Ask Elizabeth, May 2021. How can our marriage thrive without children?
My husband and I carry the cross of primary infertility. How do we allow our marriage to thrive in the absence of children?
Thank you for asking this question. As Catholics, our understanding of marriage and nuptial vows includes the acceptance of God's children and raising them in our faith. We prepare our hearts for children in marriage and it is often quite unexpected when a Catholic couple is faced with the absence of children.
Put simply, couples without children have the gift of time. Ask God how He wants you to build up the Body of Christ with this time.
Some couples may feel called to pray for and strengthen other couples. Getting involved with your parish's pre-Cana programme or hosting Bible studies and retreats for couples may be where God is calling you. Some couples are called to mentor and teach children via catechism classes, the parish nursery, youth groups, and as confirmation sponsors. These couples may also discern fostering and adoption. Some couples are called to works of mercy: working in shelters and soup kitchens, as well as visiting the sick, imprisoned, and bereaved. Some may feel called to start their own charitable organization. Do you love animals, assisting pregnant women in need, or helping immigrants to become acclimated? One might consider volunteering or working with an established organization for a time to gain insight before starting a new organization. Some couples are prayer warriors. These couples can lead others in rosaries at their parish, pray outside of abortion clinics, and can regularly adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament at their local adoration chapel. Some may start their own business, earn a new degree, run for political office, or take a new position in their field. A couple may also feel called to focus on their marriage for a time. A pilgrimage could be taken together, they could work through their feelings together with a therapist, or they could complete a devotion together, for instance, the first Friday devotion.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely; In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Your marriage is certainly called to be fruitful with or without children. Pray and discern what God is calling you to do. If you're feeling unsure about God's call, consider spiritual direction and a charism workshop to help you hear His voice.
Please know of our prayers for you and may God bless you always,
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