I have to be honest; I look at couples who have managed to stay married sans kids and am mystified by what keeps them bound in matrimony. Not that I'm in any way implying that a couple should or could not get married if they don't intend to have kids. Rather, my amazement is at their ability to remain so devoted to each other and their union without that shared common thread that's the proverbial glue that, for better or worse, holds many marriages together: kids.
I say this after a day at Sesame Place, a place I don't believe my never-got-married-till-40-or -even-contemplated-the-universe-of-Elmo sugar daddy ever imagined he'd be. But to pacify his kids, and me, his wife, he came along, the only guy wearing his white socks and sneakers to the water park. He even perused their water slideathon.
Did he do it for me... or more aptly, would he do that for me? Probably not. He's a sit-on-the-bench-of-the-carousel kind of guy... but get him around his kids, and this very conservative man is transformed into a silly, playful kid. Our children seem to bring out the very best in him, and if their presence wasn't a part of our lives, his unenthusiastic demeanor might have me less enthusiastic about working on our relationship.
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.