The moment I announced my pregnancy via social media, I knew I was going to be on the receiving end of more than a few questions. People would want to know my due date, want to know the sex of my growing fetus, and want to know what my birth plan was. Of course, those questions came second to one resounding inquiry: "When are you and your partner going to get married?" So, as a result, I spent way too much time explaining the reasons why marriage didn't follow my pregnancy, and never will. My partner and I didn't want to get married before I peed on a pregnancy test, didn't want to get married once we found out that test was positive, didn't feel the urge to tie the knot after our son was born, and still don't feel inclined to get married now that our son is a 2-year-old toddler. In other words, marriage just isn't for us.
I can sympathize with those that find this particular life-choice to be bothersome. (Yes, grandma. I hear you and I see you and I know this isn't how they did it "back in your day." I know.) It can be a little jarring to those who think marriage is important, or believe in what the institution stands for, or just see it as one of those "life milestone boxes" you have to check off in order to be considered a successful adult. I'm not one to knock anyone's reason for signing a piece of paper or wearing white in a church. (Plus, I love attending weddings. They're awesome.) However, I would be a kinda nice to, you know, not be constantly questioned about the legitimacy of my romantic relationship just because I don't have a diamond ring on one particular finger. Still, even though it's 2017, there's this lingering idea as to what's the "right way" to build a family, and in that narrow-minded idea marriage usually comes before baby (or at least before the baby is born).
So, perhaps listing the reasons why my partner and I didn't see the reason to rush a marriage or wedding before our son was born — and still don't see it necessary — will help. In the end, what two (or more) people consensually decide to do for themselves within a romantic relationship, is entirely up to them. Love never looks one way. Ever.
My Pregnancy Was High-Risk...
I was pregnant with twins until, at 19 weeks, one of my son's heart stopped beating. Prior to that loss, I was hospitalized for a severe blood infection that put the lives of both my sons, as well as my own, in danger. After I lost my son in utero, my team of doctors feared my body would miscarriage the remaining twin. I had two pre-term labor scares, weekly doctor visits to measure the size of my cervix and monitor ongoing pre-term labor contractions, and a slew of other tests.
In other words, my pregnancy was time-consuming, emotionally and physically exhausting, and pretty much all I could focus on. A wedding, even at a court house, would have been too much.
...And, As A Result, Very Expensive
Thankfully, and because of the Affordable Care Act, I was insured through the duration of my pregnancy. Even when I was fired from my job when I was 15 weeks pregnant, after I was hospitalized and told my "condition" was too "unpredictable" by my employer, I was able to acquire health insurance because pregnancy was no longer considered a pre-existing condition.
Still, my pregnancy was expensive. I was hospitalized several times, put through invasive tests, and had to schedule three separate meetings (including an hour-long ultrasound) with a neonatal cardiologist. Obamacare saved my family from going into massive debt, but I still spent a ridiculous amount of money on hospital bills.
I Didn't Want To Be Rushed
I mean, every pregnancy essentially has an expiration date, right? Every single time my partner and I were asked if we were planning on getting married, there was always the "before the baby is born" caveat. Why? I mean, why should we feel pressured to get married in the first place, but why would we add addition a pressure by planning a wedding in nine months (or less)?
My son is now a 2-year-old toddler, and he couldn't tell you what a marriage, is let alone whether or not his parents are in one. All he knows is that he is loved, he is protected, he is cared for, and his parents love and care about one another, too. He wouldn't have known the damn difference as a newborn, either.
I Was Too Exhausted To Plan A Wedding
I'm not one to judge, so if you planned a wedding (or are currently planning a wedding) while growing another human being, more power to you. Seriously, because I cannot imagine. My first trimester was exhausting. I barely had the energy to get out of bed and make my way to the bathroom to puke for the millionth time each day, let alone plan a wedding and entertain a bunch of people in the name of committed love. No. Freaking. Way. In my humble opinion, sleep > wedding.
My Partner And I Are Already A Committed Couple...
My partner and I have been together for almost four years. We are as committed as any other married couple. I refuse to buy into the idea that our coupledom is somehow more legitimized if we sign a piece of paper and wear rings. Instead, I would rather focus on my partner (and myself), put in the work we have always been willing to put into our relationship to ensure that it continues.
...And Marriage Isn't Always Indicitive Of Long-Lasting Commitment, Anyway
Our relationship has actually "out-lasted" a few marriages. Of course, it's not about who stays together longer (and this isn't a competition between married couples and non-married couples, my friends), but I think it's important to note that marriage doesn't necessarily mean forever. I know what my partner and I have, and it's just as stable as any married couple.
We Didn't Care Or Worry About Everyone Having The Same Last Name
It was nothing short of amazing, and kind of interesting, that so many people (friends, definitely family members, and even a few internet strangers) cared about our "last name situation." Would the baby have my last name, or my partner's? Would be do a combination? Would I want to get married so we could all have the same last name, as if that somehow made it easier for people to tell we were a family?
Sure, it's honestly no one's business. However, I found it pretty intriguing that the "last name debacle" became a reason why so many people thought my partner and I should get married. I mean, it's not like my newborn would come out the womb, see my driver's license, and somehow be confused as to who I was. He knew I was mom the moment he was born, and he knows who mom is now. We don't need the same last name, my friends. A name is just a name.
We Wanted To Enjoy The Last Of Our Pre-Baby Lives Stress-Free
Now, I'm well-aware that getting married or having a wedding doesn't automatically equal stress. I know plenty of wonderful couples who had small weddings or went to a court house, tied the knot, and didn't worry about a damn thing. However, even filing the paperwork or standing in line in a court house just didn't seem worth it. I mean, why? I was pregnant and growing human arms and legs in my stomach, you guys. I had enough work cut out for me, so I really didn't see a legitimate reason to drag myself (or my partner) though anything even close to resembling wedding planning. Instead, I wanted to lay on the cough with my partner, watch every single episode of The Office ever made, and enjoy being "lazy" for as long as I could.
We'd Rather Spend Our Money On Something Else...
Even if we just went to a court house and paid the bare minimum in fees and whatnot, it would still be money spent on something that we really don't (personally) put a lot of stock into. For us, it would have been a waste of money, even if the amount of money would be considered minimal by most people. I honestly would have rather spent that money on cups of coffee or clothes for my newborn son, than on a marriage license.
...And If Not Our Money, Then Our Time
Of course, you can do marriage on the cheap and it not be a significant dent in your finances, but even the time spent would have been unnecessary. When we don't believe we need marriage to validate our commitment, even waiting in line at a court house just seems like a waste.
Because We Just Don't Want To, OK?
Now, I completely understand why so many people (usually married friends and family members) question the reasons why my partner and I don't want to get married. We all want to feel validated in our choices, and when we see someone (or a couple) doing something differently and succeeding as a result, we tend to start to doubt ourselves and our own choices. Then again, for a slew of other reasons (usually anchored in a religious belief) a lot of people think my partner and I are just wrong.
Either way, we really don't care. We know what works best for us, we have our reasons why being in a committed relationship without marriage works best for us, and we don't really feel the need to constantly explain ourselves and the personal life decision we have made. We're happy. Our son is happy. That's truly all that matters.