Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Guest Column: It Got Me Thinking…About Marriage October 25, 2010

According to our local radio show host, celebrity Mario Lopez was “so inspired” by the birth of his daughter Gia on September 11 that he proposed to his girlfriend, Courtney Mazza, shortly after she delivered their baby.

I haven’t been able to confirm this online, but I have seen reports that Mario is planning a new reality show about how he’s going to juggle his career and fatherhood, so maybe he’s saving the details for a ratings sweep. Anyway, it got me thinking…. Didn’t he want to marry Courtney before they got pregnant? What was it about having his baby that made him want to marry her now? And, the question that keeps nagging me: Is marriage primarily for having and raising children?

Next year, I’m getting married for the first time. In my mind, our wedding will be a celebration of our success at finding love and a joyous reason to bring family and friends together. But not everyone agrees with me. Almost every ceremony I’ve attended has included words about welcoming children into the world. Because we are in our 40s, well-meaning friends ask if we’re going to hurry up and have children. On the flip side, other friends suggest that, since there won’t be kids, we skip the legal part of our commitment to avoid the “marriage penalty tax.” And Project Marriage, as part of the appeal process defending California’s Prop. 8, which specifically outlaws gay marriage, defined the “true purpose of marriage” as “responsible procreation and child-rearing.”

So where does this leave me—and us, the child-free adults? If you got married with the expectation of children, then discovered it wasn’t going to happen, do people make you feel you’ve broken vows? Is marriage only for making families? What does getting/being married mean to you and how has it changed since you learned/decided you wouldn’t have children?

Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. Her articles have appeared in AAA’s Westways, GRIT, Real Simple, and 805 Living magazines. Read “How to Be the World’s Best Aunt Ever” on eHow.com.