Today I am so excited to have my husband guest post. A husband’s role in infertility is unique. He is walking with his wife, facing struggles and disappointment alongside her. However, in many marriages -ours included – this battle looks very different for me than my husband. It can often be more challenging for a husband to support, love and lead his wife well when he’s going through infertility with her, but his emotions are very different. Bryan writes to husbands in the midst of this:
Marriage doesn’t come with a “how to” manual. In particular, there is no “how to love and lead your wife when you can’t get pregnant” manual. As we’ve struggled to start a family it has been quite the learning experience of how to be a Godly husband in the midst of infertility. I still have a lot of learning to do, but here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way for husbands who desire to love their wives through infertility.
Try to understand what infertility is like.
Sometimes it is difficult for me to relate to struggling with infertility. I’m a man. Which means I’ll never be pregnant. Which also means it’s hard for me to understand why not being able to get pregnant is such a huge deal for my wife. There has been a lot of frustration because I haven’t done a great job of understanding the pain involved in infertility.
In seeking to understand, the best comparison I’ve been able to make is thinking how I would feel if I became disabled and was unable to work and provide for my family. It would be easy to feel like I was a failure as a husband and a man. It also may not be much consolation that it is out of my control or isn’t my fault. And I probably wouldn’t be too excited if someone told me every time they got a new job or promotion.
It isn’t perfect, but when I begin to think of the physical, emotional and spiritual struggle that would be involved in not being able to work, it helps me understand what it is like for my wife when she is struggling with not being able to get pregnant.
Choose the right moments.
I’ve learned this one the hard way. When the pregnancy test comes back negative that isn’t the best time to tell her to have some long term perspective. When she’s ready to quit on having a family altogether because the sixth round of medication didn’t work that isn’t the moment to remind her of all the other options of starting a family. Instead, that’s when I should say “I love you and I care about you and I’m disappointed along with you” and then hug her and let her cry on my shoulder.
When things cool off and emotions aren’t as high, THAT is the time to bring up the long term perspective, to tell her giving up is not the best course of action, and whatever other attitude adjustment or decision making needs to be done. It will be much better received and the conversation will be much more productive. Trust me.
“Remember that one simple precept and your time with me will not have been ill spent.” (Editor’s note: apparently this is a quote from O, Brother Where Art Thou?)
Know and remind her of God’s promises.
In struggling with infertility, there are moments of great hope often followed up by moments of great disappointment. There is a tendency for bitterness, anger, hopelessness and despair to take hold of my wife’s heart. It is in those times that I need to love my wife not by trying to save the day or making her promises, but by pointing her to her Savior and reminding her of God’s promises. I need to remind her that her hope should not lie in becoming a mother, but in the “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”; to insist that “for those who love God all things work together for good”; to call her to “cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Pet 1:3, Rom 8:28, 1 Pet 5:7.) God tells us that He is good, He is in control, He is our Father, and He loves us. There are beautiful promises in God’s word that will bring peace, comfort and hope in the midst of the suffering of infertility.
Husband, do you know these promises? Are you able to encourage your wife to look to Jesus because you know Him yourself? If I want to love and lead my wife well through infertility, I must know God’s promises for myself and continually proclaim them to my wife.
-Photo Credit: Nick Galifianakis for The Washington Post