Sunday, February 12, 2012

On husbands, children, ends, means, and God and His plans

You know, because none of those is a big enough issue for its own post....

Yesterday and the day before, I attended a conference at my college. This conference is an annual student-run conference that focuses on women's issues from a Catholic/Christian (I'm not sure how denominational they try to stay) perspective. This year's topic was vulnerability. (You now have enough information to figure out where I go to school. Go ahead, Google it, I don't mind. It's a good school and I like it.) My friend A (I need to write a post about A sometime--he is a truly wonderful person) went to this conference too, and he and I had some interesting conversations about many things.

I can't remember exactly how this particular conversation got started. He already knew that I intend to adopt children with special needs. Maybe I was complaining that it was going to be hard to find a guy with similar goals, or maybe I was just saying something depressing about my past dating life. (One boyfriend, mostly long-distance, with marriage as the goal, and then I screwed everything up by failing to communicate. More on that in some other post; for now I'll just say this hasn't helped my cynicism or insecurity any.) Anyway, he made two criticisms of my views about my future husband. The first was that he thought I was trying to have too much control over whom I would marry. The second is that I view him as a means to an end, namely children. My gut reaction was to say that he was completely wrong. Thinking this over, though, he may be more right than I thought initially. (I almost typed, "In this paper I will discuss these criticisms and whether or not I agree with them...." I clearly need to get out more.)

I still think he's wrong about the control issue. Generally, this is certainly an issue for me and something I really need to work on. I hate not being in control, and I especially hate it when someone who won't tell me what he's doing is in control. I find it very frightening. (God, I'm talking to you, in case you hadn't noticed. I would like to know the plot of my life, please.) But I don't think that I'm wrong in this particular instance. Of course, like any college girl, I have a list of stereotypical criteria that my husband "should" have--taller than me (not hard--I'm 5'4" when I round up), smart, funny, Catholic, comforting, supporting, reliable, knows how to dance, wants to adopt children with special needs, etc., etc. (Okay, maybe that last one is not so stereotypical.) But I'm not actually truly picky about most of these. I can only think of one, maybe two, that I would not be willing to compromise on: the children with special needs, and the Catholicism. At the moment I'm not going to talk about the Catholicism, which is the maybe, because it's not really relevant, and also because my thoughts on the subject are complicated and tangled up. The point is that I would potentially marry a stupid short guy who had two left feet, even if he didn't fit my list.

But I would not marry someone who said that there was no way he would ever be willing to adopt children with special needs. And this is what A has a problem with. He says I don't get to decide what the man I marry is like, God does, so I shouldn't make this kind of decision. But I think that if I am called to the vocation of adoption, and I truly believe that I am, then God will not choose for me someone who would prevent me from fulfilling that vocation. Maybe it's my job to convert someone to adoption, A says. Maybe it is, and so I'm not saying I would never date anyone who wasn't over the moon about adoption already. I would even date someone who said no way, at least until it became clear he wasn't changing his mind. But I would not *marry* someone hoping to change his mind about something that important. What do my (nonexistent, I know) readers think?

The other issue was the question of whether I view my husband as an end in himself or only as a means to children. This one's trickier. I do tend to talk that way. I think this is partly because I can imagine what it's like to get my children without actually knowing which children they are. It's a lot harder to imagine dating & marrying someone with no information about who he is. As I told A this morning, I already know why my children need me, but I don't know why my husband does. That being said, I think A has a point in that I do tend to think about a husband as a step on the road to children. He is, of course, a step along that path, but he is also where another, equally important path ends. And that's something I need to remember better.

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