Marriage, baby… Priorities change!
The family unit is constantly evolving. For so long getting married was a culmination, these days it often happens that other stages of life take over. Even if this commitment always meets with success, it comes more and more late. In the 1970s, the average woman was 23 when she first married, and the age of the first baby was 24. Nowadays, we get married on average at 30.5 years and the first pregnancy is around 28.5 years. If we note a decline in the age of first marriage and first childbearing, we see very clearly that these two stages no longer occur in the same order.
Many factors explain this change in mores. The duration of studies for women has notably increased. The entry into working life is therefore later and the stages are turned upside down: for many thirty-somethings, the conception of a child becomes a priority, well before marriage. Moreover, until 1967 and the introduction of the birth control pill, the best way not to get pregnant was abstinence. Sexual life thus began after marriage. Today, couples most of the time have relationships and a life as a couple without saying “yes” to each other. As Agnès Walch, author of History of the couple in France: from the Renaissance to the present day, “the control of fertility via the emancipation of women partly explains the arrival of a child out of wedlock”.
Getting married after having a child… Why?
Consequences : start a family is now referred to by couples without having mentioned marriage. But the arrival of a child is a trigger for some parents. “Even if the order in which marriage and baby intervene has been reversed, we note that these two ages remain very close. It is not surprising: union and having a child are still linked in our culture”, estimates the specialist. Marriage thus remains, according to her, a strong symbol of union and family unity, even if the reasons given by the parents who decide to marry after one or more children are plural.
“Before Samuel, I had never thought of marriage. It was not at all my dream as a little girl to wear a beautiful dress and be the queen of the day. But when I became a mother, I really feels the need to have the same surname as him. I wanted us to form one and the same entity my spouse, my son and I… and at that time I found an interest in marriage: the union of our family”, says Nadège. The common surname is one of the main incentives for parents. Even if it is now possible to join the surname of the father and the mother since the law of 2005, many parents still prefer to choose only one in order not to weigh down.
Other parents simply want to mark the creation of their family in a concrete way by organizing a festive event like marriage. “We got married and organized the Lia baptism on the same day. Twice as much love, emotions… and twice as much cost”, explains Céline. “I had always imagined that my child would be present at my wedding. I find it so moving to see him participate, by bringing the rings for example. With David, we therefore wanted to wait until Timothée was old enough to understand for us. marry”, still moved Alexia.
Finally, some couples will be reassured by marriage. Just like the child. And yes, it is not uncommon for the child to be a petitioner. “The day when Rafael looked at me with his little face and asked me ‘mum, when are you going to put on your white dress like the lady on TV?’… I found myself without an answer. Why weren’t we married? We didn’t know it ourselves. We described it between us, then with him… and we started,” Lydia recalls. “Marriage is visible, through concrete symbols such as wedding rings or the name. From the child’s point of view, it is therefore still very reassuring for him to know his parents are united, ”concedes Agnès Walch.
Involve your child in the wedding ceremony?
When a marriage is being prepared when the couple is already a parent, it seems obvious that the child will be present and probably involved during this ceremony or during the preparations for the marriage. Often, parents give them a mission, such as holding the train of the bride, throwing flowers in the aisle or bringing wedding rings. Children are vectors of emotions and their participation on D-Day will obviously affect parents. However, we must not forget that marriage is originally the union of a couple, a moment shared by the two adults. It is therefore preferable that the parents have time to themselves during the day and that the child is not in all the photos, for example.
- 5 tips for keeping kids busy at a wedding
- What are the differences between PACS and marriage?