DH and I were married in the Catholic church. Part of the process is going through pre-marital counseling to get the marriage off to a good start and make sure we discuss important matters about our life together. There were a couple different activities that was a part of this preparation, such a workshop with other engaged couples. That workshop included personality tests and a nun talking about the role of sex in marriage. I'll let you imagine how odd that part was.
Another thing we did was take this test called Focus. We each separately answered many pages of questions about our lifestyles, families, plans for the future, careers, friends, personal priorities, values, etc. Then we were paired with an older couple who walked us through our responses and facilitated a discussion on the areas where we disagreed.
It was a good experience and we had a chance to talk about some issues we had not previously discussed, like the roles we envisioned ourselves taking in the marriage or how our own family backgrounds might affect who we are as a spouse. I kept the printout we were given with all our answers. Filed it away just in case there was ever a need or desire to look at it again.
Over 5 years later, such a need arose (we've been married less than 5 years, but completed this while engaged). We are in a small group with other members of our church and have been having a series of discussions on the sacraments in the church. The next topic up is marriage. As I was thinking of what we might talk about, I decided to get out our Focus responses and take a look at what the church's message about marriage might be from this questionnaire. It was very enlightening not so much about marriage as a sacrament, but how much we have changed in these past five years.
As DH and I went through our responses, we remembered where we were in our relationship then. There was his good friend that I was not fond of. His desire for more alone or quiet time. We had a good laugh that he disagreed with the statement that my family would interfere in our relationship. He knew my mother so little then (I agreed-I knew she would try to take over). Other things have not changed. Despite both deepening our faith, we both still believe in public schools and prefer to send children there rather than to Catholic schools.
And then we came across this statement: Would accept if you were not able to have children.
I cannot remember what I thought when I read that statement over 5 years ago. Having kids was an abstract concept at that point (although we discussed having them eventually). Not being able to conceive was even more abstract. I must have recognized that yes, some people were not able to get pregnant. But that is such a small percentage; hardly anyone, I must have thought. Or did I think "well, some people are just not meant to be parents"? Could I have fathomed what it actually meant to be in this position? Or maybe I didn't think anything at all about it and just gave an answer so I could skip on to something more relevant.
We both agreed back then. Do we agree now? I don't know. I don't want to accept it. I don't accept it now. Will I have to accept it someday?
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