5 Practical Ways to Cope With Childlessness

There are no quick tips for coping with childlessness and finding ways to be happy. But, your life might turn out better than you imagined – and you can Blossom into a woman you didn’t expect to be! Here’s how my husband and I cope with being a childless couple – we didn’t choose not to have children, but we are living happily and peacefully.

Not being able to have kids is devastating. A reader recently emailed me and said: “We recently found out that we can’t have kids and have decided against fertility treatments. It hurts, but I am trying to learn to accept this. I want to be that happy, loving, cheerful wife I was before we became a ‘childless couple.’ I’m thinking I need to read a book about how to cope with childlessness, but where do I start?”

At the end of this article, I share a few books for women coping with childlessness – but first I want to describe the five ways I’ve learned how to Blossom without having kids. For example, one of the best ways to be happy as a childless couple is to connect with other couples who can’t have kids. My husband and I haven’t done a good job of doing this because we both tend to be introverts, but I always feel better when I spend time with people who are happy despite not having children. That’s not really a “secret” for coping with childlessness – but I do have a few other thoughts…

5 Ways to Cope With Childlessness

“I need to find my happiness,” says T. “I love my husband with my whole heart, but I just cry and cry every time I think about being a childless couple. I don’t want to see a counsellor but it may come to that. I just don’t know where to begin to accept it.”

I think seeing a counsellor is a great idea. A therapist – especially one who is experienced in infertility issues and finding ways to be happy for childless couples – will give you an objective, healthy perspective on your life.

Here’s a comment from a parent who says the grass is always greener on the other side:

Here’s a whole different perspective on having kids – a reader just wrote this a few hours ago…

“The grass is always greener,” says B. on How to Be Happy as a Childless Woman – Single or Married. “I love my kids but having kids makes your life suck. Enjoy your freedom. Kids have a way of zapping all the meaning out of life. You have to clean up poop all the time, your back hurts all the time, you can’t go anywhere, you lose intimacy, you go broke, they do stupid things, your house gets destroyed, they get you sick all the time, vacations are more stressful than your job…

One way to be happy as a childless couple is to focus on the positive. If it feels like something is missing in your marriage, take time to examine it. Kids won’t fill that void, only complete honesty can do that. Kids only make it worse. Parenting is different than people think it is before they have kids. Yes you love your children forever, but everything else in life ends up sucking. I’m not a jerk, I’m just honest. Hope this helps.”

1. Accept you’ll always struggle with childlessness

My husband and I can’t have kids naturally, unless God decides to miraculously create sperm in my husband’s body (he has azoospermia, which means he doesn’t produce swimmers). While I’d prefer to have kids and would love to get pregnant, I’m still okay with being a childless couple. I’m not thrilled or happy with it, but…who says life is always thrilling and happy?

The sadness of childlessness never, ever goes away for many women – including me. It’s like mourning my grandmother’s death or my sister’s choice to cut me out of her life – I’ll always be sad about the losses I’ve suffered. To be happy as a childless couple, you need to accept that you’ll always feel pangs of heartache, pain, sorrow, and even regret. Everyone has burdens to bear, crosses to carry. For some of us, childlessness is our biggest, heaviest burden.

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“Growing up, I always dreamed of having them; being able to watch them grow and going to sport/school events,” says T. Being a childless woman isn’t easy for anyone – and it’s especially difficult for women who yearn for kids! But, happiness in life isn’t about getting what you want; it’s about figuring out what you can give others and how you can brighten their lives. That’s one of the most important tips for coping with childlessness.

If you need more out of your life, read 5 Ways to Create a Better Life.

2. Get emotionally and physically healthy

If you’re prone to the blues or depression – or if you’ve always wanted children – you may not find my “secrets” for women coping with childlessness helpful.

I’m one of those lucky people who is naturally happy, positive, and optimistic. But I work at it – I do yoga, pilates, strength training, and cardio almost every day. I eat healthy foods, and avoid sugar, fat, and anything that makes me feel heavy and sluggish. And, I try to get eight hours of sleep a night. You’d be amazed at how your health affects your mindset! And one benefit of childlessness is that I’m free to get as much sleep, exercise, and free time that I need.

3. Focus on the benefits of a childless couple (and there are lots!)

T. says, “I’m trying to see the positives of being a childless couple, yet I break down when I do. Maybe it’s because I spend so much time around family/friends who do have kids and I wish I could experience what they talk about.”

Yes, it would be awesome to experience the joys and pains of having kids! I would love it – I am not childless by choice. But, for some reason, I can easily and happily focus on how lucky and fortunate I am to experience aspects of life that I wouldn’t get with kids. I’m free to pursue whatever goals and activities I want, I love my job, and I love my freedom. That’s the biggest way to be happy as a childless couple: keep focusing on what brings you joy.

4. Stay connected with your spouse – and find joy together

Here’s what Deneice Arthurton said in Childless Couples – Living Happily Without Children:

Coping With Childlessness

5 Surprising Secrets for Coping With Childlessness

“One of the main reasons our childless state has turned out so successfully for us has been our strong relationship. Whenever something has come up we have talked about it no matter how uncomfortable this may have been for one or other of us. We still do this from time concerning not having kids, knowing that the demons of resentment get killed off if you bring them out into the open….What counts however is whether you can move on and build from these times. We did.”

One way to cope with childlessness is to reconnect with your spouse. Bruce and I travel, go boating, go on hikes with our dogs, and volunteer with the Big Sisters/Big Brothers organization. Those activities help us focus on the lighter, happier things in life.

5. Find your own “secrets” for coping with childlessness

Here’s where T. and I agree wholeheartedly. She says, “I need to remember that God does things for a reason. Maybe we aren’t meant to have kids; what if we did and they had medical problems, then it wouldn’t be like I dreamed it would either.”

If you believe God is watching our for you, you’ve found the most important way to be happy as a childless couple. My biggest “secret” for women coping with childlessness is that I believe God is protecting me from something. I think Bruce and I are a childless couple because God is saving us from something. Schizophrenia and mental illness runs in my family, so maybe we’re being protected from that? Or, maybe it’s not about God holding something back from us. Infertility has reared its ugly head in my husband’s siblings as well…so maybe childlessness isn’t something God has “given” to us.

Maybe the best tip on coping with childlessness is to accept that our infertility is just part of living in a fallen world, and all God’s children all got their messes. Another tip is to learn how to survive the grieving process after you find out you won’t have children.

Finding Words of Comfort When Your Heart is Broken is always helpful, too.

Books to help women cope with childlessness

women coping with childlessnessIn Otherhood: Modern Women Finding A New Kind of Happiness, Melanie Notkin reveals her own story of coping with childlessness as well as the honest, poignant, humorous, and occasionally heartbreaking stories of women in her generation. She shares the experiences of women who expected love, marriage, and parenthood, but instead found themselves facing a different reality. Notkin reassures women that they are not alone and encourages them to find happiness and fulfillment no matter what the future holds.

Complete Without Kids: An Insider’s Guide to Childfree Living by Choice or by Chance by clinical psychologist Ellen Walker is an examination of the often-ignored question of what it means to be childfree, by choice or by circumstance, in a family-focused society. Recognizing that there is no one childfree adult, Walker guides the reader through the positive and negative aspects of childfree living, taking into consideration the different issues faced by men or women, couples or singles, whether gay or straight.

coping with childlessness for womenThe authors of Unsung Lullabies: Understanding and Coping with Infertility offer a compassionate, gentle guide for women and couples coping with infertility. The book will help reduce your sense of helplessness and isolation, identify your husband’s coping styles to erase unfair expectations, and listen to your “unsung lullabies” (your conscious and unconscious dreams about having a family). This book will help you grieve the losses of infertility and move on.

“Oh, my friend, it’s not what they take away from you that counts. It’s what you do with what you have left.” – Hubert Humphrey.

What do you think? I welcome your comments below. How are you doing, and what would help you feel better?

May you find peace and joy, faith and hope as you learn about coping with childlessness. May God bless you with acceptance and happiness, surrender and power, peace and joy.


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80 thoughts on “5 Practical Ways to Cope With Childlessness

  • Annah

    God knows best for every childless woman. One day after crying over childlessness I went to a shop for some grocery and saw this little cute baby boy with autism ….it was very bad..and i said “God let your will be done”.This has reduced my pain as a childless woman. Fellow women God knows best

  • Jacana

    Hi to all the childless brave women out there. I have had a long journey with being childless not by choice as I had endometriosis & my darling supportive husband has a problem with his fertility as well so no beautiful children for us & my husband would make the perfect father he’s got so much going for him self. I found out today that there are many other couples these days that are childless & over the years the numbers have increased dramatically and soon it will be more childless couples than couples with children. When I read this I didn’t feel like I was the only one doing this all alone. It has been hard with the way other women and family members treat me and they treated me differently when I was younger. I am in my late 40’s now & post menopausal. I still have the desire to have my own baby.

  • Laurie Post author

    There are some things you never really come to terms with, or get over. Coping with childlessness is one of those things, I think!

    What helped me was not putting a baby or children at the forefront of my mind. Instead of holding on to the disappointment and lost dreams, I found different passions, loves, interests, and purposes.

    I also re-created my relationship with God. His peace, joy, and power really does surpass all understanding! I still feel a little twinge of sadness when I hold a 2 week old baby (like I did last week) or when I see a little girl being held by her daddy (like I did last night)….but it’s no longer a deep pain. It’s just a little pluck of my heartstrings, like the slight ache of an old wound that’s been healed.

    The only source of true healing and joy is Jesus. Learn who He is and what He offers. Take time to connect with God, and listen for His healing voice and joyful spirit. The pain and heartbreak of life will never be fully gone….but it will be flushed away by the peace, joy, and love of the Holy Spirit.

    What do you think?


  • Katherine Boone

    My husband and I have been married for 17 years and it hasn’t been since the last 10 years that I have been yearning for a child. We tried adoption but became very frustrated with the process. I have termed this time my “Hannah Years” where I prayed and longed for a child. As years went on I have come to the conclusion that having a child in our home is not going to be answered. In those years there have been times when I was resentful of families and all the benefits they receive. I was ashamed that I would never be a “woman”, be/c that’s what i thought made someone valuable. I have since matured and found that there are other ways to contribute. I have taken a couple of young families at church under my wing so to speak and really became involved in the children’s lives. Going to parties, spending time with them at the park, doing fun things for them at the various holidays. I have also volunteered to work in the nursery and be a helper in children’s classes. I am a quilter and I work with my guild to make quilts for sick children at the Children’s hospital and the battered women’s and children’s shelter. My husband and i have played Santa and Mrs. Claus at a daycare and at a foster family party. What I love the most is heading up a campaign at our congregation to make dresses for the little girls in Ghana. I love to do this and see the pictures of their grateful sweet faces when they receive the dresses we make with love. Even though I don’t have children in my home I can still be a part of their little lives and can help support the parenting efforts of their parents. I have more time to do several of these things be/c I don’t have children. I still have a longing to be a mother but I am getting older and it is not safe for the baby or for me to carry that child. I have tried to “bloom where I am planted” in a congregation and community brimming with children that need some extra love and attention. So my advice is to break out of your sadness into service and in doing that the healing can come to our hearts. Be blessed in your journeys to serve God as a Servant of the Almighty.

  • Rebecca

    I’m hoping this will help me out.. I’m 42 and have not been able to conceive after 5 years, my partner who is 45 isn’t wanting to get checked out or go through any other process so I’ve had to get my head around it that I’m not ever going to be a mother.. Now finding it even more difficult as my sister is pregnant with her first child and im going through a lot of emotions.. I want to try and be involved with her pregnancy but each time I try I get very depressed that I’m not the one pregnant and not able to go through the whole happiness of having a child .. I think of the bond that her and mum are going to have .. There are some days I just want to hideaway … I feel I’m going to be pushed into a corner and forgotten about… I know I have to think about seeing a counsellor because I don’t want it to destroy my relationship with my partner or my family

  • Rachel

    I have no children, I am 45 now adn it seems like I never will – devastated. I was married for 15years to a man who loved m and took great care of me but who was not proacive in having kids, who did nothign to help even after I begged and pleaded, and who I had sex with about twice per year. There was one early miscarrage. This mariage ended, for a few reasons but mostly that I could not grow old with a good man I would look at with bitterness because he did nothing to help us have a baby. After the separation, he met another woman and has been happy and more ambitious ever since, living a full adn exciting life. I, however have gone to crisis, leacving the country to trade, finding that a teribly lonely time, freinds choosing sides, assault and rape, homelessness. I have a wonderful partner now, he has there children who do not live with us. We got pregnant a couple of years ago but miscarried, now I have all the symptoms of menopause, we do not have the money to do IVF and how can I ask this man to getinto debt when he has already had three children? I feel robbed, I feel isolated and constantly question “why me, why not me”. The oly thing I ever was sure of was that I wanted children, now it is too late. How do I come to terms with this?

  • Tracy

    Thanks so much. This is extremely useful advice. I am positive it will help me get through. My situation is a tiny bit different than the norm of a childless woman/wife. I am wondering if anyone else has experience anything similar and has some coping advice. My story is different because my mother father sisters and brother have all abandoned me disgarded me and tarnished my name and reputation throughout the extended family so I have no one left to support me or talk to. The children in the family do not know me and if they do they have been told terrible lies about me and are either afraid of me or just try and manipulate my feelings to embezzle money from me. I am not sure why it has happened this way. I was always real kind and genuine. I was always a fun loving and generous aunt. Up until I found out I couldn’t have children these same people flocked to me for babysitting services as well as overnight stays and events like fairs and gifts. Before I found out or should I say they found out I couldn’t have kids I actually felt like I belonged and was loved and valued. For 16 years now they have slowly turned on me and they won’t allow others to let be me either. Whenever I get close to a family member or friend they move in and all of the sudden that person is not available to me or I can feel a difference in the way they talk to me and behave around me. It’s quite disturbing and I am not exactly sure why the punishment is so harsh like I’m still the same loving kind helpful person. I just can’t have kids. I have my curiosities that my Mother and my Husband both have Narcissistic Personality disorder and I feel trapped. I want a better life. I have accepted that I will never be a mom but do I have to loose everything???My husband has a son from a previous relationship and up until I found out I couldn’t have kids he loved me too. I watched him every second weekend for almost 3 years. I bought him a bike and we went biking all the time. We played games and I would cook and clean for him and it was quite fulfilling and it played a big role in me deciding to have a hysterectomy as I felt we would have this relationship for life. Not so. Once his mother found out I couldn’t have children she decided to make him call us at 9 years old and say he had no interest in seeing us anymore. It broke our heart and I imagine it was hard for him too. He is 24 now and has requested a relationship with his father but has made it clear he doesn’t want me involved and he doesn’t want me there at Christmas and other holidays either. Talk about tear my heart ou. I asked him why and I stated that I would never and have never ever hurt him but with his red face and strange look he just said oh no and then he realized I hadn’t and that I had only been kind to him he just said I don’t know why I just want it. I am definitely confused. Anyone else go through this?