It wasn’t Ruth’s fault. It wasn’t Charles’ fault. It just was. For the first twelve years of their marriage Charles and Ruth didn’t discuss having children. They didn’t really discuss before hand either. The only time they talked about it was the time they had a scare and thought Ruth might be pregnant. Charles was really relieved when they found out she wasn’t. He made some remark about not wanting more children. Ruth asked him what he meant. He told her he’d just gotten Samantha to the stage where she wasn’t in need of constant attention and that he just wasn’t ready for more children now. Maybe later, but definitely not now. Sam was six.
At seventeen Ruth was in no big hurry, so she thought she had plenty of time. If Charles didn’t want children now that was okay with her. All throughout their marriage if anyone asked when they were going to have a baby Charles would pipe up and say, “I don’t know. I hope Ruth and her new husband are happy together, though.” That hurt Ruth’s feelings, but she just wrote it off as a joke. Surely it was just a nervous response to a question he didn’t really have an answer to.
It wasn’t. Samantha had graduated high school and moved into an apartment. Ruth hadn’t really brought it up before because Samantha had step-brothers in her mother’s household. Her mother pretty much treated her as if she were a niece who would come spend the weekends sometimes. She always felt like she was in competition with them because her mother loved them more. So Ruth didn’t want Sam to feel that way at two houses. Ruth finally decided that she’d ask Charles about having a baby. He told her he’d think about it. Looking back he probably just hoped Ruth would forget about it and not bring it up again. When that didn’t happen Charles said, “We just got Sam into college and out of the house. We never had a chance to just be married and not have the responsibility of a child. We just got our freedom. Maybe in a few years, just not now.” He was right. They hadn’t had their freedom. They hadn’t had a chance to enjoy being married. So Ruth let it drop thinking in a few years she’d bring it up again. They still had plenty of time.
And in a few years she did. About four years later Ruth brought it up again. Charles, once again, told Ruth he’d think about it. They discussed it several times. By this point Charles was forty-two and Ruth was thirty-five. He told her all the reasons he didn’t want to have a baby. He was too old, he was afraid he’d die before the child was grown. He was enjoying not having that responsibility. When they went to Savannah every summer for a School Board function what would they do? That was no place to carry a child. When Ruth became sad over it Charles got angry. Ruth tried to hide her sadness, but she became quite depressed over it for a time. She’d been crying about it on the way home from work one day and when he asked what she’d been crying about she just said, “nothing, it’s no big deal.” He pressed her for an answer so she told him how sad she was. He came unglued about it. He threw things, threatened her, slammed hands down on the table. He said, “I’ll leave it up to you. You know how I feel about it, but if it’s what you really want then go ahead.” He walked out the door and didn’t come back for hours.
Ruth wondered what she’d been thinking. As temperamental and abusive as Charles had been, why would she even consider having a baby? That’s when she gave up the hope of it. She couldn’t bare the thought of bringing a child into that situation, no matter how badly she’d love to have one. She couldn’t stand the thought of the resentment she knew Charles would have toward her and their child. She hadn’t married Charles to give her children, she’d married him because she loved him, thinking that a child was just a natural outflow of love. Ruth obviously thought wrong. Charles was entitled to the way he felt about it. Ruth was wrong to push. So she dropped it, even though it did make her sad. Ruth knew she could never force that kind of responsibility on Charles. It wouldn’t be fair.
Ruth prayed and prayed over the years about this. She felt like Hannah, even opened her Bible to that scripture and prayed over the scripture. She’d begged God to take away her desire for a child and she’d prayed for God to give Charles the desire to have a child. Neither happened. Ruth decided this must just be God’s plan. He must be using this in her life for some greater good. She knew that she’d never have it, so if God wasn’t taking away that desire there must be a reason – something she was supposed to be learning.