Experts in the happiness-studies field tell us that being married correlates strongly with being happy, while having children does not. (Be sure to mention this to your kids the next time they misbehave.) However, this has not dissuaded American women from wishing to be mothers. In a poll commissioned by Marie Claire and fielded by Gallup, 37 percent of women said that having children is “extremely important” to them, with another 41 percent saying it’s “very important.” That exceeds the numbers who said being or getting married is so important (31 percent “extremely,” 34 percent “very”). Elsewhere in the poll, women said it’s important that they earn their own money (36 percent “extremely,” 41 percent “very”). It’s intriguing, though, that significantly fewer attached great importance to “having a successful career” (23 percent “extremely,” 36 percent “very”). Women acknowledge that they may need to work, but tend to have a utilitarian view of what a job can do for them. The chart below gives a picture of how marriage, kids and work figure in women’s outlook on the ideal way of life for themselves.