Shotgun Wedding Divorce Rate

I’ve known a few folks this season who got married because of an unplanned pregnancy (in this day and age for women with access to birth control pills I don’t even understand why this is so common). I am interested to know if these so-called “shotgun weddings” are significantly more likely to end in divorce than weddings that are not the product of a premarital pregnancy.


You’d have to find someone who actually made a serious study of this, wouldn’t you?

It would come down to self-reported participants.

Unless there is some record made at time of wedding license, how would anyone know if this marriage was/wasn’t a ‘shotgun’ marriage.

First child born less than nine months after the wedding?

Anecdotally I know of two shotgun weddings within my immediate work group of 10 people. Both are still married (one about twelve years later and one going on 20 years later, though she is separated and in the process of getting a divorce). Both are Catholic and were raised in an environment in which divorce was stigmatized (though the one who is still married seems to be happily so and is about to have her second kid).

Haven’t seen any stats, but they would be quite interesting if also broken down by age, religious background, etc.

BTW all birth control has a failure rate. Yes, even oral contraceptives.

What I don’t understand is the mindset that “contraception is a sin, so I won’t use it,” especially from people whose religious upbringing also dictates that premarital sex is a sin. If you’re going to do the latter, you might as well not bring a baby into the mix who had no say in the matter, but that’s probably a better GD topic.

Controlled for premature births, lengthy engagements, women who didn’t find out until after the wedding, etc.

For example, the daughter of Prince Felix of Luxembourg was born two days short of nine months after her parents married in 2013, but the wedding date had been announced five months earlier (and the engagement months before that), so not a hastily-planned affair, and the bride/mother-to-be probably wouldn’t have known yet even if she was already pregnant on her wedding day. How would you avoid counting circumstances like that?

Wonderful -

Now all you have to control are THREE variables:

Date of marriage

Date of divorce (it is AFTER the first child, right?)

Date of birth of FIRST child

Oh, no divorce? Does that mean they are still together, or that one died?

Piece of cake, right?

Although the “kid born within 9 months of wedding day” criteria would also catch people in the fairly common (these days) situation where you have a couple in a very long term relationship that doesn’t feel the need to get married unless kids start arriving (be they planned, unplanned or ambivalent), which is very different from the classic shotgun wedding scenario where people in a very short term relationship get married specifically because of an unplanned pregnancy.

This is a solid point. I didn’t realize shotgun weddings aren’t quite what they used to be.

I was hoping to see some stats on this. Just my personnal observation of friends and familiy members has always amused me because it seems to be no worse than standard marriages. If a guy is willing to step up to the plate when a child is due he may also tend to be the type that would hang when things got rough. Stats would be interesting.

Have there been any of the old 'Shotgun Weddings" since:

  1. Pill
  2. Roe v Wade

I recall the ‘tell him you’re pregnant - then he’ll HAVE to marry you’ mindset (yes, kids, it really did happen), but I haven’t heard of it in roughly 40 years.

I would have hoped the actual weddings also disappeared.

Teenage friend of mine back in the 1980’s said his squeeze-of-the-month told him “I think I’m pregnant.” He said that he seriously contemplated pushing her into traffic at that moment, but the urge passed. She said “I’m not really. I just wanted to see what you would say.” He said “bye-bye.” He didn’t need crazy.

Historically, shotgun marriages implied the man was coerced into the wedding, although it was usually used jokingly. Back when I was growing up in conservative Utah in the 60s and 70s, there was an element of shame.

A really high percentage of Japanese weddings are because of an unplanned pregnancy. I’ve read statistics such as 25% of all marriages and 60% of those where the woman is under 25. I haven’t seen official stats but these are the ones floating around the net. “They” also say that the divorce rates are higher, which wouldn’t surprise me, but I didn’t see any numbers.

For the US, googling quickly found one source

Japanese still have much more of a stigma attached to unwed women who become pregnant, although there is very little stigma to those who get married because of it.

Agreed that “pregnant at wedding” doesn’t automatically mean “unplanned pregnancy.”

I think it’s pretty common to start trying for a kid, and to plan to formalize things once that part is taken care of-- that’s what we did.

At one time, In rural communities in England and Wales, it was normal to **not **get married until the bride was pregnant. No one wanted an infertile wife.

I would think in fact than in the US nowadays, and most other Western countries, some more so, you’d be looking for needles in a haystack to find true ‘shotgun weddings’ among all the ones where the couple decided on marriage after pregnancy. And to me ‘shotgun’ implies though not the actual weapon some kind of effective outside, family or community, coercion. There are probably still many cases where the man, typically, feels some kind of pressure from the woman or internally generated, to move along with wedding plans in the face of pregnancy. It might not always be a laid back wholly relaxed and joint decision by both parties. But that doesn’t necessarily make it really ‘shotgun wedding’ IMO. Anyway it would be impossible to objectively quantify.

That was the case with my parents; it turned out my mother was a little over a month along with me at the wedding. Her first marriage on the other hand was a real shotgun wedding; she got pregnant at 16 and my grandfather really did try to go after her boyfriend with a shotgun. He turned out to be an abusive drunk, and the entire family ended up wishing grandpa carried though on his threat. He did end up accidently breaking both of his legs the second time my mother “fell down the stairs”.

Well, to use any form of contraceptive, or to have a condom available, means that you had planned beforehand that you might possibly engage in sex. And they considered that sinful, especially the preparation.

But if it just happened, ‘overcome in the heat of the moment’, that was more forgivable. So they avoided any preparation, or contraceptive use. Which is self-defeating, as it leads to more likelihood of pregnancy. But nobody ever said religious reasoning is logical.

If he doesn’t want a child, but had failed to take basic precautions to avoid pregnancy (‘wear a condom’), then he is already crazy enough on his own.

Does this include couples who had at least one child before they were married? That’s happening more and more, although the reasons for this are complex and often have to do with health insurance coverage - that she would lose hers if she got married beforehand, especially if she was still on her parents’ plan or was on Medicaid.