Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 8, 2007
Infertility crisis led economist back to Catholic faith
Marriage demands give and take, not rigid contract clauses
"The baby didn't show up in the month I had set aside."
Jennifer Roback Morse
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
Economist Jennifer Roback Morse had the perfectly planned life. But when her desire for a baby with her live-in boyfriend didn't work out the way she expected, she headed to the altar and back to the Catholic faith.
Cohabitation doesn't work and marriage is much more than a private contract, Morse concluded.
The author of Love & Economics: Why the Laissez-Faire Family Doesn't Work and Smart Sex: Finding Life Long Love in a Hook Up World has "tried all the hare-brained things that I write about."
Speaking at a Sept. 27 conference, Morse admitted she lived with her husband before marriage.
They kept separate bank accounts, knew who owned what in their household, and viewed their relationship as a private contract. She planned to have a child once she got tenure as a university economics professor.
She intended to give birth over the summer break and have the child in daycare by the start of the fall term.
"The baby didn't show up in the month I had set aside," she said.
Instead, she faced a "four-year infertility crisis" that prompted some heavy soul-searching that led her back to the Catholic faith.
"For the first time in my life I didn't get what I wanted by working for it," she said.
Her spiritual crisis was compounded when the couple adopted a baby boy from Romania, and six months later she gave birth to a baby girl.
The children made demands that required a much deeper level of cooperation. Their backs against the wall, they realized the contractual approach they had taken did not work when it came to raising children.
Her experience showed her that marriage is much more than a private contract between two people.
Taking that approach leads to selfish behaviours like "keeping score" that do not equip people for successful marriage.
Yet myths persist that marriage is an emotional trap that puts women and children at risk, while cohabitation allows people to give each other a test drive so they can go on to make more successful marriages.
"A car has no feelings about being dumped back at the lot," she told the Institute for Marriage and Family's policy conference.
"The feeling you might be rejected colours the whole relationship."
Roback blasted the myths surrounding cohabitation and marriage. The California-based research fellow with the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty said the risks of marriage are overstated while those of cohabitation are understated.
When cohabitation is compared with marriage, no positive contribution "has ever been found" in hundreds of studies, she said.