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Elizabeth Stone wrote:

Hi, guys —

First off, I was raised Catholic and have made all my sacraments. Though I strayed from the Church, I never ceased going to Mass, if that makes any sense. Recently, I've become more involved with my faith, through the ACTS Retreats and the influence of my fiancé's family, which has been a wonderful awakening.

We are in our mid-30's and getting married in January. We met with my parish priest, and to make a long story, short, I said I was open to having children, though I am not — so I essentially lied to a holy man because I am terrified of having children.

To complicate matters, I suffer from Bipolar II disorder, which requires several medications
(all birth defect causing), which I cannot live a sane life without. Going off my medications to have children would be irresponsible, plus I'm terrified that the stress of having a child would cause me to relapse. There is also the threat of postpartum psychosis, of which I have a 70% chance of developing. In addition, there is a good sporting chance I will pass my disease onto my children, the horror of which I wouldn't wish on anyone.

  • Is there anyway we can still marry in my beloved Catholic Church, if I am not open to having biological children?

I'd love to adopt some kids who need a home.

Sorry to be long winded, thanks for any insight you can provide.

Elizabeth

  { Can I get married in the Catholic Church if I am not open to having children for medical reasons? }

Mike replied:

Dear Elizabeth —

First I applaud you for getting more involved in your faith again. No matter how your talks of marriage turn out, staying close to the Church and the sacraments, especially Confession and the Eucharist, are key to a strong Catholic Christian life.

I hate to disappoint you but we can't provide more then what the Church teaches and that is,
the purpose of marriage it two-fold:

  • creative, and
  • unitive

Seeing we are mainly an apologetics web site, any pastoral advice we have is limited. Because of the complex background and medical history you have, it would not be prudent to comment further. We always recommend questioners talk to their local pastor, if the priest is faithful to the Church. If he is not, just find another priest.

A faithful pastor or priest that is loyal to the Magisterium of the Church is not your enemy and you should not be lying to him; he is there to help and assist you.

  • If you can't be open with him, how do you except to be open to your future husband,
    who I also hope is a holy man?

I was concerned that there was no mention of your future husband in your question.

  • Does he know how you feel about having children?

Any couple having any ideas of getting married should always be having:

  • frequent
  • open, and
  • totally honest

conversations. Like my mom taught me,

"Michael, It's a life-time commitment."

It's important to note, she didn't necessarily mean to say family life is always painful and a drag, in the negative sense, just that you have to take future marital issues seriously. I find it interesting how the mysteries we mediate on the Holy Rosary are patterned after various types of stages that are in our life's. There are:

  • Joyful
  • Luminous
  • Sorrowful, and
  • Glorious

occasions in the life of any family.

The best advice I can give you is to open up totally on how you feel with your pastor and future husband. Remember, marriage is not a 50-50 percent proposition; but a 100-100 percent proposition where the husband gives 100 percent to his wife and children; and the wife gives 100 percent to his husband and children.

Hope this helps,

Mike

 

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