It would be nice to be able to call my boyfriend my husband. I wouldn't have to deal with the confused look on people’s faces when they try to figure out if he’s the “same guy” as my son’s father. I wouldn't have to deal with people asking me if our son was an accident or not. Or how much money he gives me or if he hits me (yes, I was asked this my a former coworker I barely knew), unless I came to work with bruises on my body or seemed to have been in emotional distress I don’t get what would warrant a question like that.
If I could introduce him as my husband, people would accept that we are in love, planned our pregnancy and are happy and together. If I could refer to him as my husband I wouldn't have to feel the judgment passing over me by my much older, conservative coworkers. I won’t feel half as defensive when my friends talk about their plans to have children after marriage and the age of 35 because they "don't want to be someone's baby mama". It may sound a little nice to call him my fiancée, as other people have taken the liberty of calling him (I have corrected them of course) but the truth is we're not even engaged.
Being Black, Latina, in my twenties and from Brooklyn with a child out of wedlock tends to invite a ton of stereotypes. I get it. I've heard many of them. Although I know I should not allow other’s views of me define who I am and how I live my life, I can’t help but to feel as if I am some sort stereotype of the so called typical unwed mother and I HATE that.
I am a college graduate, I work full time, pay my own bills and do not rely on government assistance. I am not looking for someone to take care of me, but I want to make sure I’m in a union where we can take care of each other, where I won’t be the one left to pick up the slack and have not only the housework on my shoulders but the majority of financial responsibilities as well. My boyfriend and I are in love but there are so many other aspects to marriage and love may not be the answer to everything.
Do we want to live in an apartment or a house? Rent or buy? What kind of retirement do we want to have, how much financial support are we willing to provide to our son when he goes to college? Can we afford more children? These are all questions I have and to be frank, I don’t have the answers to them. I’m not saying I need to know exactly what will happen in the future because I don’t think anyone can ever know or be fully prepared, but it is important to know you are both moving in the same direction.
I could be one of those people that say “if it ain't broke, don’t fix it”, or “we don’t need a piece of paper to validate our love”, but I do want to get married and not just because it would be more socially acceptable. It would be nice to have more financial stability, to put our money together and save. The truth is, the money isn't there right now and sadly, many divorces end due to financial hardships and the chance of divorce decreases with age.
I think for us at this time, it would be best for us not only to focus on being the best parents we can be for our son, but really take a step back and think about US. What do we want in life, where do we see ourselves in five or ten years instead of just “together”. What do we want out of life and what are we willing to do to achieve our goals? I don’t want to enter a union to divorce like many of my family members. Or remain in an unhappy marriage because it’s best for our son. I would rather cohabit and make a decision I feel fully comfortable with than become yet again, another statistic.