Can you have a happy marriage without children?

The issue: I read your article about Theresa May in which you say that she is happily married, even though she is childless not by choice. Is it possible to be childless and still be happily married? I have tried to be just that but my husband is very sad about the fact we are unable to conceive and it is affecting me, making me to be less happy as well. My husband is hinting that the marriage may not last longer if there are no children. He has suggested adoption. Is this okay? How do I handle this adoption process when my marriage still has issues?

Nina’s answer: Of course it is possible to be childless and happy. I speak from my own experience. Whether you are happy or not depends on both you and your husband. If you love and care for each other enough, you will find a way to move on with your life without children and be grateful for what you already have, which is a happy marriage. We all know couples with children who are very unhappy. I grew up in the Ivory Coast were the majority of men have mistresses and the wives have to accept it. My point is, having children in an unhappy marriage is far worse than being childless in a very happy marriage.

The general consensus is that if a relationship wasn’t a happy one before children, chances are that it will still be unhappy after the arrival of children. For the truth is, you cannot seek fulfilment from having children alone. From my own experience of growing up in Africa and watching some family members and friends here in the UK, it is clear that children don’t make a relationship happy. They add to your life experience and some children bring you lots of joy, but ultimately, happiness is something that you have to work on by yourselves. Nobody else can do it for you. Both of you need to face up to some deep and unpleasant truths about yourselves and ask yourselves very difficult questions. For example, if you had to choose between having children and your spouse, who would you choose? Is having children more important than your relationship? The only reason why my husband and I were able to move on from not being able to have children was mainly because we already had a very strong marriage and couldn’t imagine our lives without each other. Sometimes we don’t get exactly what we want in life, and it is ok.

About whether or not to go along with your husband’s suggestion to adopt, that is a decision for you to make. You have to be sure that this is something you are willing to do, not just that you feel you have to do so for the sake of your husband. I suggest that you both read up about it and if at all possible attend a meeting of potential adopters before making a final decision. Children are put in care for a reason. Most of them have been abused both physically and psychologically and so the last thing they need is more pain. If you end up adopting, that child will need a lot of love and attention in order to undo all the pain he or she has suffered previously, which is why you both have to be sure that you are ready to take on that challenge. Having said that, I do admire your husband for considering that option.

Nina Steele is agony aunt. Send any dilemma you may have to: [email protected]

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