The happiest couples are those without children -- at least, that's according to research out of the United Kingdom's Open University.
The study titled "Enduring Love?" found that childless married and unmarried couples reported being more satisfied in life and feeling more valued by their partners than did pairs with kids. Unmarried parents were found to be slightly happier than married parents.
Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the research involved intensive interviews and surveys with more than 5,000 people of all ages and sexual orientations in long-term relationships.
Of those interviewed, mothers reported being happier with life than any other group, and childless women reported being the least happy, the study, which was obtained by The Huffington Post, revealed.
The child factor also influenced intimacy levels among couples. Fathers were twice as likely to cite a lack of sexual intimacy as the biggest downfall of their relationships, while mothers reported that they want to have sex less often than their partners do.
According to the research, simple expressions of gratitude play a big role in fulfilling marriages. Small gestures, such as telling a partner “thank you” and giving compliments, were shown to be among the most important factors in maintaining healthy relationships.
“What this study shows us is that couples need to keep investing in their relationships. It's reassuring to know, especially in these tough economic times, that it's the small gestures of appreciation and affection, rather than the big romantic displays that really make the difference," said Ruth Sutherland, chief executive of the relationship support organization Relate, which contributed to the study.
The results will be presented at the British Library later this week.
Earlier this year, The Stir's Sasha Brown Worsham shared 10 simple tips to sustaining a happy marriage. The article suggests laughing more, admitting when you're wrong and having your own interests.