being a mom
Getting Married Just Because You’re Pregnant Is A Terrible Idea
When my husband and I found out that we were pregnant, the very first thing that people asked us was “When are you going to get married?”
Despite anticipating the question, I was always at a loss to answer it. I tried to make a joke, usually by saying, “Well, we’re just going to handle one major life change at a time, I think.” Inevitably people would scoff, gasp, or otherwise look entirely scandalized at my willingness to live in sin with but not marry the man who had knocked me up.
My husband, who was my boyfriend at the time actually took the brunt of the criticism. He was accused of not doing the right thing more times than I can count. People would ask him “Don’t you want to be there for your child?” which was a total dick move, since he wasn’t planning on going anywhere, wedding certificate notwithstanding.
I think that people are much more accepting of unmarried parents now then they were before, but I still fielded enough questions about when we would “legitimize” my daughter that it forced me to really think about why getting married was a really bad decision for us at that time.
I think it started out as a strong desire to not be a cliche. The idea of a shotgun wedding epitomized everything I had tried to eradicate from my life: young woman gets pregnant, young woman gets married, young woman drops out of school to be a mother.
Once I started thinking about it, though, I was able to flesh out a list of better reasons to wait.
First, we were still getting to know one another. You can draw any conclusion you wish from that, but I’ve never been secretive of the fact that we got pregnant very early on. I had no desire to be married to someone I barely knew, and neither did he.
Second, I think it’s ultimately worse to stay in a relationship you hate so that your kid can have two parents under one roof than it is to have two happy parents in separate households. If things didn’t work out between us, I wanted us to be able to split amicably and easily instead of going through the most expensive break up ever down the line.
Third, resentment is a horrible way to start a marriage. I know for a fact that I would have resented giving in to pressure to marry, and I probably would have blamed my husband. Similarly, had I asked him to marry me, it would only feed into that other cliche: girl traps boy with pregnancy. I needed him to know that it was okay to leave me if he was unhappy, as long as he was there for his kid. My pregnancy wasn’t a ploy, and being married only would have turned it into one.
Finally, I wanted my marriage-whenever it happened-to be like anyone else’s. I wanted to marry someone that I loved and who loved me back, not because it made filing taxes easier or made hospital paperwork more efficient.
Ultimately, we made the right decision. We all lived under one roof and as my daughter grew, my husband and I came to respect one another and lean on each other, and eventually we did fall in love. I know that sounds mushy, but it’s the truth. By the time we finally got around to getting married, our relationship had survived so much that there was very little doubt in my mind that it would last.
I will always tell people that if being pregnant is the only or primary reason that they are considering marriage that they should absolutely wait. Give it one year. Give it two. I gave it five, and I don’t regret a single moment of living in sin with my family.
Plus, your kid can be in your wedding with you, which is kind of magical completely and totally adoraballs. See?