The unspoken question

My husband and I met on eHarmony. Which means before we could even be introduced to the virtual best-photos-we’ve-ever-taken versions of each other, we each had to answer hundreds of what-if questions about ourselves. Questions like, “What if your partner made less money than you?” “What if your partner’s mother didn’t like you?” “What if your partner became penniless, homeless, armless and legless?”

Once the eHarmony algorithm determined that we were a good match, before we met face-to-face, we had to pass each other’s tests with questions like “how many kids do you want?” and “What’s your idea of the perfect weekend?”

Finally, we met, dated, fell in love, and decided to get married.

But that meant we still had one more rigorous question-and-answer course to pass: The Catholic Marriage preparation course. Over several months, we found ourselves having to answer questions ranging from “Who will balance the checkbook?” to “What is God’s will for you as a couple” and “What does fertile cervical mucus feel like?” No joke.

So by the time we were married, My husband and I had spent two years of our lives answering every imaginable intimate question about ourselves and our future.

Except one.

Not once, in all of this self-reflective nonstop question and answering did we ever have to answer this question:

What if you can’t have kids?

It’s an unspoken question. Because it’s always just assumed that you fall in love, you get married, you get busy and you have kids. At least, if you both want them.

But what if? What if you can’t? What if despite trying and trying and trying, it’s just not in the cards for you? What do you do? How far do you go? What if your partner doesn’t want to go to the same lengths?

Not once did we have to face that question. Not once did we even think about that question. Like every one else, we just assumed…

Until now.

Fortunately for us, his answer and my answer are the same. We’re going to be parents no matter what. No matter if we have to go through years of this. No matter if we can’t have a biological child. No matter if we have to adopt a child. Or buy a child. Or steal a child.*

I don’t recall a specific conversation where “No matter what” was decided. It’s just a mindset we both share. Maybe that eHarmony algorithm truly did its thing when it matched us. Maybe our years of answering questions somehow prepared us for the most important one we’ve ever faced. Maybe it’s just pure blind coincidence that we share the same attitude about it.

No matter what, we’re lucky. I guess really I should say we’re unlucky but lucky. Because we know other unlucky couples who are also unlucky enough to have mismatching answers to that unspoken question.

And I can’t help but wonder how many couples out there have never been forced to find out that they wouldn’t have the same answer to that unspoken question.

Maybe the unspoken question needs to be spoken more.

*We will not engage in any criminal acts. Most likely.

6 thoughts on “The unspoken question

  1. Wow, I can completely relate. My husband and I met online and went through Catholic marriage prep. At the time we were shocked with how indepth it got and super proud of ourselves for going over “everything” before saying I DO. And you know what? We did not ask the unspoken question either. I too am incredibly thankful that we’re both on the same page. We will become parents like you said no matter what –we haven’t thought of stealing a child but I did ask if we could kidnap a fertile 20 year old and take her to Mexico for a sketchy fallopian tube transplant 🙂


  2. Infertility is tragic for so many reasons, including the multiple dimensions of stress it can bring on a relationship. When we first struggled to get pregnant, I was terrified because hubby and I weren’t on the same page. I couldn’t imagine going through life without kids, whether biologically ours or adopted. He heard the stories of how emotionally-draining, expensive, and time-consuming process that both multiple rounds of IVF and adoption could be, and decided our lives were pretty happy without kids. We eventually got pregnant with some assistance, and I am so relieved because I feared the fact that we weren’t on the same page.

    Infertility treatments can rattle even a solid relationship. Please be sure to nurture yours throughout this journey!


  3. Also, it occurred to me at one point during my journey that we each have a finite amount of emotional resources when trying to get pregnant. Everyone’s is different, but think about what yours–and your husband’s–limits are, and plan a strategy accordingly. I hear about people going through many many rounds of IVF and miscarriages, and are drained of their emotional reserve by the time they even consider adoption or donor eggs. I know I only had 1-2 rounds of IVF in me, and after that, I wanted to go immediately to adoption. Knowing the adoption process is also arduous and emotional, I knew I couldn’t use up all of my emotional reserve on trying for a biological baby. And my husband’s emotional reserve was even less than mine.

    Think through how much energy you have for this, and at what point it might be time to turn to donor eggs or adoption. It’s tragic to spend years and years of your life trying unsuccessfully, when an alternate pathway to a family could have meant that you spent those years being a mother.


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