Childless married vocation resources?


#1

In high school, I briefly considered religious life, but this was discouraged by my family. Soon after I met my now-husband. I am very happy with him, but we cannot have children. For personal reasons, we also cannot adopt. I am trying to figure out the meaning behind a childless married vocation. I feel as though, if I weren’t to be a mother, why didn’t God allow me to join a convent? Why did He allow me to marry?

But I know that it may be bc I was able to bring my DH to the faith (recently, actually). I myself have also grown much in my faith through our struggles over the years. Still, it’s tricky to think of myself as having the marriage vocation when that generally includes parenting. Yet I can’t really consider a sort of monastic-at-home vocation, bc I am married and I do have responsibilities towards my hubby.

DH and I have been getting more and more involved at our parish this year, continuing to seek out ministries and ways that we can help as a couple. This has been very helpful, and I guess I’m looking for some resources of other childless couples who have served God together.

I want to shift my attitude from one of lamenting the lack of children to that of embracing the time and opportunity we have to serving God together in other ways, as a married couple.

Could anyone suggest saints or resources? Thanks!


#2

continue to involve yourself in the parish as you are doing. You both are more available to do things that those with children can’t. I have adopted so I am not sure why you don’t think that is an option for you, maybe if able you can explain (not in detail just the basic reasons). At first, I didn’t want to adopt but with 3, I am glad I did! God bless and I am sure you both have a special purpose. Discuss this with your priest as well.


#3

The vocation of marriage was explained to me like this:

Your primary job, your primary goal, is to serve your husband. Not in the slave/master sense but in the sense that Jesus served those who were around him. God gave your husband to you for safe keeping and He gave you to your husband for safe keeping. Your vocation, the job you have been called to do, is to care for your husband the way Christ would have cared for him.

No where does it mention children. The vocation of marriage is about you and your husband. If children happen to come along, fine, they come along, but that’s not why God brought you together. God knew of the fertility problems before you did, remember He made you and your husband. He also knew that you and your husband would need each other, this evidenced through you ministering to your husband and with him becoming a Catholic. Although you were feeling pulled to the religious life, God wanted you to marry your husband. He knew you would be each other’s strength.

I am also going through the pain of having to redefine my marriage as a childless one. Many women who have children don’t understand the brokenness we feel because we don’t have children. But it’s our brokenness that keeps us clinging to God, and for whatever reason, that’s what we’re supposed to do right now. I believe that God’s plan is a perfect one and that our trust in Him, no matter how imperfect at times, can lead us to that perfect plan.

PM me anytime you want. You’re doing a great job searching out answers. :hug3:


#4

[quote="robwar, post:2, topic:301500"]
continue to involve yourself in the parish as you are doing. You both are more available to do things that those with children can't. I have adopted so I am not sure why you don't think that is an option for you, maybe if able you can explain (not in detail just the basic reasons). At first, I didn't want to adopt but with 3, I am glad I did! God bless and I am sure you both have a special purpose. Discuss this with your priest as well.

[/quote]

We tried to adopt from various avenues for 4 years. Now due to personal circumstances, we are no longer able to pass another homestudy. Believe me, I wanted to adopt since before I even knew we had infertility. I was convinced that surely this was a noble calling, but God humbled me by removing this possibility and forcing me to seek His will elsewhere. I'm so glad you were able to adopt 3 wonderful kids! The idea to speak with a priest is a good one that we haven't yet tried, and we have no reason not to, as ours is a great priest.


#5

CatholicAnne,

I love the way you describe marriage as a mutual service to one another. I’ve often thought that parenting, after all, is only a phase in married life, preceded by the newlywed stage, and followed by empty nesting. Often, couples who had children immediately after getting married and suddenly find their youngest out of the house have a hard time adjusting to each other bc their kids were a sort of welcome distraction, I guess.

I once prayed for the opportunity to parent, and that prayer was answered when we fostered our little VV for nearly a year. I can always look back on that time fondly, and remember the parenting decisions we made and the struggles we faced. We won’t be able to relate to all stages of childhood, but we can relate to the older baby-toddler stage just fine.

Perhaps what I’m feeling could be compared to empty nest syndrome? Except that society doesn’t recognize our experience as parenting, and I cringe when I hear “you’d understand ‘if’ you had children”. :frowning: But I think I need to not take it so personally. There’s lots of things people could tell me that I don’t understand bc I don’t have that experience. :shrug:

I think I just might take you up on the PM invite :smiley:


#6

[quote="anilorak13ska, post:1, topic:301500"]
In high school, I briefly considered religious life, but this was discouraged by my family. Soon after I met my now-husband. I am very happy with him, but we cannot have children. For personal reasons, we also cannot adopt. I am trying to figure out the meaning behind a childless married vocation. I feel as though, if I weren't to be a mother, why didn't God allow me to join a convent? Why did He allow me to marry?

But I know that it may be bc I was able to bring my DH to the faith (recently, actually). I myself have also grown much in my faith through our struggles over the years. Still, it's tricky to think of myself as having the marriage vocation when that generally includes parenting. Yet I can't really consider a sort of monastic-at-home vocation, bc I am married and I do have responsibilities towards my hubby.

DH and I have been getting more and more involved at our parish this year, continuing to seek out ministries and ways that we can help as a couple. This has been very helpful, and I guess I'm looking for some resources of other childless couples who have served God together.

I want to shift my attitude from one of lamenting the lack of children to that of embracing the time and opportunity we have to serving God together in other ways, as a married couple.

Could anyone suggest saints or resources? Thanks!

[/quote]

The woman that founded the Carmelites of the Sacred Heart of Los Angeles located in Los Angeles, CA, her name escapes me at the moment, but she was married to a man like 20 yrs older and they never had kids, but they worked with orphans and hospitals and after he died she became a nun and founded what is today an active Carmelite community that serves in education and nursing. I visited them for a retreat--they are wonderful!

And personally, I know my sister and her husband, they married when she was 50 (her first marriage) and although they have been open to kids, she wasn't able to conceive, they have worked with kids in the church--youth group functions and helping the newly marrieds....also there was an elderly couple in the church where I grew up and they did EVERYTHING around the church---they had no kids, but from yard work to teaching to visiting the homebound, cooking, cleaning, you name it, they did it, if they weren't at home, they were at church, serving God as a couple was their life.....I've always hoped for myself to have a husband I could do that with!

You can be married and serve God as a couple without kids. Remain open to kids---you never know, Sarah and Abraham, Elizabeth and Zachariah---had kids when they were supposed to be past the age of childbearing and unable to do so!


#7

Thanks, Elisabth. I googled your suggestion and found this: carmelitesistersocd.com/Foundress/MotherLuisitaLife.asp

"You can be married and serve God as a couple without kids." - I wish this would be a more accepted idea among Catholics/Christians. I seem to always hear suggestions to pray for a miracle, which of course insinuates that my current state in life is insufficient, that I am not able to fulfill God's will for my life as-is. And I think I buy into this mentality and internalize it too much. :o


#8

[quote="anilorak13ska, post:5, topic:301500"]
CatholicAnne,

I love the way you describe marriage as a mutual service to one another. I've often thought that parenting, after all, is only a phase in married life, preceded by the newlywed stage, and followed by empty nesting. Often, couples who had children immediately after getting married and suddenly find their youngest out of the house have a hard time adjusting to each other bc their kids were a sort of welcome distraction, I guess.

I once prayed for the opportunity to parent, and that prayer was answered when we fostered our little VV for nearly a year. I can always look back on that time fondly, and remember the parenting decisions we made and the struggles we faced. We won't be able to relate to all stages of childhood, but we can relate to the older baby-toddler stage just fine.

Perhaps what I'm feeling could be compared to empty nest syndrome? Except that society doesn't recognize our experience as parenting, and I cringe when I hear "you'd understand 'if' you had children". :( But I think I need to not take it so personally. There's lots of things people could tell me that I don't understand bc I don't have that experience. :shrug:

I think I just might take you up on the PM invite :D

[/quote]

I was a foster parent as well. We parented a 4-month old infant for 6 months, assuming we'd be able to adopt him. He was sent to live with relatives at 10 months old. It broke our hearts and we grieved his loss for a long time.

We are both mothers and we will always be mothers. If a woman gave birth to a baby and then that baby died 6 months later, is she still not a mother? Of course she is! Our parenting and love for our children is not wiped away because we lost our children. We will always remember them.

Many prayers and love sent your way.


#9

[quote="anilorak13ska, post:4, topic:301500"]
We tried to adopt from various avenues for 4 years. Now due to personal circumstances, we are no longer able to pass another homestudy. Believe me, I wanted to adopt since before I even knew we had infertility. I was convinced that surely this was a noble calling, but God humbled me by removing this possibility and forcing me to seek His will elsewhere. I'm so glad you were able to adopt 3 wonderful kids! The idea to speak with a priest is a good one that we haven't yet tried, and we have no reason not to, as ours is a great priest.

[/quote]

I am so sorry, have you thought of international? you are in my prayers.


#10

[quote="anilorak13ska, post:7, topic:301500"]
Thanks, Elisabth. I googled your suggestion and found this: carmelitesistersocd.com/Foundress/MotherLuisitaLife.asp

"You can be married and serve God as a couple without kids." - I wish this would be a more accepted idea among Catholics/Christians. I seem to always hear suggestions to pray for a miracle, which of course insinuates that my current state in life is insufficient, that I am not able to fulfill God's will for my life as-is. And I think I buy into this mentality and internalize it too much. :o

[/quote]

That's it! I just could not remember her name :-(

I wish it was too---I have seen it work though. I know my sister and her husband get tired of the 'married so you have to have kids to be valid' idea that seems to get around, but they just keep doing what they do. You can serve as you are, the couple I mentioned at my church from back home, other than my own parents, I don't know anyone more dedicated to God and my mom used to say that that was probably why God didn't let them have kids---they had each other and they could serve Him as a couple and be a good example, their kids were all of us kids for a few generations worth of children!

I'll be praying for you!


#11

CatholicAnne, so well put. You know, even though we of course hoped we would adopt our VV, we referred to ourselves as her auntie and uncle, so while we parented her, I never allowed myself to consider us her parents. But you’re right, it’s what one does, how one cares for a child that determines the parent role. Was your foster baby the only one you fostered? I’m curious if others also said “never again”.

robwar, we started with private domestic adoption, 4 fall throughs. Then we became foster parents and inquired about numerous older kids in foster care to no avail. Finally we spent a year pursuing international adoption before we withdrew after realizing that the required travel and expense and time off work would have been too big of a financial burden for us. Besides this, a homestudy is a homestudy. If we aren’t eligible to pass it, it doesn’t matter what the homestudy is for. :frowning:

I am now curious what our priest might advise, or if he knows of other couples like us. Actually, we do know a childless couple at our church - our prayer couple from when we made our marriage encounter weekend. We’ve been meeting with them and their circle for over a year now. They are much better off than we are financially, though, and I notice that more than any church related ministries they may be involved with. We did recently get the man involved with our church’s Green Team’s Environmental Justice Committee. But I digress.

Elisabeth, Thanks again for your suggestion. I think I just need to equip myself with a solid response that I can own and use when people ask intruding questions. It’s easy to say “oh, relax, they mean well”, but you know what they say about good intentions and the road to heck. :rolleyes:


#12

We fostered a set of twin girls but they went back so quickly to their mother that we didn’t really have time to bond with them. After our son left (and yes, he was our son, even if I didn’t give birth to him) we knew that we couldn’t face the heartache of a broken system anymore. The foster system is not set up to protect children, it’s set up to give government employees jobs. Oh I’m sure they had good intentions when the system first started but I don’t know anyone who is a current or former foster parent who can say that the foster care system is the best way to handle abused children. But that’s just my opinion. :twocents:


#13

It’s not just your opinion. I completely agree 100%. And I now carry in the back of my mind a fear that if we ever do have children, they can be taken away by “the system” if the wrong person makes a spiteful call.


#14

We are in the same boat. 2 years religious life discernment, asked to leave, then met my husband of 7 years and we’ve suffered 7years infertility, didn’t want fertility pills or surgeries for several reasons, two adoption failures, not able to adopt currently due to circumstances. Husband against fostering cause he thinks it would be too painful for me. I have a part time job but what else…I don’t know. My husband is Christian but not catholic so it isn’t really possible for us to volunteer at the church as a couple. At least you have that option going for you. I think since it’s an option and adoption and fostering are not currently, then I would say to build that part of your life up. I wish there were more places to go to for this. The church and her faithful members focus so much on trying to get people to have kids that sometimes they tend to forget that some people just CANT. That isn’t to say they do it on purpose, it’s just not their main focus since they focus most on the majority of couples who can have kids. But it sure hurts not being a part of the majority. This I know well from experience as I don’t have but one friend whose infertile and they are a much older married couple. I would love to talk more with you, but don’t want to share my email publicly.


#15

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