Should you get married for your kids?
Internet gossip sites have been awash with the rumour that A-listers Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are about to get married in an intimate ceremony at their chateau in France.
US Weekly magazine recently reported that Brangelina planned to tie the knot sometime in the next few weeks, and last year Brad fuelled wedding fever by saying in an interview: “The kids ask about marriage. It’s meaning more and more to them. So it’s something we’ve got to look at.”
But this week another American magazine has dismissed the wedding rumours, claiming the mayor of the French town where the couple’s castle is located reckons it’s all just idle gossip. He’s supposed to have said: “There are no plans for them to marry that I know of – and I would know.” Of course, in celeb-speak that could well mean wedding bells before the week is out.
But regardless of whether or not Brad’s about to take Ange up the aisle, is getting married for the sake of your kids ever a good idea?
Personally I’m torn. On the one hand I think it’s quite sweet that Brad and Angelina would tie the knot if it meant that much to their six kids – but I can’t help but wonder whether the fickle, fleeting enthusiasm of little kids is the best basis for a marriage.
Liat Hughes Joshi is the author of Raising Children, a guide for parents with children of primary school age. She says a child’s desire to get their parents married off might well be relatively short-lived. “Children tend to ‘romanticise’ their parents’ relationship. Younger children do this in particular – they want Mummy and Daddy to be madly in love and they might see getting married as part of that fairytale. But give it a few years and your pre-teens and teens are likely to regard the mere idea of mum and dad getting married as pretty gross.”
And it wasn’t all that long ago that the media had us convinced that Brad and Angelina were about to go their separate ways. If the basis for a marriage is a child’s whim, what happens if that marriage hits the rocks? Will the kids think divorce is down to them if the marriage was their idea?
Then again, couples stay in unhappy marriages all the time for the sake of their kids – so is tying the knot to keep the kids happy really so wrong?
“For many couples commitment is much more important than marriage. Marriage is simply one public way of celebrating that commitment, but having a wedding is not a priority for many committed couples,” says Paula Hall, a relationship psychotherapist with Relate. “If you’re against marriage it’s probably not a good idea to get married for other people, but if you’re not opposed to marriage and decide to get married because it’s important to people who matter to you, like your children, then why not?”
And if, like Brad and Angelina, your kids start pestering you to tie the knot, what can you do?
“Start by being honest about why you’re not married,” Paula says. “Weddings can be phenomenally expensive so it’s fine to explain that it’s not something you can afford, but that not being married has no bearing on how much Mummy and Daddy love one another. And most importantly talk to your child about why it matters to them so much. Find out if they’ve been teased about it, or if there’s something behind their sudden interest in your marital status that they might need to talk about.”
Are you married or not? Do you think it matters when you have children? Did you marry because your children wanted you to?
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