I sometimes feel that people assume I’m a bad person/woman because I’m not having children, and people say, “Well, you SHOULD have kids!” Or the ever-present, “One day it’ll happen, and THEN you’ll understand” when people talk to me about their children. Do I respond with, “Well, actually, I won’t ever understand” or do I just let them believe that they’re right?
I had so many friends tell me that I should have reconsidered my marriage because we knew we couldn’t have children, and then I see their Facebook pages covered in photos, news, quotes, etc. of their kids, and it just renews my sense of not being “enough.” This is a tough road to travel!! I love my marriage and I love my husband, but I hate the way others interpret our being without children. Do you have any words of wisdom for me?
I think the best way to respond to all of the unsolicited suggestions and questions is to answer in whatever way best protects your husband and your one-flesh union. It’s a hard balance to strike in conversations, being honest and forthright about barrenness without over sharing. I imagine one of the risks of engaging people in a conversation at all about your specific situation is the very real chance they’ll end up asking more questions than you’re comfortable answering.
So, I recommend you start by having a frank conversation with your husband about the whole situation and decide together what you both are comfortable telling people and what you both wish to remain private. Then, let those boundaries be your guide in every conversation.
Remember, you have no social obligation to answer others’ questions about your sexual organs, nor do you need to defend your childlessness to your neighbor. Really, neither are anyone’s business but your own, your husband’s, and your pastor’s. (Yep, I include your pastor, because he is the one who married you or, at least, looks after your marriage.)
At the same time, it is perfectly acceptable if you want to share with others the reality of your barrenness. For some barren couples, this provides greater relief than silence down the road. Just be ready. Whatever boundaries you and your husband choose for these kinds of conversations, you most likely will spend a good chunk of your married life kindly helping family, friends, and strangers respect those boundaries. And for that task, my sister, may our Lord strengthen and preserve you in the one, true Faith unto life everlasting. Go to church often to hear God’s Word and to receive the gift of Christ’s Body and Blood for your benefit. Forgive freely for you have been forgiven in Christ.
If it’s helpful, whenever people push past my own personal conversation boundaries regarding my barrenness, I look them in the eye and tell them the truth: “I am not comfortable answering that question.” End of conversation.
On the rare occasion that a person probes even further, I excuse myself and flee temptation. (Actually, that’s not true. That is what I should do. More often than not – wretched sinner that I am! – I stick to the spot and offer tit for tat: “I’ll tell you something about my ovaries if you tell me something about your cervix. Or your uterus. Really, either are fine. I find both of them interesting.”)
It is awkward sometimes, but, I assure you, the awkwardness is not of your own making.