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December 07, 2010

We Did. They Don't I Do

By Sarah

Help me, Jesus.

According to a recent study out of the University of Virginia, marriage among the affluent college educated has never been better. Divorce is down and fidelity is up. Whoopee!

But that's the "affluent college educated." When it comes to the solid middle class, those who are working, yet have only high school degrees - in other words the backbone of this country - marriage is, well, bizarre. And by bizarre, I mean screwed up.

In that demographic, an increasing number of 20 somethings are putting off marriage for the worst reason of all - the wedding is too expensive and they need to save up. One woman interviewed said she and her boyfriend feared that if they made it legal in city hall, their son would be deprived of a chance to flip through an album of lavish photos.


Or, at least, that's the excuse. Because while these people are super frugal when it comes to silly stuff like whether or not to have a band or rent a hall or shell out for champagne, they seem to have NO PROBLEM HAVING CHILDREN.

Excuse me?

Okay, I get that people in their twenties have sex and that children are a biological hazard of such activity. But this group actually wants to have kids, even though they're not sure the relationship's going to last.

Consider the woman above. She and her boyfriend had a son. But they didn't get married because they wanted their son to be able to flip through a wedding album. But now he'll never do that because they split. Bright move.

Also, according to this study, many of these people are under the impression that by not marrying Idiots they still maintain that "young and carefree existence" so touted by pop culture, even if they're parents.

This is what I remember about being married without kids. It was like being a boyfriend and girlfriend who shared a mortgage. I hadn't changed my name. Charlie hadn't changed his name. We went to work. Came home. Went out. Played. Etc. I felt just as carefree as I did when I was single, in some ways more so because I could concentrate on living my life with someone who was fun. 

It was when Anna came along - God bless her - that our lives changed radically. I was 28 when Anna was born, a relatively young mother, and I was totally unprepared despite exhaustive rereadings of What to Expect When You're Expecting. No longer could I zip down to the coffee shop for a quick cup. Or take a run. Or even go to work without being tethered to a dependent being.

Marriage was the easy part. Plus, it helped to have someone shouldering the responsibilities and, better, sharing the joys. My happiest memories are of Charlie and me and Anna, our little family, hanging out in her room after dinner, coloring.

What's going on here? Are these new unmarried parents the products of divorced parents themselves?  And, if so, why would that matter? Are they afraid that if they get married, they might get divorced and that would be expensive? Have they not heard of child support?

Do you know anyone who lives like this?

In Vermont, there are tons of couples who fall into this category. Many of them don't get married until one or the other needs the health insurance and then they do it quickly. Others just call it quits. A few bring out the shotgun.

Certificate One thing's for sure. Without the possibility of kids, I would never get married. If Charlie died before I did, I wouldn't even consider it remotely. The only reason I married was for the future Anna and Sam coming down the pike, to provide them with a stable home and, yes, the law. Not for nothing is divorce a bitch and my heart goes out to people who have to suffer through it, especially  - especially - when they don't want the marriage to end.

But if marriage is only a "slip of paper" as these people say, then surely they'll understand when one or the other decides that after two kids, life is no longer cool and they have to be moving along. So, good luck with all the diapers and sick nights and homework, toots, not to mention the bills.

This bird has flown.




 P.S. I TOTALLY FORGOT...to toot Holly's horn. She came through for me in a pinch and redesigned my website - INA WEEKEND! Please check it out. The first chapter of KINDRED SPIRITS is posted, too. Also, lottsa buy buttons. ;>)




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Well, what burns me up is people calling their live-in paramours their "fiance," when they are about as close to getting married as I am. As Fezzik said, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Before we get into this, I'd like to ask all members of TLC to pause for a moment and remember what happened on this date, December 7, 1941. It was kind of a major event in America's history.

Okay. Thank you.

I'm old-fashioned enough to still believe in Marriage First, THEN children. These days, it appears the order is reversed, and it's acceptable; a lot of things have become 'acceptable' that would not even be whispered about fifty years ago, much less flaunted, touted, or thought 'cool'. Sex can be a lot of fun, parenting is without question THE biggest responsibility in the world, and yes, Virginia, the two ARE connected. *RESPONSIBILITY* is the key word in both, and that seems to have fallen by the wayside. Someone worrying about their child not having a Wedding Album to look through scares me; might need a re-thinking of priorities there.

This one always makes me laugh.... and sigh in relief simultaneously:


So, no more "practice marriages"?...that's good, I guess. I was chatting with my student workers yesterday. The girls actually said they want to get married. They almost made it seem like it would solve problems....marriage is a blessing with all the wonder it brings...but lots of WORK....Do people forget that? Lots of kids come from divorce homes...how could that not effect you? and having children.....the best thing I ever did...but the most work...It's a huge responsibility that never ends...but wonderful! I vote for dating, marriage and THEN kids, when you can handle it!

I agree that the only real reason to get married is to have children together. Otherwise - no way.

I understand marriage avoidance - but the reasons you discussed are preposterous! These weddings have gotten way out of hand. If a family has the money, and it's a priority - godspeed. Have an epic party.

But spending money you don't have - and starting out a marriage in debt because of the ceremony fanfare is idiotic.

Don't get me started on the amount of money people waste... er, spend on weddings. It's absurd. A huge pet peeve of mine. Your example is an illustration of my least favorite tendency of putting more emphasis on "wedding" than on "marriage". But that's not to say I'm against marriage. And I'm definitely a fan of married parents. Or, where the law doesn't allow marriage, at least some form of commitment.

My nephew started dating a girl, then three months later, oops - she was pregnant. My sister agreed, it's not necessarily best to marry someone under those circumstances. But they moved in together, had the baby, then about a year later, oops - pregnant again. This time my sister was just annoyed. They know what causes this, people. These children are a blessing, but maybe it's time to think about their parents getting married. Which they did, and they're happy, and great parents to their two kids.

The part that bugs me is, they are living hand to mouth, especially after my nephew lost his job, and had to take one that pays much less. They had a huge wedding, because her mother had a savings account she had been putting money into for years and years, specifically for a wedding. Now, a year after the wedding, they're in danger of losing their house. How does this make sense?

Marriage is such a complex topic now. Those who can have it, shun it; those denied it, want it badly.

Wedding mania, though, I think we all agree is out of control. Then again, without it, there would be no "Bridezilla" show.

See, that's what I love -- someone to remind us of the importance of Bridezilla. Thank you, Ramona.

In light of yesterday's hearing by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on California's appalling anti-gay marriage Proposition 8, I find this especially interesting. And I agree with everything you said, Sarah. The idiocy of big weddings if you can't afford them. Ditto children. And the delusion that you can keep feeling frisky and fancy free after a couple of kids, if you just resist that marriage certificate.

So, once again you guys have clarified my thinking. What bothers us is people shelling out huge bucks for weddings when marriage, etc. is secondary.
Whatever happened to that quaint notion of marrying barefoot on the beach at sunset?

Jan and I got married long enough ago (40 years) that the ceremony was conducted by a Justice of the Peace instead of an Elvis impersonator. The biggest expense was the blood test for STDs.

Having recently married off my final daughter, I can confirm a nice wedding these days costs roughly the same as what we paid for our first home in the 1970s. Carrie and Bryan had lived in sin for several years to the point where they had purchased a house together. When my little precious turned 34 this summer, her biological clock was ticking so loudly it had become deafening. To her credit – and the credit limit on my AMEX – she refused to have children without saying “I do”.

Heck, early retirement is overrated.


I have two daughters and shutter at the thought of paying for two weddings. My father gave me a choice; wedding or house. My girls are infatuated with the wedding dress show on cable..ugh...people are caught up on the party and dress and all that rot, but not the reality of what marriage is!! No wonder long term marriage is a lost sport!

Fortunately, my two youngest daughters are both barefoot on the beach girls. Or in the mountains. They both had a broad streak of their father's cheapskate in them, praise Allah.

My first wedding, which turned out badly, was a fairly big production, although I made my gown and those of my two attendants. The marriage barely lasted the night, although it dragged on for three more, excruciating years. My second, and present, marriage took place in Vegas, 29 years ago, sans Elvis impersonator. So far, so good.

At our Kentucky farm we have two trailers rented out. One is a married couple with a little one. The other is a couple with two kids, a guy and his "fiancee". The oldest of their sons is in first grade, so I don't know what they're waiting for, and I'm too polite to ask.

I blame Jerry Springer, frankly.

One of my nephews had the romantic barefoot wedding on the beach with only one good friend and the seagulls as witnesses. Another had the huge blowout -- Princess Di gown, 12 attendants, full bar, sitdown dinner for 125, champagne, band, etc. Each marriage lasted about 5 years. Go figure.

Touchy subject. Even if you're not going to have kids, being married makes some things easier. Like hospital visitation and health care decision-making. Sure, you can carry around papers that say you have power of attorney, but if you're married, you don't need them. At least not around here.

People make such a big deal out of their weddings. The wedding is just one day, the marriage is forever. Supposedly. It's like having a baby. People take classes on how to breathe and who to have in the room and how to tell your doctor to piss off as if she knows nothing. It's just one day. Or a little more. That kid is yours forever. Concentrate on the child, not the birth. It's over before you know it, just like a wedding.

But this thing about marriage being hard work. Well, if it's hard work you're doing something wrong. It doesn't mean there won't be compromises, planning here and there, frustration. But if your spouse is more pain than s/he is joy, you should rethink your expectations or consider ending it.

Margaret, a cousin had a wedding like that, which barely lasted three months. They lived in a state in which they had to live apart for a year before they were allowed to divorce, so they were married longer than they lived together.

Her second marriage has lasted a long time now, they have two almost-grown kids, and her parents finally got the first shindig paid off.

At least the TLC has the events in the right order. Dating was yesterday, marriage today. Kiddies for Wednesday, anyone?

I see the whole spectrum all the time now. I friend just posted pictures from a baby shower for a member of the class of '11 at SLU. No problems, and despite the pro family stance of her school, no ring either.

Not getting married because you can't have the fairy tale party is nuts, but then, so are a lot of things.

One thing about waiting to get married until you are pregnant. Most insurance won't cover a pregnancy for nine months after the policy starts. I friend tried that. Knocked up is GF. Married her to get her on the insurance. Discovered she is not covered, the baby is. They need a $500 deposit with the hospital for delivery. Once his daughter took her first breath, she could have had three heads, she was covered. They celebrated her fifth birthday by paying off her delivery. Said little girl is in college now (and not the one in the above paragraph). Mom and dad, and two more crumb snatchers all still together.

I have discovered that teen moms are more frank about where babies come from with their daughters. Most of the next generation do not follow in mommy's teen mother footsteps.

And Karen, those would be big boobs, which could be bib boobs if they are big enough.

Emotions seem to rule many people today.
The thing that might be missing in the marriage equation might be the lack of structure and example in young people's lives.
Influences such as faith in something other than yourself, families where guidelines have been set and the sense of permanence a marriage offers.

I got married and did not have children Right away.
I worked with girls who cried if they did not conceive on their honeymoon. I wanted babies badly but it did not happen right away because it just did not happen right away. My DH and I kept jobs, did chores together and I felt cherished. No one was telling us what to do because it seemed ingrained that we should get married and then have sex, play, love and all.
The young people will go through this new phase and then look back and wonder about what they did.
They probably will switch their priorities and want to leave something more for their children. They should assure a sense of permanency and inspire a sense of love. This can be done without a piece of paper but the paper makes it seem more of a commitment in my humble opinion.

Oddly enough, I would have married my current husband whether we'd had kids or not. We had one, who is now in college. But if something happened to DH, I don't see myself marrying again, mostly because I don't see myself wanting to share an address with anyone else.

I watched some of the talking heads last night defending their views on Prop 8. The Pro-8 supporters said that marriage HAS to be between a man and woman because the ONLY reason for marriage is to have CHILDREN.

I think we can all look at society and disagree.

Jerry Springer!
I would catch a peek of that show when checking on my patients and think to myself, surely these people are just acting. They couldn't possibly be that stupid/gullible/crazy/redneck/???
And then I married my second husband and met my step-daughter. Sav is 20. Has 2 children by 2 different dads and only has custody of 1. No education beyond high school and on state funding. Ugh.
But in my small town of 22,000 which has the highest unemployment rate of the state, the indigent population is the majority. I think having sex is cheap entertainment so.... With this mentality, marriage is low priority - it messes up with your benefits.
I was raised strict Catholic. No sex till marriage, then kids. And Marraige was suppossed to last forever. So I have been godsmacked with this other reality. Who knew?

Do these TLC (the other TLC) shows affect the attitude about having babies? They make it look so easy and glamorous and all the attention is on the mom with the dad weeping for joy.
I could see how young women craving that kind of attention from a guy might figure, okay, I'll have a baby. THEN he'll look at me with adoration when I deliver his child. 4 days later when the baby starts crying every 24 hours, not so much.
I turned on one of these shows the other day and the mother giving birth was in full makeup, mani pedi, diamond studs, coiffed hair and lipstick!
Man. Not me. I was a wreck when I gave birth - one natural - and I didn't give a flying fig!

Sarah, I think you might have hit the nail on the head.
Reality shows about babies, makeovers, weddings have permeated us give a photo-shop of life's events.
Most of these shows have dominant people running around negating our former choice in all aspects of our lives. Common sense goes out the window and the victims will do anything to appease the advisors and planners, etc.
Having children is not for sissies and it takes a lot of concentration and care to raise healthy babies.
More should told about the truth of these things in real life.

I married my wife when I was 42 and she was 48. Her son was 15 when we met and departed our home just after he turned 18. We have no other kids, unless you count dogs.

We have that young, footloose & fancy free attitude...except we aren't young, we both work and we can't afford to do any spontaneous fun stuff that costs money.

As for the whole wedding thing, we ran off to Reno for a few hours, got married, then came home. The whole big wedding thing has gotten completely insane nowadays, which is understandable since people have gotten pretty insane, too.

While it's never been publicly mentioned in my family, I know my parents had to get married. Their wedding and my birth are 7 1/2 months apart. Back in 1956 only they, their parents and two witnesses were at the wedding. Off to a honeymoon then back to a cake and punch reception. My brother's never figured it out until I pointed it out to them when we were preparing for my parents 50th anniversary back in 2006.

Then in 1960 her high school senior brother got his 14 year girlfriend pregnant. They are also still married.
Then my youngest brother chose to get married to his teenage bride back in 1979 when she was almost 16 and he almost 18 and just graduated from high school. The wedding itself only had parents, grandparents and siblings in attendance. An open house reception was quickly planned and held at my Aunts. Their prom night oops was born 5 months after the wedding. They just celebrated their 31st anniversary.

On the flip side my husbands nephew lived with a girl for at least 6 years. They had 2 children who were preschoolers when they decided to get married, have a big shindig and all that. By the end of the next year she was seeing someone else and he was booted out the door.

With age does not come wisdom. A friends 40 year old son, a psych nurse, moved in with a girl 18 years younger. Had a baby, then planned the wedding for two years. Got married last year and now are in the process of getting a divorce.

What point am I trying to make, I don't know. The only thing that occurs to me as I'm writing this is it seems the men in my family can't seem to keep it in their pants.

So much of what's already been said is what I would have said if I'd had my coffee earlier. My first marriage (which produced two amazing kids) fell apart because my husband kind of thought of wives as cars--he wanted a newer, flashier model. I was a single mom for 13 years and when I met my keeper husband, we wanted to get married because we'd finally found the person we each wanted to be with. For better for worse and everything in between. I certainly wish I'd met him earlier--we would have loved to have kids together, but I was 45 when we got married and we have 5 kids between us. That's enough.

I think one of the biggest problems with these people who are disappointed when things aren't "fun" anymore is a complete lack of maturity. What I thought was fun at 19 isn't what I think is fun now. My husband and I have lots of fun--for us. Laundry and dishes and bills aren't "fun" in and of themselves . . . but it's part of our life together, which also includes travel and snuggling on the couch and laughing with friends. That's the deal. If all you want is no responsibilities, then go ahead, have at it, but don't eff up a child's life because you don't want to grow up.

Or maybe that's just me.

Jan and I eloped but the girls wanted the white dress. Despite having one wedding at an antebellum plantation in Charleston and the other at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole there is a way to control the cost. Each of the girls got a nice fat check which was theirs to spend and they got to keep anything left over. It is amazing how much better that $700 dress looks when compared to the “perfect” $5K one when it is your cash and not your old man’s.

I married my ex in 1982 in our apartment, 13 people in attendance, no reception. It lasted just under 2 years. I think the wedding cost under $300 and I made my own cake.

My views on marriage are take it or leave it. I don't care if people get married and have kids or have kids and never get married. I would like people to work harder at being better parents whether they are married or not. I do find it appalling the amount of money and effort that go into weddings. It is like the wedding is the big finale and the marriage itself is an after thought.

Marie, I wanted to add my congratulations on your impending grandbaby! How exciting.

Sarah, you hit the nail on the head...reality tv shows...um...whose reality is it? I wish they would all go away! Just my two cents or sense...whatever...None of my four deliveries were pretty...before, during or after.....even I didn't want to be there...

I didn't have a big wedding. On a Monday evening Dear Hubby said to me, "You just don't want to get married, do you?" This was after only knowing each other for three days less than three months. I called my minister and got it set up for a Thursday morning at 10am. Everyone took the day off and we had ourselves a church wedding. Dad took everyone in both families out to lunch...a total of about 13 people. The only person not related to us was the mother of a high school friend of mine. She was driving past the church and saw my car. She stopped came in and set in the back of the church in her gardening clothes and slipped out after it was over. I didn't even know she was there until years later.

I wish now that we had a bit bigger of a wedding. I told Dear Hubby that we will have whatever our daughter wants, but we would not go into big, huge debt because of it. My stepdaughter's wedding was wonderful. Her dress cost $700, the reception about $1500. So it can be done quite nicely on a small budget.

Thanks, Karen for the congratulations. It is a scary and nail biting time but also filled with joy and promise. Love to all!

Marie, lovely news!

Pam aka SisterZip, I love that story of the woman who sat at the back in her gardening clothes. I want to put her in a book.

Sarah & Holly, nice work!

The only strong opinion I have about weddings is that I don't want another one. I don't care what other people do for theirs, or when they do it, just so long as they don't forget the cake. Vanilla. With vanilla icing. Thanks.

"If I knew then what I know now..." Had a big wedding but wish I didn't. Why did I waste that money??? what were we thinking?? I do NOT have a big album for the kids to flip through; I came to my senses with that. When we went to buy the pictures, we thought, "Why waste the money on all this, when these pictures are going to get put away as soon as the baby pictures come?" And we were right.

I think the whole excitement of a big wedding is, that for one day, you get to feel like a princess. And every girl wants to feel like a princess. Cause it doesn't last past that day! :)

Every girl DOES to deserve to be a princess at least one day in their life..

I seriously think we need mandatory logic and financial education in this country . . . the stories I could tell if the law didn't prohibit sharing things I've learned from my patients about their financial choices! Let's just say, I'm not a fan of the mentality that promotes big weddings, extravagant vacations, cruise ship holidays, when it takes food stamps and/or various forms of larceny for the celebrants to put kool-ade and doughnuts in their children's mouths . . . .

Count me in on the simple gown, the understated ceremony attended by those closest to the couple, and the absence of extravagance (except maybe in the love and appreciation shown).

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