What Makes a Family?

Six years (and a couple days) ago, a new family began.  No, not with a pregnancy or the birth of a baby.  But with a wedding.

Our wedding.  Our family.

As of late, the question 'When will you start a family?' has stung in a different way.  Not so much because it's really none of anyone's business if and/or when we will have children, but because what does that say about our marriage?

If we never have children are we any less a family?

I guess if we want to get technical, perhaps.  I tried to find a definition of family that did not include 'children' in it.  No such luck.  (It's kind of like googling NFP and West Virginia.)

But I ask the question again:  If we never have children are we any less a family?

I know that we, The Man and me, are a family.  We, our family, comes first.  Before me and before him, our family is first.  Every decision we make is made by what is best for our family.  Our family of 2.

And what about those couples who aren't able to have children?  I'd say the struggle of infertility can only be endured by a family.

So maybe Webster, and dictionary.com, and every other definition-producing-source-I-could-find disagree with me.  I don't care.

It just feels like such a slap in the face every time I have to answer that question.  If we haven't spent the past 6 years building a growing a family, then what have we been doing?

We are grateful for the family we have created.  And no, we do not have children.


  1. I agree - family comes above the individuals in it, and a family starts with a husband and wife.

  2. I couldn't agree more. You are a family just the two of you. One of my favorite quotes from the book Cold Tangerines:

    "I had thought that we became a family the day we were married. What I have found, though, is that the web starts as just one fine filament on that day, and spins and spins around us as life presents itself to us day by day. And on some days, the strands spin around us double-time, spinning us like a top and binding us like rubber cement…

    That’s how family gets made. Not by ceremonies or certificates, and not by parties and celebrations. Family gets made when you decide to hold hands and sit shoulder to shoulder when it seems like the sky is falling. Family gets made when the world becomes strange and disorienting, and the only face you recognize is his. Family gets made when the future obscures itself like a solar eclipse, and in the intervening darkness, you decide that no matter what happens in the night, you’ll face it as one."

  3. I know plenty of couples that have no children, young and old and some thats pets are their children. A family is what ever you define it as.

  4. I agree with you! Besides, your family is not just you and your husband. Your family has God in the middle. :)

  5. Hi Rebecca - I felt called to come back to this post today.

    And I DO I agree that you and your husband constitute a family.

    But I feel called to recommend that you read a part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on this very topic.

    Years ago, I could have posted what you have posted here and someone pointed me in this direction...this part of the Catechism to read, reflect and pray about and it changed my outlook on some things within my marriage. And while I can't possibly know if it would do that for you, I just feel like sharing it with you.

    In the section of the Catechism: Life in Christ

    Section 2 the Ten Commandments
    Chapter 2 You Shall Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

    There is a LOT there to read! Specifically, I wanted to recommend the third part of Chapter 2, subtitled: III The Love of Husband and Wife.

    I'd love to hear what you think of it after you've read it and perhaps prayed on it. When I read it, I prayed for understanding, both before and after I read it.

    Anyway, Someone was kind enough to point it out to me and I wanted to pay it forward, so to speak.

  6. I believe that having children is in some ways the biggest blessing of family, but a family starts when a couple gets married. That's why the catechism says that governments must protect "the freedom to establish a family, have children, and bring them up in keeping with the family's own moral and religious convictions." Establishing a family is ideally supposed to come before having children. Then, if God blesses you, you may add children to the family which was formed when you got married.

    I really admire your devotion to your family!

  7. Your family is yours! Whatever you decide it to be and make it to be! I am from a huge family and some of my siblings decided to expand with many children and some chose no children and all of them have had very fullfilling lives and complete families. God bless you and your family!

  8. Some of us are insensitive but didn't mean to hurt you or intrude on your private matters. Of course, you and Cliff are a family, in and of yourselves, and you work at it. Go with joy, and forgive those of us who couldn't resist the mentioning.

  9. Yes, a marriage starts a family! In some cases, that is the complete family, and in most cases, God intends for the family to grow and image the Trinity with generation (as the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, via their love for one another). I like what Michelle has to say (because I love what the Church has to say!).

    Your family of two is beautiful, and I can't wait to see what God has in mind for the future. ;)

  10. From a completely non-Faith based perspective, it's all about definitions then and now, and the root origin of words. If people ask the "when will you start a fam..." question, let them know that those plans are in God's hands, but for now...you're a couple. A pair. And there is nothing less or minimizing in being a couple. Don't let the word or the origin of "family" tie you up, couple is just as powerful because it represents more than you, a unity, a bond. Bah humbug to those who don't get it. :)

  11. I just read your post and even though I am bit behind schedule, I wanted to comment. I know many couples who choose (for a number of reasons) not to have children and those who can't (for a different number of reasons) and think no less or more of either of them because they are a family of two rather than three or more.

    I completely agree you became a family when you married, and don't quote me, but I know it's said in the old testament (and this may be where I always get confused about the differences in Catholicism and Christianity) that once a man and woman leave their parents they become one, a unit beyond that of their parents. I don't remember it saying anything about needing a baby to make that distinction.

    We should petition those definitions should be changed :)