Couples Who Have a Baby Before Getting Married Are Actually Better Off

young couple with baby

So it used to be that if you got knocked up, THEN decided to marry, everyone would hold their heads in their hands and feel sorry for you because of course your marriage was doomed. Because, well, it sort of was. But this isn't 1985 anymore, people. And having a baby before you say "I do" won't wreck your relationship!

A very cool nonprofit called The Council on Contemporary Families has a mission to educate us all about how and why today's families are changing. (Just in case there are people out there who don't watch Modern Family.)

Their researchers combed through data on women who had their first child between 1985 and 1995, then compared it to women who became moms between 1997 and 2010. The results were striking.

  • Women who had a baby first, married second, during that late '80s-early '90s period were 60 percent more likely to later divorce. 

    divorced couple
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  • But for women in the more recent time period, the risk of divorce didn't go up -- at all.

    happy couple

    "So, what's changed?" seems like an obvious question. Back in 1985, Madonna's "Like a Virgin" was a scandalous hit. And that's just the tip of the cultural shift iceberg.

  • The researchers from CCF attribute the big swing to more acceptance for "cohabitation before marriage."

    happy family

    We asked Paul Hokemeyer, JD, PhD, a marriage and family therapist, to give us his take. He explained:

    "Fortunately, in America, we've adopted a dynamic definition of marriage that enables those who choose it to be enhanced rather than restricted by the privileges it provides. This includes discarding outdated and stigmatizing notions of who is entitled to celebrate their relationship by the institution of marriage."

    In other words, it's become less and less common to be judged for having a kid out of wedlock. Or having a same-sex partner. People, for the most part are like, "Whatevs. If you're happy, I'm happy."

  • Hokemeyer says, "couples can connect in the authenticity of their relationship rather than on judgmental standards that restrict them."

    happy couple with a baby

    And here's the really juicy part:

    "... having a baby out of wedlock only strengthens a couple's resolve and commitment to their marriage if it's something they chose for their family. By being a choice instead of an obligation, marriage for these couples is something they embrace, rather than feel trapped by."

  • So basically, the plot of Knocked Up isn't that far off after all!

divorce love marriage