Do you and your spouse have different beliefs about starting your family – about when to get started or whether to have children at all? Often wives are ready for a baby before their husbands, but sometimes it’s the other way around. What do you do when you’re not on the same page about starting a family?
What you don’t want to do is nag and drag – to cajole your spouse and drag them into the parenting enterprise. You both need to be committed to the mission. A spouse who is dragged into it is more likely to shirk the responsibilities ahead – and to justify their passivity by saying, “Don’t look at me, this was your idea.”
Contemporary marriages are often battlegrounds where two individuals with strong opinions clash over whose preferences will win out. As Christians we are called to the challenging task of becoming one in marriage. If you are on different pages when it comes to having children, God wants you to pray for unity.
A spirit of oneness and unity is a distinct concern of Christ. It was one of the most pressing messages in His prayer for the disciples during the Last Supper: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (John 17:20).
Oneness in marriage communicates even more about God. In the Genesis story of Creation, we read that when a man and woman are joined together they become “one flesh” (2:24). This concept from the first book of the Bible is reiterated in the last book of the Old Testament where the prophet Malachi writes: “Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth” (Malachi 2:15).
Because children symbolically represent the oneness of marriage, couples should be unified with regard to having them. But Paul’s letter to the Ephesians takes it further: ” ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31-32).
From the marriage of Adam and Eve in Genesis, to the marriage of Christ and the church in Revelation, the marital union is intended to model a selfless exchange of love for those who participate in it as well as for a watching world. How might God use the decision about children in your marriage to demonstrate oneness to you and those around you?
Two valuable steps you can take as you pray for oneness about children include fasting and spending time with mentor couples. Too often, our prayer life suffers from distractions. Fasting from a meal (or two or three) can help you focus with greater intensity on your prayers to God, giving you an opportunity to better seek His purposes and to trust the timing of His plans for your marriage. Additionally, mentor couples can support you in your prayers for oneness, while also sharing their stories about the challenges and joys of children and becoming one in marriage.