Monday, August 29, 2011
Avoiding the Marriage Meltdown
In the midst of Rob working two jobs, Celia looking for full time work, and the stress of these conflicts on their marriage, Rob and Celia have just discovered Celia is pregnant.
As the blood ran from his head to his legs, Rob was rooted to the floor, staring at Celia. As if to prove the words she had just spoken, she held up the pregnancy test so he could see the result. She offered a gentle smile.
At the sight of the plus sign his stomach turned. In fear of passing out, he sat down right where he was and put his head in his hands.
“Oh my God,” he said. He could not think; his body could do no more than recover from the blow. Then he felt Celia next to him, putting an ice pack on the back of his neck. She rubbed his back lightly with her hand.
Soon Rob reached back to remove the ice pack and sat up. Celia was sitting next to him, still rubbing his back. He looked at her and saw tears in her eyes.
“So how did this happen?” he said.
“How do you think it happened?” she asked back. Her tone suggested she was trying to inject some levity into the situation.
“I thought you had a diaphragm,” he said. He stood up, moving away from her and sitting on the sofa. Celia now sat alone on the floor.
Celia stood up. “Is this really the best you can do right now?” she said. “Place blame?” She took the ice pack from the coffee table and walked into the kitchen. He could hear her put the ice pack back in the freezer and continue, presumably, to make the meal she had been working on earlier.
Rob sat there, grinding his teeth and taking deep breaths. He was exhausted now, working two jobs to get ahead. He despaired of ever buying a house or paying off their student loans, let alone getting enough sleep or having either the time or extra money to play a round of golf…
The crickets of late summer shirred outside the open window of their small apartment, foisting Rob back to his childhood, spent in a comfortable suburban home with plenty of room to play and a father who did all the worrying and providing. Rob yearned for the days when to play was all the responsibility he had.
I got married too soon, he thought. I’m not ready for this. I’m not ready for any of it.
He ruminated for a while in this groove until Celia called quietly that dinner was ready. Her voice had never sounded so alien to him.
Rob couldn’t imagine ever eating again, but he dragged his bones off the sofa and walked into the kitchen.
What happens next?
Friday, August 26, 2011
Handling an unplanned pregnancy (Harold’s response)
A little more than twenty years ago Dalia and I were very nervous. We had been married for three years—all the while taking precautions to not get pregnant. After all, we had our five year plan. Well, as we sat nervously in the bathroom waiting for the results of the early pregnancy test, we were struggling to fathom how we would be able to handle a child. Well, that day we learned that our son Quilan was coming. At first, it seemed like there was no way that we would be ready for his arrival. We didn’t think we were ready financially or emotionally.
We consulted our parents, our friends, and our pastor about how we could possibly handle such an undertaking. And, as I think back I’m reminded of those experienced parents who humored us while reassuring us that we would be just fine.
Well, I’ve now been a parent for twenty years. And, we’ve gone through two pregnancies—the second one a miraculous testimony that I’ll have to tell you about another day.
But, for all of you who have anxiety about pregnancy (particularly an unplanned one), be sure that God will give you the provision that you need to be godly parents. He will give you the finances that you need to raise the child properly. And, he will help you the wisdom to work with your husband/wife so that this child actually helps you trust in the Lord—leaning not to your own understanding.
Yes, parenting is definitely a process of spiritual formation. So, be encouraged that the ups and downs of parenthood are going to push you closer towards the Lord. Welcome that process.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Handling an unplanned pregnancy
While Rob works an extra job to close their income gap and Celia continues to look for both full time and supplemental work, they are faced with the possibility that Celia is pregnant.
The panicked look on Rob’s face had followed Celia into the bathroom and she could not shake it as she took the pregnancy test.
“OK,” she called through the door. “Do you want to watch it change with me or do you want me to find out first?” Celia could handle that Rob couldn’t handle this, at least for the moment. Part of her was excited – she loved children and she looked forward to being a mother. But not yet. Certainly not now.
“I don’t know,” he said. His voice sounded high-pitched, like that deer-in-the-headlights look was still there.
“Well, it only takes five minutes.” She sat on the toilet seat, waiting, but Rob did not respond. She was grateful that she and Rob were different on one very important point. Rob was probably already calculating in-state vs. out-of-state college tuition nineteen years from now, whereas Celia was happy to blank out her mind and take it one step at a time…
After a minute Rob called to her again. “It’s stupid for you to sit in there alone,” he said. “Bring it out here.”
Celia joined Rob on the sofa, gripping the pregnancy test between her fingers. She set it on the coffee table, on a tissue, before them. Rob, an avid sports fan, watched it like it was the last game of March Madness, with his team down by two.
Celia watched him watch the stick. His face was ashen and his eyes were terrified. She took his hand and kissed it.
“It’s going to be OK,” she said.
Almost imperceptibly, Rob shook his head and swallowed.
“It is,” she said. “I promise.”
“What do you base that promise on, Celia?” Rob said, letting go of her hand and jumping up from the sofa. “I don’t have any more to give right now.” He began to pace the room.
Celia relied on her Christian faith at times of uncertainty and found real assurance there; in fact, she prayed for Rob right now, that his heart would soften to receive whatever news they would face in about one more minute. Rob, who did not share her faith and who would likely laugh if she brought it up right now, relied on himself.
Celia watched as the indicator on the test turned, unmistakably, to a very strong plus sign.
“It’s done,” she said. Rob, across the room, stopped his pacing and turned to face her.
“I’m pregnant,” she said.
How does Rob respond?
Friday, August 19, 2011
Pregnancy Scare Part II (Joanne’s comment)
Coincidentally, last evening I watched the last episode of the second season of Friday Night Lights, in which one of the main characters learns that a girl with whom he had a one-night-stand is pregnant. The character, Jason, has to work himself through a process of “this is a terrible mistake” to “this is a miracle,” which encourages him to embrace both the challenge and opportunity on a a spiritual level. This is admittedly a very black and white reduction of a complex situation and issue, but it illustrates a process. Celia, who has had a couple of days to consider the situation (and as evidenced by her tentative smiles to Rob about the pregnancy test) has clearly moved farther through the process than has Rob. Rob, having just had this dropped in his fatigued and discouraged lap, is standing at the starting block and is not at all happy about the race he may be facing. I hope Celia can give him some space to catch up with her. Then I hope they can find ways to tolerate standing in different parts of the gray area while supporting one another in it.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Pregnancy Scare Part II
Rob has started a part time job at Starbucks in addition to his full time accounting job, while Celia has been submitting applications everywhere in hopes of supplementing her part time music teaching work with anything else that pays.
Rob’s eyes had been drooping at his desk all day and he found himself spending as much time (it seemed) in the office kitchenette getting coffee as he did actually working. 5:00 PM had never rolled around so slowly. Rob was grateful to be driving home, because after only two weeks at Starbucks, he feared he would not be able to sustain the schedule to which he had committed. The promise of extra income to put toward Celia’s student loan and car payment, and (he hoped earnestly) into savings felt remote and even meaningless when he was too tired to care.
Celia’s car was not in its spot when he pulled into the garage, although the kitchen looked as if dinner was imminent despite her absence. Rob savored the quiet of their apartment, surprised at how much he missed his evenings here and dreading the coming months when his downtime would be so restricted.
Just as Rob settled into the sofa and turned on the TV to see what the local stations were serving up as dinnertime fare (they had dropped the cable package to save money), Celia walked in the front door. He looked over and smiled.
Celia smiled back and joined him on the sofa. She handed him the small pharmacy bag in her hand and gestured that he should open it.
He feigned excitement to mask his impatience as he reached into the bag, pulling out a small box. Turning it over, he read aloud, “Home Pregnancy Test,” then the fine print: “Two tests so you can be sure.”
He laughed. “Who’s this for?”
“Me,” Celia said, smiling. “Us.”
Nausea overtook him as the implication became clear. He sat in the irony that all he could think about was how much a pregnancy test cost, knowing full well that if Celia was pregnant he might never get to quit Starbucks.
“I’m late,” she said, “so I waited a few days. But nothing’s happening.”
“Oh my God,” Rob said. “This is the last thing we need.”
Celia stopped smiling and took a deep breath. “I was afraid you’d react like that.”
“Well, how should I react?” Rob said.
“Don’t panic,” Celia said. “Please. Let me go pee on the stick first. Then we can panic.”
Friday, August 12, 2011
A pregnancy scare (Joanne’s comment)
Even in the 21st century, sex still leads to babies. According to the American Pregnancy Association, over eight thousand women “per day” discover they have become “unintentionally” pregnant. The vast majority of sexually active women, however responsible they might be about birth control, have experienced at least one “scare” in their life, and as many as half of all pregnancies within marriage are unplanned. At the very least this shows that while birth control is a good, responsible thing, it is certainly not a “sure” thing.
There is no argument that on the grand sociological scale, birth control has revolutionized sex, marriage, and family life. But on Rob and Celia’s individual scale, what will it mean if Celia is pregnant? We don’t know the answer to this yet, but for this episode I wonder what Celia will do with her fear. Will she withhold it from Rob until she knows for sure, to “protect” him, while burdening herself with the worry? I hope she will share it with Rob. Whatever other burdens he is carrying in their relationship now, it takes two to tango.
Monday, August 08, 2011
A Pregnancy Scare?
Starbucks hired Rob part time, which inspired Celia to put in applications for jobs well below her education and skill level as a practical response to their financial situation.
“Thanks, Celia,” Rob had said when he heard the news of her efforts. “That means a lot to me.”
Every day since, Rob’s first question when he walked in the door was “Did you hear from any jobs yet?” Celia regretted that her initiative on the job front seemed to give Rob permission to behave as he had in the past about her work situations – he acted like it was the most important thing in their relationship.
She could understand that Rob was feeling more stress than ever before, having started training for the Starbucks job in addition to his full time accounting job. Celia knew Rob needed down time to refuel and the current situation did not allow him much of that. She did what she could; for instance, she expanded her recent cooking repertoire to include packing gourmet lunches for him from the leftovers.
So Rob was tired, and understandably anxious for this imbalance to correct itself, so she tried to be patient with his questions. However, Celia had not heard back from any job application with the exception of a nanny position for a family who wanted live-in help. While she might be ready to do anything to help her marriage and its financial future, she drew the line as a married woman at living separate from her husband.
But she could not help wondering what was wrong with her that no one called about any other reasonable job. In consequence, her confidence eroded daily about whom she was and what she had to offer the world, but since Rob was too tired to be bothered with her neediness she stewed privately.
As a spiritual discipline she embraced the work she did have. Though the small church choir she directed was on hiatus for the summer, she spent more time than ever before combing through the church’s small music library for meaningful material for the fall worship series. Her six private piano students received the best she had to offer as a teacher. Daily, she combed job listings and sent more resumes and applications, and daily she made herself follow up on at least two jobs with a phone call. Daily, she took a long walk and worked out in the gym in their building. Their apartment was the cleanest it had ever been and she continued to enjoy matching whatever meat was on special at the grocery store with new recipes from the internet.
Really, she thought as she chopped basil for the evening’s cold pasta salad, this would be a great situation for a woman who had a couple of small children at home. But it would be years before she and Rob were ready for that complication to their family life—
Celia paused, the knife held in mid-air. She could not remember her last menstrual period.
What does Celia do next?
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