Couples who have an unplanned pregnancy may feel significant pressure to marry from family, friends or even from each other. Many couples who consider marriage as the result of an unplanned pregnancy wonder about doing the right thing and want to provide the best possible future for their child. For some couples, marriage may be best way to do this, while others may want to postpone or even avoid marriage.
Couples who are considering marriage as the result of an unplanned pregnancy should think about if they will make good marriage partners for each other and if they will be better parents for the child if they are married or if they remain separate. Couples who get along well together and remain committed to each other through all circumstances are more likely to have a successful marriage than those who resent or blame each other, fight constantly or are emotionally distant from each other. Couples who have abusive or unsafe relationships may not want to marry to prevent further harm to the adults or the child involved.
While some people feel that married couples always make better parents, others find that having two single parents may be preferable. Couples who choose not to marry after an unplanned pregnancy should consider how they will support the child emotionally and financially, even while living separately. All states require parents to financially support their biological children, unless they are given to other parents through adoption, and most parents want to be involved in their children’s lives.
Marriage can have a number of benefits for couples who are having a child together, including social and family approval, a more stable home environment and the ability to make parenting decisions together more easily. Children whose parents are married also benefit from the love, support and time they receive from a two-parent family. Marriage may also have a number of financial benefits, including less hassle over child support payments; combined living expenses for costs such as rent, utilities and the child’s needs; and the potential to receive health care benefits through a spouse's employment.
Obtaining a marriage certificate does not necessarily prepare people for marriage, make them better parents or smooth out any difficulties they already had in the relationship. People who use an unplanned pregnancy as leverage for coercing someone to marry are likely to have an unhappy, and possibly short-lived, marriage as a result. Couples who are legally married but do not have the love, support and commitment to each other that marriage requires may find that the marriage does more harm than good, for themselves and for the child.
Couples who are considering marriage because of an unplanned pregnancy also must decide when they would tie the knot, if they decide to marry, and couples who already planned to marry when an unplanned pregnancy occurred may want to reset the date to accommodate these circumstances. To some couples, it's important to marry before the baby is born, and some choose to marry as soon as possible, before the pregnancy becomes obvious. Others prefer to wait until after the baby is born so they can concentrate on one event at a time, or to allow the bride to fit into the dress of her choice. Couples who are underage when they have an unplanned pregnancy may need to wait until they are legally old enough to marry, although many states allow teenage couples who are expecting a child to marry with parental permission.