At the same time, the age at which people marry continues to rise, especially in New York, where the median age is currently 29 for men and 27 for women. Women increasingly postpone pregnancy until their late thirties (the percentage of women pregnant from ages 35 to 44 has doubled since 1980, according to the National Center for Health Statistics). All of which means that courtship and commitment are squeezed into a narrow, pressured chronological strip. Under these circumstances, it’s no wonder that a pregnant wedding can feel less like a shotgun tragedy and more like a double play.
Although there’s no magical study that reveals whether a speeded-up relationship is a good idea, data suggest that for some couples, quickie weddings may work just fine. Ted Huston, a professor of psychology and human ecology at the University of Texas at Austin, has tracked 168 marriages since 1979. He found that the relationships in which couples were engaged within nine months have a better chance of surviving to the seven-year mark. Infatuation early on motivates couples to try harder when things get rocky.
Studies have also found that living together for a long period of time increases the risk of the couple breaking up after they get married. A 1997 study conducted by demographers at Pennsylvania State University showed that the more months a couple lived together, the more accepting they became about the possibility of divorce. They also grew less enthusiastic about marriage and having children.
But then, diving in has its own risks. “If you have a shaky sense of self and try to solve it by getting married quickly and having a child, when things get challenging, you’re going to start to question the relationship quickly,” says Rob Stein, a Manhattan-based therapist who sees a lot of insta-families in his practice.
Joanne (not her real name), a mother of two who lives in Westchester, would back that up. She married, bought a house, and had her daughter within a year and a half of meeting her husband when she was 36. She had her son sixteen months later. “The decision to have kids quickly was not an accident,” she says. “I knew I wanted to be a mother, but it was my husband who pushed it.” Two years after their second child was born, her husband left her. He left, Joanne explains, because “he wanted to be admired.”
Looking back, she thinks she got married too quickly. “It made sense on paper, but I was too caught up in the things that I was accumulating,” she says. “If we had moved slower and had more of a courtship, I would have seen certain things in his personality that were going to cause problems.” Still, Joanne is grateful that she had her children—and she says that she would make a fast decision again. “It’s always a risk, and now I’m wiser from the lessons I learned the first time.”
"I DIDN'T HAVE TIME TO PLAN A WEDDING. I WAS HAVING A BABY."
On a recent Saturday afternoon, Sophie Deprez holds court, surrounded by six girlfriends in a bright Tribeca loft. “I took my epidural, then a little while later, it was time,” she says, touching a thin gold chain around her neck. “I did my uuhh uuhh, and he popped out!” Dressed in a knee-length black-and-white dress, her reddish hair pulled back in a bun, Sophie passes her tiny son, Charlie, born less than a week earlier, to her friend Nicole. “He’s so out of the womb,” she says.
“He wanted to make it for the party,” chimes another friend.
The party is a triple-header, celebrating Sophie’s 40th birthday, her recent marriage to Lars Kry—a clean-cut 39-year-old real-estate entrepreneur who is standing across the room—and the birth of their son. A large group of friends has gathered around a table covered with bowls of baby-blue M&Ms, fruit salad, bottles of De Bortoli Willowglen Shiraz, and a chocolate cake with a “zero” candle on top. The group raises small glasses of champagne to toast the couple.
“Yeah, meeting Lars, getting married, having a kid,” says Sophie. “The pace of it all. I was an overachiever in college, and I’ve achieved all this in fifteen months.”
A little more than a year earlier, Sophie was a wild party girl, living single with her roommate in midtown. At 38, she had resigned herself to her independent life working as a special-events manager. “I was like, it’s okay not to have a baby because not everyone has to have one,” she says. “I said to myself I’ll be fine if I don’t find the right guy.”
Then one week in February 2005, she was hanging out with a friend in Florida. They were drunk-dialing when her friend called Lars in Connecticut and put Sophie on the phone. The two had known each other since college, but hadn’t connected in years. Lars asked her out.