Maybe Someday


marriage, cohabitation, parenting, low-income men


Drawing upon a life course framework and grounded theoretical analysis, I explore the family circumstances of low-income, single fathers and their expectations regarding marriage. In-depth interviews were conducted with 37 low-income men living in a metropolitan area of the western U.S. Most of these men were actively engaged in parenting, either while living with their partner or sharing parenting between two households. Many of the cohabiting relationships these men formed included periods of separation due to conflict. Among these men, those who fathered children as adolescents were less likely to marry or assume parental responsibilities than those who fathered children at older ages. Overall, these fathers expected to marry sometime in the future but because of uncertainties in their current relationships chose to cohabit instead. The primary challenges to marriage or long-term commitment that men reported were economic strains due to a lack of educational and occupational opportunities, and parenting stresses due to a lack of parenting and family interaction skills. In addition, men raised concerns regarding their ability to discipline their children without being abusive.

Original Publication Citation

Forste, Renata. 2006. “Maybe Someday: Marriage and Cohabitation among Low-Income Fathers,” in Lori Kowaleski-Jones and Nicholas H. Wolfinger (eds.), Fragile Families and the Marriage Agenda, chapter 8, pp. 189-209, New York, NY: Springer Science+Business Media, Inc

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Fragile Families and Marriage Agenda




Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor