Unmarried parents are more common in the United States today than they have ever been. In fact, from 1970 to the 2000s, studies found that the percentage of women who had tied the knot before having a first child got cut in half. Studies also found that the percentage of women who were pregnant and unmarried, and who still decided to live with the father of the child when he or she was born, increased dramatically. It jumped from 8 percent all the way up to 28 percent.
In short, modern couples are far happier to be together without getting married, even if they have kids, than couples from just a few decades ago. While some have pointed to celebrity relationships as a contributing factor, below are four reasons that couples gave for making this decision.
1. They were already together and living their lives.
One couple said that they felt marriage was a jumping-off point or a starting point. It was when two people who were living separate lives decided to come together. However, they’d already lived together and had kids, so they felt like they were well on that joint journey. There was no reason to get married.
2. They didn’t want to do it just for other people.
Another couple did admit that they thought family members would want them to make it official, but it was a decision for them and them alone. They weren’t going to enter into a legal marriage because of their family members or because someone with a more traditional view may feel uncomfortable.
3. It kept the relationship exciting.
Married couples sometimes talk about losing the excitement in their relationships, and one unmarried couple said they specifically avoided marriage to spice things up. They worried that they’d take the relationship for granted if they got married, but remaining unmarried meant neither person could stop trying.
4. Women don’t need men financially.
Realistically, women in previous decades were more dependent on men, especially if they were pregnant or had children. The workplace wasn’t as open to women. In the modern day, women have all sorts of career choices and options, workplace equality has been written into law, and women are fully capable of providing for themselves — and the kids — without a husband. While the lack of independence in the past may have pushed women to get married even if they didn’t want to, they can now make their own decisions.
Naturally, this revolutionary change in thinking means that the legal side of these relationships has been changing. Marriage helps to tie parents together, legally speaking, but unmarried parents may run into some specific issues when they decide not to sign that paperwork. It’s been a very interesting shift in the United States, and young parents must know how to navigate this modern world.