The birth of a death

Joey Garcia

After three years of trying to conceive, my husband no longer wants to have a child together. He has four grown children from a previous marriage. I’ve never had a child. I can’t help but push the issue, even though I’m ruining everything with my constant disappointment. I don’t want to destroy our marriage. Please help.

The tidal wave of emotion you feel is more than disappointment, honey. You are grieving the death of a dream. It’s not just the loss of an experience you hoped to share with your husband; it’s also the fulfillment of a role you longed to embody in life. Your disappointment, disbelief, fears, anger, hurt and shock are all normal responses. So is your sweet desire to protect your marriage. That inclination proves that love is the ground of your being. Let this reality inspire you to be tender with your broken heart, while you focus on what you love about your husband. Love will keep the channels of communication open—within yourself, and between you and your man.

It’s likely you refuse to accept your husband’s decision because you think he might change his mind. Or should I say, change his mind, again? That’s the deeper challenge here. When we spoke by phone you admitted that before the wedding, you assured your husband you didn’t want children. After the wedding, you changed your mind. If you have that right, so does he. Yes, I know it feels different because he already has children. But the core reality remains: You changed your mind. He tried to accommodate your wish, and gave up. Your task now is to decide if you can be happy in your marriage as it is, not as you imagined it could be.

My mom keeps leaving, saying she can’t stand my dad anymore. She comes back for a while, they fight and she leaves again. This has been going on for a year. I hate being at home but my dad won’t let me stay with a friend. My brother is away at college and doesn’t have to deal with this. It’s not fair. It breaks my heart to hear my little sister crying herself to sleep every night. I wish my parents would get a divorce, but my dad wants to keep the family together. Is there a way to change his mind?

You might change your mind if your parents learned to disagree like adults, instead of fighting. But that would require both of them to change. They would need to do three things: develop listening skills, give up the need to be right and remember what they love about each other.

If that seems impossible, try to influence your father through a letter. Begin by telling him how painful it is to hear your little sister cry herself to sleep. Describe the impact of parental fighting on your mind, body and spirit. Tell him that keeping a family together is not more important than enjoying a peaceful household. Ask him to consider the home a safe zone where disagreement is permitted, but fighting is not. Ask your dad to go to therapy to learn how to argue fairly and resolve conflict. Ask him to change his behavior or change his stance against divorce. Tell him you love him. Give him the letter. Then ask a relative you trust to talk to your dad about the chaos at home.

Meditation of the week
“Bodhichitta is our heart: our wounded, softened heart. Right down in the thick of things, we discover the love that will not die,” writes Pema Chodron, a Tibetan Buddhist nun. How everlasting is your love?

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