Does being married matter? Many women have strong personal and/or religious reasons for choosing marriage, but others feel conflicted over whether marriage is the right path for them. The decision only gets more complicated when kids enter the picture. Hundreds of moms have shared their diverse perspectives in Circle of Moms conversations about marriage, and here we’re rounding up opinions on four key questions you might be asking yourself.
Does Marriage Change Relationships?
One of the main issues many women grapple with is whether being married changes your relationship. Circle of Moms members have mixed opinions. “I think being married makes you work harder,” says Sammy J., and Dyan B. agrees: “I honestly never thought marriage was going to make my relationship stronger, or different, and that it was just a piece of paper. But now...I've realized that there is something there that wasn't before marriage. I'm more resolved in US, and I will do anything to make sure my vows to him are upheld.”
Other moms feel the opposite is true. As Amy S. explains of her long-term boyfriend: “He's been married and divorced twice and in his experience, once you have the ring and piece of paper, people stop trying and putting any effort into the relationship. Recently, he told me that without the legal commitment, it makes him work harder.”
And yet, other moms say nothing changes at all!
Is Being Married Better for the Kids?
In addition to pondering how marriage changes a relationship, many women wonder whether it's better to be married when you have kids.
Some Circle of Moms members do feel that marriage creates more stability. But others, like Sarah M., say that a long-term committed relationship is no different: “I think a couple that have lived together for years and years are just as good for the kids as a married couple.” An anonymous member agrees that serious committed relationships between parents aren't worse for the kids than having married parents: “I think you can teach all the same 'lessons' about love, dedication, trust, faithfulness, commitment, consideration, understanding, patience, about relationships in general."
Does Society View Married Couples Differently?
Social perceptions of married couples compared to non-married couples also play a role in the decision for many moms.
Moms like Amanda M. feel strongly that a child should have the same last name as both of his or her parents: “I don't want him to grow up and ask why Mommy doesn't have the same last name as him and his Daddy.”
And as Esther D. explains, the phrases “husband and wife” and “boyfriend and girlfriend” simply don’t carry the same connotation in many societies: “My (now) husband and I are both Dutch and in Holland it really isn't that unusual at all for people to be in long term committed relationships (with or without kids) and never get married….However, when we moved to the US, we…reached a point where we felt calling each other ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’ didn't quite capture the seriousness of our relationship anymore and we found ourselves just calling each other ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ to other people on occasion because it was just easier that way.”
Are There Legal Reasons to Marry?
It's important to be aware of the legal repercussions of getting married (or not) for your particular country or state. Depending on where you live, legal considerations may be a reason to marry. “I do think there are significant legal benefits to marriage that are in the best interests of children,” says Circle of Moms member Jenifer, including “inheritance, custody, tax breaks, etc.”
But the legal implications of marriage aren't the same everywhere, notes Canadian mom Aurora T.: “Here in Canada, not being married has no effect on inheritance, custody or tax breaks.”