11 Women on Being Happily Unmarried With Kids (PHOTOS)

Wendy Robinson | Jan 5, 2016 Love & Sex

happy familyAs we watched our kids play in the backyard, my neighbor and I started chatting. The conversation turned to my upcoming wedding anniversary and I casually asked her how long she'd been married. After the briefest of pauses, she replied that they'd been together for 10 years but weren't married.

For a moment, I felt a bit embarrassed that I had looked at their family (mom, dad, two kids, cute house on a family-friendly block) and just automatically assumed that they must be married.

Although getting married and then having kids is still considered the cultural norm, the truth is that more families than ever are deciding to live and raise children together without getting married first.

I connected with 11 women who have kids and a long-term unmarried partner to find out more about why they've decided to opt out of marriage. Whether the reasons were financial, practical, or philosophical, it becomes clear that marriage isn't every little girl's dream after all.


Image via iStock.com/Geber86

  • Love Is Love


    iStock.com/ Georgijevic

    "After 11 years together, I just don't see how being married would change anything about our relationship. Love is love, whether the government knows about it or not. Our kids know we are a family and that's all that matters to me." -- Lainey D., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • The Real Commitment


    iStock.com/ Halfpoint

    "My mom has been married three times, so I guess I never grew up thinking that marriage is forever. I feel like having kids together and parenting together is a bigger commitment to be in each other's lives for the long haul than marriage is." -- Helen W., Des Moines, Iowa

  • Should We?


    iStock.com/ Dean Mitchell

    "I'm a lesbian in a state where gay marriage just became legal. My partner and I have been together for six years and have kids and are just now starting to get the 'Are you going to get married?' questions.

    I guess I feel like just because we can now doesn't mean we HAVE to. I wonder if we should to make a political point, but mostly I don't feel like anything would change that much in our day-to-day lives." -- Name withheld by request

  • Money Talks


    iStock.com/ AndreyPopov

    "Mike actually proposed at one point but I turned him down because his money stuff was such a mess. That was four years ago and I am still waiting on him to pay off his student loans and credit cards before I'd be willing to get married. I'm just not willing to join finances or become responsible for his debt." -- Brooke W., Tucson, Arizona

    More from The Stir: 6 Must-Dos When You Merge Money With Your Partner

  • Just as Committed


    iStock.com/ Ridofranz

    "I feel like if you look at the history of marriage, it very rarely benefits women. Like, as an institution, it has a pretty bleak history. I feel like we are just as committed, to each other and our kid, without bringing in all that history of women as property and stuff." -- Kim N., San Jose, California

  • I'd Say Yes


    iStock.com/ Geber86

    "To be honest, I'd be happy to get married. But my partner is totally freaked out about it, and I'm not going to push it. He's a good dad, we have a good relationship -- those are more important to me than a piece of paper and a big party. But if he asked, I'd say yes in a heartbeat." -- Name withheld by request

  • Not Natural


    iStock.com/ hidesy

    "To be blunt, I don't know why people still get married. So many marriages end in divorce and it seems like everyone cheats or gets cheated on. I just don't think monogamy is biologically normal. We share our lives and co-parent but we also have the option to explore other attractions if they come up, and I think we are happier than most married people." -- Jennifer B., Minneapolis, Minnesota

  • Child of Divorce


    iStock.com/ laflor

    "I watched my parents tear each other apart after 26 years of marriage. [His] dad has been married five times. I think we had bad role models! Marriage doesn't look so appealing when you've seen it imploding." -- Tessa D., Ames, Iowa

    More from The Stir: 11 Texts That Reveal the Messy Truth About Life After Divorce (PHOTOS)

  • Here by Choice


    iStock.com/ Petar Chernaev

    "Sometimes I listen to my girlfriends complain about their husbands and I can't help but feel like they sound stuck or something. I like not being married. We are making a choice every day to stay together, not because we are legally bound to each other." -- Stacey F., Boulder, Colorado

  • The Kids Are Alright


    iStock.com/ PeopleImages

    "The biggest thing I would tell people is that our kids are secure. We are a family. We are just as committed as any married couple. We are just financially better off because I used my parents' wedding fund for me to put a down payment on a house instead. Sharing a mortgage is a legal commitment too!" -- Val G., Lincoln, Nebraska

  • Wishful Thinking


    iStock.com/ NKS_Imagery

    "My boyfriend was married before and had a divorce. We met and blended families five years ago and things are fine and good. But he swore he'd never marry again so we aren't. I do sometimes get jealous that his b*tchy first wife got to have the big wedding and now I don't get that chance, but I'd rather be with him and not married than be with someone else and married." -- Name withheld by request

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