If you’re familiar with my thoughts on relationships, you probably already know that personally I don’t feel like marriage will make or break my life. It’s not that I don’t think marriage is important or don’t want to be someone’s wife one day, but I do think a marriage is what the people involved make it and that sometimes people mistakenly have this fantastical view that when a piece of paper is signed and the vows are stated it guarantees a lifetime of fidelity, happiness and companionship. But the truth is only your partner can fulfill that promise, not a legally binding contract.
Sometimes people can get caught up in all of the bells and whistles that can come with a wedding and a misleading view of what marriage should be and what it actually is. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Tia and Tamera Mowry’s reality show and I think the twins are a great example of the positivity and success that child stars can experience when they don’t get caught up in Hollywood drama and have a strong support system of friends and family. With that said, a recent episode bothered me. Tamera Mowry’s marriage to Adam Housely is obviously a very important and beautiful experience in her life, but she often makes statements like, “As a married woman I’m more confident,” or “Now that I’m married I’m more mature.” I can appreciate the different marriage styles that people may have witnessed in their youth, how religion affects some people’s views of marriage, and the fact that Tamera appears to be the more traditional of the twin twosome. But I think it’s a dangerous game when any woman tries to find herself via a marriage or gives any relationship credit for great qualities she probably already has.
Regardless of if you choose to stay in a happy, healthy relationship without ever saying, “I Do,” or you’re in marital hell you have to admit that when children become involved it changes the rules to the game. Can a piece of paper really make the difference in the stability and quality of your child’s upbringing? Steve Doughty certainly seems to think so. In his 2010 article, “Why Children Thrive with Married Parents” he shares the findings of The Millennium Cohort Study. The study followed the lives of 20,000 children who were born in 2000. Some of the results that researchers Alissa Goodman and Ellen Greaves found were that cohabiting couples tended to be “less educated, younger and had a lower income than married parents.” These factors affected the quality of life and stability of the family unit. But does this have as much to do with commitment as much as has to do with income level? And does income level usually increase after people are married or are people with a higher income level more likely to marry? The article also notes that advocates of marriage says that since marriage is a legally binding arrangement with public status, married couples are more likely to work through challenges in order to keep the family structure intact. In fact statistics support the idea that children of married parents tend to do better in school, and are less likely to become involved in crime, drugs, or experience teen pregnancy. Once again, the question remains as to whether to attribute this positive behavior to the married status of the parents or simply to good parenting on the part of parents who have a stable, healthy relationship.