Why Are More Couples Choosing the DINK Lifestyle?
In the United States, a growing number of couples live a DINK lifestyle instead of the historically traditional family structure that includes having children, at least according to data. The DINK lifestyle – aka “dual income, no kids” – is generally used to describe a family where neither adult in the partnership has children and both are working paying jobs.
According to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of adults living without children has increased by 19 percent since 1967. In addition, a 2021 Pew Research Center survey found 44 percent of non-parents between the ages of 18 and 49 say it’s unlikely they will have children. This figure is up from 37 percent in 2018, indicating a growing trend of couples delaying having kids or forgoing them altogether. Several factors contribute to the rise of the DINK lifestyle, including a delay in median age at the time of marriage, financial reasons, and shifts in life goals.
POPSUGAR spoke to a few experts to better understand the DINK lifestyle, including the pros, cons, and what couples should keep in mind if they’re considering a future family without kids.
Why Are Couples Choosing a DINK Lifestyle?
Like any partnership and family structure, the DINK lifestyle isn’t a one-size-fits-all term. Instead, couples come to live the DINK lifestyle for various reasons, Jay Zigmont, Ph.D., CFP, and founder of Childfree Wealth in Water Valley, Mississippi, tells POPSUGAR.
Sometimes the DINK lifestyle is by choice and other times it’s not. “There are those who do choose not to have kids, usually called childfree, while for others, it may not have been by choice, often called childless,” Zigmont explains. (Editor’s note: For the purpose of this article, experts primarily discussed couples who are DINKs by choice.)
For Zigmont and his wife, the DINK lifestyle provided more flexibility in creating a life that works best for them, which he’s also seen with many of his clients.
“With my clients, being DINKs means they have more options,” Zigmont adds. “It is common to see clients take turns supporting each other and even taking sabbaticals to find themselves. Goals are flexible in DINK couples, and it is not surprising to hear them change, sometimes dramatically, even across one year.”
What Are the Benefits of Living a DINK Lifestyle?
Zigmont says that in his experience, those who choose to live a DINK lifestyle do so for three main reasons: they never wanted children, are focused on financial wellness, and they desire freedom.
“Our biggest priority is each other’s happiness, and neither of us are willing to sacrifice the intentional lifestyle we’ve cultivated.”
Those three reasons have all been true for Delanie Fischer, who lives a DINK lifestyle in Los Angeles with her husband, Cam Mulford. She tells POPSUGAR that not having kids has given them “a tremendous amount of freedom – not only around our time, but financially, creatively, and energetically too.”
“When we got really honest about what our ideal life together looked like now and in the future, none of the things we excitedly brought up included having children,” she explains. And for their relationship and life goals, the DINK lifestyle makes sense.
“We really enjoy our day-to-day individually, and as a couple, we like working on our shared goals together, and we try to prevent and reduce as much stress as possible,” Fischer shares. “Our biggest priority is each other’s happiness, and neither of us are willing to sacrifice the intentional lifestyle we’ve cultivated.”
Are There Any Cons to Living a DINK Lifestyle?
Some may say that living a DINK life means never being able to “create a family.” But Zigmont encourages people to check their bias around what family means.
“While some define a family as having kids, childfree people are a family also,” he says. “A childfree family may look different, but it is a family nonetheless,” Zigmont says.
Challenging these societal ideas of what a family means can take a toll on DINK couples, though, Fischer says. “The only mild challenge we’ve experienced is during social situations when people ask when we plan to have kids and are very confused when we tell them we aren’t having any,” she explains.
People tend to make assumptions about Fisher and her husband. They think “that we hate kids, that we’ll regret it, that we’ll change our mind, that we won’t know real love if we don’t have a baby, that our life won’t have true purpose,” she says. And this can feel very invalidating to the lifestyle many DINK couples have chosen.
Ultimately, Couples Considering a DINK Lifestyle Should Choose What’s Best for Them
For Fischer and her husband, choosing the DINK lifestyle has 100 percent been the right choice for them. “We are very happy with our decision, we feel purposeful every day, we have a lot of kids in our life and enjoy our roles as aunt and uncle,” she says. “We also respect how big of a commitment and responsibility it is to be a parent, and it’s just not for us.”
If you and your partner are considering the DINK lifestyle, remember that it should be decision between you two. Do not let preconceived notions get in the way. And “be careful not to just follow a cultural script,” Zigmont says.
“We had to make this decision based on what we want, not what other people want for us,” Fisher says. If you manage to do that, then whatever decision you make will be the right one for you.