19 June 2012

Happily Unmarried

No, I'm not talking gay marriage, though that does apply somewhat.

My question right now is why unmarried couples are looked down upon if they have kids and are unmarried.

Until the recent century, being married was the only way to really even have benefits for one's kids (i.e royalty can't rule if they're born out of wedlock). But this isn't 1897 or medieval Europe...and a ton of couples now co-habitate before getting married across the world. So why is it still a stigma that every child conceived out of wedlock is doomed for a difficult life unless the parents get married?

*Disclaimer: This list is in no way to discount marriage. This post came into fruition from some musings I had on the subject, from my own personal experiences of some reactions about Riley and I co-habitating and the thought process involved in timing marriage and children. 

These reasons are also unrelated to any religious debates which, in this case, are considered applied to only those who follow that respective belief.

I present my top five reasons why people that have kids out of wedlock are looked down upon:

Reason #1. "They're just playing house. If they're committed why not get married?"

"Until death do us part" is pretty solid. Some even go as far as "eternity" in their vows. Wedlock has no key to wedunlock. Marriage is the ultimate "step" in a relationship and, in some perspectives, an achievement. If a couple shuns that, it's seen as a fear of commitment, which is usually looked down upon. In some minds, a baby born into uncommitted parents eventually end up in an orphanage.

Some people argue that love can fade with age and growth. I know someone who put into her vows "until our love shall last" instead of "death do us part." Other people are just content the way things are, without the title of marriage.

Reason #2. "If they can't afford a wedding, how are they going to afford a kid?"

It costs the average couple $26,000 for a ceremony and a party -- excluding the honeymoon (source).  That's a full year's expense for the average 4 year out-of-state American university. That's also double the cost of a decent new car. Or a down payment on a house. 

Some people simply "skip" the wedding bit (including the JOP) and invest their money elsewhere besides a giant party, which can lead to nosy questions about financial capabilities.

Reason #3. "A baby should be planned"

It's no secret that pre-marital sex is probably more prevalent than marital sex (ba dum tsh). Over half of all American pregnancies are unplanned (source) -- and a lot of those are within marriages (otherwise known as a "surprise"). Sometimes it's the result of a one night stand; sometimes it's passionate coitus between a couple in a committed, long-term relationship. Forty percent of babies are born to co-habitating unmarried couples (source). 

Studies have also shown that the firstborn child sometimes pushes the parents apart, bringing stress to the relationship and possibly causing separation and/or divorce. (source).

Reason #4. "A marriage is between a man and a woman"

Ah, the gay marriage debate. Separation of church and state, people -- regardless of your beliefs. As for whether the kids will grow up messed up, well that depends on the personality -- not the sexuality -- of the parents. Some pretty messed up people have been born to heterosexual parents.

Reason #5: "Marriage is better for the child"

Honestly, kids don't know the difference if their parents are married or not -- as long as they're present and together. A kid really isn't going to gripe about how their parents are living together and unmarried (unless some religion comes into play at some point). 

Studies show that kids in traditionally married families have a higher chance of success in life. However, the UK publication The Daily Mail reported:

"[A 2010 study] found the most important factor in a child's development is their parents' background, including their ethnicity, education, social status, wealth and relationship history. And it is couples who are wealthier, healthier and better educated who are more likely to get married. Cohabiting couples tended to be less educated, younger, had a lower household income than married parents, and the quality and stability of their relationship also differed, it added.
A child's success in life is a result of ' differences in the sort of parents who decide to get married rather than to cohabit" Read more

As in the case argued in Reason #4, it's the personality of the parent that produces the outcome of the child. 


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