Here is a question from a dear wife and sister in Christ:
Hi April, I would love to hear your thoughts about this disagreement I am having with my husband. We have one 18 month old, and I desire to have another baby sometime in the next year. My husband doesn’t want a baby anytime soon. What is your advice about this? Oh, and I guess I should let you know his reasons for not wanting another baby for quite some time. He wants us to get out of debt first, and he says we need to do a better job of parenting the one child we do have and our marriage needs to improve. Those are his reasons.
I think that this is one of the most common conflicts I have seen here on the blog. Babies are on our minds as women in a way that they are not with men, possibly. I think men can want children very much, too. But, they are not reminded of the issue as much as we are, in some ways – or, maybe it doesn’t always feel as pressing to them? Maybe the men can speak to that in the comments. We are designed by God to carry, nurture, nurse, and care for babies, after all. We tend to have an intense biological drive to desire children (not all of us, of course, but many of us).
This particular husband in the question above has some valid concerns, in my view.
I believe that the desire to be a mother is a good, God-given desire. Motherhood is a gift and a blessing. So is fatherhood and family. So is marriage. All of these things are good things.
This is such a painful and sensitive topic for so very many women. My heart goes out to each of you who are struggling with this conflict, or with infertility issues, and for the single women who long to be married and to have children more than anything in the world. I think this time of year can be especially hard with Christmas coming up. For some of you, it may be wise to not look at Facebook much and to avoid some of your bigger triggers. And, if this issue is a big trigger for you – you may want to wait to read this post when you have time to be alone and to seek God and pray privately – not right before you dash out the door to work!
I am praying for each of you who is deeply hurting over the desire for a baby – married or single!
Honestly, I see now that I made having a baby too important both times we had our children. I wanted a baby so much! I didn’t really put as much weight on any objections or concerns Greg may have had as I did on my own desires to have a baby. (How horrible that sounds to my ears now!!!) I wanted a baby and I wanted one ASAP. I just “knew” it was God’s will and that Greg needed to accept that and cooperate with everything I wanted to do. I expected and demanded that he submit to me, when it came down to it – although I didn’t see what I was doing at the time. I so regret my approach back then! I put so much pressure on my husband. 🙁
How I wish I had laid my dream for a baby at the feet of God, and allowed God to work on my husband’s heart to create this desire in him. How I wish I had been patient and that I had been willing to obey God’s Word for me as a wife whether or not Greg was excited about having a baby. If I had given him more time, I believe he would have been much more on board and the experience would have been so much more of a delight, blessing, joy, and gift for both of us. Greg does love our children dearly and is a fantastic father. But, I did not approach him about having a baby in the most constructive way. My approach created tension and division.
After our second baby, the doctor said it was not safe for me to have another baby. I understand the desire for more children. I know the sacrifice of laying down this dream and receiving God’s will for me, whatever that might be, even if it means no more children. I also understand the pain and ache of wanting a baby and not being able to have one because of circumstances we faced earlier in our marriage. We did not have our first child until we had been married 7 years. We faced the constant questions every week about when we were going to have children. I cried a lot of tears for many years over this issue. I remember the pain of people’s comments and the tension this issue caused in our marriage very vividly.
If I really, really want a baby, that is a good desire. Babies are gifts from God. God loves babies and He is sovereign over every person who is created.
But, I need to be careful not to let my desire for a baby become more important to me than my desire for Christ, my contentment in Him, my obedience to God’s Word, my husband, or my marriage covenant.
Here are the most common idols I see among married women and single women in the church today – (An idol is something we put above God in our hearts that we want more than anything else. Sometimes they are very good things, the issue is where we put them in our priorities):
- being in control/self
- a man/our husbands
- feeling loved
- having children (this is GraceAlone’s story, and a follow up to that post is here, “husbands have expectations, too”)
If you are confused about how wanting a baby could be an idol, I invite you to search my home page for the words “idol,” and “idolatry.” I also invite you to check out the post “Submission (to God) Means We Hold the Things of This World Loosely.”
Some great tests for whether something has become an idol in my heart:
- Do I believe I MUST have this thing or I cannot be satisfied in life?
- Do I respond with major FEAR at the thought of not having the thing I want so much?
- Am I willing to spend lots of time, money, and resources and sacrifice important relationships in my life to have this thing?
- Am I willing to be content in Christ alone even if God decides not to give me what I want?
“HOW DO I HANDLE MY DESIRE FOR A BABY IN A WAY THAT HONORS MY HUSBAND AND GOD?”
Here are my suggestions (other wives are welcome to share things that have blessed them as they tackled this issue):
- Write down your desire for a baby in your prayer journal. Ask God for His will. Tell Him how much you long to have a baby and how much you desire to be a mother. But then wrestle until you can get to the place where you can say sincerely to Him, “Yet not my will, but Yours be done.” That is submission to the Lordship of God.
- Share your desire to have a baby with your husband in a friendly, positive, brief way – probably once.
- Let God work in your husband’s heart and please do not pressure or push your husband about this! It may take time for him to get used to the idea. That has to be ok. If you try to force him into having a child, he may end up resenting you and possibly even the child. I want your husband to be on board with this idea and for him to be a willing participant. Please, please do not make a comment to him every time you see a baby or see someone announce a pregnancy. Don’t try to push babies on him. It’s ok to share sometimes that you feel sad because you would love to be a mother (or have another baby) one day. But the more you try to make your husband want a baby, the more you will repel him and the more he will feel disrespected and like you are trying to control him. Let me mention, if you talk about this once a month, that will feel like a LOT to most husbands. This may be something to bring up only occasionally, according to God’s Spirit’s flea prompting, especially if it is a very sensitive topic for your husband.
- Listen to his concerns. Make sure that he knows that you value and care about his feelings, priorities, desires and concerns and that his thoughts are at least as important to you as your own feelings on this issue.
- Rehearse Scripture and God’s commands for you as a wife. Ephesians 5:22-33, I Peter 3:1-6, Titus 2:3-5, I Corinthians 11:3. Read James 1 and James 4 any time you start to feel discouraged. Focus on Philippians 4:4-8 and Philippians 4:13.
- Hold your dream loosely and allow God to work in His sovereignty to accomplish this dream.
- Be willing to wait and be willing to be content even without children. Jesus is sufficient. We can absolutely be content in Him alone even if we don’t have all of the things we want in this world.
- Seek God’s will far above your own will. He knows what is best.
- Remember that your covenant relationship of marriage is the most important and sacred of human relationships. Scripture does not allow for divorce because a husband doesn’t want a baby or because of infertility. It may be wise not to talk with a lot of people about your desire for a baby, because there are plenty of women who will counsel you to “just divorce your husband if he doesn’t want a baby.” That is not at all Scriptural. That would be sin on our part to divorce for that reason. There are very few biblically acceptable reasons for divorce. There are also a lot of women who, even if they don’t encourage you to divorce, will attempt to insert themselves into your marriage to tell you what to do or to tell you what you need to make your husband do if you share this issue. Not helpful. That just adds more stress and pressure to your husband, your marriage, and to you, in my view.
- Don’t spend a lot of time marinating on your dream until your husband gives you the green light. I think that only makes us want a baby even more. If I am feeding my mind with articles from Baby and parenting magazines, looking at baby clothes and baby furniture a few times a week online, picking out names, focusing on the women around me who have babies, etc… I can make myself (and my husband) absolutely miserable. I may need to get off of Facebook and not go to baby sites online and avoid the baby department at the store. I do much better when I focus on Christ and on becoming the woman He desires me to be and on being in the center of His will today than if I become consumed with a particular desire that is not about Jesus.
- Do not allow any bitterness or resentment to build in your heart – that is TOXIC and can easily destroy your marriage and ruin your fellowship with God.
- Focus on today, not the future. It is entirely possible to become so absorbed with “When will we have children?” “Will I ever get to be a mother?” “When will my husband change his mind?” that we can completely miss out on the gifts we have today in the present. How can I cherish my husband today if I am worrying about 2 years from now? Jesus commands us not to worry about tomorrow, because each day has enough troubles of its own (Matthew 6:34).
- Focus on delighting in the will of God, whatever that might be. I would love for us not to attempt to put God in a box. “It HAS to be this one way, God, or I will not be ok.” I would love for us to say, “Here is what I long for, but I trust You to know what is best for us and I can’t wait to see what You have in store for us!”
- Focus on the fact that God’s wisdom and timing are infinitely greater than ours.
- Read about the women of the Old and New Testament who were barren. God used that long time of infertility to refine their faith and to make the gift of a baby even more precious when He brought it about in His time for His purposes.
- Don’t allow whether you have children or not to define you as a woman or believer. Your primary identity is in Christ, not in whether you are married or not or whether you have children or not.
- Be prepared for insensitive comments from well-meaning family and friends. These can easily be triggers that can make you want to lash out in resentment at your husband. That is destructive. Be prepared to respond with something like, “Babies are such a gift. We will certainly let you know if/when we have any news. Thanks.” You may even have to set up boundaries and say something like, “That is a topic I would rather not talk about, please. How about you pray for us for God’s will about children.” And then change the subject.
- When a friend announces her pregnancy, or you see moms with babies at the store – you may feel sad. You may need to journal your thoughts. If you have a godly wife mentor or godly wife friend, you may be able to talk with her about it and she may be willing to sympathize and then point you back to Christ and to obedience to His Word.
- Don’t let the idea of a baby become more important to you than Jesus, obeying God’s Word, your marriage covenant, or your husband. If God desires you to have a baby, He is sovereign. He can bring a baby about at just the perfect time if it is His will.
- I believe that the whole birth control thing makes this decision so much more complicated than it would have normally been in most generations in the past – this is my perspective at this point in my life. I have some posts on that linked below. If you believe God wants you to come off of birth control, maybe you can share this series below with your husband, if God prompts you to. Or, you can simply pray for God to change your husband’s heart if it is His will for you to come off of birth control. If you have moral objections to birth control, maybe you can calmly share those concerns with your husband (probably just once, or rather rarely, when God prompts you to share) and give him some time to think about your concerns and see what he says.
If having a baby has been an idol for you, I’d love to hear your story.
If you have pressured your husband to have children, and regret doing so, I would love for you to share your story in the comments.
If God has given you the strength to handle this issue gracefully in a way that honors Him and your husband, I would love for you to share your story, too.
I would also appreciate some of the gentlemen sharing their masculine thoughts on this issue that may help us understand our husbands better in this area.
You can also search my home page for “control,” “idol” and/or “idolatry.”