Question: “I got pregnant before marriage, something that I thought would never happen to me. I’m dating my baby’s father, but I’ve been considering adoption for our baby. Wouldn’t it be better if we just got married and tried to raise our child together?”
Answer: Maybe, as long as you aren’t marrying simply because of the pregnancy. Marriage for the wrong reason has a greater chance of failure than a relationship that has had time to develop without the pressure of an unplanned pregnancy. In fact, statistics suggest that marriages that occur as a result of unplanned pregnancy have a 90% divorce rate within six years of getting married.
Some people will tell you that getting married is the “right” or “responsible” thing to do and that it’s best for a baby to be born into a family with already married parents. Your baby’s father may feel that it is his duty to get married. Many women in this situation find themselves at a loss, and marriage sounds comforting and secure to them.
Be honest with yourself about your baby’s father. The decision to marry should be because you’re both committed to each other and want to marry, not because you’re having a baby together.
Ending a Relationship is Easier than Getting Divorced
Ending any relationship in which you and your boyfriend share a child can be painful. However, ending a marriage requires you to go through all that emotional trauma while navigating the legal system. Getting divorced is more expensive, complicated, and time-consuming than splitting up.
You’re probably not thinking about splitting up right now, but having to hurry through a wedding and begin your married life with a baby on board isn’t the best way to start your life together.
Parenting Puts Stress on a Marriage
As any new parent will tell you, having a baby changes everything in your life. You’ll suddenly find you don’t have time for just about anything else than parenting.
Add a new marriage to the mix, and things become even more difficult. When you are pregnant before marriage and then begin your marriage at the same time as having a new baby, it will put a ton of stress on your marriage. You won’t have time to build your relationship like spouses do before they become parents. And no matter how much you love each other, you may have nagging thoughts in the back of your mind, like, “Did he marry me out of love, or because he felt like he ‘had’ to?”
Pregnant Before Marriage? Envision Your Future
Think about what you want for your life before adding marriage and parenting. Don’t risk your child’s future if you and the father are not ready to give your full attention to being parents. It’s OK not to be ready or to decide that you want more out of life before “settling down.”
Consider what kind of home life you want for your child. Are you ready and able to provide a stable and safe home life? Is your boyfriend? Here are some questions to ask yourself as you think about what to do:
- Do I love the father of the baby?
- Does he have his own place to live that’s separate from friends and family?
- How long does he stay at the same job?
- Is he good at saving money, or does he live paycheck to paycheck?
- How does he make me feel about myself?
- Does he pay his bills on time?
- Did he graduate from college or have skilled job training?
- How does he treat me?
- Is he someone I can always count on?
- Can I see myself married to him for the rest of my life?
- Would I get married to him right now even if I wasn’t pregnant?
If you find that you’re not 100% sure you love him and want to be married to him for the rest of your life, take time to consider some other options. Adoption can offer your child the upbringing and home you desire for them. Friends, family, and even strangers may be telling you what to do, but your situation is different from anyone else’s. Only YOU can make the decision that’s best not only for your future but for your baby’s too.
Modern adoption gives you many choices and rights that older forms of adoption didn’t. You can choose your baby’s adoptive parents, how much future contact you’ll have with them, and how things go at the hospital when you deliver. Learning more about adoption is not a commitment to go through with it – it’s just learning more. Call or text Lifetime Adoption at 1-800-923-6784 anytime for confidential answers to your questions about your choices in adoption. You can also visit their website at LifetimeAdoption.com.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on June 14, 2013, and has since been updated.