Why After Six Years And Two Kids, I’m Not Worried About Getting Married

March 25, 2014  |  

Kyla Pratt was in the news recently announcing the birth of her second child. What should have been a congratulatory moment for the young actress, some women turned into a way to shame Pratt for her marital status–or lack thereof. The comment section of websites that reported on the news was filled with commenters dismissing the relationship, citing that Pratt shouldn’t be parading the fact that she is now a two-time “baby mama” and nothing else.

We read news stories of married professional athletes who relentlessly cheat on their somewhat famous or just well-known wives and the comment section is like the cheering committee for the wife involved in an obviously failing marriage. Though this wife’s husband has been the center of cheating rumors, some commenters still praise the Mrs. for snagging the coveted “wife” title, excusing everything else with comments like, “at least he married her.” What?

I’ve been in a relationship with the man of my dreams, going on about six years, and we share two wonderful little boys together. My fiance was like a completed checklist of all the things I desired in a man. He was the proverbial fresh air, my new beginning, and there is no doubt in my mind that he and I are destined to be together for the long run. We were excited to become parents, but ironically, with our first-born child on the way, we were still not quite ready for marriage.

We had been living together for three years when we found out that we would be expecting a second child. The feeling of excitement that I had with my first son was replaced with shame. How will I present a second illegitimate baby to our families? I had no intention on being a two-time “baby mama” and this is exactly where I was headed. I imagined the reaction from the maternity nurses when they would inevitably ask, “Is this your first?” and I’d reluctantly admit, “No, number two” as they immediately would glance at my vacant ring finger, wondering if this second baby is by the same father.

‘Two babies should be an automatic requirement for marriage’, I argued with myself. I reasoned that our families and friends would be more accepting of a second child if we shared the same last name. I argued that I didn’t want to bring another child into the world if we weren’t going to be married. We had our ups and downs, but when it came to our future, we had always been on the same page. We had long talks about growing old together, travelling the world when our children were off to college. We priced condos in Miami, LA and NY, certain that one of those destinations would be where we would spend our twilight years together. But for some time, I still felt like our relationship was severely lacking something: a marriage license.

I began questioning his commitment to our relationship. He couldn’t be serious about us if he wasn’t ready to be married. I did not understand where the resistance was coming from. We were happy and had fun together. We enjoyed watching our babies discover, perform and play together. We financially supported one another and overcame hard times together. He encouraged me to start writing again and I helped him re-discover his purpose in life after his basketball dreams began to dwindle. But it was after I made my case for marriage that I realized I hadn’t really been chasing anything other than a fancy title that will never change anything about our already committed, healthy and beneficial relationship.

In my quest to be looked at as a respectable woman, I invalidated all the many great things our union has done for the both of us. I felt like the off-brand, similar to comparing Payless shoes to Nike or Jordan. All shoes accomplish the exact same thing, but one just has a fancy title attached to it. In this comparison, I felt like the Payless shoe and marriage was the upgrade to the new Jordan shoe. I now realize that chasing the name brand of relationship titles fostered an environment for relationship insecurity.

The entire conversation of marriage between both friends and family has become insulting, “A man that asks for your hand in marriage is one that is 100 percent committed to the relationship.” What about our 6-year journey to maintain a relationship with two small children is not a validating statement of our commitment to one another? Some would say that marriage is the completion, the end of the courting phase, and the finish line in relationships. I’m not convinced. I believe that if people put more focus on building lasting relationships rather than lasting legal obligations, the divorce rate would be lower.

The deal is done and we are 100 percent committed, with or without the title. But even if we needed reassurance, I doubt that a legal document will have enough power to guarantee a lifetime together. For now, our focus will be on building a stable environment for our boys to thrive in. We’ll invest the tens of thousands we would spend on a wedding into our children’s college fund, or use it as a down payment on a house that our two-parent household can help them grow in.

Let me be clear: I have no qualms with marriage. I still wouldn’t mind having that ceremony one day, but it won’t be for the title, but for the celebration of our love. I am satisfied with knowing that with or without a marriage certificate, my relationship is valid and has all it needs to last us a lifetime.

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