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Tying The Knot: Are Parents Better Off Married?

What compelled you to get married?

For me, it was a simple decision: I was pregnant, and my boyfriend wanted to marry me. I’d been against marriage, but he made a persuasive case based on details like sharing health insurance and being able to make medical decisions for each other. Yes, we could have recreated a lot of the benefits of marriage without tying the knot, but marrying him was a simple, practical solution to a host of problems I had little energy to solve while battling morning sickness and making ready for the huge change a baby would bring to our lives.

In other words, it was very pragmatic. There was little romance to our quiet elopement, no fancy dress or giant cake. I never got the big white wedding little girl’s often dream of, and I minded only a little.

For other women though, apparently, the need to be married can take hold with a fever akin to baby lust. They become irrational with the burning need to Get Married. Baby lust I understand. There’s a biological drive to reproduce. Bridal fever, though, is beyond me.

In the Telegraph, Christina Hopkinson writes about the strong-arm tactics she used to get her boyfriend to marry her. Maybe she was feeling the pressure to wed that strikes unmarried women who live with their boyfriends.

Her beloved is a divorce lawyer, and when they met, both of them were staunchly anti-marriage. Over time, as they settled into a partnership together, Christina warmed to the idea of getting married. Her boyfriend didn’t. So she began a campaign of, as she describes it, whining and cajoling him for a proposal. Finally, he gave in and they were married five months later.

That was 8 years ago. It’s hard to argue she did the wrong thing, especially since they’ve had three kids since then. Clearly, these people are committed to their life together. But did they really need to be married to do it?

Lots of people have healthy, happy families without ever saying “I do” to each other. Yes, I got married because I was pregnant. After the hormones wore off, I was pretty annoyed with myself for giving in. Now that I understand marriage better, I’m happier with my situation. Again, it’s got little to do with romance or commitment. I’m just painfully aware that there are financial and legal benefits married couples have that you can’t get any other way.

I’ve written a few articles about marriage this month, and been surprised how strong the voices saying, “Parents should be married” are. Do people really still believe that marriage is a prerequisite to having children? I think kids thrive in stable homes, but those homes can be headed by an unmarried couple, a married couple, a single parent, grandparents or a wide variety of other arrangements.

What do you think? Is it important to be married when you have kids? Did you drag your man down the aisle? Was getting married a mutual thing? Or have you so far resisted the itch to get hitched?

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