Does happiness = Marriage + kids?

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 10.36.50In my last post I posed these questions:

Do I really want to meet someone? Do I want to have children? Do you have to get married and have children to be happy? Will I regret it if I don’t? Is the fact that it hasn’t happened by now a sign that actually that’s not my path? Or is my independence just a symptom of my fear?

At the end of the post Kara made this comment:

Can I ask, who do you hang around with? Are you getting a real cross section of views in your life? I ask because you are wondering things like, Can you be happy without children, Will you regret not getting married/ having kids etc. It feels like you’re stuck in this groove that happiness = husband and children. That’s not the only way!

Maybe find and talk to a good range of people who have done all different things (eg older and childless, in thirties and single, with children, thought having them but didn’t, and so on). I bet some will have regrets but most of them will have just made the most of life and are happy.

This really made me think. Kara’s right; almost all of my friends are married with children and the few that are single are very much looking for marriage and kids. I feel odd for being so ambivalent about it all, like I must really want those things but am just in denial.

After all we live in a world that believes true love is the path to true happiness and that marriage + kids is the only formula for emotional success.  Being single, on the other hand, is some sort of purgatory that has to be endured before finding The One.

Friends are so keen to reassure me that ‘You’ll meet someone….’ that I almost feel brainwashed into believing I have to and that it would be a great disaster if I didn’t. There is still, even today, a stigma attached to being single, the idea that we are ‘on the shelf’.

But maybe I don’t have to meet The One? Maybe I can meet lots of Ones in the years ahead, and have lovely moments that don’t have to get tied up into a neat marriage and kids and house scenario? What do you think? Or does this just sound like fear and defensiveness talking?

I would really love some alternative points of view, if you can spare the time.

Do you have any thoughts on the basic question of Does Happiness = Marriage + kids? 

Do you think that people can be happy and fulfilled on their own – or is love, partnership and sharing the point of life? Do you have to find The One or can you meet lots of great people along the way? Are you older and single? Are you happy that way or lonely? 

And what about children? Are your children the best thing in your life? Do you regret not having children?  Did you think that you didn’t want children but then woke up in your forties and regretted that? How have you made peace with that? Or has it been a great source of pain? 

Do you have any other thoughts about either my situation or your own? 

These are personal questions but I’d so appreciate your input and I’m sure it would help others too. If you don’t want to share publically, feel free to drop me an email at


28 thoughts on “Does happiness = Marriage + kids?

  1. Amanda

    I love my son more than anything but do I like having a child and all the stuff that comes with it. The answer is NO. What I really want to be doing in life is cruising round the caribbean, being able to go to the gym, go out for meals, take off for Paris for the weekend. Instead I get to be an unpaid taxi driver for my child, I get to eat in fabulous places such as pizza chains or the M place I detest with a passion, I can go nowhere unless it involves a park and endless standing around bored watching while he runs around and enjoys himself. The idea of bliss these days is getting to have a bath by myself for at least half an hour and read a few pages of a book! Life is repetative and dull. I go to the cinema quite a lot but only to see childrens films, ditto the theatre. The last time I slept in past 8am was 8 years ago. And as for money, I simply have none, my son has a healthier bank balance than me.

    1. Barbara Malasiewicz

      You are going to let him go one day and miss his childhood times
      my doughters are 25 and 28 now, married, independent
      I am in a splendid relationship after years of loneliness, broken heart, divorced twice
      Being mature at last, noticing my worthiness? Being in the center of universe, lkving and accepting myself unconditionally

      Do what you need to do for Yourself, do not sacrifice for your sons needs, you both can enjoy life and be happy!
      find me at fb to share more

  2. Michelle Bunt

    Hi Marianne,

    I absolutely 100% believe anyone can be happy without having children or being married. Ultimately I think happiness is a choice, a decision to live your best life whatever happens and not relying on external circumstances to look a certain way.

    From a more personal standpoint, I would like to get married, but I have zero desire to have children. Zero, zilch, nada. I know it is the right decision for me and I know I won’t look back and regret it. On the marriage front, yes I would like to get married. At times I really long for a partner to walk beside me in life, but I know I can be happy without it too. The truth is I am strong and independent, and being single has some benefits. It means I get to be selfish. I get to think about no one else but me. I can jet off to a foreign country tomorrow to volunteer for a year (finances dependent) without having to worry about if and how a significant other fits into the equation. I love my independence. And (a random aside) I cannot sleep with someone else in my bed. I literally toss and turn all night long and look at the clock every 15 minutes thinking “please make it just be morning already”.

  3. William Rendle

    It just goes to show what a sad and sorry state the world has become when a beautiful women like you has not found true happiness, love, marriage, babies(lots of them!) and a handsome man with “lots and lots of lolly!”

    I, like, you, am still single, and have not found that “special one” & (to the best of my knowledge) there aren’t any “little me’s ” scattered around the world. In short, I haven’t made any babies( yet), but I live in hope…..(and a little fear….!)

    My bookshelves are also stacked to the rafters with “self help” books – and many other one’s + Zillions of movies, another interest of mine.

    I love my Independence, freedom, call it what you want. And maybe that’s the crux of the matter, eh? In order to have marriage, babies, quite a big bit of freedom has to be given up,and compromises made, wings clipped a little.

    Of course, you might strike it lucky, and meet someone like yourself, who wants – nae, demands – both. I think that is the ideal situation. Live and let live, right?

    PS If you are ever up in Edinburgh, please give me a call. I have a beautiful house in a lovely part of town, next to nice Bars, theatres, restaurants, Cinemas. It would be lovely to meet you (and make Babies with you too!!) :-))

  4. Ailsa Frank

    You need to be happy before you will find happiness with someone else. Just trust if a partner and kids is part of the journey it will happen if not you still just need to be happy anyway. Don’t think that being a wife or a mother will make you happy because you’ll just find more things to moan about. As for parenting, for those readers struggling with it, remember every stage is a phase that will pass into the next phase so get into find some enjoyment in whatever you are doing. Learn to enjoy whatever phase you are in right now in life otherwise you drive yourself mad waiting for life to begin.
    x Ailsa Frank
    Author and Hypnotherapist

  5. Hélène

    I believe that happiness is an inside job, not circumstantial. You could be happy with a husband and kids. or miserable. You could be happy without, or miserable. The circumstances in themselves have no real power, only your thoughts about them. When that really sank in for me, it enabled me to feel really free to enjoy my life, make the choices that felt right for me in the moment, as I realised that nothing out there had any emotional power, other than the one I assigned to it. Life’s circumstances are neutral. It’s up to you, you choose! Have fun. x

  6. Anne

    At the moment I’m single and I’m completely happy with that. However I do remember that the last time I fell in love, it was just at a different level of happiness. So I think the key is that being happy happens in different ways when you are single and when you’re in love with someone. But the thing is you have to be happy with the here and now whatever state you’re in either single or not. It’s a waste of your life to be otherwise. And as for the marriage and children question, you may entirely change your mind about children if you meet someone who is very family orientated or indeed fall in love with someone new. The time I most wanted kids and to grow old with someone, happy ever after etc, was when I was very much in love with them. If that doesn’t happen for you, since you’re ambivalent about the idea now, you may not ever be bothered about it. Especially as you have friends with kids – there could be plenty of children in your life without you needing your own. The key attitude is that you decide to be happy with your life wherever it leads you and that’s a decision that’s in your power to make because happiness is a choice.

  7. JohnC

    The answer is – Not necessarily.

    Some people are born parents others aren’t. Even worse, if you’re a parent, your kids might live at the other end of the country & you hardly ever see them IRL like my nephew & niece & my brother.
    Buy a puppy, you get unconditional love, dirty floors & a walking recycling bin

  8. G. van der Meulen

    It’s about finding your own way in life, I think. And whatever unfolds is okay. It may be a husband and kids, it may be something completely different. But if you truly live your own life, whatever is meant to happen will happen. Be true to yourself. You don’t have to look for anything of force anything. It may sound terribly vague, but it’s just how I think stuff happens. You can make yourself terribly unhappy by wanting something that isn’t there.

  9. Alical

    Hi Marianne

    Try and find things you enjoy DOING – travelling, music, creative stuff, volunteering etc. and stop thinking of all the possibilities just DO stuff that makes you feel content and don’t care what people think. Some of the things I like are quite solitary but I like to think I’m “self sufficient”. You don’t need a husband and kids to be content. Have you stopped doing things you used to enjoy, have you always wanted to do something but not got round to it? Sounds basic I know but there are lots of things out there and volunteering in something that you’re interested in is a brilliant start (teach others how to blog?). I love your blog by the way, I love the way you write and you’d be a brilliant author. Have you written any fiction? If not, why not – you’d be great you are so readable. Good luck I think you’re FAB! x

  10. bob whittle

    68-Happily married-45yrs-5 sons including twins (33-43 age gap ) Single throughout the sixties and enjoying life (definitely NOT seeking permanent romance (Don’t push it Don’t force it ) and it happened totally unexpectedly-Married in 1971..First son in 1972 Wonderful such happiness..2nd son 1974. Twins in 1976..Now things are getting difficult..Oldest son going to nursery.Juggling finding Baby-sitters. The expense of it all..Still happy but hard work, more so for my wife as I was working ( Kids are fun but you have o be prepared to give up lots of things.)..5th son born in 1982.. Fast Forward to Mid nineties and into my fifties,kids becoming independent, life getting a lot easier bills easier to pay back to becoming a kid myself again. Sons getting married. Grand-children arriving..I never dreamed that life could be so wonderful..All my sons are now happily married all my daughter-in-laws get on famously with each other…Everyone (including 7 grandchildren) turn up at our house for tea on Sunday and my wife and

  11. Elle

    I met my now husband about the same time as I booked to go backpacking for a year. Of course I still went, had an incredible time, missed him loads, came back and moved in with him. But the point is I met him at a time when the last thing I wanted or needed was a boyfriend, because I was in a place where it was just about ‘me’. I was living purely for ‘me’ and so happy and content with myself and my life choices, I simply didn’t need anyone else. In fact I’d made a conscious decision that Jan 1st that I’d only go on a date if I thought they’d be good for me, and I’d be good for them. And I wasn’t at all bothered if that meant no dates for months and months.

    I know a few others that met their now spouses a few weeks before they too went travelling. And I think it’s because when you’re happy with yourself, content with who you are, and kind of fallen in love with ‘you’, that’s when you’re most likely to meet ‘the one’ if they exist. Yeah, loads of people get married, but we all know people who sort of settled for someone because they didn’t want to be alone. Often the longer you’re single, the more standards you probably have!

    So, maybe your next challenge shouldn’t be about getting lots of dates, it should be about figuring out what will make you fall in love with yourself, and get you to the point of looking in the mirror and knowing anyone would be damn lucky to have you, and you’re the luckiest person alive because you are you!

    Do what you always wanted to do, be it skydiving, reading poetry in public, getting a make over in a Mac store, or simply go to the cinema alone (a very liberating thing if you haven’t done it). Basically, anything that you’ve seen someone else do and think ‘I wish I could do that’, just do it. And like it’s already been said, once you do meet that person, get married, and/or have children, your time is no longer fully your own. So make the most of it while it is yours, because whether you remain happily single and childless for a few months or many years, one thing you can’t plan is falling in love, and once ‘me’ becomes ‘we’ you end up checking with the other person before you do most things.

  12. Sabrina

    I totally agree with Elle. I met my now husband in 2008, at 34, and I had been single practically my whole life.
    I cannot say I was happy to be single, I would have liked to have a boyfriend, but still I really enjoyed life and did exactly what I wanted. Between 2005 and 2008 I travelled alone at least every 2 months: long weekends, 2-3 week-long trips in Europe, even 3 weeks in Patagonia hiking and seeing animals, all of this ALONE. I liked board-games and went to many events to play with other board-game geeks 🙂 and I went to language courses and photography courses. I loved all of this!
    Then I met him, and it was the most natural thing. If it does not come natural it means it’s not the right person. You will understand when you meet “him”.
    Since then we have travelled a lot together but sometimes I miss the freedom that being single gave me: book a cheap flight on a whim, no need to consult anyone, book a bed in a hostel shared room and that’s it. Having a husband is great if you love each other but still you need to make compromises. We have no children at the moment, we are trying but… sometimes I think I’m not ready to give up even more of my freedom! I’m 40 going on 41 so I need to hurry up if I really want children (at least one) but if they don’t come… well, we will get to travel more freely and finally go to Mongolia by motorcycle (one of my husband’s dreams!). Sorry if I made some mistakes, English is not my mother tongue. Ciao from Rome 🙂

  13. Mary

    Some really lovely and inspiring comments here – Elle & Sabrina: I think you 2 need to write your own self-help book! I loved both of your contributions.

  14. Zoë

    For me, happiness and meaning aren’t mutually exclusive. I think my life and motivations will have more meaning with marriage and children, and I do think it’s necessary for my ultimate happiness. However, if you find fulfillment and meaning in something else, then I don’t see why that need can’t be satisfied elsewhere.

  15. Liz

    Hi Marianne,

    I think the answer to does happiness = marriage + kids is different for everyone, to some it is absolutely the be all an end all, for others not so much. I think a lot of the confusion comes from everyone expecting that that is what we should want. I’ve been with my boyfriend for five years and have no desire to get married (the thought of being a Mrs is just awful to me) and have do not want kids at the moment. I accept that that may change, but up until now I have never seen children as part of my life. I found Amanda’s comment interesting as that is just the part of having children that puts me off. I think I would be fine with having a baby but having a seven year old or a thirteen old and having to revolve your whole life around your child’s music lessons and swimming classes is not something I want to be a part of. I’m not a selfish person and love my nieces, nephews and friends’ children (like you almost all my friends are married with kids) I just don’t want to live their lives. I enjoy my life as it is, my boyfriend and I get to eat out whenever we like and travel a lot – not always together but we enjoy doing our own thing.

    I know some of my friends and family think I’m missing out and will regret it if I don’t have children but I can’t make decisions based on how I might feel in the future, I can only take into account how I feel now.

    I think people, especially women, are often made to feel that their choices are invalid if they make the conscious decision not to follow the “traditional” path of adulthood but we shouldn’t need to feel this.

  16. SallyB

    I think you should trust your own instincts Marianne, but stop putting yourself under pressure also. Unfortunately the inner cricitique/sub conscious voice is being given too much attention. Try to focus on what does make you happy and do more of that – especially the writing as you are very eloquent. From my own experience I think being on the same page at the same time as another person is the hard bit, especially as you get older. You both have baggage of some kind and then your childhood teachings step in as to how easy or difficult you find it to overcome the differences. For a relationship to succeed it has to be balanced so I would say you would be best suited to someone in a similar position to yourself, you need to like their Dad too as, trust me, they will turn into them eventually. If you’ve had a wonderful dad for instance, will they live up to your expectation of how a man should treat a women. You will have been taught by what you unconsciously observed as a child, did you’re mum trust your dad for example, as she along with other female relatives are who taught you how to be a women? how women get treated by men, it has all gone on around you since you were born. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that we are all quite judgmental, or we set people up to be perfect then moan when they fall short, in our eyes, whilst owning we are the ones that set ourselves up for disappointment. The other thing though is stop looking for someone to come and rescue you, no-one is coming (other than encouraging words on a blog) but once you accept that and take charge of your own life/finances/responsibilities then you become a sort after person, but beware of people that then want rescuing by you! It’s very hard to stay sane, seem normal – what is that anyway? and fulfil everybodys expectations (usually our own in our heads that we have projected onto others). Good Luck and keep going, this too will pass and…Worth giving William Rendle a try? Apart from the optimistic last sentence he was sounding quite a possibility? Will watch this space as we all love a happy ending, but then happiness is a destination not a place so just keep doing what you are doing, and enjoy the moment , it is working see how far you’ve come from Jan 13 when you first started this blog. love & blessings xx

  17. Fi

    How about asking the big taboo question do you regret having children instead of always asking do you regret not having children

  18. Emma

    There is no ” right or wrong” answer only the the one you choose, as either can be made to work. However I was not bothered about marriage but I did it anyway and in the long run it turned out great. I was not bothered about kids but had one anyway and again it turned out great.
    However looking back from a position of having a marriage and children I would regret not doing both of them now as they are both one of the pillars of my life and a grandchild is an added bonus. The world would be a duller place if your zest for life were not shared and passed on to your child. How else does our society advance if not by the way we are raised and the values that are passed on to us by our family.

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  20. Irene

    It’s a gift to stumble on ur post, I m struggling with the same question too.
    I m 32, single. All my girl friends are either engaged or married.
    Marriage n children were never my goal in the first 30yrs of my life. But watching my friends’ life, makes me wonder if I should have them? Worrying if I don’t try harder now, I may regret someday.


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