I had a baby out of wedlock. Now I feel powerful.

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I didn’t set out to be 32 and not married.

At 16, I’d pictured my adult self in a happy marriage, happily raising kids. I’d pictured myself holding hands with the man of my dreams, running out of a church, straight into a lifetime of love and romance.

I grew up in the Baptist church, pretending sex didn’t exist. Then I got pregnant during Bible college, where I took classes like Women’s Ministry and studied psychology from a biblical worldview.

I got pregnant out of wedlock. So, what actually happened fell quite short of that picture.

I rushed into marriage to my first husband at 21, just before our first kid was born, obsessed with what people might think if my daughter and I didn’t have the same last name. We were married at my parents’ church in front of only them, my sister and the pastor who, in his defense, subtly tried to talk us out of it.

A very un-pastor thing to do — even he saw the damage in rushing into a marriage simply because of a child.

Fast forward a few years, and another child, and that marriage fell through. We tried and tried and couldn’t make it work and after years of finger-pointing, he found his way into the arms of an old friend and the two of them are happily married to this day.

I did not go that route.

After my first marriage ended, I eventually settled into myself, happy to be alone. I decided never again to marry, to be content with my family being the three of us — my kids and me — no longer caring what people thought when they found out my kids’ last name was Eagle and mine was Logan. I was going to be on my own.

And then came Randy.

We’d started out as best friends, actively choosing not to date, his plan being to head back to Arizona with his family. Then one fateful morning, when I texted him and told him I was moving to my home town of Kings Mountain, he called and told me he wanted to go with me.

Eventually, we admitted we were in love. Our friendship turned out to be the best foundation we could have possibly built. We’d chosen to love each other as people as opposed to romantic partners, allowing our relationship to grow organically from there.

And then, one year in, Randy and I found out we were going to have a baby. Like last time, I felt the urge to tie the knot.

Both our midwife and a good friend had offered to perform a ceremony for us before the baby got here. You know, so we could all have the same name. But it never felt right.

I stopped letting a different last name be a moniker for failure.

We finally came to a clear understanding: marriage was not for us. We chose to commit ourselves to one another without a legally binding document to hold us together through the good and bad. We were together for us.

In my previous life, I’d worried so much over what others might think of me with the stigma of “unwed mother”.

Now, I feel powerful.

I am unmarried because I don’t feel a need to be bound by societal standards. I’ve read enough YouTube comments to know that everyone will come out of the woodwork to try to talk me out this, pray for me, or tell me any number of things about my character, but my choice not to marry does not mean I don’t believe in marriage. I do. Just not for myself.

Right at a time when I thought I’d be alone forever with my two kids (and happily so), Randy walked into the bar I was working at, sat down, and hasn’t left my life since. Just because we don’t have papers filed at the courthouse or rings on our left hands (we wear them on our right) doesn’t mean either of us are going to go running out the door.

If we were going to do that, we would have done it a long time ago, papers or not. Trust me. We’re here because we want to be.

In this life, everyone is entitled to writing their own love story. This one is ours.

Photo: Liz Logan

19 COMMENTS

  1. You grew up Baptist so no one needs to tell you what the Bible says about having children out of wedlock. However, I applaud your courage to not conform to what others think and not marry just because you had a child, or for lastname sake.

  2. Thank you so much for this article! I, myself, have been struggling with the conundrum of being madly in love but choosing not to get married. Although we don’t have children, by choice, there are so many pressures to fit into a certain mold of what a “committed relationship” looks like. I get asked all the time when we are getting married and I am continuously shocked at the reaction of other people. Let’s all stay in our own lanes, let others stay in theirs and support one another through this difficult thing called life.

  3. Statistics show that marriage drops the probability of child poverty by 82%. The author is free to take a rosy outlook on her own decisions, but encouraging people not to get married is just terrible advice.

    • Unfortunately that is the problem with baby boomers. It isn’t all about YOU and how YOU feel. It’s about the children involved. (and we wonder why millennials turned out the way they did. which, let’s be honest, isn’t that bad considering what previous generations left millennials with)

  4. I have no problem with your choice, but do think about setting up mutual health care power of attorney and possibly financial as well in case there is something unexpected. I hope that will never happen but there are some things you do need a piece of paper for.

  5. When Tragedy comes, things usually get very simple very fast…. You and God …He is the ultimate source for problem solving and inspiration. Doesn’t matter most times what the rest of the world thinks, but we are in the world. And sadly it’s rules apply to us all. Even Jesus mentioned to give to Cesar what is his and to God what is His..I do know That Jesus is a a God of Second Chances.. and lots of them!! Glad you guys are happy, the kids should be happy as well in that loving environment. Good Luck with your future decisions and it is your job to look after your kids until they are old enough to leave the nest. Prepare them for that flight… give them all the tools and back up they need to be able to go out on their own.. and do the same for their family.

  6. For someone who is all about not being judged, this sure is a judgey story. In your mission to not marry, you are not so subtly criticizing those that do. And by the way, it’s generally not healthy to not we’d just to buck the status quo. You end up with all the expectations with none of the commitment…a purely renter’s mentality. Good luck, and try to not be so judgemental of others.

  7. It seems as though you haven’t given much thought to how your choices affect anyone except yourself…your children could easily have your surname, so that is a lame excuse. You are also showing your kids that they are not important enough to actually commit to their father (s). And no, your ‘committment to each other’ is not the same as marriage…both of you can leave at any time without that pesky marriage in the way. There is no real committment here; it’s all pretend, and you both somehow seem to be ok with that. If he cheats, or you cheat…it’s no biggie, because you aren’t married. You are both keeping an ‘out’, which is fine, but don’t try to pass it off as ‘being empowered’. There is nothing empowering about what you are doing, and you know it, otherwise you would not go to such lengths to convince yourself otherwise.

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