Men – The Silent Ache
When you think of people going through infertility, does your thoughts typically go to the woman, man, or both?
The wife is usually the one to get more compassion from others because she wears her emotions more openly. It’s harder for her to hide the sorrow she’s going through. It’s normal for women to seek comfort from close friends and family and to process with more people outside of the home.
It’s often the husband that deals with it silently. Even if he’s not strong at the time, he’ll feel the pressure to be for his wife. He’ll need to keep his emotions in check so that he can get through work and manage all of the other responsibilities if she’s too overwhelmed. It’s not natural for most men to process their grief in this area with a lot of people. He keeps it tucked inside, unless he’s got a great relationship with his parents and/or close friend.
If it’s male-factor infertility, it can carry the weight of shame and feelings of guilt. He might feel like it’s his fault the couple can’t conceive (though it isn’t anyone’s fault). He could feel worthless or depressed knowing that he might never have a child that will carry the family name. He won’t have a son to teach his trade, favourite sport, or wisdom to.
People have become more sensitive around Mother’s Day, acknowledging the ache in a barren woman’s heart. But Father’s Day can affect the husband’s heart as well. Children balanced on their father’s shoulders, daughters extra snuggled to him in church, or sons sitting a little prouder next to their father as he’s being recognized can stir the hurt in the infertile man’s heart.
All of these things are beautiful and should happen. No child should hide their affections for their parents on these special occasions, nor should parents diminish the day of celebration because they know others are hurting. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are great opportunities to honour our parents for their dedication through the roller coaster of life with us. We all know it is hard and exhausting to parent no matter what age their kids are, because our parents care so deeply for us. So, celebrate and enjoy!
The most endearing thing you can do for a man battling infertility around Father’s Day is to pray for the Lord’s protection over him, especially on that day. Better yet, if you see him, stop and pray with him. Pray a blessing over him and God’s love and wisdom as he seeks to lead him and his wife towards Jesus. If you know that the couple is still pursuing fertility options (medical intervention, adoption, etc), pray for the Lord’s clarity and discernment to know which route they should take.
How are the couple serving others? Does the man take time to invest in other’s kids or other adults? Is he imparting his wisdom through discipleship? Is he involved in his church and community through other means? Take time at some point to recognize the ways He’s loving God and loving others in the midst of this sorrowful time.
Though a lot of men are strong, it doesn’t exempt them from feeling grief and loss. They need to be loved and respected. Their grief needs to be acknowledged in this, even if they don’t want to talk about it. A gentle note to say you’re praying for them in this might be all they need to know they are loved and not alone. Regardless of how strong they might be in their faith; they can always use an extra boost of encouragement and counsel.
Come alongside your family and friends dealing with infertility, especially in May and June. They could use some extra love.