“Her husband Elkanah used to ask her: ‘Hannah, why do you weep, and why do you refuse to eat? Why do you grieve? Am I not more to you than ten sons?’” 1 Samuel 1:8
I’m sure most of the childless women reading this (myself included) got a little annoyed with Elkanah when we read that. Hannah is one of Elkanah’s two wives, the other of whom is a real Fertile Myrtle and has bullied the infertile Hannah for years. Hannah is, understandably, at her wit’s end, and Elkanah just. Doesn’t. Get It!
And then I read this verse last Monday (I try to read the Mass readings every day, even if I can’t go to daily Mass) and it hit me: yes, Elkanah doesn’t get Hannah. At the same time, Hannah doesn’t get Elkanah. He loves her, kids or no kids; doesn’t that mean anything? Shouldn’t she be glad to have love in her life?
My DH could probably relate to Elkanah. ”So what if we don’t have any kids? We’re still a family. What am I, chopped liver?”
I grudgingly admit that Elkanah and my DH have a point. Right now, it seems like all the women I know are either having babies or getting divorced. As sad as I am that I’m not doing the former, I am grateful beyond words that I am not doing the latter! A loving, stable marriage should be more important than ten children; for one thing, it would probably be easier to have and raise ten children in the context of a loving, stable marriage. For another, whether a couple has one child or ten, eventually they’ll all grow up and move out, leaving husband and wife alone again. Too many couples reach the empty nest stage and realize that the only thing they had in common was their children, and with the children gone, they have no reason to stay together. You know what that is? Sad.
Today, as every day, I try to put DH first. I pray that all of you do the same. A marriage is a foundation for life; let’s keep our foundations from turning to sand.