Ann was 19 when she got pregnant. Today she is 20 and married. She had dated her boyfriend for quite a while before becoming pregnant.

I had been dating my boyfriend, Jeff, for more than two years when I became pregnant. After finding out I was pregnant, I told Jeff first and my mother second. They are the two most important people in my life. Jeff and I knew we were going to have to make some choices, so we discussed the situation. We decided on marriage, hands down. We knew we’d probably get married sometime in the future, and this only seemed to speed up our plans a little bit. It was going to be hard, but we decided to take the plunge into marriage because we’d been dating for so long and felt like our marriage could survive. Also, my mom was very supportive of the whole thing. She just loves Jeff.

Well, marriage certainly did bring some unexpected surprises; I guess that’s a nice way of saying it. It was really shocking to us how much everything costs—not just for the baby, but for marriage in general. When you have your own apartment, you have to buy everything yourself, and there’s just nothing left after the bills are paid. You can’t go out to movies anymore because you have to pay to go out and then you have to pay for a babysitter. And finding a babysitter is not always easy.

Jeff and I also ran into all kinds of problems trying to establish credit. Because we were so young and Jeff had only been at his job a couple of months, we couldn’t get even one department store to give us a credit card—it was frustrating. It was also kind of scary; if anything bad were to happen, we wouldn’t have any way to pay for it because we had no savings in the bank. Credit cards are nice for emergencies. I mean, what if our car needed major repairs, and we didn’t have the cash? I guess we’d just have to walk.

Another thing that’s difficult in marriage is just getting along with each other. Even if you don’t fight when you’re dating, you probably will after you get married. The romance of dating kind of dies down after you’ve been married a while, and it gets down to the nitty-gritty. We fought over everything, especially things like dishes and laundry; I didn’t particularly want to do them and neither did he.

But even though marriage is hard, Jeff and I love each other and our daughter very much. I guess ultimately I made the choice to get married because I already had a good relationship with someone who wanted to marry me and was willing to be a father. If you’re ever in doubt as to whether you should marry, don’t do it unless you truly love the father of your child, because I can tell you from experience, if you get married just because of the baby, it will never work.