I love my Mister, but I don't want to get married.
A few weeks ago, we told Mister's mother we planned on having children before we were married and she was noticeably disappointed/confused. Others have had the same reaction so I've decided to explain why I don't want to get married to Mister. (At least, not anytime soon.)
Neither of us are particularly religious.
Marriage is a social construct made by man to...blah, blah...a piece of paper from the government to say we love each other...blah...tax credit...etc.
I'm not the "marriage type" whatever that means.
Weddings don't excite me. They never have, not really. I was proposed to once before and when he got down on his knee, a voice in my head shouted for me to stop him. I stalled, asking him to propose again (and again) so that I could think of what to do. I didn't want to hurt him so I said yes, but asked him to "keep it between us" for the first few hours. In the months that followed, he pressured me to pick a date and I kept saying in five, six, seven years. Thankfully, that relationship didn't pan out.
But, it goes further than that. It was more than not wanting him. I wasn't the girl that grew up planning her wedding. I was the girl that daydreamed about having children and I only wanted a husband back then because I thought I couldn't have kids without one.
So, yeah, not the marriage type.
If you want to leave, then go.
If Mister and I are unhappy to the point of leaving, I don't want us to stay together because a divorce will be expensive, inconvenient, and/or time-consuming. It's not like marriage is really keeping people together anyway. The American Psychological Association and the CDC report the divorce rate between 40-50% now. I mean, I'm sure marriage has saved some couples long enough for them to work it out, but really...
I want him to stay because he wants to stay.
This is most important. I want to know that every morning we both have an equal opportunity to walk out that door, nothing stopping us, but that we don't. We choose to be together. We choose to work it out. Not because we signed a legal document or vowed we would stay in front of family and friends. Not because we are obligated, but because we want to.
Babies change the relationship. A lot.
Having a child is something I want to do in my life, but I also know it puts new (and extreme) stress on a relationship. The Daily Mail says having the first child creates an unhappiness comparable to divorce or the death of a partner.
Although few people would like to admit it, many of the reasons couples get divorced stems from having children. In a Wall Street Journal article formerly called Here Comes Baby, There Goes Marriage, author Andrea Petersen explains why the quality of marriages drop in the first three years after a baby is born. Thankfully, she also has some insight on how to prevent (or at least decrease) unhappy post-natal marriages.
Try googling "reasons people get divorced" and many articles will give a list similar to mine (minus these child-incorporated explanations).
- Finances - A lot more money is leaving the relationship. Instead of going on vacations and dates, what used to be disposable income is now spent on disposable diapers.
- Less intimacy - Sex falls off. It already might have fizzled over the years, but now the parents are exhausted, unsexy, and irritated. Worst of all, they have to sneak around their own house to "do it" which quickly goes from exciting to frustrating.
- Lack of individual identity - A child is born. Suddenly, the relationship takes a back seat to the baby and the primary caregiver can get so wrapped up in that world that they lose their sense of self. If/when they try to regain their individuality, perhaps by going to dance classes or getting back into their career, they feel guilty for leaving the child, spending money on themselves, and/or spending time without their partner.
- Different priorities/expectations - He thought she would stay at home. She thought he would take time off when the baby was born. He works hard at his job and wants to sit down when he gets home like he used to. She works hard at her job and wants him to help her clean up/put the kid to bed/fix a meal when she gets home. Miscommunication turns to resentment.
- Differences in religion and parenting - She wants to get the baby circumcised. He doesn't. He wants them to go to church while she says no to all religion. She believes in an allowance. He never had an allowance growing up. He says private school, she says public. Fundamental beliefs are challenged and someone has to give up their ideals.
So no, I don't want to get married before I have children and then realize we disagree on key issues or just cannot handle the stress of raising a child together. While talking about these potential problems beforehand will probably help, no preparation is like the real thing. Those first few years of a child's life are the hardest and I want to get through those before I tangle up my finances and freedom.
For the sake of the kids.
Speaking of kids, I don't want my children to be around an unhappy, unhealthy marriage. This is unrelated, but I figure since we are on the topic of marriage I'll explain why (if I do get married eventually) I'm not opposed to divorce.
I've heard "we're staying together for the kids" from my own (and other) parents too many times to count. As a participant in this plan, I can confidently say the no amount of finances or "stability" is worth raising children in an unhappy marriage. Unhappy marriages quickly turn unhealthy.
Besides all the psychological damage not getting a divorce can do, kids don't want their parents to be unhappy. Huffington Post lists five reasons why divorce is better in a kid's point of view and, as someone who believed their parents should have been divorced when I was ten, I can say it is spot on.
One day, I will be a parent and I will be setting an example in leading a happy, healthy, productive life. If you're not happy, how will your children learn to be? If you don't love your partner, how will the kids grow up to love someone properly?