If you think parenthood is all dirty diapers and sleepless nights, you have a lot to learn.
Couples without kids are probably so much happier than couples with kids. After all, couples without kids have fewer financial constraints, fewer responsibilities and more time to themselves. Plus, waking up to change diapers in the middle of the night must make coupled parents totally miserable, right?
That's what we thought, too. But as it turns out, couples without kids are not any happier than couples with kids, according to our survey. We asked 101 YourTango Experts the following question:
Agree or disagree: Couples without kids are happier than couples with kids.
A whopping majority of 80 percent said that they disagree with that statement. Naturally, it made us wonder: Are parents happy? What makes couples with kids so dang happy? We asked our experts, and here's what they had to say:
1. Couples with kids have imagination.
While couples without kids can travel the world without diapers and strollers in tow, couples with kids can listen to their children's dreams at home. In both their nighttime and daytime dreams, children fly to far-off planets, encounter friendly dinosaurs and speak to characters in languages very different than those heard in their parents' everyday real world.
Having kids is a great way to be a part of a larger universe filled with freedom; the world of our dreams and imagination. — Mary Alice Long
2. Couples with kids get down and dirty... and love it!
Couples without kids can afford to buy the latest fashions, a new car each year and a home in the suburbs. Couples with kids can get messy, down and dirty.
From playing with finger-painting and water, digging a hole to China, to stomping in the mud during a rain storm, having kids is a great way to get back to essentials and simple exuberance in the moment of play! — Mary Alice Long
3. Couples with kids embrace their youth.
And they can remember and engage in their own childhood play. Couples without kids can pursue careers, achievement, and fame. Couples with kids often remember what they loved to play with as a child by playing with their children.
Many times, how parents played as children provide a clue to how they create the life they want now, both personally and professionally. Having kids is a great way to immerse yourself in play and find ways to bring a playful spirit into all of life as a parent. — Mary Alice Long
4. Couples with kids share stories with their children... so that the wisdom of their path can serve future generations.
Couples without kids can focus on intellectual and personal development by taking classes and earning degrees. Couples with children can transform their own lives and the lives of their children through love and the values they teach that serve the greater good.
From reading bedtime stories to sharing family stories, having kids is a great way to share lessons that hold the key to the future. — Mary Alice Long
5. Couples with kids communicate.
Couples who can build a loving and caring relationship with their children have better communication with each other and a more positive view about life. Parents who connect easily with their children's feelings and needs are parents who are more easily connected with their own.
In those relationships, parents continuously develop and strengthen their social intelligence, which in turn provides children with an effective communication model and helps them become socially intelligent adults  who will succeed in our society. — Cristina Wood
6. Couples with kids experience true happiness on a regular basis.
Research is clear: Happiness isn't about having free time or more money to spend on yourself. It's about using your particular talents to better someone else's life.
7. Couples with kids have the ultimate shared passion.
The easiest and most powerful way for a couple to improve their relationship is to share an activity about which they are both passionate.
Raising children together, watching them grow, teaching them the ways of life, enjoying their activities, loving and being loved by kids and, especially experiencing those times of elation when Susie finds the money from the Tooth Fairy or Johnny puts on a tux for his first dance — all forge a relationship bond that can never be undone. — Pat Love
8. Kids force you to grow up!
Yes, having no one to think of but yourself most of the time does sound tempting but there's a lot to be said for maturity gained through meaningful responsibility, and the humility you learn by having the care of another in your hands.
Two grown-ups make a better relationship. — Pat Love
9. Rewards are daily, not quarterly.
The look on your child's face when he's sleeping; the "Daddy’s home" glee when you simply show up; the joy of mastery when she hits that home run; the comfort you give with just a hug or a kiss; the pride you feel when your daughter fixes your computer; the memories you make every day that stay with you a lifetime.
10. Having kids renders time spent with your partner more precious.
Kids take a lot of time. On an ordinary day, they can take most of your discretionary time. Because of this enormous demand, time with just the two of you becomes more delicious, more of a treasure.
You savor each secluded moment in the bedroom. Even running errands without the kids can become a small pleasure. And there is the added bonus of showing your children what a healthy relationship looks like. Modeling is still the greatest teacher! — Pat Love
11. Kids relieve relationship boredom.
Relationship boredom is a fact, but rarely so in a family with kids. They entertain, they challenge, they provide enrichment, they bring novelty and new ideas to your life every day. You won't be bored with kids in your life. — Pat Love
12. Kids provide a natural, built-in social group.
Your kids' friends and families provide a natural entry to social groups and friendships. Socializing as a couple is one of the mainstays of relationship happiness. — Pat Love
13. Kids relieve relationship loneliness.
Almost 30 percent of married people say they are lonely. Long work hours, financial demands, the complexity of life decisions, Internet daze — all can create a life filled with loneliness. But children pull us back into the relationship with their needs and sheer energy. We can’t ignore them, nor should we. — Pat Love
14. Couples with kids work as a team.
The reality is that parents have to interact often. They work interdependently, that is, on the same team, to accomplish the shared goal of assuring that their children thrive. Frequent positive interactions, a shared goal, and interdependent partnerships nourish and enhance close bonds. — Susan Heitler