120381564We’ve heard lots regarding the debate about whether or not people without children are as happy as parents. The results of those studies bounce back and forth like a ping pong match.

Parents are happier!

No, people without kids are happier!

No, parents are happier!

No, wait, people without kids are happier!

The jury is out on that one. However, according to one of the biggest studies ever conducted on relationships, childless couples win. They have happier marriages and tend to feel more valued by their partners, says this summary on The Telegraph. The study won’t be available until next week.

For both men and women, those who did not have children ranked the quality of their relationship more highly than those who did. They also did significantly more to “maintain” their relationship, such as taking time to go out together or talk, than those with children.

Yeah, no kidding. There’s this little thing called “time” that we all have. Kids suck it up, as well as eating most of your brain and your energy. It makes total sense to me that people without kids have better relationships – as there is more time to put effort into them.

Every time I write something like this I get a fair amount of pushback from those who are expert time managers. Good for you that you’re some kind of super-human energy machine and you still have time to make your partner feel as special as ever after you’ve been working, nursing your baby all day, wiping asses, and trying to keep your home from devolving into a junkyard playhouse. Some of us find this difficult.  And now I know that I am not in the minority.

Obviously, I am responding to this study from my own experience; it has been really hard to negotiate keeping a relationship strong after having two kids. We used to be able to wander around the city for hours, enjoy our weekends alone and when we weren’t tied down by the obligations of work – be totally free to enjoy each other. Now, of course we enjoy each other, but it is so different. Our kids are amazing and our family life is great – it’s the “us” time that is suffering. And by “us” time I mean “sex life.”

The kids are asleep! Let’s have sex!

Okay! Just make sure you don’t touch my nipples, because they are unbelievably sore from breastfeeding all night. Also, I should change out of this nightgown because it’s covered in breast milk. No, I can’t take it off because I’m producing a lot of milk right now and we’ll both be covered in it.

Sexy.

One interesting thing that the article noted was this: “Yet, across all categories one simple action emerged as the most important element in strong relationships – saying ‘thank you’.” This hit home personally, as well. I always notice, the times we are bonding now usually happen when one of us acknowledges how hard the other is working and shows some gratitude. I guess an effort like that takes no time at all – and is doable whether you have kids or not.

(photo: Getty Images)