I received a heartfelt email from a reader the other day (let's call her Jane), and I think it's worth a discussion. So, with her permission:
I stop by and read your blog often. Your last post about the air conditioning man getting fixed is what has me writing to you.
Do you have a post about married couples struggling with one spouse not wanting more children because of age?
My husband, who is 46, is adamant about not wanting anymore children because he says he's too old. We aren't intimate anymore because he respects that I don't want to use birth control, but is serious about no more children. He always says he would be 65 years old by the time the child turned 18 and moved out. (Not that we even want our almost 16yo to consider moving out at 18!!)
I am 41 years old. Sad that my fertility has become a horrible subject in our life. There was a time I couldn't get pregnant. It took 7 years to get pregnant a 3rd time. We are blessed to have 5 children now.
I would LOVE to see a thread and the comments from your readers about AGE. My husband has been reading everything I send to him. He isn't a practicing Catholic. This issue really has turned him against the teachings of the Church.
BTW, we are the oldest in our circle of friends. Everyone is under 40 years old and cannot relate to what my husband is going through. I'd love to read how families have dealt with the age issue.
Jane, I'll just throw out my thoughts and then open it up to others...
My husband is also 46, and our youngest is two years old. I was just shy of my 43rd birthday when I had him. It's funny, because back in the day (the pre-Church days), we had decided to have our kids (three, max) in our twenties, so that we could be "free" by our forties. We expected to travel and "have fun".
I certainly do think of my age and count the number of years I will attain by "this child's wedding" or "that child's graduation", and I wonder if I will be around long enough to see all of them grown and with kids of their own. It's weird how life works: Our oldest children have very young parents, and our youngest kids are going to have old parents. The "old parents" thing has bothered me less and less as time has passed, however, especially as I see that no child is guaranteed a parent who will always be around, young or old! I know too many young parents -- with young children -- who have passed away. Life is fragile and having children is always a risk. The fact that my kids have life at all is a good thing to me, and, please God, we will all end up in Heaven together. The eternal truths and implications of all our lives are so much more important than whatever happens on this earth, which is utterly unpredictable anyway.
One of the many great aspects of being in my "little Catholic bubble" locally is that many of my friends have had and are having babies well into their forties. It's normal around these parts, and no one bats an eye. My husband is a youngster compared to some of his buddies who have had children born to them past the age of 50. We will not be the oldest parents at our youngest child's high school graduation, which may seem hard to believe in other cultural circles.
I can't say we are actively trying for any new children (in fact, we aren't), but we certainly are always open to new life in our marriage.
I do want to add that it makes me incredibly sad that your husband has gone to the extreme and cut off all intimacy. That cannot be good and healthy for a marriage, and a careful application of Natural Family Planning would be ideal here.
I am curious to hear what others have to say in response to Jane's questions and concerns. Take it away!