I was married my ex husband didn’t at first want children. Then he “changed” his mind. He only said he would have children so that I wouldn’t leave him. It didn’t work. our sex life was none existant, he slept in the living room. When I asked him he lied and said he didn’t want to disturb me that’s why he stopped sleeping in our bed. Men and lies goe together like peanut butter and jelly. I did IUI twice they failed. I am 38, I have PCOS, and a fibroid. So if it doesn’t happen now don’t see it happening ever. I am the only one in my group of young people at my church without a child. That is the hardest thing ever. It is difficult to be around them. Then you have ignorant people who will ask “why I don’t have children yet” and “what I am waiting for” I feel better knowing that I am not alone. That there are women out there who knows exactly I mean exactly what I am feeling. I feel little bit better. This might sound off but I think if I had a miscarriage I would feel a little better because at least I would know that I was once pregnant. Not that miscarriages aren’t painful but the fact that they had a fetus growing inside of them, feeling the symptoms of pregnancy.
      I wished there was a country or city where childless people live. I would move there at least I wouldn’t have to meet up on children, or hear their laughter and hear parents talking about them. Since I was a little girl I dreamed about being a mother. I never thought I would not have children. I can’t see my life without children. I don’t know what to do now. Based on the article it seems that childless individuals never get over not having children. I guess I got my answer to how to live a purposeful life childless and without a spouse.

  8. I don’t know how to explain how much it hurts right now. I do know it feels like a truck sitting on my chest. My heart forever broken and unable to breathe.

    My ex husband ran off with someone else following multiple misscarriages at the time I was 35 and devastated in more ways than one. I had counselling and grieved and resigned myself to a lonely childless life. I saw a specialist and there is no reason for my losses.

    Two years later I meet a caring kind man whom I’ve fallen madly in love with. I took it and ran with love as I never thought I’d be lucky and find him. He has 2 young boys from a previous relationship, it’s a difficult situation because their mother uses the children as weapons against their father. The boy’s mother has slandered his reputation which has alienated him from the community in which they live and the boys go to school. She has done this through false allegations of domestic abuse after he left her as he could not deal with it any longer. It sounds more like he was the abused one to be honest as their relationship only continued after her getting pregnant the first time they had sex. She then threatened to go back to her country of birth and him never knowing the child unless he had a relationship and provided everything. She continues to cause drama and hates me for existing as she still dreams of them getting back together.

    So I built a relationship with his boys and love them very much. When they are with us I fulfill a lot of a mothers roles and I know I’m lucky to have this but it kicked of a yurning I thought I’d dealt with and it hurts to see his love for them and their love for him. It highlights that nobody loves me like that and that I do not have that love. I have a big heart and a lot of love to give. I spoke to him and he wants no more children due to the hell his ex put him through. That hurts so much, he tells me I’m the love of his life, he wishes his children were mine, how I’m so loving and caring I’d be a great mum etc. He doesn’t see how much it hurts, he told me I should bond with his boys. That that should be enough, that his main reason for having none with me is the two he has already as he doesn’t want them to think he’s replacing them and that I would treat them different.

    I tried to do this, I built a relationship, a good one with both boys. We then didn’t see them while they spent a couple of weeks with their mum. In which time she has poisoned them against us, especially me. So we took them on holiday and she’d told them to be mean to me (we wondered what had happened and my other half questioned them and they admitted they were doing what their mother asked for fear of making her angry). The youngest was physically violent towards me repeatedly. So how am I to do this with her undermining me in such a horrible way. The boys are being effected as its emotional abuse. She is bad mouthing the boy’s father to the boys and trying to alienate him from them.

    So now I’m hurting more than ever and when I try to talk to him he takes it personally. That he thinks I think it’s all his fault for not letting me have his child. It hurt so much that he gave her everything and will not me yet I’m the love of his life? I love him so much but I’m left with this. I’m just not sure what my purpose is and I want the pain to stop. Am I just selfish?

    1. Elle – You’re not selfish at all. In fact, if anything, you’re being far too generous with your time, effort, and love if you’re being treated as described. If you’ve made it very clear that you want a child of your own, and your current partner quite clearly does not accept that, then you both have very deeply incompatible life goals. He and his children get the positive maternal influence that you provide to make up for their mother’s poisonous behavior, and in return you get… heartache and longing. No matter how great this guy may seem, there is no way that can possibly make up for your deeply undesirable situation.

      And if he doesn’t or can’t realize that, or (even worse) does realize how miserable it makes you, but isn’t willing to change something to help you fulfill a major, basic , and emotionally necessary goal like that, then I don’t see how he deserves to be described as a caring guy. No matter how many doors he opens for you or says he loves you, this incredible emotional disconnect completely overshadows anything else. As far as you’ve described him, he seems to be a very weak-willed pushover with a horrible family situation you are gracious enough to stick around and make a little better. Somehow, he is completely at the mercy of a clearly malicious ex-wife who uses children as a weapon against him, but has somehow found the fortitude to turn you down, even though you’ve demonstrated far better qualities as a potential mother than she has as an actual one. So yes, it absolutely IS his fault for not wanting to have a child with a woman that’s clearly superior to his pathetic ex-wife! Seems that you already treat his kids better than their actual mother – what could he possibly be worried about? He sired two children to a manipulative shrew, but won’t have one with you, the love of his life? I don’t see any logic there, only cowardice. And as a reward for his emotional failure, you merely have to put up with crushing angst every day you see him with his kids.

      For your own sake, please leave him to deal with this horrific mess of his own making, and find a partner who doesn’t make you miserable. This is not something you should subject yourself to, either for his sake, or yours. It’s not your job to make that great a sacrifice and deal with such an emotionally damaging situation, no matter how caring he may seem in other facets of your relationship.

      Unlike some of the people in this site, it sounds like you have the freedom to correct at least a part of this situation. There is an awesome guy out there somewhere who’s major life goals match yours, and who won’t cause you incredible pain just to be around. Please do both of you a huge favor by escaping this terrible situation and moving on sooner rather than later. Wish you the best of luck!

      1. WOW! I totally agree with the above comments from Bob! My dear Elle, you are being used & abused! I think you need to get out of that messy situation & reconnect or connect with yourself. LOVE yourself! maybe some spiritual support would be helpful! You are doing all the giving with paltry returns on your investments! BAD DEAL!! The more you honor&respect yourself, the more GOOD will enter your life!! The right man will come along when you get in tune with YOUR unique&wonderful self!

  9. I’m not sure I’m ready to accept it yet, but this article have me a few things to think about. I married a man who had been married previously and has two kids already. The youngest is still in the house but 14. I adopted her when we got married almost three years ago. But it didn’t fill the need in the slightest. In fact it just makes me feel like a fake. I didn’t carry her, I didn’t nurse her, and I only met her when she was 10 years old, three, almost four years ago. Her biological mother is not dead. A court order gave my husband full custody of her and no visitation to the mother because she was an addict and neglecting the baby. Also the reason my husband left her. Now imagine that… an addict is more woman than I am and apparently more worthy of children than me (she has like 4 total, lost custody of every one dye to her addictions). 3 years is how long we’ve been trying to get pregnant. Even the IUI treatments failed and no one can tell us what’s wrong with us. I feel like it must be me somehow though all the tests show I’m fine, just a little low on hormones which they had me on pills for when we were trying IUI. I’m 34 now, my husband is 42. the next step would be IVF, which we cannot afford. I’m falling to pieces, and my husband thinks our marriage is falling apart just because I can’t be comforted. I feel alone because he has his own kids, he doesn’t understand what I’m going through. He thinks I’m blaming him. In addition I don’t know anyone else who wasn’t able to have kids or who choose not to. one friend had trouble, they could afford the ivf and she got triplets. She may understand what I’m going through but she’s too busy with her kids to take time for me. I know no one else who understands what I’m going through. My sister griped when she didn’t get pregnant the first two months they tried… she has two boys now and mostly only complains about how much they drive her crazy and tells me things like, are you sure you want one of these? They drive you mad. She has much less patience than I do. She was the Tom boy growing up. She always wanted boys but she was never as maternal as I was. It hurts to watch her stressed out over the very thing I wanted most. She takes it for granted. She doesn’t appreciate the gift… or it feels that way. All my friends have multiple kids, every, single, one. How do you even meet people in the same boat as you anyway? It’s kinda rude to ask new people you meet. Envy, jealousy, hurt, pain…. unbearable pain. Every mention of children, parenting, in any context, cuts my heart. Even though I know I’m not the only one I still feel alone. Not even that knowledge helps at all.it actually makes the pain greater to know too many women suffer with this.

  10. This article was great I had 4 miscarriages in 4 years and it’s been 5 years since I’ve been pregnant. I’m 30 yrs old and people ask me all the time when I’m I having a baby it just makes me so sad, I cry everyday thinking about my situation and I’m just always unhappy. I see so many friends and family having children and deep down inside I feel a bit jealous but then I pray because I know it’s just the devil making me feel that way. I try to deal with my issues by spending lots of time with my neices and nephews whom I love so much and being around family helps too. I still hope someday that God will bless me with children 🙁

  11. Dear Martha,

    It sounds like you’re dealing with a lot of frustration and disappointment, and those deep feelings of loss aren’t remedied by my little list of tips on how to be happy when you can’t have kids. I wish I could be more helpful, but some of our feelings of grief and pain just have to be experienced.

    Sometimes it’s best to let go of what we wanted, and instead focus on something new in our lives. This is painful – it involves grieving the death of your dream of being a mother. Learning how to be happy when you can’t have kids is an ongoing process that is painful, but it is a valuable endeavor!

    Here’s an article I recently wrote, to encourage women to move forward.

    5 Ideas for Creating a Better Life – And So She Blossoms

    I hope it helps, and I will keep you in my prayers. May you find hope and healing, peace and joy.


  12. Thank you for your article. I can relate. I’m very frustrated. My husband and I have tried to have children of our own for over ten years. We’ve been to infertility specialists and have tried adoption and nothing is working. I have friends that say “when you want something bad enough you’ll make it happen” , but they don’t understand how frustrating and disappointing it is to spend a lot of money and more than that get your hopes up and think “oh I must be pregnant” or “maybe this time…” just to be disappointed all over again. Or to make plans to adopt, just to have the pregnant woman change her mind after you’ve gotten your hopes up. Or to have adoption agencies act so much like they want to find homes for children and then tell you, “oh you’ll need to foster first and then maybe you can adopt, if they don’t go back to their biological parents” or balk because you’re older, even though you said you’re willing to adopt an older child and it doesn’t have to be a baby. Or not even call you back at all, or not even respond to your inquiries or applications. Or get turned down for a loan, on your 40th birthday, the money you were hoping to get to use for expensive international adoption.
    I appreciate this article very much. Thank you.

  13. I am 37 years old and trying to decide if I am ready to give up the idea of having a baby. I have PCOS and have a great fertility specialist, but the monthly disappointment is difficult. Most of my friends have children, but I am no longer invited to birthdays, christenings, I think because the assumption is that I don’t have kids because I don’t like them. It leaves me feeling very isolated. My husband is 10 years older than I, and I do worry about ending up truly alone someday. I could try IVF but given the success rate I feel the emotional toll will be great, and I don’t know if physically I can handle it – I was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and am having a lot of physical challenges with my balance, ability to walk, eyesight, among others. How can I put myself through IVF or even pregnancy, shifting my centre of gravity??? It is so much to figure out but I fear given my age and fertility challenges I can’t afford the time I really need to work through everything. All this makes it difficult for me to have any sort of vision around how I want my life to pan out and what my options are.

  14. Thanks for your thoughts, Mary! That’s awesome that you’re starting the adoption process. How exciting! My friend adopted two boys almost 11 years ago, and she loves them like they’re her own. She would say the same thing to any couple who wonders how to be happy when they can’t have kids.

    My husband and I talked about adoption, but I didn’t really want kids that strongly. I’d be happy to get pregnant and I would love my kid dearly, but I didn’t want to do in vitro fertilization or even adoption. We even talked about fostering kids, but we really didn’t feel parenthood pulling us that strongly.

    Adoption is a wonderful way to start a family, though. you’re right: there are so many kids who desperately need parents to love and care for them!

  15. With some many children out there praying every night to have a mommy or a daddy… why have you guys never thought about adoption? I have infertility, but I will not miss the opportunity to be a mother, I am starting the adoption process.

  16. Dear Melanie,

    Thank you for being here, and sharing your struggles with having a child. It’s so heartbreaking, isn’t it? The sad thing is that it’s the type of pain that never goes away….I suppose all grief is like that. We carry it with us forever. I’m sorry you have to experience this.

    Yes, you’re right that finding the pathway to accepting a childfree life will free you to be healthy and happy. Finding your passion and purpose will help you move forward, will give you a reason to love your life and get up in the morning. Finding your reason for being won’t take the place of a baby, but it will add depth, richness, joy, and meaning to your life.

    May you find peace and healing. May you accept your life as it unfolds, and may you always be inspired and open to trying different ways to blossom. May joy and love fill your life, and may you find those little pockets of Awesome that make life worthwhile.

  17. It is a huge a relief to me to read your article and to find a place where I feel that I belong. My story is pretty much the same, having tried IVF three times and failed and reaching the age of 44 it seems clear that my husband and I are not meant to have children. I am struggling very much coming to terms with this and have suffered a breakdown over the last couple of months as this year many of my friends have had babies and now my sister in law is also pregnant and I have horrible jealous feelings running through me. I know that I am grieving at the moment and have begun my journey of coming to terms with being childless. I know that I will have to find a way to accept it, but right now I don’t know how to. My husband is being very supportive but I also know that he doesn’t know how to help me. I feel scared and alone because all our friends have children. I do feel a failure and an outsider plus I live in Germany which is not my native country or language so can’t just find a fulfilling job. I have a great husband and I know we have a wonderful life ahead of us, I just need to find the path of acceptance and a hobby, job or vocation to fulfill me. Thank you for sharing all your stories, it has helped me a lot.

  18. Dear Andrea,

    Thank you for sharing your struggles. The idea of not having children is very difficult, especially when we know that it is a possibility, but not a choice we have the power to make easily.

    If you decide to stay with your husband, know that a childless or childfree life doesn’t get easier. That is, you may always feel the pain and grief of not having children even though you’re choosing it. I’m fine with not having children, but even so I feel the sorrow and the yearning fairly often! It actually surprises me, that I feel sad as often as I do. It’s a primal, instinctive, innate urge to have children. It’s very difficult to “overcome.”

    If you want to be happy in your marriage, I encourage you to keep reminding yourself why you love your husband. Focus on the rightness of the choice you made. Don’t let those nagging doubts and fears sway you, or lead you astray.

    Remind yourself every day – and often throughout the day – why you chose this life. Don’t give in to the pain of wishing you had children. You’ll destroy your relationship and yourself if you allow yourself to follow those thoughts.

    Choose, once and for all. And then do everything you can to set yourself up for success and happiness in the life you’ve chosen.

  19. when I married my husband, it was very clear to me that we’re not going have kids as he had a vasectomy already. he has 2 beautiful daughters which i was thinking that they will be good enough for me to love and take care of them and treated them as my own. but as times goes by receiving disrespectful act from one of them, i am now getting this thought that what if my husband and I will have new baby of our own? will I be treated well by my own daughter? will it be more happier that i have my own child? i love kids so much but i was not ready to have one until i live with my husband with his kids. is this normal to feel? will i get over it? i don’t know. i love my husband so much and leaving him for not giving a baby is very unfair to him as I was aware of it in the first place. there are some what if’s but hopefully i will get over this and always feel happy with just my husband and I.. i am grieving yes for not having the baby that i am imagining to have a baby girl or a baby boy who will have my eyes or my lips..or the way i look into life..to all my unborn babies i will love you in silence and maybe in my next life I can have one who knows..to all of us who can’t have any.. lets’ just happiness in other things and enjoy life at all times.

  20. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thank you for being here, and sharing how difficult it can be to accept a childfree life. It’s bittersweet, isn’t it?

    If I had the choice, I would have had children. But sometimes life doesn’t give us a choice. The secret to being happy without having children is to not just accept but embrace your life for what it is.

    Actually, the real secret to being happy is turning to God. He loves us deeply! He may not give us everything we ask for, but He cares for us and is protecting us. He knows what we need – not just what we want – and He ensures we have everything we need.

    May you accept and surrender to your life. May you know that for some reason this is the way it’s supposed to be for you…and if you feel that this ISN’T the way your life is supposed to unfold, may you find strength, courage, and energy to make the changes you need to make.


  21. I sometimes feel sad that life did not give me the opportunity to have children. I am now 53 and menopausal. But I enjoy the freedom and solitude.

  22. hello
    Sorry in advance for my English. This is not my native language (:
    I found you, after searching for people who are coping with the same situation I’m dealing with.
    I enjoyed reading your articles that show life can be good even without children. and its ok not to have children no matter why.
    My husband and I (around age 40) are trying to get pregnant for several years without success, when adoption or egg donation is unacceptable. perhaps a dog in the future (:
    for me, people is the more difficult part of this situation. I live in a society, that most of it, encourages birth no matter what. I can not stand statements or questions or any invasion of privacy. but anyhow I learn to deal with this.
    l’m lucky to have a great relationship that help me and also a virtual space where I can share and read other experiences, learn to cope and be supported and inspired…
    Thank u for yr inspiration. I will continue to follow and write

  23. Hello all
    I’m a 42 yr old woman engaged to a 45 yr old father of 2. We have gone in circles with the decision to have/not have children. Him not wanting anymore & me running in circles:( we were getting close to considering it after getting engaged ,
    he lost his job & X filed for more money. Money is not an issue for us what so ever even with us both unemployed. After this happened he clammed up & had no interest as if that was the plan all along . Although we started to have unpretetected sex prior to all this happening he still stands his ground & says he wasn’t really there !! BS !!!
    I care for his children like a mother. I am involved with all their care. His x is totally comfortable with me taking care of her children more than her self. A lot is expectpted of me & the children lean on my a lot . A lot of stress but I love them dearly as well as their father, But I am having the hardest time. My fiancé wants me to b a mother to his children but he doesn’t want to “deal ” with anymore. I feel I’m out of time & totally bitter. Don’t think I would b able to ever forgive him for not at least trying. I’ve been to the Dr & seem to think I can still have a child . I can’t find a good place & I feel so much pressure being 42. Everything I read tells me to leave but I don’t want to make a wrong decision !!!! Thanks for reading

  24. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Laura,

    Thank you for being here, and sharing the pain you’ve experienced. Perhaps the only pain worse than being childless is having children and losing them…or experiencing stillborn births. It’s important to honor your pain and process the grief of what you’ve lost. I can only imagine how hard it was to lose the children and husband you loved.

    But, life has given you a new love! That’s amazing. A miracle – some women never find ONE man to love, much less two 🙂 What a blessing, to have met a single dad.

    My prayer is that you find peace with the decisions that lay before you. May you find a wise counselor to talk to, who can help guide you towards the answers that are right for you. I pray for strength, healing, and a spirit of joy and hope about your future! Maybe you don’t have to find ways to be happy without having children, maybe you don’t have to accept a childfree life!

    Be honest with your partner. Tell him how you feel. Maybe before you do that, you could write everything down in your journal. Writing is a valuable way to figure out what we really think, feel, and want. When we go ’round and ’round in our heads or even in conversation with others, we tend to keep going ’round and ’round. But writing has a way of offering clarity, insight, wisdom.

    Your past losses aren’t necessarily indicative of your future. It might be good to talk to a fertility doctor about what happened, to get a medical perspective. I suspect there won’t be any “real” answers – often, these things are a mystery.

    I pray that you find courage to open up and talk to your partner, strength to say the things that are in your heart, and faith that you can heal from the brokenness and feelings of abandonment that arise when you are alone. I pray that you connect with God, who is the only source of lasting love, security, comfort, peace, and joy. May you find resources that help you make decisions in your life that bring you happiness, health, and authenticity.


  25. Hi
    been reading your article. I’m finding things hard as 4 years ago my first born (from 3rd round of IVF after 3years no natural success) was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition and passed away at 6 months, another round of IVF with testing for the condition at 11 weeks then my second child had massive heart complications and was still born at 25 weeks. My husband left me soon after we buried my second child as he had hot another woman pregnant instead. I have struggled massively to come to terms with my childlessness, however have in the past 2 years met a single dad. We have become close but I really struggle with spending too much time with him and his son. I get very attached and then when they leave I feel abandoned. I know the little boy (who lives with his other on a daily basis) doesn’t need another mum and will never love me in the same way. I get jealous and insecure. I turned 40 in march, and still don’t know if there is a chance to try for a child with this man as my infertility reason isn’t 100% certain, having mine blocked tube but unsure about the second. I don’t know how to broach the subject if he would try IVF with me even if uncould even afford it.
    Butbthen I wonder if the two losses I suffered are suposed to tell me that I’m not suposed to be a mum :”-(. So torn, even thought about adopting as a single mum but I’m scared

  26. Dear Elly,

    Thank you for taking the time to comment, and for showing us we’re not alone. It’s painful and sad, but…it is what it is, and we have no choice but to live with not having kids. We might as well be happy, right? It’s a choice we can make. 🙂


  27. Thanks everyone for your stories on here. I thought I was alone being childless. But I see I am not alone many of us are out there and trying to cope with a loss we never had!

  28. Dear Rea,

    It’s such a difficult decision to make! I agree that this is the right time to figure out if you should have kids or not…because at 30, you still have lots of time to have kids. You still have at least 5 more years before you really have to make this decision.

    The problem is that you don’t know what you’re deciding FOR! That is, you don’t know what your kids would be like, or if you’d regret it afterward. That’s the tough part about trying to decide if you should have kids. Other life decisions seem to have more “known” qualities to them.

    I don’t think you’ll ever get over the emotional part of a childfree life. It’ll always be a bit sad for you, that you never had kids. There will always be some grief and regret, I think.

    Maybe that’s the key…you need to accept the pain that will accompany either decision. Either way, it’s a sacrifice. Either way – kids or not – you have to give up something, don’t you?

    Stay true to you,

  29. I am in a bit of a different situation that I am finding hard to handle.

    While I do not have fertility issues, my partner who is 20 years my senior had a vasectomy. We have been together for 5 years, and at first he wanted to have kids, and I did not. As time rolled on we seemed to have switch positions. He decided he did not want to have anymore kids (he has grown teenagers with his ex). Finding this out made me re-think whether I actually wanted to have kids, now that the option has been eradicated. I love him so much, but I always wonder whether that is going to be enough – for the rest of my life. As a child I always thought I would have kids. As I got older, the idea went out the window with an ex who did not want to have kids, which I thought I was ok with, but then again I was in my early 20s and the thought of children seemed so far away.

    There are times I feel guilty because I will not be giving my parents grandchildren. I feel guilty at times because I (as far as I know) can have children and there are couples out there that would trade me in a heart beat. Watching my childhood friends have their children, makes me overjoyed for them, genuinely, but I wonder if there is something I am missing out on. There are times that I feel like my life is incomplete, but after reading your article, perhaps its because I need more in my life to fulfill other aspects in my life. The thought of dying alone scares me.

    At the age of 30, I feel like I am questioning this at the right time, before it is too late. The biggest issue is debating whether or not having children will be worth giving up the man I love for having children, with perhaps a man I don’t love as much, or on my own. When I think of it that way, I know I don’t want to have children. Maybe planning our stress-free life together is a start. I just don’t know how to get over the emotional part of it. Especially when he already has kids. I now realize that it is an feeling I will have to deal with everyday.

    I just don’t know how to start my child-free life.

  30. Dear Lois,

    Thank you for being here, and for sharing how you feel about not having children. It’s not an easy thing to get used to – the idea that you won’t have kids. I think most women grow up thinking they’ll have kids someday, and it’s sad and difficult to change that plan.

    Yes, I 100% believe you can grieve something you never had! You’re grieving the end of an expectation, a dream, a plan for your life. I grieved the end of my dream of being a published writer. That was a loss of something I never had – a writing career in the traditional sense – and I was very sad about it.

    I encourage you to grieve your loss. Maybe your husband can’t share the grief of transitioning to a childfree life — but that doesn’t mean you can’t honor your own feelings and thoughts.

    Also, remember that grieving the end of this expectation (having kids) isn’t a one-time thing. I finally accepted that we won’t have children a year ago, but my sadness still crops up sometimes. I’m always partly sad when friends and neighbors announce a pregnancy…and it would make me feel sad if someone talked nonstop about her pregnancy. That’s a very difficult position to be in.

    Please feel free to come back and write about your feelings anytime, okay? Expressing how you feel is very important – even if your husband doesn’t agree!

    Stay true to you,

  31. I am married without children. We have recently arrived at the decision not to have children due to my age and our financial situaiton – I have only told 2 of my friends, who have both said it was a brave decision! I don’t feel very brave at all.

    I feel like I am going through a period of mourning, which my husband doesn’t understand. How can you mourn something you have never had?! But I had a dream of having a family, which now isn’t to be. I am scared it will tear me and my husband apart.

    I am trying to look forward to the future and be grateful for all I do have in my life and for all the opportunities being childfree will bring. But it is also heartbreakingly sad at times. I have a close family member who is pregnant and talks about her baby non-stop, it is hard to listen to.

  32. Kristi,

    Thanks for your comment! The Hannah’s prayer website sounds really good – I think there’s a book with a similar name, for women coping with fertility issues.

    I’d love to check Content as Two out! It sounds inspiring and hopeful. But I like to think of me and Bruce as “Very Happy as Two” (as opposed to being content, which to me has an element of disappointment and resignation).

    I think it’s a bit easier for us, because I was never consumed with the idea of having kids. I wanted to get pregnant, but could also see myself being happy without children. I still wish we had kids, but am very grateful for the benefits of being childless.

  33. Thank you for writing this. I am a part of a Christian ministry called Hannah’s Prayer (www.hannah.org) for women dealing with fertility challenges, both infertility and pregnancy loss. One of the forums there is called “Content As Two” and it is for those who have come to a place of accepting that their family will remain the size that it was when began on their wedding day as husband and wife. There are some amazing women there whose lives are full and joyful, in spite of not having the children that they once dreamed of. They are honest about the sting of infertility that never quite goes away, but also about the joy that fills their lives. I have been very encouraged by their stories, as I am by yours as well!

  34. Thanks for being here, Jennifer.

    What is your passion? What could you spend hours or even days doing, and totally lose track of time? What have you always dreamed of doing?

    I think it’s easier to accept a childfree life if we find and pursue our passions.

    What will you do with the one wild and precious life you have?

  35. Thank you for this article and for the comments left by women. I also cannot have children due to make infertility (azoospermia), and there are times…most times…where I feel my life has zero meaning. I am not happy in my career…never really was “career driven”, as I always wanted to be a mom. I dread hearing about the latest baby born into the family, and I avoid almost all family gatherings. I have no friends anymore unless they also are childless. I get SO tired of hearing how women are not fulfilled until they have children…and am equally tired of hearing “why don’t you just adopt”…it’s so nice to hear I’m not alone, and just knowing other women can feel my pain helps…I don’t know why we have to go through this, but maybe someday God will explain it to us.

  36. Dear n,

    It sounds like you are very unhappy with life right now, and that you’re stressed as well. I’ve learned that stress and painful emotions can trigger negative coping behaviours – which is what bulimia is.

    I can’t give you the help you need, I’m sorry to say. You need to talk to someone in person about your feelings about your ex-boyfriend, not having children, and your broken dreams.

    It’s very important to get the help you need as soon as possible. Please don’t put it off, because you’re just prolonging the pain.

    Do you have a counsellor or someone you trust, who you can talk to?

  37. For a long time I stayed away from my friends with kids. I felt not on the same page. I felt isolated an outsider and a failure.what was it about me that put me in this place? The guy I hoped to marry and raise a family with decided to get someone else pregnant. I was devastated. I saw my dreams collapse. My bulimia from years back escalated. I travelled, had adventures I felt ltollow..my life felt not worth living. I still feel a failure I still feel unfullfilled. I felt in supported and outside of society…. I am bitter I want to shout and scream at those people around me child rearing…not noticing my pain. I feel stupid. I spend time with my friends with kids now. I feel the pain. I feel detached from life. I am depressed

  38. Where do I begin? I was super fertile, but my husband wasn’t and nothing worked. It is too late now for me. All my adult life I have worked with children, mostly as a teacher and people assume that because I am so good with them, I must also have children. Sometimes it is just too difficult to say that I don’t have any so I make them up. Pitiful, eh? The hardest time is on Mother’s Day when everyone (including complete strangers) wishes you “happy mother’s day”. Why does everyone assume that if you wear a wedding ring, you must have children? The ache never goes away and there is no escape.