Just Cause, Continued

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about The Man's and my Just Cause for postponing pregnancy to this point in our marriage.  Before I go much further, I feel like I need to add, for those of you who would like nothing more than to conceive, I pray for you daily and I understand that reading this can cause you pain.  I apologize and I just ask you to understand that your strong desire for children is just as foreign (no negative connotation in that at all) to me as my postponing pregnancy is to you.

Ever since writing the post, and reading the comments (which were all very kind), and reading a few others' thoughts on having children on other blogs (both posts and comments), I have just felt like I didn't get it right.  Or rather, I didn't get it all right.  You see, so many of the comments focused on the finances of raising a child (children); for us that's not really even the main issue.  I think because of my openness about our finances and our bankruptcy, it is easy to think that finances would be the main reason.

Michelle put it best in a comment when she said: "I agree that a follow-up post would be nice because having children is so much more than a money issue, I believe. Heck, just ask my husband...I swear we would never believe we could afford the kids we have if we didn't "just do it" all the time, ya know????"


While if someone were to ask me if I thought we had enough money to have a child, my answer would be a definite 'no.'  AND, if someone were to have asked me a week or so ago if we had enough money to get a new car, my answer also would have been 'no.'  (The same with a new puppy.)  Just as Michelle said above, we 'just do it'.  So, if our only reason for postponing pregnancy at this time was money, I feel confident in saying (barring extreme money circumstances) we would 'just do it' (are you giggling too?).

So, what in the world could possibly be keeping a young, happily married, seemingly fertile couple from trying to achieve pregnancy?

In the comments of the last post, I clarified to Allison, that when *I* say we 'don't want kids' it is the same as if *I* had said 'we have discerned that it is not God's will for us to have children at this time'.  This is something we consider monthly, daily sometimes, and is not just a whim.  Which leads me to a recent post by TCIE regarding the difference between desires and callings.  Our desires to not always match our callings and vice versa.  But, for us, they have matched on this issue.

To this point in our marriage, we have not felt called to have children.  For me that has translated to a desire to not have them.  A few years ago, I started to feel very heavy and guilty that I did not want children while there were so many, my friends included, struggling with infertility, miscarriage, and infant death.  It was when I was commuting and during one of my drives that I had a very clear realization that came from somewhere outside of me.  I knew that I would know it was time for us to have children when the desire (or rather calling as I understand now) for them was stronger than the desire (calling) to not have them.  That when presented with the idea of having a child, instead of feeling an overwhelming sense of 'no' I would feel open to the idea.  In that moment, I also became very comfortable with the prospect that this could happen after my body was biologically capable of having a child.  And, immediately, I felt at peace with the idea of adoption if this was the case.  Please don't read this as 'oh, if I can't have babies, I'll just adopt.'  It was much more profound than that.  My thoughts and feelings at this time were coming to me as if from somewhere/someone else.  I'm a great rationalizer and clarifier and this was not me rationalizing for myself. Of this, I am sure.  When I shared this with The Man, he nodded with me and said he felt very much the same.  It is this, our shared view, that continues to be evidence that we are listening to God.

It is hard to give specific examples, like money, because for us it's not just that.  It certainly could be for someone else, and if they have prayed about it and discerned that their financial situation provides just cause for not having children, then it would be.

Do I think that The Man and I have given much more thought/prayer to having children than the average couple?  Yes (with those who struggle with infertility as a major exception).  I know it as I speak to friends who do have children.  Do I think those who have not given as much consideration as we have to be wrong in their discernment process?  No.

So, while I could give you a list of 'reasons' why we don't have children yet, it's not one thing that brings us to our decision to abstain on fertile days each month.  It's the sum of the parts and the process of discerning our calling each month that leads us to our decision.

And finally, does this mean that we are truly open to life?  Open to life does not mean to have as many children as one is physically able.  It means not using contraception.  It means prayerfully considering if creating a life would be responsible parenthood.  It means keeping God in the discernment process and having a marriage of three.  So yes, I would say we are open to life.  Each and every month, we approach this decision with open hearts and open minds, anticipating that this may be the month that our calling changes.


  1. If you do trust that the Holy Spirit guides you, then he is also guiding your instinct to postpone pregnancy. I trust you and that you would listen to the guidance of the spirit should you have been blessed with a pregnancy long before.


  2. I am annoyed on your behalf. It annoys me that you are made to feel like you have to keep justifying yourself. Boo. I'm going to go rant about it on my blog. :)

  3. I like Sarah's rant, so I did one on my blog, too. xoxo! well said, sister!

  4. Well, i certainly hope that my comment wasn't construed in such a way that you felt you needed to justify yourself to me. I'm feeling a little bit like that...so, I hope it's clear that while I thought a follow-up post would be nice, I never thought it necessary.

    I think it's good to explore the reasons and the discernment process for how our lives have twisted and turned. And now, I think I may have a couple of good rant posts of my own. I mean, I am under constant judgment in "the bubble" as Sarah calls it for working full-time with more than 2 children. I'm just not living my vocation of motherhood properly to some. I am under constant judgment because I don't breastfeed my babies from people who have no idea how difficult it is for me to breastfeed and how much I suffered when it didn't work with my first baby (I get a lot from lactivists that "it's hard for everyone, you're weak because you give up").

    HOnestly, for things like this (discerning family size) and breastfeeding and working outside the home...you can spin off into homeschooling vs. private schooling vs. unschooling vs. public schooling. The world is full of know-it-alls who really know nothing.

    I enjoyed the post for the most part because you hit the nail on the head (much like Kate Basi did in her article in Family Foundations in Spring 2010)...it is between the couple and God, Himself. The idea that anyone else gets a say in the marriage is offensive, IMO.

    So, good post. Again, I do hope that my comment wasn't construed as anything where I thought you needed to explain yourself to me as that is absolutely not what I intended (and again, I think you, Rebecca know that...but I worry that others took it that way)

  5. Rebecca, dear, I forgot to mention that there is one little itty bitty thing that I disagree with you about... You wrote:

    "Our desires to not always match our callings and vice versa."

    The priest who celebrated our marriage Mass told us at our first pre-wedding meeting something like "God doesn't want us to be unhappy. // God would not call us to marry each other just so that we would be unhappy."

    Likewise, just two days ago, one of my professors related this quote on Vocations (another word for a "calling"): "[Vocation is] the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." -Fredrick Buechner

    So, basically, my thought process is that if one desires nothing more than [fill in the blank], then one is probably called to [fill in the blank].

    Maybe someone will cite hedonism to dispute my claim. I would argue that the pursuit of *pleasure* is quite different than the pursuit of one's *deep gladness* - does that make sense? Pleasure is shallow. Deep gladness is.. um, that was going to sound really repetitive, so I'll leave it at that.

    Does this make sense at all?

  6. Michelle, no your comment in no way made me feel I needed to justify myself to you, it actually hit on exactly how I was feeling. I didn't like how the last post centered so much around money. Yes, money is a big deal, but it's not the ONLY deal :).

    I agree too, with Sarah, that sometimes it feels like we are picking the wrong battles. Let's focus on educating those who don't know or fully understand the church's teaching and pray for them to bring God into their decision making.

    Your words encourage me.

    To Katie and Sarah, I appreciate you both :).

    And Jamie - thank-you :).

  7. Katie, yes I would agree with your distinction of pleasure vs. deep gladness as it relates to desires. When I was speaking of desires I was speaking of the kid-in-a-candy-store wants type of desires, not desires (or callings) that God places on our hearts.

  8. I admire your courage to put yourself out there. I'm sorry you feel the need to justify decisions you've made, but remember to always do what's best for you and your family--whatever that may be.

  9. It is frustrating when people don't understand your descisions and ridicule you for them. I grew up quiverfull, meaning no birth control whatsover including NFP or Fertility Awareness, many families in that mindset even quit nursing early to be able to pregnant again. The whole point was that you were supposed to have as many children as you possibly could. I find it wonderful that you take having children so seriously, our children deserve that!

  10. I understand. I don't know why it is that some people cannot. I get that you don't feel the calling.

    What is so wrong with that? I'll tell you. Nothing. :) You do not need to justify your life, Rebecca. I learned a long time ago not to judge others for the choices they have made, because honestly, I have no idea what is going on in their hearts.

    I stand by you on this one.

  11. This is such a thoughtful post! Who could fault you for doing exactly what the Church and God ask of you? Yes, the idea of not wanting children is foreign to me, but you and The Man are clearly doing more discerning than most people I know, and I am impressed at your beautiful faith!!!

  12. I am not sure I would have shared so much of my personal life as you. I have always been a very private person. You are blessed in one regard that both of you share the same views on this issue. Children are a wonderful blessing in the right home and environment. I would rather see less people having them than she so many being mistreated or abused. If you are destined to have children, in time you will. I had only one and wanted no more. There is nothing wrong with that. There is a time and place for everything.

  13. Each partner in a couple makes a decision about having/not having children. Or sometimes, doesn't make a decision and just lets it happen. It's good that you and Cliff are thoughtful, discuss these issues together, and make joint decisions with care. I'd much rather you be happy and content with your doggies than be unhappy with a child. If the time is right for you and God opens the pathway for a child to come into your lives, it will happen. Until then, be happy together and don't worry about what other people think. Nobody else has to live with you in your house nor does he/she know your hearts.