I read a great interview today at Start Your Family and wanted to share some profound points I read.
They were interviewing husband, father and author Tony Woodlief about the effect of children on marriage and relationship with God and he explained how important children are for our society and faith.
How has having children affected your marriage?
We probably wouldn't be married right now if not for our children. There comes a point in some marriages when you face the reality that you both would probably be happier without one another. These children remind you—or at least they should remind you—that marriage isn't, as Gary Thomas rightly notes, about your happiness. The Perfect Marriage fantasy is a lie promoted by secular society, and too often parroted in subtle ways by churches. Your marriage is an institution of sanctification, and children are the natural fruit of that God-ordained path. And the secret is, the greatest happiness lies along this path of self-sacrifice. You will definitely have more opportunities for immediate gratification if you remain childless. And you will also never know the fear that only parents can understand. But you will experience the greatest joy, too, which springs from a self-sacrificing love that draws us closer to one another and to our God. This is why the early Church—and the Eastern Orthodox still today— would not marry people unless they intended to have children, because marriage without children is like wearing flip-flops to a marathon; you aren't really serious about the race.
How has having children affected your relationship with God?
I never really knew the depth of love until I had them. Parenting cultivated a fierce love for others— both for my children, and for my wife who has suffered and rejoiced along this path with me. I'd read plenty about the love of our Father for his children, but I never really grasped that until it hit me like a thunderbolt that His love for us is a boundless passion, because we are His children. We parents would go straight into Hell to save our children, which is exactly what God did for us.
What advice would you give a couple considering starting a family?
You aren't ready, but do it anyway. You aren't good enough, but falling into the midst of it is the only way to get better. You're going to make mistakes, which is why God sends them to us with such forgiving hearts. Forget about how it will affect your lifestyle, or your career, or your other selfish pursuits, and choose the path of greater suffering and deeper joy.