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Childlessness and Happiness – Why I’m OK With Being Childless

Childlessness doesn’t have to mean unhappiness, even for women who desperately want kids. Here’s why I’m okay with being childless (it’s not “childfree” to me, because it’s not my choice).

A reader recently said:

“We recently found out that we can’t have kids and have decided against fertility treatments,” says T. on  7 Ways to Make Peace With Infertility. “It hurts, but I am trying to learn to accept this. I want to be that happy, loving, cheerful wife I was before we found out our problem. I’m thinking I need to read a book, but where do I start?”


 

“I need to find my happiness,” says T. “I love my husband with my whole heart, but I just cry and cry every time I think of childlessness. I don’t want to see a counselor but it may come to that. I just don’t know where to begin to accept it.”

I think seeing a counselor is a great idea. A therapist – especially one who is experienced in infertility issues and childless couples – will give you an objective, healthy perspective on your life.

A comment from a parent who says the grass is always greener on the other side:

Here’s a whole different perspective on having kids – a reader just wrote this a few hours ago:

“The grass is always greener,” says B. on A Childfree Life After Infertility – 7 Ways to be Happy. “I love my kids but having kids makes your life suck. Enjoy your freedom. Kids have a way of zapping all the meaning out of life. You have to clean up poop all the time, your back hurts all the time, you can’t go anywhere, you lose intimacy, you go broke, they do stupid things, your house gets destroyed, they get you sick all the time, vacations are more stressful than your job…

Enjoy your freedom. If it feels like something is missing in your relationship, examine the relationship. Kids won’t fill that void, only complete honesty can do that. Kids only make it worse. Parenting is different than people think it is before they have kids. Yes you love your children forever, but everything else in life ends up sucking. I’m not a jerk, I’m just honest. Hope this helps.”

Why I’m OK With Being Childless

We can’t have kids naturally, unless God decides to miraculously create sperm in my husband’s body (he has azoospermia, which means he doesn’t produce those wigglies at all). While I’d prefer to have kids and would love to get pregnant, I’m still okay with childlessness. Not thrilled or happy with it, but…who says life is always thrilling and happy?

Here’s how I live with both childlessness and happiness…

I accept I’ll always be sad that we’re childless

The sadness of childlessness never, ever goes away for many women – including me. It’s like mourning my grandmother’s death or my sister’s choice to cut me out of her life – I’ll always be sad about the losses I’ve suffered.

To be OK (and even happy!) as a childless woman, you need to accept that you’ll always feel pangs of heartache, pain, sorrow, and even regret. Everyone has burdens to bear, crosses to carry. For some of us, childlessness is our biggest, heaviest burden.


Childlessness and Happiness – Why I’m OK With Being ChildlessBeing a childless woman isn’t easy for anyone – and it’s especially difficult for women who yearn for kids. But, happiness in life isn’t about getting what you want; it’s about figuring out what you can give others and how you can brighten their lives.

“Growing up, I always dreamed of having them; being able to watch them grow and going to sport/school events,” says T.

Check out these options for childless couples – the last three will change a child’s live forever.

I stay emotionally and physically healthy

If you’re prone to the blues or depression, you’ll have a hard time with living with both childlessness and happiness.

I’m one of those lucky women who is naturally happy, positive, and optimistic. But I work at it – I do yoga, pilates, strength training, and cardio almost every day. I eat healthy foods, and avoid sugar, fat, and anything that makes me feel heavy and sluggish. And, I try to get eight hours of sleep a night.

You’d be amazed at how your health affects your mindset! And one benefit of childlessness is that I’m free to get as much sleep, exercise, and free time that I need.

I focus on the benefits of a childless life (and there are lots!)

T. says, “I’m trying to see the positives in a childless life, yet I break down when I do. Maybe it’s because I spend so much time around family/friends who do have kids and I wish I could experience what they talk about.”

Yes, it would be awesome to experience the joys and pains of having kids! I would love it – I am not childless by choice. But, for some reason, I can easily and happily focus on how lucky and fortunate I am to experience aspects of life that I wouldn’t get with kids. I’m free to pursue whatever goals and activities I want, I love my job, and I love my freedom.

You may find it helpful to read books – and blogs – by women who wanted to have kids, but couldn’t. Here are several books on childlessness and happiness:

One of the best tips for childless women is to connect with other women who have “been there, done that.”

I stay connected with my husband – and we have fun together

Here’s what Deneice Arthurton said in Childless Couples – Living Happily Without Children:

“One of the main reasons our childless state has turned out so successfully for us has been our strong relationship. Whenever something has come up we have talked about it no matter how uncomfortable this may have been for one or other of us. We still do this from time concerning not having kids, knowing that the demons of resentment get killed off if you bring them out into the open….What counts however is whether you can move on and build from these times. We did.”

Childlessness can offer happiness not only if you build a strong relationship with your husband through infertility, but also if you have fun together! Bruce and I travel, go boating, volunteer at cultural events, and do the most important thing of all: practice mindful gratitude for the smallest blessings and joys God gives.

I accept God’s will for my life – and sometimes I think He’s protecting me

Here’s where T. and I see eye-to-eye. She says, “I need to remember that God does things for a reason. Maybe we aren’t meant to have kids; what if we did and they had medical problems, then it wouldn’t be like I dreamed it would either.”

Sometimes I think we’re a childless couple because God is saving us from something. Schizophrenia and mental illness runs in my family, so maybe we’re being protected from that? I’m 41 years old now, and we didn’t start trying until I was 38. The chances of problems are higher for women my age, so maybe God is protecting us from children with disorders or handicaps.

Or maybe it’s not about God holding something back from us. Infertility has reared its ugly head in my husband’s siblings as well…so maybe childlessness isn’t something God has “given” to us. Maybe it’s just part of living in a fallen world, and accepting that God’s children all got their messes.

What do you think about childlessness and happiness? Are you okay with being childless? Comments welcome below…


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21 thoughts on “Childlessness and Happiness – Why I’m OK With Being Childless”

  1. Hi springtime it really helped to read your comment and not feel so alone in this emotional struggle. Thank you for sharing. Beth

  2. Thanks for sharing! Im a childless stepmom. I knew going in that my husband had a vasectomy after his 2 boys with exwife. I fell in love with all of them. I tried to leave, but felt wrong. We got married and im happier then i ever thought i could be. Its hard i still have a empty space for my baby. I lost mine when i was 19. I fi,ally have learned to grieve and its ok to mourn never having my own kids. I didnt get to be a part of my stepboys past but i do get to be a part of the present. I talk about it with my husband and he tries to understand, lets me cry. I dont know why things worked this way. It really helps to have sites like this and read comments for me so i dont feel so alone. Thanks!!

  3. Thanks for sharing! Im a childless stepmom. I knew going in that my husband had a vasectomy after his 2 boys with exwife. I fell in love with all of them. I tried to leave, but felt wrong. We got married and im happier then i ever thought i could be. Its hard i still have a empty space for my baby. I lost mine when i was 19. I fi,ally have learned to grieve and its ok to mourn never having my own kids. I didnt get to be a part of my stepboys past but i do get to be a part of the present. I talk about it with my husband and he tries to understand, lets me cry. I dont know why things worked this way. It really helps to have sites like this and read comments for me so i dont feel so alone. Thanks!!

  4. Well, I am childless, 34 and after 9 years of sadness, desperation, I am now beginning to just accept it. It could be okay and all right. Agree with most of the stuff you said. I believe we learn to survive and accept….it is just different but may be not bad. And yes indeed there could be some benefits and even happiness due to childlessness. May God keep you happy and blessed…..

  5. Hi,
    It makex me feel so sad to hear your stories, and I am sorry to say, even more alone. I am 37and so ready to welcome a baby into our life. My husband will not even try, we have had an erratic sex life, mainly due to his behaviour in the past, and now he wont even try. I love him, but how can I reconcile myself to being childless when we havent even really tried?
    I feel so alone and so sad, i dont kniw where to turn or what to do….

  6. My husband and I waited until our mid-30s to begin to try and have a child. We wanted to have the right environment to bring a child into first. Having accomplished this we began. At first we thought we’d waited to late, but eventually we found out that my husband had azoospermia (just like you mentioned in the article). I’d now turned 40. We looked into all our options, but none felt like a good fit, particularly with our age. We’ve had a variety of experiences with people’s reaction to our situation, few were positive, many were judgmental at best. I’m now 42 and still get asked when we are going to have children, or if we have children. My husband and I really bonded to support one another through this and communicated openly and honestly about our feelings. It felt like we went through the “7 stages of grief” (see recover-from-grief.com). We have finally made it through to final stage ‘acceptance & hope’. We’ve accepted that life for us will not include our own child, however we realize that there is so much more to life then just being a parent, there is being a ‘couple’, being an ‘aunt/uncle’, being a community member (volunteer/work) … etc. But most importantly it’s being at peace with what life has offered us.

  7. Hello!
    I don’t have children and my partner does. We have been together for 8 years and are very happy in mOst ways.
    We have had our uPs and downs but he is the man I want to spend my days with. I knew this very early on and I wanted to have a child with him cos that’s what happens in the fairy tale??? Right?
    Wrong!!! My prince had a vasectomy before I met him, he has 4 great kids from a train wreck of a marriage. All of this I knew it didnt stop me falling head over heels wih him though, I was sure the gods were on our side!! We loved each other didn’t we and i had waited for what seemed like a life time of assholes to meet him!!
    Long story short, he had a vasectomy reversal but it didn’t work, he also struggled early with the idea of having another! He was 19 with his first!!
    Anyway I am in the unusual situation of not having a partner to share the loss of the feeling of not having my own child, as it wOuld be impossible for him to feel this as he is a parent! On the other hand I am part of a wonderful family!! It’s a double edged sword!!
    I would never want to do it with anybody but him, he is a fantastic father and I wanted that for our child!! It’s just hard sometimes!!
    I know I should talk about my feelIngs more as I am sure he would try to understand
    . Does it ever go away the wondering if you are missing something huge??? Is it not meant for me???
    Is there a reason??
    Am I happier the way I am with my freedom and my disposable income??
    Does it make me a lesser woman?? It’s such a complex issue as its fraught with emotions and feelings!! That said though I don’t feel sad or as sad as I used to before!
    Sites like this are good for the soul as it lets us all know we are not alone with this!! Thanks for reading f x

  8. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear T.S.,

    I’m sorry you tried so hard to have children, and it didn’t work. How disappointing, frustrating, and heartbreaking. You did everything you could, and yet it just wasn’t meant to be.

    I often comfort myself by wondering if I’ve been spared something I just couldn’t handle, such as a child with extreme physical or emotional challenges. Or, the death of a child…or perhaps he would grow up to be a rapist or murderer. There are some really evil people in the world, and they have mothers who didn’t do anything “wrong” to raise them that way!

    So, I like to think that I’m childless because I’ve been spared something worse. That does help me stay happy and positive. Maybe I’m just fooling myself, but if so, who cares? I’d rather be a happy fool than a depressed sage 🙂

    Thanks for sharing a bit of your life here – and for asking such a great question! I answered it in this article:

    How to Cope With Being Alone in Your Old Age

    I don’t think it’s just about being childless – I think there are millions of seniors and elderly folk who are alone, incapacitated, and lonely. They have children, my friend.

    Read the article, and let me know what you think!

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  9. Hi Laurie,

    I am slowly coming to terms with the probability that my husband and I will not have biological children. For the past four years, I have undergone 4 surgeries, 10 IVF cycles, several IUI’s, all in the hopes of conceiving, all fruitless. My husband and I have spent more than $150,000 on treatments that have gone nowhere. I am now in my late 40’s and the reality of the situation is finally dawning on me.

    I found comfort in your insights and advice, Laurie, and I agree that a positive attitude and enjoying life to the fullest regardless of whether one has children is the way to go. But one thing that bothers me, that I just can’t come to terms, can’t shake, is the prospect that my husband and I will end up being old and alone. We are both only children and have no family where we live except for my aging parents. When they die, we will be on our own. I’m terrified of being incapacitated and unable to turn to loved ones for love, company and support. I am equally worried for my husband, that should I die first, he will have to endure this fate as well.

    I wonder if you have any thoughts on this and how to best deal with this possible scenario?

    Thanks,
    T.S

  10. I read about so many women talking about being childless. I can’t believe how many women is just giving up on getting pregnant and have a child. I have p.c.o.s and I have been trying to get pregnant for over 12 years. I won’t let myself to give up and any woman reading this and is suffering from infertily shouldn’t give up neither. I feel, as long, as I am alive, I have God above me, hearing my prayers. Then there is hope. U to should feel that way, too.

  11. Laurie P-K – Having pets does NOT make up for not having children. Are you really suffering from infertility if you can make this comment?

  12. I understand that couples can be happy without children, but it definately is a deep, deep loss, especially when the natural progression of marriage is to have children. Society expects this, but as a childless women, I feel cheated, I don’t understand why and I hurt daily when I see women with their babies. I long to be a mother, I have tried infertility treatment and this did not work. It is a very expensive process and we had to save up for this for a while and when it did not work, I felt discouraged and hopeless. I would like to try again but we do not have the money and I am running out of time. I believe for some people, you cant be happy without a legacy of children.

  13. I just found your site(s) and have been jumping around reading, and really enjoying, your articles. I appreciate your insights and I think you’re an amazing writer! In particular, your perspectives on infertility are really timely for me now.

    To answer your question above, I am not currently okay with being childless, but I am learning to accept it. I really like your concept of childless vs. childfree- both types of experiences are perfectly acceptable, yet truly distinct. I like being able to accept not having a child while at the same time acknowledge that not having a child is NOT my choice. Being childfree is something different.

    I read another post of yours that really resonated. I reached a turning point in my infertility misery yesterday, after learning that my cousin’s 19 year old son was shot to death. Thinking about her pain and devastation made me realize that I am not suffering. While I reserve the right to be sad about my infertility, it is not suffering. What my cousin is going through right now is painful to watch- that is suffering. For the first time in four years I am tired of feeling sorry for myself, and ready to accept that life can be good even if I never conceive.

    All that to say- I really enjoy your blog(s)!

  14. I agree with many comments, but I disagree with the “be careful with what you wish for”/”the grass is greener” comment. I still feel that my husband and I would be significantly happier with kids. It will still have its ups and downs, but our deep yearning for a child would be fulfilled, and it’s that feeling of being fulfilled that would be fixed. Right now, 3 1/2 years into infertility, we are still feeling very unfulfilled and dissatisfied with life. I’m just starting to accept that we may be childfree for good. But I don’t think that most parents would admit that they would give up their kids to be childfree and be happy. I just think that we have to find a new kind of happiness–but that doesn’t mean “be careful what you wish for” is true. I would DEFINITELY be much happier with a child.

  15. Jenny,

    Thanks for your comments! I too have ups and downs…sometimes I’m happy despite being childless, and other times I really wish I had kids. Mostly I’m happy, though – I really am okay with being childless.

    It really, really helps to have friends who are happy with childlessness!

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  16. I have come to terms with the fact that my husband of 13 years and I will likely not be having any children. I do still struggle with the attitudes of parents with young ones though, because they seem so smug to me, and parenthood is all they talk about! I feel so left out, and like no matter what I do, it’ll never compare to being a mom. It’s tough to get those thoughts out of my mind sometimes, but I’m getting better at it by reminding myself that they are likely insecure, and may feel like they have something to prove to the world. I really do need more childless and childfree friends, though.

    Thank you for the article.

  17. Thanks for your comments!

    T. ~ Yes, telling your family can be one of the really, really difficult things about childlessness. It’s especially hard with extended family members, who you only see once every year or two. It’s not the easiest thing to bring up in conversation…unless they ask about having kids. I really like when people ask, because I’m fine talking about being childless.

    Rob ~ Thanks for your comment, and for sharing your article about being a childless family.

    Rosie ~ I’m sorry you feel that way, that childlessness and unhappiness are so deeply connected for you. You’re not alone, though…so many of us are heartbroken that we can’t have kids. Especially if we’ve wanted children all our lives.

    Peace be with you.

  18. I’ll never be okay with being childless. To me, childlessness and unhappiness will always be connected.

  19. Thanks for this post. Although we are childless by choice, I think what you state is important for everyone to read so they understand these issues better. And for understanding the voids that can occur in life. I wrote about the questioning one gets about not having children and the stigma attached to it:

    Thanks again!

  20. Laurie,

    Thank you so much for writing that!! Makes me see things from other perspectives and enlighten things! My husband and I are both open about our feelings on infertility; myself more so than him, but he has known the possibility was there for a long time. He listens to me and holds me when I cry. I know we will get through this, I have a feeling it will get a little easier eventually.

    Right now I think it’s so difficult, at least for me, because my family doesn’t know yet. I am trying to figure out the right time to tell them, I would like to be the one telling them not anyone hearing it second hand. So it’s a matter of all of us being together at the right time and a holiday or special event is not the right time.

    Again, Thank you!!! I will be looking to these blogs for more insight on how to cope with this!!

    T.