Many babies are born to unmarried parents these days.

 

When it comes to parenting, does marriage really matter? The Other Half and I are both in our thirties and have a four-month-old daughter.

 

We've been together for nearly nine years, have a mortgage together and have made our house a home. We're now in the Chapter of Parenthood (no, we can't quite believe it either, but here we are!). But, shock, horror, we're not married.   

 

Whenever we attend a wedding, we are met with an enthusiastic chorus of "It'll be you next!" Up to now, we usually hide together - somewhere near the bar and laugh off the ludicrous suggestion. (There's always another couple they can quiz instead).

 

It doesn't help that I caught the bride's bouquet at the last one though ... so as tradition goes, we'd better get hopping down the aisle, pronto.

 

Society will have us believe that if you haven't got engaged or married within the first few years of being together, you never will - or that your relationship is doomed forever - or some nonsense like that. I'd say don't listen. Yes, we've talked about marriage, but we decided to start a family first and this seemed to be what's worked for us. A wedding just hasn't happened yet.  

 

Although we're comfortable with our decision to start a family first, a social media newsfeed full of announcements and images of perfectly manicured hands, sporting shiny jewels on that finger can sometimes make you wonder 'when is it my turn?'

 

 

With a click of your phone, images of newly-engaged and newly-weds can flood your screen before you've even had the chance to drink your morning brew.

 

In my younger years, I imagined that I'd like a wedding where I felt like a princess - these days I'm more attracted to sharing a name as family unit and throwing a big party with our loved ones. The Other Half and I both come from divorced parents and I have to say, this does change your perspective on the sanctity of marriage.

 

I go through phases; some days I'd like to be married and other times it doesn't bother me.

 

I feel a bit differently now that I'm a mum.

 

It bothers me that I have a different surname to my daughter. She has her father's surname. I guess I feel that the name separates me from them a little, but in every other way, we are a team of three.

 

 

I want us to be a family unit and I suppose the shared name would help me to feel this - and yet, the very thought of giving up my name, makes me feel like I'd also be losing some of my identity too. After all, I've had my surname for thirty-odd years.

 

At a time when the typical 'family' is evolving, does marriage still have a place? Personally, I'd like to think that marriage creates a sense of stability and commitment to the family unit - but do we need a piece of paper to do that?      

 

Jennifer is a thirty-something mum of one. She is also a writer, reader, English teacher, realist, yo-yo dieter and support of women who juggle the joys and pains of motherhood and daily life!
She is also the author of Ordinary Lass Blog which is about everyday life & motherhood. 
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