3.) Be a man of virtue– So much of a proper moral life is overcoming our selfishness in various areas. In the area of infertility, we need to overcome the selfish ways we have dealt with this suffering. We can't use our infertility as an excuse for sin. Above all, we need to stop comparing ourselves to our neighbor in regard to virtue. Jesus doesn't say "compare yourself to your neighbor," but "love your neighbor;" and there is a world of difference between the two. The real problem with comparison is that too often we justify a mediocre, sinful life by saying, "Well, I'm not as bad as so and so" or we often think, "Well, so and so, who may be holier than us, doesn't have to go through infertility or x." With these rationalizations in place, we comfort ourselves into not taking action to become more holy. By doing so, we assume the position of the pharisee over the publican, who unlike the pharisee doesn't compare but instead beats his breast in constant acknowledgement of his sin. On judgment day, you and I will not be judged how well we did vis-a-vis bumbling sinful Garfield or holy Joe down the street, but to Jesus Christ. The only people we should be comparing ourselves to again and again is Jesus or His closest followers, the Saints, who are holy because they sought to compare themselves to only Him. So how do you compare to Him or the Saints?
As part of this examination, we need to be aware of the following sins that are all too common to men struggling with infertility: sexual infidelity with yourself (aka masturbation and/or pornography), lust toward your wife by demanding sex even when she is tired or doesn't feel like it, isolation from your wife, friends, or family, escapisms (sex, over-fixation on career and money, excessive internet surfing, food, etc.), fixation on defects and weaknesses except where necessary to avoid sin, lack of trust in God's love and hope, avoidance of God in one's prayer life, stonewalling your feelings and emotions from your wife (as discussed previously in my last post), contempt, lack of empathy for your wife's feelings, lack of patience and mercy especially towards your wife's feelings and shortcomings, entitlement/victim mentality justifying sin and bad behavior, envy and disdain for other people's gifts (especially the gift of a child or success in a career), making people feel guilty about having children, pride that manifests itself in defensiveness, disrespect in words, gestures, or tone towards your wife, and undue or excessive anger.
Find your weaknesses, go to confession, and then cultivate the opposite virtue to root out slowly this weakness of yours. Be patient with yourself about virtue too. It will take time to develop virtue. There are several means you can use to develop virtue quicker though. Let me list a few here that are time tested, effective means. First, share your particular virtue you want to work on with your wife on a month to month basis. Second, do a long examination of conscience once a month. This can be done prior to and in conjunction with discussing with your wife. Third, consider sharing this goal with a trusted holy friend(s) or a priest as the surest way to virtue is to be a part of a virtuous community. Fourth, come up with a simple motto to remind yourself of this commitment when you are tempted. My motto for my particular sins is “be poor of spirit” and sometimes it is just “empty yourself.” If you are having a hard time coming up with a motto, then look at the beatitudes or the entire sermon on the mount. Fifth, meditate on scripture that relates to your sin. Really, dedicate yourself to a consistent prayer life even if only for a 15 minutes a day and begin by focusing on scripture that is most relevant to your goal of living virtuously. Sixth, envision to yourself how you are going to accomplish this virtue in particular temptations. Seventh, envision it again, but now perceive how Christ will be there with you. Do this over and over again. Eighth, pray for the grace and wisdom to accomplish this virtue.
The bottom line is: there are a myriad of ways where we can sin in dealing with this cross of infertility so stay attentive. Always be willing to confront sin by using the means mentioned in the above paragraph as well as one more means, which will be listed below in the next section. Remember that finding sin is like finding gold. It is gold because it is a rich discovery of where and how we need to change. The man who should be truly afraid is not the man who finds and confronts his sin, but the man who does not know his sin and therefore does not know what he needs to do in order to grow in love.