Sunday, May 18, 2008

Disturbing, and how to deal with criticism

I felt I simply had to say a word or two about this article, which was sent to me by email. It talks about a woman who pretended to be infertile in order to promote her career, despite her husband's desire to have children:

"I started taking folic acid and calcium and stopped drinking alcohol. But secretly I kept taking the pill. I felt terrible but I knew that if I got pregnant now I would lose my job, I figured this was the best way to keep everyone happy.

Today I am 46 and have pretty much missed out on my chance to have children.

No job is that important. If only I'd realised this 10 years ago."

If you follow the link to read the entire article, be careful - it produced a lot of response from readers, much of it unfit for a lady, in my opinion. Many accused this woman of being a monster who ruined her husband's life, and I agree that it's truly a horrible thing to do - lie to one's husband, methodically, month after month and year after year, seeing the disappointment on his face again and again, until finally he gives up hope.

Yet I can't help but feel sorry for her. How much brainwashed and twisted education does it take to make a woman believe pregnancy is a disaster to be avoided at all costs? How terrible it must be, in her perception, that she was ready to lie to her husband, endlessly, depriving herself and her marriage of the beautiful gift the Lord could have given? How many lies must be told for a woman to think she has all the time in the world to have children - while in fact, our bodies won't remain healthy and young forever, and the clock is ticking? What a tragedy for this married couple.

***

Something else I would like to mention today - to allow us to move to brighter (and probably more interesting) matters later on - in the past weeks I received several notes from ladies who asked me how to control negative comments from anonymous readers who lurk on blogs and spill all their antagonism.

I receive my share of negative comments, and most of the time, I ignore them. At your little corner of the web, you are the one who determines what will be discussed. If you received criticism and feel it challenges you in an interesting and productive way, and you feel inclined to respond, by all means do that. If you feel your time and energy can be put to better use, don't bother. Better not let yourself be bullied into an uncontrolled public debate by argumentative anonymous visitors who say that you are weak and lacking confidence if you don't publish their comment and respond to it.

If someone thinks I'm wasting my life being "just" a wife, while my husband has a fun, exciting and much more rewarding job - they may continue to think so.
I will remain dedicated to my marriage and home (and hopefully, future children, as the Lord sees fit to bless us). And I will keep praising my husband - no, not for doing whatever he wants in the tempting and exciting world out there - but for doing his duty and working hard to provide for us.

If people decide my convictions stem from leading a sheltered and over-protected existence, and from knowing nothing different, I have no time to debate and prove otherwise. I and the regular readers of this blog know that I was exposed to dangerous influences just like any other teen in my generation; worked full time and part time since I was 16, outside and inside the home; got a university degree; sought my path; believe me, I tasted a lot of our culture's temptations - and eventually came to faith in God and to the simple desire to have a good marriage and a strong family and a sweet, peaceful home.

Some may think I'm unsuccessful since I don't seek to have more power and influence in the world than my husband.
But I have no need of that. I would much rather be a joyful helpmeet to my husband, and treat him like a king. In return he treats me like his queen. I give him my all, and he lays his life down at my feet, my knight in shiny armor who goes out every day to the battles of life, and desires nothing more than to return to a safe haven in the evening. Would I throw it all away for a fathom of independence? Not a chance.

26 comments:

Buffy said...

I do find it incredible that two people can get married without fully comprehending each other's intentions about something as important as having children. And living a lie like that must be so damaging both for their relationship and for her. The guilt must be terrible.

Shannon said...

Hi Anna,
I agree that this woman was more than likely pressured to climb the corporate ladder and pursue her career. Our society tells women that if we don't "have it all" we are not worthy or doing enough to contribute. I know I have been made to feel inadequate because I don't have a "career." Yet, I always do my art and use to to encourage others to pursue their creative endeavors.

I really enjoy your blog Anna, and I am so happy for you in your God-honoring role as a wife and homemaker. Be proud of yourself!

Kelly said...

Anna, while I haven't read the entire article you quoted I can only feel deep sympathy for this woman as well. She must have suc guilt now and to live with that, and whatever semblance of a marriage if it can be called that must be awful.

And I love what you said,"Some may think I'm unsuccessful since I don't seek to have more power and influence in the world than my husband.
But I have no need of that. I would much rather be a joyful helpmeet to my husband, and treat him like a king. In return he treats me like his queen. I give him my all, and he lays his life down at my feet, my knight in shiny armor who goes out every day to the battles of life, and desires nothing more than to return to a safe haven in the evening. Would I throw it all away for a fathom of independence? Not a chance."

I want to write that on a poster or something and put it up on a wall so that I remember why I'm a homemaker.
Kelly

Thursday's Child said...

I do feel sorry for that poor woman. It's too bad she had to learn the hard way. Perhaps God will still bless her with a child...and a forgiving husband. But it should be a lesson to all of us to not try to thwart God's will for our lives.

andrea said...

What a sad story! It is so sad to see that people get married without first discussing these things over. I can understand the fear of having children--I'm not married yet, so sometimes I can be overwhelmed at the thought of having them some day! However, my desire to have them is stronger than my fears. Perhaps if she talked with her husband, maybe her fear of having children would be lessened? Who knows?

I'm kind of like you--I don't have huge ambitions for the "working world". I'd be much more contented being a wife and mother and not add on the stress of a career!

Anonymous said...

Oh Anna, from time to time you always amaze me with your grace and your positivity. I love reading your thoughts, despite it being a sensitive issue, you always seem to be able to convey it in such a graceful manner.

God Bless you and your husband!

W

PhDCow said...

Anna,

I truly enjoy reading your blog because of your youthful enthusiasm and kindness. Our paths and beliefs are very different, yet I feel a "bond" with you because of the beauty you see in everyday life.

Regarding the article, it makes me sad that this woman felt that she had to deceive her husband for so long. I can only imagine how her husband will feel when he finds this out. Is any job worth a marriage?

I love my career, but I love my family more. My career as a college professor is relatively competitive as I move up the ladder, yet I've been blessed to find a college that respects families of all kinds. Events are held during the year to reinforce that my family is part of the larger College's "family." The College understands that I am a better professor when I have a happy and loving home. I know that I could not work for an organization that didn't hold those values.

- Angela

elena rulli said...

When I read such wise and good things you write, really, I find myself thinking that if I was a man - not that I want to be! - I would love nothing else but being your knght in shining armour!
Have a nice week
Elena

Anonymous said...

Very sad story. I do like your blog, you often have good things to say. However, I do think you also tend to paint a negative picture of the working woman. Not all of us are career driven. I do like my job, but I try my best to balance it with family life because fianances do not permit me to stay home. I do what I feel is best for my family. And some of us actually find family-friendly careers. My job is fairly flexible and I do some work from home. I do cook and clean (though my husband helps out too). I know people often bad-mouth homemakers, but that doesn't mean that homemakers should turn around and do the same. Enjoy your life and don't worry about others!!

gafnit said...

Deceit is deceit. The woman who did that is no worse to her husband than the woman who pretends to take her pill but "accidentally" falls pregnant.

Laura said...

Good for you for keeping your blog comments drama free. There is no excuse for antagonizing people on the internet in their own 'online homes'. As a non-religious feminist, I am sorry that you and other bloggers have to deal with comments that attack you and your beliefs without respecting them. If anything, I greatly admire your faith in god, your husband, and your yourself. I am glad we live in a world where you can make your own decisions about your lifestyle.

Betsy said...

It is important to keep in mind that birth control (whatever method) as well as infertility treatments (again, whatever method), are all in the hand of God. To assume that this woman had no children because she 'chose' not to, is to put too much faith in medicine and not enough in God. It is horrible that she lied to her husband, and it is also horrible that she lied to herself for so long. I pity her barren womb, and am thankful that she has spoken out about the foolishness of it all. We have to remember though that God chose for this woman to not have children more than she did. I'm not saying that she (or we) ought to blame God, but that we must not be fooled into thinking that any woman can have *that* much control over her body.

CurlyGirl said...

I applaud you for not getting drawn into arguments that would serve no purpose but to steal energy and peace from you. It is your blog.

Love what you said about returning to a safe haven in the evening. Beautifully put.

Kim said...

Thank you for posting this. We just found out today that we are expecting #4. We just recently decided to let go and let the Father control our fertility. So we are thrilled, but my family will not be. They wanted me to have abortions with some of my other children and have begged me over and over not to have any more children. It is not because of any health or financial reason (although in their eyes we "can't afford" them...we live frugally and wonderfully and would have no trouble supporting more children) but because they think more than two is too many. "It ruins your life" "Doesn't give you ME time" "You can't buy as many things for them" Selfish reasons in my opinion, and it makes me very sad.

I do not know when I will tell them. Even though this article was very sad, it also helped put things into perspective for me. Children are a blessing, and no matter how my family feels, my husband and I will continue to rejoice at each new child we are given.

Cherish the Home said...

Wow, I'm stunned. I guess I shouldn't be but I am.....

And your advice about blog critics is excellent! I've never understood why people continue to read blogs that upset them. Recently I made the decision to no longer allow anonymous comments. I think it is very cowardly to criticize someone anonymously.

Anonymous said...

Anna, your analogy of your "Knight in Shining Armour" was beautiful. You dealt with this topic with such amazing wisdom.

I have included a beautiful song with words of lasting commitment re a "knight in shining armour" that I hope you will enjoy. The lyrics are very beautiful ...

http://www.youtube.com:80/watch?v=Tj_NjLBPotQ&feature=related

Betsy, God put child bearing into our hands. That is why unwed mothers have kids, teens fall pregnant, babies get aborted, etc. Getting pregnant is our choice, wether we handle it responsibly or not. God said "go forth and multiply", so multiplication is His will. By taking body altering substances, she in fact did "take" the control. However I speak this in love and don't wish to start any yucky discussions - I hope you dont' mind me discussing my thoughts.

Very sincerely
Cristina

yoshi3329 said...

how sad! I also get blog trolls that come to my blog on a regular basis I just don't argue with them (I have better things to do with my time). Good for you too. Anna, do you have a "regular" blog troll two?

http://adlynmorrison.blogspot.com/

Mrs Slaq said...

Wow, that article was one of the most disturbing things I've read in some time. While my gut response is, I guess disgust, for seeing someone treat a spouse like this, I also kind of agree with you, Anna, that this woman's thinking got screwed up somewhere along the way.

The Captain and I are expecting our first baby in December, and I can hardly wait to leave my job and stay home to care for my family! Thanks for continuing to post such encouragement and inspiration. I do appreciate you!

Michelle

Anonymous said...

Cherish the Home: I'm sure that many "Anonymous" commenters are, like myself, not able to comment in any other way because they don't have a blog or internet presence (or indeed want one).
Louie

Mrs. Anna T said...

yoshi: I can't know if I have a resident troll precisely for the reason that those comment anonymously; I do recognize the same style sometimes, however.

Louie: this is precisely why I don't remove anonymous comments. Some very dear people who visit me don't have blogs, and comment anonymously. I don't want to lose their valuable insight, even though I often thought of removing anonymous comments.

You can, when commenting, choose "other" and not "anonymous".

Cherish the Home said...

Louie,

I understand that not everyone wishes to have a blogger account and I respect that. Although to be honest I don't really understand why they wouldn't. It is very easy to sign up via Blogger and get an account and you don't have to have a blog to do so. You can also choose to keep your profile private or just not include any info besides a screen name.

No longer allowing anonymous comments has taken much of the stress out of blogging for me. I'm sorry that some will not be able to comment and I very much dislike having to leave them out because of the actions of a few. But I also don't wish to subject myself to being criticized by people who are too afraid to stand behind what they have to say and sign a name to their comment.

Catherine R. said...

to anonymous above,

I don't think anyone is criticizing career women. The reason many of us talk about the dangers of setting one's heart on career and ambition is because the evidence speaks for itself, this is not what God intended. The results are bad for society overall. If we don't talk about this who will? What you say is true, there are women who criticize homemakers...that is the norm.

MarkyMark said...

Anna,

It's getting late, so I didn't have time to read all the other responses. That said, I'll say this: 1) what this woman did was terrible; 2) she should have let Sam, her husband, marry someone else whose desire for children more closely mirrored his own; 3) though I have some compassion for those who've been brainwashed (I fell victim to it, not only in society, but in a church too), we all make our choices on whether to believe and act on the things we're told. I'd like to expand the last point...

I've seen mind control in action; I've seen it up close & personal, as it were. It was in a church that had some cult like tendencies, a la Jim Jones; in fact, the pastor would call members up on stage for use in sermon illustrations, something Jim Jones also did. However, no one drank any poisoned Kool-Aid-at least not that I knew of. With that background, let me say this: the mind control & brainwashing being foisted upon the general public is far more SOPHISTICATED than anything Jim Jones did! If I, who have had PERSONAL EXPERIENCE with this, had a hard time discerning the societal brainwashing (such as this woman bought into), then what hope does a normal person, i.e. someone who's never experienced mind control, have? Therefore, I do feel compassion for people like this woman, who fell victim to such brainwashing.

However, there is another side of the coin; there is another side to this story. God gave us eyes, ears, and a brain. God didn't make us stupid. No one can make us stupid. Only YOU can make yourself stupid; no one else can force you to be stupid. That is what a friend of mine, a former member of the same church, said, and I agree with him.

I did a post on this woman's essay/article; in it, I was hard on her. I'm not sure what tack to take in instances like this. As I stated above, part of me wishes to be compassionate, yet another part of me does not. Again, God gave us all the tools to discern good from bad, wheat from chaff, foolishness from wisdom, and so on. God gave us our eyes, ears, and brains for a reason, and it's up to US to use them.

Who made the CHOICE to listen to the BS? Who made the CHOICE to believe it? Who made the CHOICE to apply it to her life? Who made the CHOICE to willfully and deliberately deceive her husband about such an important matter? Who made the CHOICE to continue doing so? I don't recall this woman saying anything about someone compelling her to do all these things...

For me, it was the repeated deception that really angered me; it was the premeditated, willful, deliberate, and repeated deception that made me disinclined to show any compassion here. I find it difficult to believe that, given the time this couple knew one another prior to marriage, that the subject of children wasn't brought up a time or two; I also find it hard to believe that this woman didn't know or have any inkling about how Sam felt about this matter. Even if he never EXPLICITLY STATED HIS WISHES with respect to children, I'm sure that when he was around them that his positive, happy reaction should have given even the most clueless observer an idea where he stood on this issue.

That said, if she'd spurned Sam, marriage, and children for her career, the my willingness to give the benefit of the doubt would be greater; after all, the only person who would have been hurt is herself. Sam could have pursued another woman whose desire for children would have more closely mirrored his own. The only sad person we would have had is this deceived career chick. However, she took Sam down with her; not only were her dreams not realized, his weren't realized, either.

At any number of points, this woman could have chosen a different course of action; at any point, she could have stopped the deception and lying to her husband. The fact that she CONTINUED TO DO IT speaks volumes; that says to me that: 1) she really didn't want kids; 2) her wishes are all that mattered; 3) her husband's wishes mattered not a whit.

I've heard it said that, sometimes God curses or punishes us by giving us EXACTLY what we want. Seems to me that He, God The Father Almighty, did this here. This woman had the fun, fulfilling career that she'd wanted, and now she gets to REGRET HER CHOICES FOR THE REST OF HER DAYS. Though we may be able to escape man's punishment, we never escape God's punishment. Those are my thoughts...

MarkyMark

MarkyMark said...

Anna,

If I may say something else about your remark about not needing influence in the world, it is this: a Godly woman can wield such POWER in the home that it defies description when there are children involved.

If you ask anyone about John & Charles Wesley, they'll tell you that they were powerful men of God. One brother wrote hymns which are classics today (Hark The Herald Angels Sing is but one example), while the other founded the Methodist church. Between the two brothers, they shook TWO CONTINENTS (Europe & North America) TO THEIR FOUNDATIONS. Indeed, one could argue that their influence is still being felt today, CENTURIES after their deaths.

If you were to ask anyone who knows anything about church history, they'll be quick to point out one important detail: Susannah Wesley, the boys' mother. Ask any church historian, and he'll tell you that it was Susannah's efforts in raising those boys that influenced them to become the powerful men of God they would later become. To be responsible for raising sons who: 1) turned two continents upside down; and 2) whose influence was felt for centuries after they died is truly MIND BLOWING if you think about it. If that is not power, I don't know what is. I cannot find the words to describe this; I really can't. Words such as awesome, magnificent, and wondrous seem to fall short of rendering a proper description. I will say this, though: all the nuclear bombs in the world pale in comparison! When I think about this, all I can say is 'Wow'...

So, the next time any fool tries to make you or any of the other ladies on here feel inadequate for staying at home to care for your husband, keep the home, and/or raise your children, just ignore them; they are fools who don't know what they are talking about, nor do they have the mental wherewithal to comprehend what you'd say anyway. Though a person has to be powerful to secure a corner office, that power PALES in comparison to that which a Godly mother can wield; just look at Susannah Wesley for an example & inspiration. How many of these career chicks are going to be remembered centuries later, a la Susannah Wesley? Methinks not too many; think about THAT...

Good night...

MarkyMark

Anonymous said...

How very sad. It is so important for a couple to make decisions about children and to know each other's thoughts closely before they marry.

I have a friend who does not want children, and she and her boyfriend decided not to marry partly because they wanted such different things from their lives. I do not believe all of us will have children, and I believe it is ok not to want children of your own, but lying about it is so sad and is as much a pressure of society as the reverse. My friend who does not want children gets some horrible comments from people who believe there is something abnormal about not wanting children, without knowing her circumstances. All very sad.

Sarah K

Celestial Freak said...

This breaks my heart! The deception is something both that she believed and in action passed on and now they have the consequences of it all. Sad.

As someone who does have infertility, I can't believe someone would pretend they have it. It's actually kind of insulting to me.

Thank you for sharing this story though, it really makes one think of how blind people in the world can be sometimes to the real rolls God has for us.