Will Having Kids Make You More or Less Happy? British Study Investigates

Thought parenthood was your key to eternal bliss and life fulfillment? A large study of married British couples finds that childless couples are happier in their relationships than those who are married with children. But mothers were happier with their lives overall than childless women (a finding that didn't hold true for dads).

The study, conducted by researchers at the Open University, polled more than 5,000 British adults of all ages and sexual orientations on relationship quality and life satisfaction. Overall, members of married couples with children were less satisfied with their relationships, less likely to feel valued by their spouses, and less likely to do activities to "maintain" their relationships. This was true for both women and men.

But when asked to rate happiness with their lives in general, gender differences emerged. Men without children were slightly happier overall than fathers, while women without children were less happy than parental peers.

The study also found women under 34 were significantly happier with their relationships than older women. And homosexual couples were happier with their relationships and their partners than those in heterosexual couples. "Heterosexual parents are the group least likely to be there for each other, to make ‘couple time’, to pursue shared interests, to say ‘I love you’ and to talk openly to one another," the researchers noted.

You can peer into other people's relationships further at the "enduring love" project website. Participants also answered questions about money, sex, communication, values, and more.

Image: Getty Images