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Melissa Chapman Headshot

Can a Marriage Without Kids Survive?

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I love my husband truly, madly and deeply. I love our relationship with practically every fiber of my being. I love calling him my husband. I love that he has worn his wedding ring for the past 14 years, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I love how fiercely devoted he is to our marriage and to the life we've created. I also know this -- having kids has created a bond between us that is hard to articulate. Having kids has united us in this shared, joint lifelong venture. So much of what we do -- our decisions, our goals, what we hope for -- is based on creating a future for these two little souls that our love ultimately brought into this world. Our shared love for them has strengthened the love we have for one another. I know that when I look at my husband doing homework with our daughter- or helping our son practice on the piano my love for him seems to blossom. And when I look at my kids, and they mimic one of my husband's mannerisms, once again I see our love reflected in them, and it just re-intensifies the love I feel for him.

There have been so many moments when I'll look at my daughter and catch her smirking, her face scrunched up just as my husband would, and seeing him reflected in her... well, it's hard for me not to immediately see her as a product of my love for her dad, even when at times I forget just what it was that made me fall in love with him. Seeing him in her eyes, her smile, even her mannerisms, well it all just reaffirms that initial connection I made with my husband, and propels me to stick with it.

If I didn't have these two little touchstones who mimic so much of who and what my husband is, would it be easier to walk away from my marriage? I have to say yes. What does that say about me -- that I'm only in this marriage for my kids? I have to say no. Regardless of how much I adore being married to my babies' daddy, if he were just absolutely intolerable, i.e., a drug addicted narcissist, I would have to bail out of my marriage. But the truth is, having kids with someone, gives you a whole new perspective and reason to keep your marriage going and work through issues with more invested... and to those couples who work through their issues despite never creating joint pieces of themselves in their offspring, well, I am in awe of your commitment to the sanctity and preservation of your marriage, I just don't know if I'd have the same drive to stay.

Had we not had kids over the course of our 14 year marriage there are many moments when, had it just been the two of us, I think it might have been over. If it was just the two of us I am not sure I would've felt this urge to keep fighting for our relationship and to weather the proverbial storms and struggles we faced both as a couple and as individuals. For me kids are a life game changer -- and while I would never stay in my marriage if I felt it was no longer a loving and supportive relationship, I know that having my kids keeps me grounded and forces me to work on it so that I can provide them with a two parent home that is their soft place to fall. So I've always wondered how and what keeps couples who don't have kids, married.

What is the glue that sustains married couples when that common goal of raising children and providing a home for them is not there?