This essay examines the lives of opposite-gender, cisgender, heterosexual married couples who have no children by choice, why the intentionally childless marriage lacks acceptance in society, and what is necessary for full societal acceptance. It discusses how intentionally childless married couples make the decision to have no children; the nature of their married lives and what a fulfilling marriage means to these couples; how these married couples are misperceived, stereotyped and why; the social and cultural pressures these couples face as well as ways they can address this issue in their personal and professional relationships; the research debate on whether marriages with children or without are happier; and the lives of these married couples in their elder years. In addition to relevant feminist theory, it discusses pronatalism as a powerful influence on why intentionally childless marriages remain judged and criticised. It looks at the societal progress that has been made to accept this kind of marriage, makes recommendations on what it will take for it to be accepted in society, and what today’s men and women can do to further promote its acceptance. The essay draws on: (1) research for Families of Two: Interviews with Happily Married Couples Without Children by Choice (2000) which included interviews with 100 happily married opposite-gender, cisgender, heterosexual couples across the United States and in-depth interviews with 40 of them who span a wide range of ages and lifestyles; (2) relevant research discussed in The Baby Matrix: Why Freeing Our Minds From Outmoded Thinking About Parenthood & Reproduction Will Create a Better World (2012); (3) grounded theory qualitative data collection since the year 2000; and (4) recent research literature in this area of study.
Carroll, L. (2018), "The Intentionally Childless Marriage", Sappleton, N. (Ed.) Voluntary and Involuntary Childlessness (Emerald Studies in Reproduction, Culture and Society), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 217-235. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-78754-361-420181010Download as .RIS
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