Why do I need to get married just because we have a kid?

Guest post by Nikki Cupcake

From the second I knew about my son’s upcoming arrival, the same questions kept coming up, the biggest one being, “Are you married?”

After I answered no, everyone seemed to assume that my son’s father was out of the picture. To their surprise, my son’s father is very much involved.

I would just look at them and say “You know it’s possible to be in a relationship with someone, have a child and not be married, right?”

It’s not just random strangers that had this skewed view on what defined a family. My partner’s family and my family also shared the same idea. During every one of my son’s unveilings the someone would always ask, “So when are you guys getting married?”

I would just reply “Why fix what’s not broken?”

I worry for people who run and get married when they have a child, I worry that they’re rushing into something that they didn’t need to hurry. Not everyone is ready to get married as soon as they know they’re going to be a family.

Some people are ready — and that’s awesome, but my partner and I weren’t. We didn’t think were ready to have a child when we did, so why would we throw a wedding on top of that?

I felt us not getting married and rushing into things was the most mature thing to do, since we did rush into have a child.

My son lives in a very loving home with his two very loving parents. My partner and I share our lives together and now share a son. We are a family. Yet we aren’t married, nor do we plan to be any time in the near future.

Comments on Why do I need to get married just because we have a kid?

  1. My partner and I got engaged but agreed to think about the wedding after we'd had a baby. Call us crazy (and many did) but we actually wanted to start our family before we got wed. However, when we told our parents we were expecting we got asked "will you get married before the baby is born?" Er, no, this is the 21st century – keep up! My son took his dad's last name (we can do that in England) and I'll probably change my name too when we do get wed. I don't see it as anti-feminist; I believe feminism is about choice – I choose to change my name. Getting married won't make me a better parent than I am now; it won't change my relationship with my boyfriend; and it won't make much of a difference legally (what with the UK's National Health Service and the boyfriend having his name on the kiddo's birth certificate) we just want to do it.

    Well done for sticking to what you believe in and dismissing comments from anybody that isn't constructive.

  2. With my old boy for nearly 12 years now, we have four kids together 9, 7, 5, 2. We actually got married just a few months ago, because the time seemed to be right. Have had a few odd comments here and there about why we didn't do it earlier. Most people assumed that we already were and we didn't bother correcting them. Marriage didn't seem hugely important, still doesn't really. Just shut a few people up by us doing it and had a cool party.

  3. I agree and disagree at the same time. My partner and I were together for 2.5 years before I got pregnant, got engaged when I was 5 months, and now we'll be getting married when she is 7 months old. I got the opposite treatment- my mom & dad got married just because she was pregnant, so everyone in my family pretty much told me to be very cautious and DONT get married. Since we loved each other and knew being married was best for our daughter( all the tax breaks, health insurance, and laws about unmarried partners) there wasnt a better time to decide that with a child on the way. My thoughts were that we were going to get married or seperate happily. I wouldn't want to be trying to 'figure out' our relationship and put a child in the middle of that. And I don't think that getting married is trying to fix something, it's just another way people express their love. Well, it should be.
    I'm so glad you wrote this piece though, people seem to think the only "happy" home is one with two, married parents. Even being a single parent seems to be better than an unmarried couple.

  4. My parents never married, either. It ended up working out because they separated, but both while they were together and after they broke up, I didn't realize anything was "weird" about my family. Then again, one of my best friends as a kid was the daughter of a high-class escort, and another had two moms, so maybe I just didn't see enough traditional married-mom-and-dad families to know that that was the norm. 🙂

    One thing that's odd to me, though, is that people are saying their children are legally required to have the mother's name- where's that? I was born in California and I have my dad's last name.

  5. I don't think anyone needs to be married to be great parents. My parents have been together over 30 years and have 2 kids. People assumed that my dad wasn't in the picture or that my brother and I were an accident when we were both very planned. They also questioned why we would take our dad's last name. My mom was even told she had options regarding carrying me until she frankly told them that I was planned and that her and my dad were thrilled to be having me. It's sad that after 30 years the assuptions are still there.

  6. Thanks for sharing…although I'm married, and trying for a child very soon, I can appreciate both "sides". I think it's pathetic that this is still an issue. I've had many friends have babies with their significant others and not get married….some don't want to, some want to later in life. It shouldn't matter. People just do what if best for them-without judgment from others! I'm pretty sick right now, (why we aren't trying yet) with severe edema, which is mostly in my abdomen. I look about 7 months pregnant….I've given up explaining to people that I'm not. But anyways…I'm also so swollen I can't wear my rings (after having them sized 3 times already!)….and the looks I get are disgusting. It's a sad society we live in.

  7. its funny about how i keep hearing about laws that kinda hurt unmarried parents….. i live in nj and i never thought there would be such a thing…. i'll have to check it out some more

  8. My husband and I had been engaged for 4 months when we found out I was pregnant (however, we had been together for 9 years and had no doubt that we wanted to be married). We rushed the marriage for heath insurance reasons: my insurance sucked, and his is great. I don't believe that a domestic partnership was an option for us as a heterosexual couple, but I didn't really look into it. We were planning to get married, so we just did it sooner. We went to the County Clerk's Office with close family and friends in September, and we had a bigger "re-enactment wedding" with a larger group in December. Our party was beautiful, and now I can't imagine having done it the way I was initially planning. A year-long engagement where I (mostly by myself) have to orchestrate a gigantic party!?! The way we did it, we had so much help. Brian's parents hosted at their house, and other friends and relatives helped make it happen (with their money and time). So much less stress for me! And we got to focus on growing a healthy baby boy who will be here in May! (;

  9. I love this post. I keep getting asked if my fiance and I are getting married before the baby comes (in 7 weeks!) and I just keep telling people no. We are engaged, and that is because I got pregnant, but we have enough life chaning stuff going on right now. We can't afford the kind of wedding we want at the moment and I can't wear the kind of dress I want and a whole slew of other things. Right now there are more pressing matters than a wedding. I've gotten a few people that tell me that we need to get married, but then they can't tell me why, with the exception that it is "god's will." And if that were true, god would have waited until after I was married to make my birth control fail.

  10. We weren't married until our son was nine-months-old, though we were engaged… exactly two days before I tested positive for baby. We got a lot of, "Well, you should just get married in the courthouse now, and have the big wedding later," from my loving-and-well-intentioned very conservative in-laws — we wanted something that was special and unique. And we didn't want to shortchange ourselves just because we'd had some birth-control failure.

    We ended up planning the courthouse wedding in about two weeks, because we decided it was time to do it.

    I will say that from a legal standpoint, it's easier to share a last name with me son. I wasn't too pleased with having to sign a paternity affidavit in the hospital because we weren't married, and I had to tell everyone, "No, he'll have his father's last name — I will too, at some point." Maybe it would've been easier to have the wedding before he was born, but we're happy with what we did.

  11. I agree 100%!! I am 30 years old and my parents just recently got married (for health insurance coverage). My parents were perfectly happy living together as a family, not married. They never let being married by law define their relationship and the morals they'd teach me.

    Although, I choose marriage was the route I wanted to go down. My husband and I choose to start a family before our wedding. When we decided to start a family, we had been engaged for 1 year. We tried for 10 months before becoming prego. We announced our pregnancy at our wedding. Even though everyone was extremely excited for us, people automatically assumed that we got pregnant by accident. It's sad when two adults can't make a decision on what they feel is right for their own family without people making judgements.

  12. My boyfriends parents never got married (long story) and 30 years on they're still together and still very happy. Unless the different last names thing comes up you'd never know, most people do just assume they're married! Maybe one day society as a whole will learn that there are a lot of ways things can be done and no one way is 'right'. It's for each person and each couple to work out what's right for them!

  13. i echo the voices of all the other ladies who have said that marriage has nothing to do with being able to raise a happy, healthy child in a stable home. i became pregnant when my boyfriend and i of 5 years were just getting back together after a 3 year hiatus. we weren't even sure we wanted to jump back into a relationship, let along get married! but when we found out i was pregnant we were sure we wanted this baby. so we took it one day at a time and decided marriage was completely unimportant at the moment, we wanted to focus on learning to be parents and being fully present for every moment of our son's life. now, our son turned 2 1/2 and the baby phase is almost over and we feel a sense of stability and confidence in our parenting and family life, we've been able to adjust slowly but surely at our own pace. and now we have decided to get married because we want to celebrate our life together in a symbolic way with all of the people we love.
    its all about finding your own timing and what feels right for you. screw everyone else.

  14. I’m a very nontraditional type of a woman myself. I have kind of done everything backwards in my life but all in the pursuit of happiness. I was confused about men when I was a teenager and spent the first eight years of my young adult life in lesiban relationships all the while longing to find a guy I was comfortable with. Long storty short I found a wonderful man that I fell in love with, we are SO great together and we had a child togethera year ago now. We have been together for two and a half years and I just WISH everyone was as nontraditional with their views as I am. People constantly question you or look for a ring on your finger when you start talking about your child. I am one hundred percent happy with my relationship with my man and my daughter but I hate that I have that nagging M word in the back of my brain because of everyone’s naggings. I also have a job that offers benefits to my entire family without being married, we also own two homes together, LITERALLY the only reason I want to be married is so I can stop hearing peoples mouths…..well aside from the fact that I am completely in love with him…but I want him to ask me when he is ready. Originally I didn’t care if we got married five years from now but hearing my mom complain all the time about it, co workers, customers, etc. makes me feel like I am missing out on something, even though I know I am not. Another huge dissapointment to me is that I want everyone I know to be excited, including myself, when he pops the question….and not thinking FINALLY…what took so long? It is tough being nontraditional but constantly defending yourself to all the traditional, judgemental people out there.

  15. Here’s a slightly off-topic story from my family’s history that I love –
    My mom was pregnant when my parents moved to Dallas and started to look for churches to go to. They chose the church that had the friendliest, kindest people in it – it was a real community. They found out later that since my mom had kept her last name, everyone at the church thought that they were an unmarried couple expecting a child. My parents definitely knew they were in the right community then.

  16. Married people can be shitty parents-unmarried people can be shitty parents-married people can be great parents-unmarried people can be great parents. It all comes down to the fact that people will be the kind of parents they work to be, and the work of being parents won’t get easier based on a legal document.
    Married couples can get benefits from the government but so can single mothers. It depends on the government and your joint income.

  17. I remember when we were about to get married an older work colleague mentioned something I thought was particularly strange: He said something along the lines that ‘marriage is a symptom of a responsible society’.

    I really got thrown off by that cos i thought…… people got married because they loved one another? and wanted to live together forever and ever, amen?

    somehow though, with time i tend to agree with some of this thinking.

    you love one another:

    1. you don’t have to have the million dollar wedding to get married. courthouse do’s are trendy, simple and, if anything ‘more’ relevant legally than fancy church shindigs – so money is not necessarily even an issue when it comes to weddings.


    2. you love one another and are now going to have to raise a whole human being together

    unless one is completely unsure about their partner, the whole idea about marriage is that it’s probably the most symbolic adult ritual we are ever going to experience – it indicates that one has grown up and found in themselves an ability to make a committment and put it out there in writing.

    something the world seriously is in need of: committed individuals ready to put money where their mouth is and honor their word

    this is aside from the legal rights it offers you – and trust me, when it comes to money and buying, mortgages, buying power (and the contracts that go between these), a marriage to someone is one of the small things that make a difference – and of course, has an impact in the worst case scenarios.

  18. AMEN SISSSTA. I am happy to see I’m not the only one to feel this way. And you’re right. People really do give you crazy looks when you tell them you aren’t, and aren’t planning. Having a baby scares me enough without being tied to a whole OTHER person. If something bad happens I want it to be as easy as possible to cope, and to separate. I know dooming it from the beginning is bad karma…but I work in a law firm– which does a WHOLE LOT OF DIVORCES. Every month we do about 15… some are simple, and have no assets, etc, no fighting et… SOME of them are TERRIBLE. Which further deters me from ever getting married. I LOVE the person Im with. I dont want to be with anyone else but him. 2 rings make not a family, friends.

  19. This is so common is Scandinavia… sadly it hasn’t quite caught on over here yet.

    We get the opposite line of questioning (“You’re married. When are you having a baby?”), and it’s equally annoying.

    Just because a couple of people get married doesn’t mean baby automatically follows. Just because a couple of people have a baby doesn’t mean marriage automatically follows.

    • Exactly what I was thinking (I’m Swedish). Here, it is common to cohabit for several years before you get married (if you ever do get married), and many couples have children before they are married. There are only a few legal differences between being an unmarried or a married couple, mostly to do with inheritance and separation/divorce situations. An unmarried couple has no claim to each others wealth and possessions in case of a separation or the death of one party.

      Personally, I would get married if I knew I was pregnant, mainly because I would want the father to be a legal parent from the date of the child’s birth. Otherwise, he would have to sign papers acknowledging his fatherhood, a bureaucratic process that can take weeks, even months, depending on the local social authorities. Also, because I think it’s nobody’s business whom I chose to have children with (an unmarried mother is according to law a single mother, even if she has a long-term relationship with the father, until he signs the papers).

  20. It confuses me when people equate marriage with a stable “adult” relationship. Neither of these things requires the other. You can be married and in an unstable relationship, or in a stable relationship and unmarried, or vice versa. Marriage isn’t a magic ticket to stability and responsibility. If you look at it frankly, marriage is a choice to involve legal bureaucracy in your relationship. There is nothing that says someone who chooses to opt out of this process cannot be a good parent or a responsible adult. The argument that you must be married to raise a child responsibly is totally a logical fallacy. Marriage is not the only sort of serious commitment out there; just ask the numerous gay couples who have been together for decades and have been unable to marry.

  21. I totally agree with you. However, my husband’s cousin and his girlfriend have two kids and they’re not married and they have a sh*tload of legal problems here in France… it’s not fair, and it doesn’t even make sense, but apparently it’s easier…

  22. It is so very normal for couples to be together for decades and have kids together without a public record of their marriage. Whether for political protest or personal reasons, the choice is understandable. I’ve married lots of couples who have raised families and twenty years later decide to secure the license as a sort of “we made it” celebration or because it made some legal stuff easier. Others never do, but live wonderfully happy and secure. Stating vows is less meaningful than loving someone everyday.

  23. My partner was raised Catholic, and is a couple religious choices beyond that now. His dad once told a friend of his that “since we’re Catholic and none of the kids are married yet, there hasn’t been an opportunity for grandkids.” It took every single ounce of willpower I had not to point out that my partner and I are still discussing whether or not we will be married before we have kids, and that his son being raised Catholic has less to do with it than the tiny cyborg implanted in my girlybits!

  24. Unfortunately in my country unmarried couples do not have equal rights to married couples. (I am in a monogamous hetro-relationship, sadly the situation is worse for my LGBT friends or those in poly-relationships)

    Because of the law in my country, my partner (who I have lived with for almost 4 years) is not my next of kin, if we had biological children he would not be legally considered their guardian as we are not married.

    The cost in legal fees to assign each other to next-of-kin (requires input from a medical professional, solicitor and judge ) and to assign him legal guardianship of his biological child (requires both of us to agree in court) is much greater than the €200 ($270) cost for us to get married.

    So, yes, if we found out that we were pregnant then we would get married as soon as possible.

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