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Shock Study: The Key To A Happy Marriage Is NOT Having Children

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- For centuries, having children has been held up by many as the ultimate source of fulfillment and meaning in life.

However, a shocking new marriage study disputes all that, CBS 2's Jennifer McLogan reported Wednesday.

Married almost 30 years, Don and Linda Mortimer of Mattituck share a secret to their wedded bliss: no children.

"I think I bring more attention to him than if there were kids, because they'd be getting the attention, no two ways about it. I don't have to share," Linda Mortimer said.

"Without children, if there are only two people in a relationship, you work with each other, you complement each other," Don Mortimer added.

And there is agreement among a majority of couples in one the largest studies ever conducted among partners.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council of Great Britain, researchers found that childless couples have happier marriages. They feel more satisfied and valued, and intentionally do fun, caring and comforting things every day for each other.

"Life gets in the way, and you forget how much you like to play, so if couples can begin to do something like, putting aside a half an hour in the evening, put on a favorite song that they love, and dance cheek to cheek," Hofstra University professor Teresa Grella Hillebrand said.

And make your partner a cup of tea. Experts who study marriage and family say they aren't surprised the study found that children add stress, and that childless couples do significantly more to maintain their relationships, like going for walks, talking, intimate sharing -- simple, daily acts of kindness.

However, multiple happy couples with children said they find the survey hard to believe.

"It has brought us so much joy; I can't imagine life without a child in our lives," said Linda Ain of Garden City.

Yet among all couples, one simple action emerged as the most important element in strong relationships -- saying thank you.

The study also showed that those recovering from a painful breakup were able to take steps to strengthen a current relationship -- with or without children.

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