5.) Be a man willing to be healed and to heal – I just mentioned in my last post a unique and greatest suffering of men in regard to infertility, but there is a lot more suffering we face. Here are some of the more, common experiences: We suffer when we get no recognition on Father's day or have no child to take to work on “bring your son to work day”. We suffer extra hard when our careers are not going well and we cannot fall back upon the usual standby of manly confidence - “well at least I am a good father!” We suffer when we play with our friends' children and think “Man I wish I had children like this to throw around”. We suffer when we feel excluded by other men whose lives revolve around taking their school aged children from one event to the next or have no time to hang out with you anymore because of family duties. We suffer on the sidelines of school sporting events because we have no child of our own to cheer for. We even suffer in the quiet of our homes and our prayers when we think about all the future activities we would like to be blessed to do with our children, like introducing them to nature, to sports, and to God. We suffer at the irresponsible fatherhood all around us when we so desperately want to be that good father for many children. Speaking of fathers, upon recognizing the lack in our own fathers and wanting to change that for the next generation, we suffer greatly because we realize we don't have a 'next generation'. We also suffer bitterly every time our wife cries about this pain and we can't console her completely. We suffer because we feel constantly impotent, impotent to bring a child into existence and to make our wives happy mothers; and this impotence makes us, above all, feel weak and worthless and therefore unmanly. Yes, we feel at times half a man and half a husband, broken and certainly not whole.
Unfortunately, despite this pervasive suffering of infertility, we men are told that we must always act like we are whole and composed, yet this is a facade and it puts up a barrier to our legitimate healing. In fact, I think a man's greater need “to prove themselves” is due to the fact we are more broken than we care to admit! After all, one who is whole and content with himself is in no need “to prove himself to others.” So while we ought to be the calm composure sometimes when our wives are having a difficult time, we also need to acknowledge our brokenness, dare I say our weakness, so we can be healed and made strong again. If we don't, then we will put off healing until long after the suffering of infertility sets in. This avoidance just creates more tension, stress, and suffering in our marriage.
Also, remember that infertility is a joint suffering so our wives cannot be healed alone without us being healed as well. Too often healing doesn't come to a relationship because one of the spouses, usually more often the man, refuses or avoids healing in regard to this suffering. We can't let this happen to our wives or our relationships. This is not being the virtuous, protecting man we want to be. So we need discover where we need healing in relation to this suffering, have the honesty and courage to admit it, and be healed along with our wives. If we don't do this, then our relationship and everyone around us will suffer. We need to let go and let God heal us. What healing do you need? How can you cultivate this healing further? How can you heal with your wife?
This path of healing will be different for each man and for each woman. But I am sure some of it will be found in doing the things mentioned in this series and finding multiple meanings to our suffering. After we have found our meanings we need to let our suffering be fruitful as I have talked about here. Part of the fruitfulness is that once we have found the path of healing we need, then we must turn around and offer this path of healing to others, especially sharing what is helpful to our wives. My prayer for you all is to let the divine physician heal you so that your suffering may be transformed from a burden into a place of strength. Don't let your suffering overcome you and your marriage. Let your suffering become healed into the suffering power of the cross. It is this mutual suffering with Christ that saves the world. In regard to this thought, I leave you with the wisdom of a very manly saint and martyr: “Tribulation is a gift from God; one that He especially gives His special friends” (St. Thomas More).