I was sitting on my back patio last Saturday morning just after sunrise drinking ice water from a tall plastic container. The sun had not yet peeked over the pine and cedar trees lining the marsh which serves as a buffer between the yard and the Biloxi Bay. In an hour it would be hot enough that after a ten minute sit a towel would be required to daub the sweat produced by the humidity.
A reverie was interrupted when my sister-in-law reminded me in a text about, among other things, an upcoming rehearsal party planned on the eve of the wedding of my nephew and his bride. It was a pleasant reminder.
On reflection I also thought about a Facebook post I'd seen just a few days earlier posted by a young couple, cohabitors for several years, announcing to all that they were expecting a child in coming year. For some reason I juxtaposed my sister-in-law's reminder of the upcoming wedding with the young couple's Facebook announcement. One couple was to be married but not expecting a child, while the other couple was expecting a child with no intention of being married -- the latter being, in reality, the manifestation of the purpose and function of what sex is about, which is -- to produce a child -- a function obviously lost lately in the strange thought processes of certain judges.
At any rate, assume for the moment these two couples are perched on the limbs of your family tree. Wouldn't you be more inclined to wonder what the future might hold for these disparate couples -- one couple who've chosen to recite commitment vows publicly and the other who have opted out.
Experience currently teaches that, while there are always exceptions to the rule, that cohabiting relationships are relatively short-lived. Social studies continue to show that on average they last about 18 months. After five years, only about 10 percent of couples who cohabit and do not marry each other are still together, regardless of whether children are present. Also, cohabiters compared to marrieds are...
* eight times more likely to separate
* twice as likely to have experienced an act of infidelity
* tend to report poorer relationship quality than married couples
* among mothers with infants, those in cohabiting relationships tend to fare
worse economically than married mothers
* men in cohabiting households tend to have lower earnings than married men
* tend to report higher levels of depression
While there are certainly variations in the exact results from different studies, these are the general outcomes of cohabitating, unmarried couples. There are other factors of course that come to either enhance or deteriorate any relationship. And while nothing is certain or 100% with respect to what happens to one happens to all, we all tend to consciously or unconsciously make choices that maximize benefits and minimize risks.
So what interests, one might ask, would a couple expecting a child have in not exercising a commitment to each other, understanding of course that any couple can privately "commit" to each other without a public recitation of vows? Isn't marriage after all about commitment? And generally a public one? Is there a difference in a couple publicly announcing their pregnancy but eschewing the commitment to be married?
At a minimum, marrying, if nothing else, speaks to the permanency and the sexual exclusivity of the relationship, assuming of course that two, and only two, people are being wedded. Of course, in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual "marriage" the legal door is wide open for three or more to marry unless laws are passed to limit it to two.
So the pregnant couple have decided, either together or unilaterally, to at least publicly, even if just in the presence of a Justice Court judge and two witnesses, to forgo the commitment and, presumably inadvertently, put at risk the permanency of the relationship -- at least based on the evidence of social science and experience.
While avoiding judging such a couple, logic nevertheless dictates, more or less, that for them the overriding priority favors them as individuals and less so as a community of three. Absent the commitment, and the expression of self-giving love, the door is open if necessary, to an easier separation allowing attention to particular individual needs, which one or both parties are presumably giving priority to over the natural family's interests or the child's long term interests.
It's said that love is demonstrated by action, typically being expressed in self-giving. If the reason to stay together is because of love, can one fairly ask in the interest of ensuring the success of the relationship where is the commitment to self-giving in this instance? At its core, with respect to commitment and self-giving, the pregnant uncommitted couple is basically not unlike the overwhelming majority of homosexual couples, who in surveys continue to admit they have no interest in being married.
At any rate, whether it's a young couple to be married and staring a new life, or a young couple bringing a new life into the world, regardless of the circumstances, both are occasions for which to be joyful and each deserves from their family and friends prayers for success and for happiness -- and permanency. And it's for both that I send up mine. May God bless them both, their child, any children to come and all their future progeny, for many years to come.
Real Men Love Babies by Tyler Blanski