Marriage, Children, Love, and Responsibility

I’ve always been interested in the nature of responsibility, and in what makes a man or a woman finally pick up its mantle and seriously begin the journey toward true manhood or womanhood. I think for a lot of people, the catalyst is their first child or children. I used to think it was marriage, but after getting married, I realized that it is quite easy to have a pleasant marriage and remain quite selfish. There’s still plenty of time in a day for two reasonable people to basically do what they both want to do. Tonight we’ll eat at your restaurant and tomorrow night we’ll eat at mine; Friday night, the mall, Saturday morning, the golf course; etc…

A child changes that. Free time suddenly dwindles, days and night inexplicably become both longer and shorter, typically expanding or contracting as necessary to most effectively limit your perceived freedom. Everyone becomes more stressed out. Throw a little sickness or depression into the mix and you’ve got a custom designed crash-course entitled The Selfish You: Learning How To Defeat the Me-Monster. For those of you who don’t have children yet, I am not joking.

To be fair, the reason that a child can be so shocking to the system is that the experience challenges our beliefs regarding the purpose of our lives. Someone who is already living a life based on sacrifice, humility, and unselfishness, will notice only the blessings that a child brings: the first smile, the first laugh, the feel of the tiny head resting on their shoulder. To the selfish man, these things seem like such consolation prizes. Look at all that I gave up,” screams the selfish soul, “and all I get is laughs and smiles? I could have rented About a Boy or My Life and saved myself the trouble”.

Where am I going with all this? That’s a fair question. It’s partly a confessional on my part, an admission of my own failures, and an attempt to be more transparent, but it’s also an attempt to frame a question. Does this resonate with other first and second time parents? I have two children now, Gavin will be two near the end of May and Petra is going on eleven weeks. In many ways, the second child was harder than the first, but the first taught us so much that it’s hard to really compare them. God says that the fruit of the womb is his reward, and his blessings tend to be things that go against our nature (Matthew 5:11-12, Isaiah 55:8) How does this thinking compare with what others have experienced? Has God used children or marriage to move you toward responsibility and away from selfishness?

8 thoughts on “Marriage, Children, Love, and Responsibility”

  1. I realized that it is quite easy to have a pleasant marriage and remain quite selfish.

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Whatever vestiges of “independence” that I was able to maintain in the early married years have been dying a gradual death at the hands of our firstborn. God uses children to smother the illusion that marriage is “an arrangement for my convenience.” Not that I’m no longer proud and self-centered…it’s just much harder to maintain that aura now. 😉

  2. I realized that it is quite easy to have a pleasant marriage and remain quite selfish.

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Whatever vestiges of “independence” that I was able to maintain in the early married years have been dying a gradual death at the hands of our firstborn. God uses children to smother the illusion that marriage is “an arrangement for my convenience.” Not that I’m no longer proud and self-centered…it’s just much harder to maintain that aura now. 😉

  3. Hey Ariel,
    I’m glad that these thought resonate. Sometimes I wonder, you know? Basically, I never know when I’m stumbling around in the dark by myself or with a crowd. 😉

    Thanks for dropping by,
    Charles Churchill

  4. Hey Ariel,
    I’m glad that these thought resonate. Sometimes I wonder, you know? Basically, I never know when I’m stumbling around in the dark by myself or with a crowd. 😉

    Thanks for dropping by,
    Charles Churchill

  5. Charles:
    I had just entered the following in my journal: “Dear God, my attempt at living a selfish life turned out to be not such a good idea.” Then, the Lord brings me to your blog!
    My demographics: white, male, 52,married 26 years, father of two daughters age 24 and 17. Oldest daughter wed Feb.07.
    I joked with friends when I turned 50 that I had finally embraced adulthood. Rearing children was often a time of retreating from adulthood as I busied myself with the activities I had mastered at age 16: chaufering and busing tables.
    I do believe I glimpsed adulthood while reading the novel “Heidi.” I have read it orally three times. Once to my wife before we had children, and once to each daughter when they were age 8 or 10. I connected with another human being [my wife and kids] during those readings. And, I do believe that is part of being adult; being truly connected to another human being.
    Being a parent has lots of traps to keep the parent from connecting to others [read: chaffeur, busboy]. So, parenthood in and of itself isn’t the key to being adult. It can become just another hiding place.
    My schedule for tomorrow is to connect with my wife; i.e. more practice on being an adult.
    Blessings,
    Tim Hastings

  6. Charles:
    I had just entered the following in my journal: “Dear God, my attempt at living a selfish life turned out to be not such a good idea.” Then, the Lord brings me to your blog!
    My demographics: white, male, 52,married 26 years, father of two daughters age 24 and 17. Oldest daughter wed Feb.07.
    I joked with friends when I turned 50 that I had finally embraced adulthood. Rearing children was often a time of retreating from adulthood as I busied myself with the activities I had mastered at age 16: chaufering and busing tables.
    I do believe I glimpsed adulthood while reading the novel “Heidi.” I have read it orally three times. Once to my wife before we had children, and once to each daughter when they were age 8 or 10. I connected with another human being [my wife and kids] during those readings. And, I do believe that is part of being adult; being truly connected to another human being.
    Being a parent has lots of traps to keep the parent from connecting to others [read: chaffeur, busboy]. So, parenthood in and of itself isn’t the key to being adult. It can become just another hiding place.
    My schedule for tomorrow is to connect with my wife; i.e. more practice on being an adult.
    Blessings,
    Tim Hastings

  7. Hi Tim,
    Thanks for stopping by and for the great comments. Kudos to you for seeking to connect with your wife. Living unselfishly is definitely easier said than done.

    Take care,
    Charles

  8. Hi Tim,
    Thanks for stopping by and for the great comments. Kudos to you for seeking to connect with your wife. Living unselfishly is definitely easier said than done.

    Take care,
    Charles

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