Childless by religious conviction ?

Thank goodness DH is a computer genius … we’ve had some major issues getting my computer to work properly lately.  I need to find all of my RSS feeds etc. again, and I will incommunicado next week – so please forgive me if I fall off the planet a bit until September.

This morning I heard a radio documentary that has been with me the rest of the day.  It is the story of how a bit of civil law and religious law interact in Canada, told through the story of Stephanie.  Stephanie and her husband divorced through civil law, but in Jewish law her husband had to offer her a release from the barrier of remarrying (and thus having children in the faith).  It was explained that the husband offers this release – called a “Get” – and the wife accepts it, in order to free both parties to move on.  If the wife refuses to accept or the husband refuses to give the Get, then they are not free.  I believe the Rabbinical court is involved in working it all out.  (I don’t have a background in Judaism, so I hope I’m getting the details right here).

Back in medieval times this (apparently) worked pretty well.  It gave the woman some power in the decision.  If the Rabbinical court found that the woman was religiously and morally in the right, and the husband refused to give the Get, there were ways they could persuade him to voluntarily offer it – since religion had more direct power & influence over a person’s life in the past than it does now, generally speaking.

So when Stephanie and her ex divorced, there was an agreement that he would offer her the Get – which he did not do.  That did not happen until the civil law was re-written in Canada to apply the kind of pressure for resolution that religion & society used to do.  It took 15 years for this to be worked out.

Meanwhile, Stephanie was a “chained wife.”  She could not marry again in the faith, or have children in the faith.  The magnitude of this struggle is not really detailed but that is what really stands out to me.  Let’s say she was 25 at the time of the split-up – 15 years later, she would be 40.   Those are years where she could not be married and building a life with a partner, nor could she have children (or try to). 

Obviously her faith was important enough to her that she wanted to do things the “right” way.  It was important to her to marry someone of her own religion, and to have children that the community would recognize.  It just speaks to me – the fundamental conflict between what you believe in your heart to be true, to be the right path for you to follow – and the yearning to have children, to be married …

Now, I don’t know if she met the love of her life and waited for 10 years hoping to get married.  I don’t know how strong her urge to have children might be/might have been.  Perhaps it was “sure, if kids came along I’d like that” as opposed to “I really want to have kids.”  But just imagining that the ex has this power to block your access to the rest of what you want in life, because your faith and beliefs are so strongly rooted in that way … it just seems to me that the ex has done incalculable damage here.

While Stephanie cannot gain back the lost years, the civil law in Canada was changed such that this should not be able to happen.  The gist of the wording is that no person may place barriers to a religious re-marriage for an ex if it is in the power of the individual person to remove them.  So Stephanie eventually got her Get.

She did sue the ex for damages.  As I recall it was $2 500 for each year that she was not able to remarry, and $10 000 for not being able to have children.  (not that money can replace it, but I guess it was the principle).  That last figure really stuck in my head.  It’s about the cost of an IVF, isn’t it.  

If you are interested in hearing the documentary, I believe you can access it here: http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/2008/200808/20080820.html

you’ll need to go part 2.

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A Happy Anniversary

Life has been so busy lately – but I think we are finally calming down a bit.  Between taking a little holiday, hosting a party at our house (involving drastic tidy up, clean up, and relocating furniture into the night right beforehand, with rain in the weather forecast), catching colds, doctor appointments, etc. – well, my blogging & reading has suffered.  

However, I did want to say what a lovely time DH & I had for our anniversary the other night!  We spent the actual day at home (though we are going out for a romantic dinner on the weekend).  DH planned out a wonderful evening.  I was busy finishing up a few things upstairs until he was ready for me to come down.  Here are some of the things that made it so special.

– a card with a letter that brought tears to my eyes and a huge smile on my face.  DH often finds it easier to express emotional things in writing.  I will treasure this card always.  (I thought it was taking him such a long time to drop off dry-cleaning.  I bet he was in the coffee shop writing in this card instead!)

– candles all over in our kitchen/family room area of the house.  I love candles!

– an order-in dinner with sentimental value … on our 2nd anniversary we had just gotten possession of our first house, so we picked up Chinese food and had our anniversary dinner sitting on the floor – with a bottle of wine saved from our wedding – and a bit of the top cake layer which had been frozen.  We don’t have Chinese food often so it has a connection for me.

– music which also has significance to us.  Johnny Clegg & Savuka “Cruel Crazy Beautiful World” – from our courting days.  Steven Curtis Chapman “Greatest Hits” – our wedding song is on this album.  Vivaldi “The Four Seasons,” played by Nigel Kennedy.  He is an amazing violinist that DH discovered before we were married, and that’s the music we played for our wedding meal.

– dancing to our wedding song “I Will be Here for You” by Steven Curtis Chapman

– a lovely gift which makes me feel beautiful & special

– a massage by candle light.  Years ago DH & I took a massage class together – something I would highly recommend!  We both enjoy the relaxation a massage can bring.  While professionals are great I actually prefer DH – probably because I’m just more relaxed with him anyway.  We even invested in an adjustable massage table since I am short & DH is tall, and we don’t want one person getting injured while massaging the other. Another benefit of massage is it can lead to pure relaxation and sleep, or it can go in other directions 😉 

– watching the Olympics (too) late into the night, snuggled up on the couch.  Although Canada hasn’t won any medals yet … I enjoy watching these amazing athletes.  Michael Phelps is something else, and gymnastics is always a favourite.  Unfortunately it’s adding up to some sleep deprivation!

In other news, we are still waiting for good news on the job front (DH’s fortune cookie just said something about “relax and be happy” while mine said “success is heading your way.”  Hmmm).  I am still confident that something will come our way – I just hope it will be soon.