I wonder if…

January 17, 2008

“I wonder if two people who are ‘only children’ can get married.”

My roommate was pondering out loud tonight. Obviously, this isn’t a question of the possibility of such a match, but of the compatibility. (This was provoked by the idea of the oldest child frequently marrying the … whatever child… and the like. They always tend leave the only child out of those first-middle-last observations. Sigh… always forgotten and alone.)

Little did she know, this was something I had thought a lot about. You can be sure, however, that she soon knew of my extensive contemplations concerning the matter.

I am an only child. This random life question has a lot of potential significance for my life.

When I was in high school, I was dating an only child. We were both pretty young and pretty immature, so the question of marriage never got too serious, but the question of marriage did come up, on occasion.

(For the record, he was the one to do all of the mentioning. Though… I did consider showing up in a wedding dress at his place of employment one day. Perhaps becauseit wouldn’t have ruffled him too much, we decided to use the dress to elicit an amusing response from my father, instead. Hehe… I will never forget the look on his face. He was not amused. Not amused at all.)

Anyway… when such a topic comes up (and you have my personality type), you definitely think about the practicality of such a life-shaping decision.

The first, and most notable, thing to ever occur to me, in regards to the marriage of an only child to an only child, was the matter of children.

If you and your spouse share the status of “only child”, there is likely to be a great deal of pressure on you to produce grandchildren. No one else is going to do it. Your parents are waiting on you, and you alone, to bring that new life into the family. They can be excited about other family members having children… but you are the only one who can give them grandchildren… their own grandchildren.

Throw together the pressure coming from your parents and the pressure coming from your spouse’s parents and you have one baby-craving family.

In addition to the great likelihood of that little external pressure to the marriage, consider the odd situation of your children. Can you imagine not having a single aunt or uncle? And no cousins? What an odd experience that would be at family reunions! Actually… what would even be the point of a family “reunion”, unless it were a larger extension of the family?

And you… you would have no nieces and nephews… as you (and your spouse) have no siblings to bear them.

OK, so not all parents are eager to be grandparents. And not all people really enjoy family reunions or are particularly concerned about having extended family.

As foreign as the idea of having siblings may be to me, I definitely want to marry a man who has them. Maybe even lots of them. I like the idea of having family. Especially now that my immediate family has been recently reduced by one third (the loss of my mother in our family of three).

Of course, when I say “definitely want”, it is only a matter of preference. I am certainly not going to refuse to marry a man solely on the basis of his sibling situation. Sigh… and I should hope that this would not disqualify me from marriage either.

Which brings me to another “hmmm… I wonder” question of marriage. I have no siblings. I have one living parent. The man who marries me isn’t gaining much in the category of in-laws. Will that reality be difficult for him? (Given the great abundance of jokes and shared sighs concerning in-laws, I suppose one may see it as an odd blessing.)

Whether or not the issue of having a mother-in-law really registers as significant to the man… he will surely feel the impact of it in one way or another. He will find himself stuck in the situation of walking through my grief with me.

I’m already mourning the fact that my mother will not be at my wedding or meet my children. These two realities come back to me again and again. But I know that they will strike at me even more deeply as the events unfold.

Who wants to be planning a wedding and watch his fiance suddenly break down in tears (again) because her mother cannot be consulted or will not be present at the event? Who wants to encounter those moments of frustration when his pregnant wife has a question about what is happening or soon to happen and she cannot call her mom? Who wants to witness that moment when his wife’s happiness is suddenly filled with a shadow of grief at what is lost? Who wants those guaranteed elements of sadness in some of life’s most joyous events?

Who thinks about these things? (Surely I am not alone.)

And why is it that marriage and children are among the first things that occur to you when you lose a parent prior to those events? I KNOW that I am not alone in that experience. And how is it that her absence at those two events can be so painful to me so many times? Especially when marriage does not even appear to be anywhere on the horizon, as of yet.

Well… the future will happen as the future happens. I am sad that my mother will not be present for much of it. But… I can at least take comfort in the fact that she will be around for the greatest events of my future. She’ll be there when Jesus comes back. She be there when He fully establishes His kingdom and makes every wrong right… ON THE EARTH. She’ll be there when there is no more sorrow or sickness or pain. She’ll be there when righteousness rules.

Come, Lord Jesus.



  1. Christine I pray that the man you marry will have an abundance of siblings! AND that your mother in law will be a blessing to you, not that she would replace your mom, but be able to come along side you in your time of need, and that the Lord would put other “mom like” figures in your life, especially during those key moments of your life where you would want your mom there, and of course she will be there, and no one can replace her, but I pray that our Heavenly Father will provide you with godly women to surround you in those times and throughout the remainder of your life. love to you friend!

  2. Thank you!

  3. If you are blessed, as I am, you WILL have a wonderful m-i-l. I was also lucky to have a stepmother who has grown to love us as her own. Not that either of them has ever taken my mothers place, but have made a new place in my heart. If I had been philisophical(?), I might have come up with the same thoughts as far as planning a wedding, maybe thats why we eloped. It was just to hard to do without her.I now regret not having a wedding that my family and friends could attend. When you find that someone special you will have your friends and family to lean on, just as you do now. We love you and pray with you always.

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