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Wifey Wednesday: More on Handling Difficult Decisions


Last week on Wifey Wednesday I asked the question, "What do you do when you don't agree on something big?". It was a really interesting discussion, and I thank everyone who participated!

I think it warrants some follow-up, however, and that's what I'm going to do today.

If I can summarize, the basic consensus was that we should submit to our husbands and follow them. The sooner you learn to do that, the better. And that is certainly Scriptural, and there's also a certain logic to it. God has placed the man with increased accountability for the relationship, so even if they make a bad decision and we go along with it, it is the husband who bears the responsibility for its outcome, and not us. So in a way it's a weight off of our shoulders.

That can be very difficult to do, however, with issues near and dear to our hearts, especially with children. Earlier in the week I promised that I would share some very difficult dilemmas that had come through this website lately, and this is one of them. One woman wrote in with an extremely sad story. Let me recount it here, with some embellishments, because I'd like to comment on it today.

She said that when she married she assumed they would have children. He'd always talked about wanting children. But almost as soon as the ceremony was over he announced that he didn't. And so now, almost a decade into their marriage, they are still childless. And she is trying to come to terms with this.

First, I think this was an incredibly selfish and cruel thing for a husband to do. But I'm also not sure it's right. So that's what I want to throw out today as a question: is it okay to refuse to have children at all, especially if one partner wants kids? I think it is all right if you're not a believer, but if you are a Christian, is it all right? After all, God did say "be fruitful and multiply". Now most of us limit that, and may only have two or three kids, but on the whole we follow it.

Is it okay not to?

I think if God has called you to something specific, like a ministry in missions in dangerous places, or something that requires a lot of travel for Him, then you may forego it. But on the whole, is this okay?

I tend to think it's not. Children are a blessing, and they do change our orientation to life and our attitude as soon as they are born. They make us far less selfish and far more invested in the future.

So this, to me, is a perfect example where submission is really difficult, and where I have a hard time just telling this woman she needs to submit. Imagine if your deepest dream were to be a mom, and your husband was taking that away. It's one thing to have to give up your dream to infertility, but even there at least you can choose adoption. But to give up your dream simply because of a husband's selfishness is way worse, in my opinion.

How I would counsel this woman, I think, is that marriage counselling is a must, and she should go to the elders of her church and ask them to intervene. That may sound drastic, but I think there's a spiritual issue going on in the husband here that needs to be addressed. I don't think I would just tell her to submit, because quite frankly, her biological clock is ticking.

I had two friends who were planning on never having kids, because he had had a really difficult childhood and didn't want to be a bad father. Then, at 35, she got pregnant by accident, after using birth control for 16 years (they'd been together since she was 19). Not wanting to have an only child, she had another one at 37. And they're both blissfully happy with the situation now.

I don't think I would advise simply to forget to take the Pill, though, because that is being deceitful. And you should never be deceitful with your husband. But I do think that this is an issue that is bigger than submission.

So what do you think? Submit? Get pregnant anyway? Or do something about it? And if you say do something about it, can you spell out why you think having children is an important thing to do? That's an argument I'm still trying to make a little more clearly from Scripture, and if anyone has any good insights, I'd love to hear them!

P.S.: I don't really want this discussion to get into whether or not it's all right to use birth control. Let's just deal with the main issue: what should she do in this one situation? And why? Thanks!


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4 Comments:

At 9:07 AM , Blogger Melanie said…

Wow, that is a TOUGH question! I think a lot of counseling is in order here:

1. To find out why the husband doesn't want kids. It may very well be a good reason, like the other couple you mentioned. That doesn't excuse him letting the wife think they agreed before marriage, though. That needs to be addressed as a secondary issue in the counseling.

2. To help each spouse understand the other one's feelings on the issue.

3. If the husband has a good reason, or if he just won't budge, to help the wife come to terms with the husband's decision.

Ultimately, I think she does have to submit, but not blindly - she NEEDS to know why this has happened, even if she never agrees with it. The most important thing is, if he really does not want children, and they do have them, he will be a resentful and bad father. It could even tear the marriage apart. As much as she wants children, I'm sure she wants a present and engaged father for them just as much.

If she can't change his mind (and willingly) then I would recommend to her that she fulfill her desire to love children in some other way. Volunteering at a hospital nursery, working at a daycare, volunteering as a mentor or tutor at a school, or any number of things can bring her close to children and hopefully fill her heart in some small measure.

Best of luck to her, and I pray she and her husband come to some sort of peace about the issue sooner rather than later!

 

At 9:52 AM , Blogger Suz said…

All I can say is "Wow!" I certainly feel for her. I really don't know what I would do in her situation. I would definitely be talking to him about it, and a counselor if I could get him to go so that we could come to some kind of understanding. I would want to know if he has some underlying issues or something I would want to know about.
I feel too like children are a gift from God and not want to have children is in some way denying a gift, a most awesome one at that.
I think she has to respect her husband as the Bible tells us, and because we are to submit, the fault here lies with the husband. If he is not doing what is in the Lords' favor, the fault does not fall to her (although I do think she needs to speak her mind just once so he knows how she feels about it, maybe he looks at children a totally different way and doesn't see it through her eyes). I think God wants us to be submissive to a point, but we should be able to speak our minds and be heard too.
Blessings & Love to her for her situation...

 

At 3:43 PM , Blogger Megan said…

Do something about it! Regardless of whether or not the husband changes his stance on having children, the couple needs to come to an agreement on this topic. I think your advice was spot on, Sheila. They need to get into counseling as soon as possible, to protect against resentment that might arise out of this later, if nothing else. The three top reasons for divorce are disagreements on: money, children, and religion.

My opinion on Christians having children can be found in my recent blog post: http://asanctuarysought.blogspot.com/2008/10/why-i-want-to-have-several-children.html.

 

At 2:49 AM , Blogger Julie said…

Sheila,

I agree with you that the issue here is bigger than (just) submission. Sounds like the husband pulled a 'bait and switch' on the wife, and now her heart is breaking.

I also agree with you that with few exceptions, having children is not just a blessing, but the will of God for married couples.

Frankly, my only concern with your advice is that churches are increasingly reluctant to intervene and/or take a stand on these kind of issues. The couple may go to a "Christian counselor"... and that in itself is ambiguous. I have encountered counselors who were Christian, but their counsel was much more grounded in modern psychology than in the Bible.

I hope the elders in her church WILL intervene, but... I wonder.

Julie

 
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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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