Loving your spouse for who she is
Q: Should I ask my fiancee to be tested for infertility before we’re married? I’ve always wanted my own kids and I’m determined to be intentional about that. If I can’t do this with my fiancee, I’m not sure I want to pursue marrying her.
Jim: I’m sorry to put this so bluntly, but you sound like someone who has no clue what marriage is really all about. Your question betrays a self-centered motive that isn’t conducive to true marriage on any level. To marry a woman is to promise to love her for who she is – not for what you think she can do for you. It’s about committing yourself to her “in sickness and in health” and “for better or for worse.” Genuine, sacrificial love doesn’t ask someone to jump through hoops or pass tests before sealing the deal. Instead, it gives itself away unconditionally and unreservedly.
Once you understand this, you’ll be one step closer to laying the foundation for a strong and lasting marriage. At that point, you can sit down with your fiancee and have a deep and serious conversation about your goals and priorities. Among other things, make sure that you’re both on the same page about your desire for children. If you don’t pin this down now, it could lead to misunderstandings and big problems down the road. Lay everything out on the table as honestly as you can, with a humble, open heart.
But whatever you do, don’t insist that she submit to infertility testing. That’s just a way of saying, “I will love you if …” No woman wants to hear this from the man she plans to spend the rest of her life with.
Q: My mother-in-law is starting to struggle living on her own. My husband feels he needs to honor her and take her in. She lived previously with his brother and caused all kinds of problems, and even tried to break up his marriage. Should I give into my husband’s wishes, even though I think it’s risky for us?
Dr. Greg Smalley, vice president, Family Ministries: Rather than “give in,” which implies someone “losing,” I’d encourage the two of you to approach this situation as teammates and find a solution you both feel good about. Once you’ve joined forces, identify and talk through your respective concerns. As you do, resist the urge to dismiss or “trump” the other’s feelings. As a team, you’ll win only when both of your needs are heard and addressed.
In this case, you both have important objectives. You value your marriage and want to protect it. Your husband loves his mom and wants to guard her dignity and ensure that she’s cared for. Your challenge is to find an agreeable solution that satisfies both.
Although the health of your marriage should be your priority, it doesn’t necessarily mean that taking your mother-in-law in will destroy your relationship. Ask yourselves, “Given what we know, how can we protect our marriage if Mom moves in with us?” It may mean a trial run and establishing clear boundaries, which she must respect if she’s to remain under your roof. If she doesn’t, it should be understood and acknowledged that “honoring” and “providing for” one’s parents doesn’t rule out other living arrangements.
Admittedly, not all couples can reach a resolution on their own, and you shouldn’t be ashamed to look for help from an objective third party – perhaps your pastor or a counselor. Our Focus on the Family staff of licensed therapists would be happy to take your call and be of assistance.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
Focus on the Family counselors are available Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. Mountain time at 855-771-HELP (4357). Focus on the Family’s website is at www.focusonthefamily.com.