Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause. Isaiah 1:17

Friday, September 9, 2011

Do children destroy wedded bliss?

I read an interesting blog post today. Here a woman insists that she and her husband enjoy a "lifetime honeymoon" because they’ve avoided numerous stressors by choosing not to have children. I think she’s dead wrong, and I come from the unique experience of having been child free for 10 years of marriage before becoming a parent.

Now, I want to preface this by saying that I do not believe every couple should have children. Just as God calls some to singlehood, I also believe that He calls others to a life void of parenting. I believe every person should follow God’s will for their lives, and that a fulfilling life can only be found by doing so. Also, if you go to the woman’s blog to read her opinion, please don’t leave comments attacking her or the purpose of her blog. I’ve included the link because I believe it to be a fascinating (though erroneous) post, and my own post was brought to my mind after thinking about hers, but I have no wish to cause her any problems with negative traffic on her blog.

My husband and I have always been deeply in love—before and after children. But having children is an experience I’m glad we’ve had because it’s certainly adds a new dimension to that love. I get the opportunity to see my husband love and care for his children. I see him sacrifice himself for them, and my love for him increases as I watch him. I know that not only has our love intensified through the parenting process, but we’ve each gathered a whole new appreciation of one another as we see the other parent. We also work together as a team in a whole new way.

Parenting is a job after all—an enjoyable, rewarding job, but certainly a job nonetheless. Working together side by side with your lover and best friend on an intensely personal, emotional, fulfilling and challenging mission is hard to describe in words. It brings a certain satisfaction and intimacy to your marriage that would be difficult to replicate outside the role of parenting.

So, let’s talk about stress. Do kids add stress? Well, I’m curious; doesn’t any close relationship add an element of stress? I know that I love my dogs more than life itself, but they’re expensive and we’ve dealt with intensely stressful behavioral problems. I know that just about every close friendship I’ve had has involved stressful conflict at some point. Every relationship comes with its problems, but we get and give so much out of it that I can’t imagine avoiding relationships to avoid stress. Not to mention stress can strengthen a relationship.

I know that sounds crazy, but think about it. It’s sort of along the line of what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. My relationship with my husband is very strong, and I attribute that in large part due to the fact that we’ve walked through fire together—before and after having children. When you’re going through rough circumstances, it’s hard to look past the agony, but once you’re through it, you can look back and thank God for giving you an experience that forced you and husband to come together before God and trust Him to carry you through. Now, I’m not saying that parenting is agony—far from it, but I’m trying to show that going through hard times (whether or not children are in the picture) together strengthens your bond. Parenting may or may not be one of those hard things—depending on your personal circumstances.

Has parenthood reduced the satisfaction of some marriages? I’m sure it has, judging from the number of “confessions” out in cyber land. Does it reduce the satisfaction of every marriage? Absolutely not. Can having children increase the satisfaction of your marriage? Judging from my own marriage, and my friends’ marriages whom I’ve discussed this with, I can only answer with: absolutely yes.

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