Tuesday

Shotgun weddings decline in popularity

I'm trendy. And I don't mean that like I am all about Ugg boots, the new plaid for fall or totally into Katy Perry at the moment. I am part of a national trend in my life decision to visit the delivery room before the wedding chapel.

In a recent New York Times article, someone finally decided to look at how many “single moms” aren't really single. More than one quarter of us are cohabitating with a partner. 28 percent, in fact. One in four of the women society views as “single moms” actually have just as much (if not more) help from the other half of their baby's genetic code.

So congratulations to all the other members of the “Living in Sin Club”! We finally have put enough of a dent in the statistics that someone is paying attention to our actual living situation rather than the lack of a gold ring on our swollen fingers.

More couples are opting to have a child but hold off on the wedding bells. We are saying "I do ... just not right now." Apparently it's time to change the childhood playground taunts. For more and more couples, first comes love, then comes a joint lease, then comes a baby carriage. And the marriage? Eh, when it's time.

If Beyonce would have called the song “All the Single Mothers,” the lyrics might have been a bit different. “If he likes it, then he will put a ring on it eventually when we are in a more financially and emotionally stable situation.” Not as catchy in the clubs, but the truth.

I hope that this represents a cultural shift in how we approach the idea of family. No longer are we being pushed into shotgun weddings out of fear for how outsiders will view unmarried parents. Bad news for the maternity-wedding dress industry.

Many right-wingers would say that this study only proves that the sanctity of marriage and family is being degraded, but I argue the opposite. I think that my decision to hold off on marriage shows my respect for the institution. Instead of jumping blindly into a marriage out of shame or guilt for my pregnancy, I am waiting for the right reasons. You know, that whole “love” thing?

Or I could go the way the fundamentalists prefer, march down the aisle just because my birth control failed and end up statistically more likely to get a divorce. How is that for the sanctity of marriage?

While the views of society may be slow to change, I hope this recognition for our demographic will be reflected in a tangible way.

A simple way to acknowledge this growing trend would be a new check box on government forms. Seriously, Facebook has more options for defining my relationship status. 

On medical forms and such, you are married, once were married, or you are single. Single. Alone. Solitary. Not part of a couple. When you start throwing synonyms out there, doesn't seem so harmless, does it?

With a growing number of pregnant women in the same boat (probably on the verge of capsizing under our collective weight), it's time to consider a change in the way we strictly limit relationship categories. I understand that “In a committed relationship but waiting for marriage due to personal reasons or political obstacles” may be a bit much.
But how about a good old simple “Unmarried” option? “Unmarried” allows me to say “I am not necessarily single, but I am legally not bound to another human being.”

The study's data is from 2008, so I am sure the number of cohabitating couples delaying marriage is even higher now and will continue to grow as more couples choose to ignore the stigma of being *gasp!* unmarried parents. So holla at all my not-so-single ladies. The times they are a-changing.


2 comments:

  1. i just want you to know how happy this blog has made me. i found out almost 4 weeks ago i was pregnant, and had only been with my now boyfriend, only two weeks when i found out. needless to say, the situation was not ideal. after 3 days of contemplating and weighing our options, we realized what a blessing this is, and also decided to "jump in head first." but reading your blog has been like taking the words right out of my mouth and writing it down. so i just want you to know how much i love you for this, and please please write again after labor is over. i have to know how it is from someone who will not claim that it was "the best experience of their life" and marshmallows and rainbows and kittes.
    Lacey

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  2. Here's another blog post on how unmarried parents are not necessarily single parents: http://apracticalwedding.com/2011/01/unwed-mothers-or-why-i-waited-five-years-to-marry-after-i-had-my-kid/

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