Page Summary

  • The conjugal communion between a husband and wife continues in their children.
  • That means that we ourselves are not just individual billiard balls, but the fruit of the communion of our parents.
  • Each of us is a gift deserving to come into the world as the result of the love of a husband and wife, not as a means to some other end.


What does having children have to do with loving your spouse?

Though it might seem like they can compete for attention against the love of husband and wife, children are the very embodiment of the love of their mother and father.

Ok, but what does that actually mean?

After the birth of Danielle’s and Dave’s first daughter, Dave felt like a bystander while Danielle was forming a profound bond with their newborn. After the intense joy of forming one life together, suddenly this other person was occupying Danielle’s attention, which had previously been given to Dave. While not as difficult as Danielle’s experience of pregnancy, giving birth, and becoming a primary caregiver, feelings of resentment began to grow in Dave. He didn’t want to admit it, but he found himself wanting to go back to “the way things were” before the positive pregnancy test. This was supposed to be about his love for her and her love for him, so why did it become all about this third person?

a baby scrunching its face
a dad holding his child

The relationship underlying “the way things were” hasn’t gone away, but has changed, because it has grown beyond their inner life and taken on a new, objective existence in their daughter. Their conjugal communion continues in her. Deep down, that’s what Dave wanted when he married Danielle in the first place.

This is the reality that Dave was missing. His daughter is not something “other than” him in the way that people outside the family are other than him. His child is not a competing interest in a zero-sum struggle, but rather his own flesh and blood. In devoting so much of her attention to loving Dave’s child, Danielle is still loving him. By tending this new life that shares in his being, she is continuously affirming her union with her husband, even if it isn’t as direct as he would like. Likewise, he might find it easier to express affection toward his child if he understood that it would be an act of love toward his wife as well.

This isn’t only true of Dave’s daughter; it’s true of him. He lacks self-awareness if he doesn’t see himself as a child whose very existence depends on someone else’s union. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact, but the way we see children affects how we see ourselves. We are not billiard balls, colliding and ricocheting off one another. We are the fruit of communion, living for communion.


Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

Jesus of Nazareth, Matthew 18:3-5

We are also gifts. Nobody has the right to children. If children were demanded as a kind of payment for love, then love wouldn’t be a free gift, which is prerequisite for communion. Moreover, we don’t strictly create kids. The union of a husband and wife is the necessary occasion for the gift of a child to be received. When united, their gametes combine and change into a human body, but this depends on the soul of each child: a completely new and irreplaceable reality, created at that same time directly and immediately by God.

Children, like us, are owed certain things in justice from the moment they come into existence at conception. They deserve to come into the world as the result of a loving embrace between husband and wife. They don’t exist to gratify our deep emotional longing for legacy, control, or responsibility. They are not meant to serve as a way parents can vicariously satisfy unfulfilled dreams. They are good in themselves. To treat them otherwise would implicitly reject the beauty of the communion through which they came into the world.

Does that mean couples who experience infertility are inferior?


two kids walking and holding hands

Choose your next step: