Busted Halo
feature: sex & relationships
October 30th, 2012

First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage the Baby in the Baby Carriage?


What do Adele, January Jones and Snooki have in common? If you answered “Absolutely nothing,” I wouldn’t blame you. But these three celebrities, along with countless others, are part of a growing trend of women having children out of wedlock.

Everyone knows that a child is a gift from God (and arguable the cutest gift we can receive) but why does it seem like Christmas is coming early for so many single women? The statistics surrounding out-of-wedlock birthrates are staggering. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 2010 40.8 percent of all birth mothers were unmarried, a rise from 38 percent in 2002 and 11 percent in 1970.

What’s with this steady increase of births outside of marriage? Well, we can’t completely blame Teen Mom. Yes, it’s true that a few decades ago a majority of out-of-wedlock births came from teenage mothers, but now more and more women in their twenties and thirties are opting to have children devoid of marital status. One reason thrown around for this phenomenon is the bad economy. In these modern times, couples are frequently opting to cohabitate, not only to split the cost of rent and utilities but also to create a quasi-married life situation minus the commitment and high price of a wedding. And so they wait for better economic times. In the meantime, life goes on. And babies come along as parents become more content with their current living situations.

The new norm for cohabitating couples is to invite babies whenever they come along, even if the idea of marriage has not been discussed. Marriage, a blessed sacrament joining two people and their families together for life, has been tossed to the wayside.

But as a connoisseur of celebrity news and pop culture, I know this proposed reasoning doesn’t quite add up. Everyone knows that celebrities are hardly worried or affected by the current economic crunch. Just look at reality star Kourtney Kardashian who revealed in an episode of E!’s Keeping Up With the Kardashians that she was installing a chandelier in her daughter’s nursery. (What baby needs a vintage chandelier in their room?!)

No, I think the reason for this surge in out-of-wedlock pregnancies stems from another source. Culture has dictated that the new norm for cohabitating couples is to invite babies whenever they come along, even if the idea of marriage has not been discussed. Marriage, a blessed sacrament joining two people and their families together for life, has been tossed to the wayside. It’s just not seen as important or necessary anymore. And because cohabitation is a norm in society, and marriage is now seen as optional, a baby born out of wedlock is no longer considered illegitimate, a term that I used to hear my mother and her friends use when gossiping about neighbors’ children in the 90s. Unmarried celebrities and their children have caught the attention of the general public, and set an example for “normal” women everywhere that it’s perfectly fine to have children and live with your partner outside of the sacrament of marriage.

“The right way (kind of)”

While some celebrity moms and dads are content with raising their children not as husband and wife (Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick; Brangelina; Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell), others are rushing into an engagement as soon as they know — or, should I say, the world knows — there’s a bun in the oven. In March 2012, Snooki officially announced her pregnancy and engagement to boyfriend Jionni LaValle. The same happened in April 2011 when actress Kate Hudson announced her engagement to rocker boyfriend Matthew Bellamy after announcing her pregnancy weeks earlier. If people are suddenly so comfortable with cohabitation and having children before marriage, then why do some people feel the need to rush an engagement after learning they are expecting? I think it has to do with the fact that because marriage is and will continue to be such an important and sacred institution, some couples try to nullify the “illegitimacy” associated with a child out of wedlock by jumping into marriage, as if to say, “See, we did it the right way (kind of)!”

Children should grow up surrounded by love, support and faith. The best foundation for these comes from marriage, which provides the stability that a child needs in order to learn and grow. As for me, I will be eagerly awaiting a baby announcement from Kevin and Danielle Jonas of the E! reality show Married to Jonas, which focuses on the couple’s married life, faith and attempts at creating a family the way God intended.

The Author : Rachel Roman
Rachel Roman is a Bronx, New York, native and studies Communication and Business Administration at Fordham University. She is a self-proclaimed connoisseur of all things pop culture and enjoys a good pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, maybe a little too frequently.
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  • LJ

    I am ready to become a mother. I am getting older and am financially secure. However, I haven’t met the right man yet. Are you saying if I decide to start a family alone I am an unfit Christian? My mom had me in the early 70s after deciding not to marry my natural and alcoholic father. She waited for God to bring her the right person 3 years later. I believe God wants us to share and to love. Marriage may be one way to get that but divorce rates tell us there is no guarantee.

  • Natalie

    “God’s intention” is irrelevant to the growing number of nonbelievers in the real world, but I realize that a lot of BH’s writers live in a Catholic bubble. Fine. But personally, I’m glad we’ve moved on from the era where unplanned children were immediately deemed “illegitimate”. I’m glad that people who conceive a child out of wedlock choose to keep the baby. As a person conceived out of wedlock to a couple that opted for the shotgun wedding, I know firsthand that Catholic guilt and a community of judgemental Christians like you drove them to that place. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t…

  • M

    The cues we take as a society that looks aspirationally to celebrities from often come with distortions. The fact is that single and unmarried moms are statistically more likely to be poorer, less educated and have worse economic prospects. But in looking to celebrity moms, we don’t realize that they will never face the same problems, as they can afford the best for their children, married or not. Unfortunately, we still hold celebrities as the arbiters of culture and morality, which diminishes us greatly. Thanks for the thoughtful article.

  • Justina

    sounds like the anti abortion message is getting through to them. As for the fathers of the kids, sometimes the best way to keep him from getting bad for you and the kids is keep him unmarried. Easier to get rid of if he turns bad. Others figured out he wasn’t good enough for them or the kids and changed their minds on him. Of course, some of these may be awful mothers themselves.

    But it used to be the same amount got pregnant out of wedlock and then just killed the babies in the womb, before anyone would notice the pregnancy. This is, therefore, good news, that there is an upsurge of unwed births, instead of the usual hypocritical no pregnancy before marriage (but how many abortions?)

  • Marianne Wagoner

    Thanks Rachel for such a good essay! It’s good to know that there are still people in the world who think like I do! Marriage first; Baby second!

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