This story is part of our End of the Childbearing Years series, exploring the experiences, decisions, and feelings of Mormon women around this pivotal transition. Each story is a generous and vulnerable offering. We ask that comments be sensitive and nonjudgmental toward any woman’s choices or beliefs.
I grew up the fifth of seven kids, around a close knit extended family—all of whom had large families. I always expected to have a large family, “At least five, of course.” Then time passed, and I didn’t get married until I was 29. I knew seven kids was off of the table because of my age but also because of desire. I guess as I matured I better understood the realities of such a large family. When my husband and I talked about how many children we’d like, we always figured at least two but we’d see, and take them one at a time.
By age 34, we had two kids. I always figured we’d have at least one more, but my husband really didn’t want any more. When our youngest was a year old we really started thinking hard about it. Over the course of the next year, we did a lot of growing as a couple. I could never get God to tell me if I was supposed to have more kids, but I did get the impression that my relationship with my husband was more important than how many kids we had and either way, it would be fine. We maybe started with defenses and judgments, but we were able to respectfully work through it. We learned that we were both selfish and both selfless in our opposite opinions. We also learned that our personalities are polar opposites. I had to come to terms with my upbringing, which taught me, through example, it was righteous to have lots of kids and wicked to limit your family. I felt deep down that there was some truth to that, though I also knew deep down, those were some false traditions passed down. In the end I was able to respect my husband’s position and I was able to say that my wish for another child wasn’t just some desire to be righteous and please my family.
I was willing to stop at two, and not just grudgingly willing. I was at peace and wasn’t going to hold it over my husband’s head. We both knew we weren’t going to change each other’s minds and that was okay. One day my husband relented and decided he would sacrifice his choice for me and we could try for another baby. I got pregnant. Pregnancy and a new baby were strains on our marriage, as we knew they would inevitably be, but we were okay too. Shortly after our new baby came, my husband got a vasectomy. I was supportive and at peace with that. We were done.
I had grown up hearing so many stories about how couples had felt there were more souls waiting to come to their family or they were done with kids, but then felt a surprise prompting to have more. Or they felt they should be willing to accept as many souls as God choose to send to them, but I had never heard a story about how a couple knew it was time to stop. I think that’s why I felt compelled to share my story. God never told us. We had to work through it together and just use our own agency, but in the process our relationship was immensely strengthened. Our marriage really was more important than how many kids we had.