A recent Chicago Sun-Times story tells us that “Kids are hazardous to your marriage.” The 2011 movie Friends with Kids has the tagline “Love. Happiness. Kids. Pick two.” As with most news stories, the results often reveal more than what the headlines say.
Implied in the Sun-Times results are the following “conclusions:” 1) the only time marriage is not a waste of time is when a childless couple is able to live out every fantasy and entertainment conceivable; 2) the only time kids are worthwhile is when, well…Okay, we all know that kids are annoying brats ruining the world of us adults trying to have quiet meals at restaurants. Being a happy parent is an oxymoron; 3) the only really important thing in life is being happy, making sure the flow of endorphins is sufficiently high through my brain so that only good emotions are present. If not, there is always soma of whatever variety suits you.
Okay, maybe I’m just cynical, but the poll results don’t surprise me. The idea of marriage has been transformed from a unique and necessary societal bond oriented towards the procreation of offspring and the good of the spouses to a public event representing the hopefully long-lasting (but if not, oh well) relationship between two consenting adults. Children, who were the natural outcome of spouses’ mutual self-giving, were expected to behave in public but were seen as invaluable treasures guaranteeing the future of society. With the increased use of contraception and then abortion, consequence-free sex is the norm and children an “unplanned” and unwanted side effect.
Last, the point of life is not seen as the working out of our salvation with fear and trembling, of conquering our concupisence in order to conform our wills and lives with Christ, but to accumulate as much happiness as possible in the most efficient way.
The remedy? Reclaim a sense of the vocation to the married life. Even if you didn’t think so on your wedding day, the point of your marriage is to get you, your spouse, and your children to heaven, to make saints. Our emotional happiness (especially my own) is secondary or lower on the ladder.
Am I continuously ecstatic with my wife or kids every minute of every day? No, but neither am I with God. Am I angry with my wife and kids for upsetting the emotionally easy life I enjoyed as a single person? No, but neither am I with God when he sends crosses for me to bear.
While being married and having kids isn’t a lifetime of daily giddiness, there is an abiding and true joy that comes with living the vocation God calls you to. The happiness I experience now as a husband and father is lighter, richer, and deeper than anything I experienced while single.
Having God as the ultimate purpose and meaning of your life, you can have love, happiness, kids, and much more besides.