New focus for Childless by Marriage book

As many of you know, I have been working on a book called Childless by Marriage for several years. At least four times, I have considered the manuscript finished. So far, no big publisher has accepted it, but it keeps coming close, and I have hope that that will be accepted this year. One way or another, it is going to be published.

I was out of town on a book-selling trip last November when, as I sank into a well-earned hot bath, I had a sudden realization that changed the focus of the book. I jumped out and typed for the next three hours in my bathrobe. All this time, I have been trying to leave out the fact that my husband Fred had Alzheimer’s Disease, that he spent two years in a nursing home, and that he died in April, 2011. I didn’t want to bum people out, it didn’t seem like part of the book, and, until April, I didn’t know when it would end.

But I realized in November that Fred’s illness is an important part of the story. I can’t hide it from my readers. I wound up caring for him as if he were my child. And, because we had no children together, I did it alone. Now, as a widow, it makes a huge difference that I don’t have grown children and grandchildren to turn to for help and for company.

So now the focus is more on my connection with Fred, the love that led me to give up children in order to have him, and the cruel turn that left me without either one. In essence, I chose Fred, and this is what happened. What do you think?


A piece of good news: An excerpt from the book, a chapter called “My Imaginary Daughter,” appears in the January issue of Still Crazy, a terrific literary magazine. Click here for info.

9 thoughts on “New focus for Childless by Marriage book

  1. I think it is two separate issues. Perhaps two different books or articles (in my opinion). But that does not mean it is not important or significant to write, to publish to have folks share. As an only child of an only child who had no children either, and who had had to face health issues with a spouse, I can certainly sympathize.


  2. Andi, thank you. Millicent, I know exactly what you mean, and that's why I didn't mention the Alzheimer's in the book before. Even now, it's not the whole book, just two chapters in the story of a 28-year relationship. We'll see if it works.


  3. Sue – I think you need to include it – it's relevant information and includes a possible scenario that women contemplating becoming “childless by marriage” need to consider. I'm sure it will be evidence of a wholely unique facet of the love you had for and with your husband. Did you ever read Abigail Thomas' 'A Three Dog Life” – her memoir of life after her husband suffers a severe brain injury? Amazing book. I think these chapters of yours would be like that. Looking forward to reading it…


  4. Sue, I often come to your posts so late and sometimes “after the fact.” That said, I usually respond anyway thinking that perhaps my tardiness is for a “higher reason.” How's that for rationalization. LOL

    I think your “new focus” for the book is awesome and important! Sometimes the “stuff” that keeps pushing its way into our consciousness is there because it is pointing us in the direction we need to go. In fact, this probably happens *most* of the time–not just sometimes. Would you agree?

    When I step outside of the emotion I feel about your situation, I find myself saying, “Wow, what an amazing story,” about your life thus far, Sue. The choices you've made have led you to where you are and who you are becoming. Obviously, this book is about your life story–not just being childless by marriage–and that is why it hasn't been published…yet!

    The irony of caring for your spouse as if he were a child is so profound and I'm just certain there is a spiritual lesson in all of this–not just for you. I'm excited to see how this all unfolds.

    Keep on!


  5. What you say makes total sense to me.I'm childless because of decisions made by my husband. My mother has just died – I had to beg to get my husband to let her move in with us – she had dementia – and my husband had a stroke two years ago. I guess I'm in a similar position to you – except his grown up kids are 'so glad' that their dad has me. He has one granddaughter. It was made clear to me that I couldn't even be an honorary aunt, never mind step grandmother.


  6. Not so different, Anonymous. My husband's kids were also glad to let me handle him. While he was sick with Alzheimer's, they stayed away and lived their lives. One didn't even show up for the funeral. The grandkids did call me “Grandma” when they were small, but now . . . if we passed on the street, I'm not sure they'd recognize me. I'm sorry you're in this fix.


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