In one of his Chassidic discourses, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi explains, seemingly paradoxically, that meriting children — both physical children as well as in the spiritual sense — depends upon one's unconditional devotion to, with no other intention but becoming one with, one's spouse (on the spiritual plane — man to G‑d; spiritual "children" are the love and awe of G‑d that are the reward of Divine service). Rabbi Schneur Zalman himself was known to proclaim in moments of dveikut (meditative "attachment" with G‑d): "I desire not Your higher Garden of Eden; I desire not Your lower Garden of Eden; I desire only You and You alone."

In the said discourse, Rabbi Schneur Zalman cites the following story from the Midrash to attest to this point:

A woman was married for many years to her husband, but had not had children. Her husband decided to divorce her, so he went to Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, of blessed memory, and Rabbi Shimon told him that just as they celebrated with joy their mutual bond when they got married, so should the severance of their mutual bond be celebrated in joy. The husband therefore prepared a great feast, at the height of which he called his wife and asked her in his joy to choose whatever she desired of his possessions to be hers, and said that he would not refuse her anything.

What did she do? She served him so much wine that he got drunk and fell asleep on his bed. She then told her servant to take him on his bed into her bedroom.

The following morning, when he awoke and found himself in his wife's home, he asked her why he was brought there- - wasn't it clear that he intended to divorce her? She replied, "Didn't you tell me that I could take whatever I wanted? I desire not gold, nor silver, nor precious gems, nor pearls. All I want is you. You yourself are the sole object of my desire."

When the husband heard this, he became once again enamored of his wife, and took her back as before. And in this merit, the Holy One, blessed be He, granted them children.

Excerpted from The Mystery of Marriage by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh