I'm longing to have another baby, but my husband refuses. What can I do to encourage him to be open to life?
We've been asked this question many times, and we've always had the same recommendations. First, pray earnestly together — not simply that he'll change his mind, but rather that you'll be of “one mind, one heart, one path,” as in Jeremiah 31. Work on friendships with other like-minded Catholics who have large families. If your husband is a reader, a few strategically placed articles or books by dads for dads may get him thinking.
While we still think those items are important, we recently heard some great advice from a savvy mother of five. Her husband told her, back when they were first married, that he only wanted two children. She tells moms like you to show your hubby how much you love being a mom, and make it look easy. When he walks through the door at night, don't thrust a screaming baby into his arms and act exhausted and exasperated. Rather than saving it up for your husband the moment he gets home, express frustration to your friends (fellow moms who understand those particularly tough days) during phone calls or get-togethers in the park
This is not being sneaky or dishonest. Women have real need to talk through their trying times; they share their difficulties because it helps them cope. They merely want a sympathetic ear or affirmation in order to persevere. Men, however, hear all this and jump into problem-solving mode. They want to give a concrete solution.
This stark difference between the sexes can affect the family-size decision.
Consider this real-life example. An old friend of ours is thrilled to have two young boys just 18 months apart and is hoping for No. 3 soon. She recently had one of those awful days that begin with a sick child vomiting in her bed and end with an overflowing toilet caused by an entire roll of toilet paper being stuffed into it.
She vented to her husband, looking for a little encouragement. He listened patiently and, when her tirade was over, he said, “Well of course we shouldn't have a third baby if just these two stress you out!”
She was stunned, but later realized that all her husband ever heard about were the hard times. Moms don't think to talk about how happy they are or how well they're doing. All mothers should begin to do so, in order that their husbands will know that they are truly okay.
Finally, our experience is that many well-intentioned men are reluctant to have another baby because they are anxious about finances. Wives can be cognizant of that legitimate concern and be financially disciplined: working hard to be creative with what they have, sticking to an agreed-upon budget and avoiding costly convenience foods by cooking more.
If your husband sees that your spirits are high and your bank account is in the black, it just may help him be open to having one more little one.
The McDonalds are family-life coordinators for the Diocese of Mobile, Alabama.