"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."
"So let's laugh together, cry together / God willin' we gon' die together"
LL Cool J, "Luv U Better"
This summer was a tough one.
I've been really trying to maintain this blog on a consistent basis, despite all of life's intrusions, but sometimes I don't really feel like I have a story to tell, or something to say. Then sometimes I have something to say, but not the will to say it. So pretty much all of May and June slipped by silently because I was sorting out some things that I had to make sure I understood before I uttered them.
Despite all the factors against us, age and finances and practicality, my wife and I decided to try for another child. It was definitely her idea and her passion, and I was against it at first, but willing to give in if she was willing to listen to reason. The finances were a big issue for me, and I felt like we weren't as stable as we should be, and I didn't want a new baby to put such a huge economic strain on us that the delicate blended balance we work hard to maintain would start tottering. I struck a deal with her, that if we could work together to get the budget right and get our expenses reduced to a specific level, then we could try. Within six months, she had cancelled two services, negotiated with every other utility, paid off both credit cards, and refinanced the house.
So, after just over a month of being off the birth control, we got that positive sign. There's something about that kind of excitement and love that's catching, and I caught it. I started coming up with lists of names for the baby, all of which were rejected because they were names of either rappers or Marvel superheroes. I still stand behind every one of them, however.
Obviously, we didn't plan on telling anyone until three months, even the kids. But because my wife is so slim, and apparently second pregnancies just show more quickly, we really couldn't hide it. When we're all in the pool together and one of us has a baby bump peeking through her bikini, the jig is up. Her coworkers knew, because she had to be taken off of any assignment that involved lifting or moving anything bigger than a bread box, and people at church were noticing no matter what she would wear. So after two months, we started telling everyone.
And then we lost the baby.
I regret that while we were trying, just for a moment, I thought to myself that if this happened, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, because when it happened, it felt like the worst thing in the world.
There were a couple of weeks of mourning, exacerbated by too many awkward conversations about it. Since we had just started telling people, almost everybody knew, and so going to church or being around friends and family was difficult until the word got around. But, amazingly, after those first two or three weeks, my wife started talking about trying again. So I put my foot down.
We're both at the age where this starts to make no sense, where the risks are too high. I wasn't completely on board in the first place, and feel like I've fulfilled my obligation here. Also, frankly, I just don't want to go through another heartbreak like this again. If we had two years or more to recover, I might feel differently, but in two years we'll only be older and less able to handle this.
Immediately, my wife agreed with me. Through tears, she said that I was right, that it doesn't make sense to try again. I think it would have been easier for me if she had disagreed. Maybe if she had selfishly stood her ground and yelled at me or nagged me about it, then I would have felt justified in digging in my heels and stubbornly holding my own position. But she didn't. She didn't yell, she didn't nag, and she didn't turn cold or mean. She was just sad.
I was sad, too, just maybe not for the same reasons, and I figured her sadness would wear out just like mine, and life would go on. After a month or two, she'd get used to the idea and give up the dream. Things would get back to normal again. They didn't. Instead, she just got more sad. She tried not to overwhelm me with it, but it's hard to ignore someone crying in the bed next to you at two in the morning.
We had several talks about it, even a couple of sessions at the family counselor, but we were still at an impasse. I didn't want to get pregnant again, and she agreed with all of my reasons, but still felt such a strong desire for another child that her mourning was as much for the death of the dream as for the death of a child. She insisted that she wasn't going back on birth control, for a number of reasons, mostly medical, and I agreed that she has the right to make that decision. But then I suggested a surgical option for myself, and she broke down crying again.
At this point, I can't take it any more. If you've ever been in the situation where the Spirit and the circumstances and the Scriptures are all very clearly telling you to do something that you don't want to do, that every selfish cell of your body rejects, then you know how difficult it is to submit and obey that call. I'm called to lay down my life for my bride, and I don't like it. But more than that, I'm tired of seeing her crying, or knowing that she's not letting me see her cry, and knowing that I'm the cause of her sadness. The mourning is over, and now I'm the one standing in the way of her pursuit of happiness. So I give up.
That means we're trying again, not forever, but at least for now. We've agreed on a stopping point that we can both live with, and then we'll have to make other decisions. Maybe we'll be welcoming another child into our family in a year. When I'm forty-three. Maybe it will all go very badly and my wife will be sad again. But if it does go that way, we'll be sad together, cry together, stay together.
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