Thinking Out Loud

October 10, 2010

“He Will Not Give Me Children” — A Cry for Help

Reposted from October, 2008

Every married couple knows that sometimes marriage involves compromise. But what do you do when the will of one spouse trumps the deepest longings of the heart of the other?

If my wife and one of my sons wants KFC tonight, and my other son and I want Chinese, there are various solutions. Have one tonight, and the other tomorrow night. Go to a food court. Declare a draw and go out for burgers.

But what was I to do with the woman who suddenly blurted out after a dozen or more years of marriage, “He will not give me children.” She didn’t say, “I can’t get pregnant;” or “He can’t father a child;” she said “will not,” in a way that almost intoned, “Help me! Do something.”

Or the woman who came in my store and complained about her husband’s lack of sexual response — albeit caused by a major illness — and said, “A woman’s got needs, you know.” Or the woman who told me, “We haven’t taken a vacation in ten years.” Or the man who wishes his wife would spice things up a little in the bedroom. Or cook something other than Kraft Dinner. Or the woman who is stuck at home all day because he won’t buy an inexpensive second car. Or the man who has a chance at a job on the other side of the country, but she wants to be close to family.

There are times when one person’s desires and goals totally and completely triumphs over the other’s for an entire lifetime. It could come under the heading of compromise, yes; but with a clear winner and a clear loser. “Losing the battle, but winning the war;” doesn’t really describe the situation properly. If an individual desire of the one person is so central — such as the desire to have children — it’s more like a hurt that never goes away. You don’t get Chinese food or KFC the next day.

The question I want to ask the “HWNGMC” woman, but have always been afraid to is, “Did you know this before you got married?” Sigh.

This section was added today, October 10, 2010

Sometimes it seems areas of life end in a draw.

Around the same time as I wrote this, a local church was going through the issue of whether or not to have women as church elders.   The pastor was wise, and brought in two guest speakers for Sunday night workshops to discuss their side of the issue.

I sat there uncomfortably and finally decided to ask the second one what he felt the scriptural precedent was for resolving this kind of issue when both sides were presenting strong arguments.   He nicely dodged the question by saying it went outside his mandate, and that this was the whole purpose of our discussions.

It’s the same question in theology and doctrine in local churches as it is in marriage:  What do you do when you don’t know what to do?  When the debate seems to end in a draw?

Life does involve compromise and as it turned out today, in a similar food debate to the one that introduced part one of this post two years ago, we ended up going out for burgers.   (Actually it turned out they also had fish and chips and Greek gyros, but that’s another story…)

How do you resolve “draws” in your marriage, or your church?



  1. The title is “He will not give me children.” I jumped to the wrong conclusion; I read the article (at least the first paragraph) thinking it was about a couple that couldn’t have children, the pronoun “he” referring to God. That’s a subject that hits very close to home for my family. My own parents were married 14 years before I was born. As the first few years of our marriage went by, my wife just kept saying she didn’t want to wait 14 years. We weren’t at the point of giving up, but we were in the “deal with” stage, and had started looking into adoption. After 12 years of marriage (God didn’t make us wait 14) our daughter Johannah was born in August of last year. My wife and I have a real heart for couples that want to be parents and for whatever reason it seems that God won’t let them.

    Comment by Clark Bunch — October 10, 2010 @ 10:13 pm

    • Yes, normally, the challenge of being childless is considered to be infertility.

      In this case, the woman had to deal with the challenge of being married to a guy who I think was basically selfish.

      I don’t see these people anymore, but I keep wondering if he (the husband) still feels he made the right decision.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — October 10, 2010 @ 10:42 pm

  2. My husband was a multi-tasker. Even pleasure trips, he managed to get about a zillion errands done while we were going to do just one thing. I never eat breakfast, so when I needed to eat, usually around 2:00 or so, I really need to eat. It would hit me like a diabetic, and I’d say I gotta eat, but he never would take me right to get something.

    It seemed like if I let him, he would try to do 10 more things before letting me eat, so I’d throw a big fit (me trying to make my point), and when I would eat, I would grumble to myself that it shouldn’t take all this, and how he just didn’t care. One time though, as I was eating the food that only tasted bitter after a big fight, God spoke to my heart and said “You got your way. But you didn’t do it My way”.

    It was one of those humilating times when you realize that God witnessed the whole thing, and tends to change a person. I quit pitching fits, and he (amazingly) quit his behavior too after awhile.

    The post today of the women coming in your store with their problems reminded me of how often I go to my mother with my problems, when it’s God that can make the changes were necessary.

    Comment by Laura — October 11, 2010 @ 5:07 am

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