Why Marriage Isn’t the Biggest Commitment

Why Marriage Isn't The Biggest Commitment

Marriage is a big commitment. That I won’t deny. Choosing to make a statement, often in front of friends and family, that you will spend the rest of your life with one person, that’s huge. Following through on that statement and living life with someone for as long as you both shall live? One of the biggest choices you’ll ever make in life. But it is not the biggest commitment that we will make in our lifetimes. It is not the biggest thing that N and I will do together. And, though many may frown upon me saying this, a marriage can be un-done.

I have known more than a few people in my life who have been married and divorced and have then never spoken to their ex-spouse again. Never. I know some who know the vague whereabouts of their ex’s. I know some who have not a single clue where their ex lives or what they are doing. For a few, decades have passed since the last spoke to their ex-spouse. Each of those people stood in front of their family and friends and committed to spend their lives with a person who they now have not had contact with for decades. I’m not judging, I’m just stating that it happens (and you probably know someone who it’s happened to).

So what is that bigger commitment I speak of? Children. Which is interesting considering that around 40% of the kids in this country are born to unmarried parents. Again, no judgement, that’s a fact. It’s even a little funny when I think about the number of people in my life I know to be accidents.

It’s just that to me, intertwining your DNA with someone elses to bring a human being into the world, that’s huge. Once you bring a child into this world with someone, your lives will be intertwined too. Your finances will probably be intertwined (to some extent). Your ex will know where you are and you will know where they are. Your children will share things with you about that person. The person you brought into the world, the one you created from scratch, grew, and raised, that person calls someone who you might no longer love “mom” or “dad”. Your child might look like them, act like them, be like them. Children are un-doable.

This doesn’t end once they’re grown ups. Every major life event of theirs (like say, a wedding – now you know where this post came from), everything that brings families together, will bring those two people back together. Your grandkids will be their grandkids. Your family trees are one, forever.

So yes, marriage is a huge commitment. It’s one I feel confident we are completely ready to make. But it is far from the biggest commitment we’ll make in our lifetime.

  • Great post! I whole-heartedly agree!

  • So true. I wish more people would understand this concept.

  • Kim

    Not only do I 100% agree, but I also had this exact same conversation with my friends yesterday! As a child of divorce, I’m all too familiar with the unpleasant and tenuous ways ex spouses must stay in contact when kids are involved. I’ve always been envious of my friends with divorced parents who manage to remain civil. But its just a fact that my existence exacerbated financial and emotional strife loooong after my parent’s divorce. Definitely something I’ve long accepted, but if I have one goal in life, its to stay (happily) with my future kid’s father, marriage aside! You may make a public and legal commitment when you wed, but there is nothing more permanent or binding than having children. Not gonna lie, the pressure scares me a bit…

    • It’s like you wrote an addendum to my post with my exact feelings. When you said “I’ve always been envious of my friends with divorced parents who manage to remain civil. But its just a fact that my existence exacerbated financial and emotional strife loooong after my parent’s divorce.” Yes. It’s the same for me. Having kids changes everything, forever.

  • I couldn’t agree more. Having children is huge. You together, made a human, that will bound you for a lifetime. Congrats on your engagement btw!

  • I never really thought about this, but it’s so true. We went about things a little nontraditional and have had the baby before marriage. Since we’re already committed and living as a family, we casually talk about getting married like ‘I guess we should do this thing’.

    • Makes sense. It’s funny that society feels that you need to get married to prove that commitment. If you’re living as a family, you are a family. You’ve already made that choice.

  • Coming from a divorced family i def agree. Coming from someone that got engaged in October after 11 years of dating and we have 2 boys together I agree! This has alwaysssss been my biggest argument when ppl when they would ask when we would get married and commit ourselves to each other. For me we’ve already done it, now were just planning the party in Mexico to celebrate with everyone:)

    • It definitely matters how commited you feel to the other person. If you feel you’ve already made the lifetime commitment, then the marriage is just a piece of paper. I already felt commited to N way before we got engaged (we’ve lived together for 3 years), so being engaged doesn’t feel any different.

  • Danielle

    I totally agree with you! My mom always gave me the advice to marry whoever I wanted but be extra careful before I had kids with anyone because that ties you for life. It’s really important and nice to see someone else saying it! Hopefully more people realize this!

    • Your mom is absolutely right. I was worried people might hate this post but it’s the truth.

  • I totally agree 100%. I feel like people stress marriage so much that once kids come along, its hardly as big of a deal in regards to commitment. I think its a conversation worth having!

    • Prior to getting engaged, N and I had tons of conversations about what we will and won’t do with our kids, about the types of parents we want to be. We are excited to get married and will make sure our marriage is in the best shape possible before kids come in to the picture.

  • I think about this all the time, and agree with you 100%. That’s why I was never scared of getting married (not that I plan on UNdoing anything), but have been increasingly mindful of the heavy impact of having children. It’s the only thing in life that is 100% permanent, and I’m by nature a pretty fickle person. Great, insightful post. Thanks for sharing, and have fun in the marriage-planning process!

    • Thanks so much. I feel like marriage is big but people forget that children are such a bigger commitment. You’re right, children are 100% permanent. And as long as both parents are in the picture, they’ll have to interact on some level for the rest of their lives.

  • hmmm, that is really interesting. BUT, a lot of times people don’t choose children. they just happen, and you have to choose marriage.

    • Very very true. As I said, I know more than a few people (even in my immediate family!) who are accidents. This post was written from the perspective of the child of divorce. I haven’t been married yet and don’t have kids yet but have have been the kid of two parents who can’t co-parent. It’s been rough and now planning a wedding that will inevitably reunite them, that’s tough too.

  • Mariska

    I think that marriage should be as big a commitment as the decision to have children. I totally agree that, looking at the divorce rate, that doesn’t seem to be the case in reality.
    But I wonder if divorces are caused in some cases when the commitment to the kids gets priority over the commitment to the marriage. Life with kids is busy, and it is not hard to put your marriage on the back burner. But in the end, your kids will most likely leave your house, when you are – hopefully – left with your spouse.
    Anyway, just my two cents 🙂

    • Absolutely! You are 100% right and I agree with you. N and I have had many talks about making sure to put our marriage before our children and how we plan on making that happen. I was writing this post from the perspective of the child of parents who didn’t co-parent well. I think many people forget when they have kids that they’ll be involved in each others lives forever. I’m realizing that a lot lately, as I feel anxiety about bringing my parents together for our wedding.

      • Jill

        I absolutely respect your opinions and we are all different and that’s what makes this world great BUT I don’t think that anyone could “forget” that the person that they have children with will be in their lives forever. I am also a child of divorce and it can be very hard. People do not marry just to end up in divorce, just as people do not have children with the intent to split up from the other parent. Unfortunately though this does happen and most times knowing how one or the other will act during this split can be shocking. I could go on and on but I’ll spare you. Just remember that although your parents may not have been able to co parent, you are now an adult and in the end they both love you and I’m sure are extremely happy for you and will be able to put differences aside for your day.

  • Great post!! I definitely agree. My boyfriend of 3 years family continually says how they waited (until my boyfriend was almost 10!!!!) to get married because they wanted to make sure they really wanted to be married. It always weirds me out because I’m like, you already had two kids together, what’s a bigger commitment than that?!

    • Definitely. That confuses me a bit too.

  • So true when you share a child with someone you are connected to that person for the rest of your child’s life, it helps if you can have a civil relationship with the child’s other parent. All my sisters have managed it when they split form their child’s father and my daughter Natasha and her ex (Jono) get on really well which makes things so much better for Blain.

    • Kudos to them for making it work! Not all parents are able to be civil and when that happens, it’s really the children who suffer.

  • Being as I am a mother with a child from a previous relationship, I totally agree. My parents are also divorced too and I always think about how my parents will never be totally “done” with each other and how my son’s father will always be in my life somehow. It really doesn’t bother me too much either. I just tell my son that his dad and I get along better when we aren’t in a relationship together. It’s much easier on us all.

    • The fact that you realize that your sons father will always be in your life, that’s important and really shows maturity. It sounds like you are handling it the best way possible.

  • I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this post from reading your title, but I kind of agree!!! Deciding to start a family together is a HUGE commitment. And as someone who feels strongly about making marriage a priority, I definitely see how it could be less of a commitment without the children involved than with. Deciding to have a kid together is HUGE! And I say this while I’m enjoying kicks from the little guy that we’re expecting in May. I’m not just playing house anymore, this is real life.

  • I literally had this conversation yesterday and this is the truth!

  • I couldn’t possibly agree more with this post and I thought it was very well written! Kudos to you!

  • Great post! I agree 100%. It’s crazy to think that people don’t think that having a child is such a big commitment. Thanks for sharing, love your thoughts!

  • As someone who’s engaged and will be married this year .. I was surprised to see your title. I know you’re engaged too. 🙂 My fiance and I are choosing not to have children; at least not anytime soon (and we are in our 30s already …) so I wonder what this means for us. 🙂

    • It in no way makes your marriage less important or less meaningful. I was more writing this from the perspective of a child of divorce, whose parents did not co-parent well. I think people forget that having a child intertwines your family tree forever.

  • It is very interesting how we dwell so much as a society on the decision to get married, and ASSUME that babies will follow!

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