Carriage Before Marriage?

It seems like the day I conceive, my mailbox starts flooding with baby and parenting magazines and free infant formula.  I don't exactly know how this happens, but it does.  Just for kicks because I'm trying to keep my feet up a little more these days (to prevent those darn cankles), I sat down with the most recent "American Baby" edition and thumbed through.

The last article was entitled, "first comes baby..." (including the lack of capitalization - annoying...but I digress).  I have to admit, it was one of the most interesting articles I've read in a baby magazine probably ever.

Turns out, the Millennial generation (of which I am a part) has a lot of kids out of wedlock.  Over 50% of births to people between the ages of 18 and 29 are to singles (that is, unwed parents).  Just ten years ago when the Gen Xer's were "our" age, a "mere" 39% of babies were born outside the bonds of marriage.  The article contends that this doesn't mean unwed Millennial parents object to marriage.  After all, some of them eventually get married...years later.  Some of them even to the same significant other that parented their first (and second and third) child.  But wait, then it kind of back-pedals and says that Millennials might have a jaded view of marriage because our Boomer parents have a 50% divorce rate.  Morley Winograd, a "Millennial expert" if you will, is quoted as saying, "Marriage may be fleeting, but children are forever."

Hmmm.  See what I mean?  That's interesting.

And here I was under this silly impression that marriage is supposed to be forever.

In case it wasn't obvious by the divorce rate and the shift of emphasis from healthy parental relationships to child-centric families in our culture, when polled, 52% of Millennials said that good parenting "is one of the most important things in life" while only 30% say the same thing about marriage.  Less than 25% of Millennials are married right now.  It's simply not a priority.  One couple that was interviewed said the financial benefits were the only reason they did marry.
If we could have gotten Mike on my health insurance without being spouses, we probably never would have gotten married.  To us it's just a piece of paper legalizing what we already know we have - a loving, committed relationship.
Maybe that's where I differ from a lot of Millennials.  Marriage is a lot more than that to me.  It's not a piece of paper that I can opt to render null and void if things get ugly or difficult.  It's not a legally binding contract.  It's a promise.  It's a vow before God that I will stand by my man, so to speak.  (Thanks, Tammy Wynette.)  It's a vow we both take to stand by each other.  A marriage represents oneness between husband and wife, which symbolizes the oneness between Christ and the Church.  It's not fickle.  It's not "tradition."  It's not something people just do to get health insurance.  It shouldn't be thrown away lightly.

I'm not on here to condemn my friends who've been through a divorce.  I'm not on here to condemn my friends who are single-parents.  I'm simply disappointed in the way the family has been degraded by my generation and the one or two generations before us.  We've learned to embrace unconventionality at the cost of our families.
While having a baby first may have caused a rift in previous generations, "these parents [the Boomers] are apt to have acceptance, love for both their own child and their new grandchild, and a desire to help out financially, spiritually, and with child care." 
They call that emerging adulthood.  It's where children stay at home with their parents longer and marry later.  And they rely on their parents financially, spiritually, and for child care...for an unspecified amount of their post-emergent adulthood.


Maybe this isn't about marriage at all.  Maybe it's about owning our choices.  Maybe it's about acting like adults when we become one, not ten years later because society says we can.
And that's all I have to say about that.  ~Forrest Gump


Debbie said...


You hit a nerve with me.

That is just heartbreaking. I think "blaming" the boomer generation and the divorce rate is a cop out. If I'm going to point a boney finger (and I guess I am) I would point it first at a Hollywood world and life view that presents as options that which may indeed be options but are bad ones, in conflict with common sense and moral compass.

I always get a kick out of the "marriage is just a piece of paper" people. If that's all it is, what's the big deal then? Get the piece of paper.

It's all about rebellion and self will.I will do what I want to do and NOBODY will tell me that I can't. What's more, I demand that you look at my choices and call them "good".

Where are we going, and what are we doing in that hand basket?

Jade Steckly said...

I can't imagine how sad God must be when he sees what we've done with marriage..how we've twisted it so much! The phrase that you wrote "marriage is fleeting, but a baby is forever" really makes me sad. It's sad how true it is, and it's sad to me what that mindset will do to that generation of babies!
I recently read an article that said they are considering offering 2 year marriage licenses. They are "experimenting" with it in Mexico before considering it here...

raymond said...

I was saddened by the fact that it was mentioned that the state now takes care of babies that are out of wedlock. That is part of the problem. Do what you want and don’t care about the financial responsibilities. Let’s get real!

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