No Fellas, She Needs a Child, Too

I was reading the story of Hannah in the Old Testament this morning and I thought about the many hurts and indignities of infertility.  Hannah had not yet conceived and was distraught.  Her husband, Elkanah, had a second wife, Peninah, with whom he had conceived children.  This created endless problems.

When Elkanah offered a sacrifice, he would give portions to Peninah his wife and to each of her sons and daughters; but to Hannah he would give a special portion, for it was Hannah he loved, but the Eternal One had shut her womb.  Her rival would torment her constantly, because the Eternal One had shut her womb.  This went on year by year; when they went up to the House of the Eternal One, her rival would so torment her that she would weep and not eat.  Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why do you weep?  Why don’t you eat?  Why are you so unhappy?  Am I not dearer to you than ten sons?”

Well, Elkanah and other fellas, let me answer whether you are dearer to your partner than ten sons.  The answer is a big no.  She needs a child, too.  Real, real bad.

I am alarmed by the number of men who tell their spouses, and me, that they could take or leave parenting, while women like Hannah are hoping desperately to parent.  This causes women to collapse into depression and resentment.  So here are suggestions for the fellas to better understand their women:

1) If you really do not want to have a child, please be honest and speak up.  Please do not let this woman suffer for several years, only to find out that you are not really on the team.  This wastes her time and her biological clock.

2) If you think that you should both just keep trying, it will happen because you are optimistic, you have missed the difficulty that women experience, like Hannah, when others are gleeful with children.  Women suffer.  This is even worse if you and your partner have already had one or more pregnancy losses.  Miscarriages hurt physically and emotionally.  And no, your partner is not over it yet, even if her crying is really difficult for you.

3) If you are focusing only on the cost of procedures, you are panicking your partner and dismissing her distress.  I appreciate your concern about finances but, forgive me my bluntness, get over it.  Or let me put it to you more gently—explore additional values, like creativity and love, and maybe you’ll do some growing of your own.

4) If you think that a boat or a snowmobile are more important to your relationship than a child, come on now, really?  I don’t even know what to say to you about that.

5) If you are more interested in spending time drinking with your poker buddies or frat brothers than making or raising a child, you and your partner could benefit from some good marital therapy.  I am available.

Let me be fair.  I also hear from a lot of fellas who want very much to be fathers but who are overwhelmed by their partner’s hurt, sadness, and depression.   I completely understand that and have compassion that you don’t know how to help.  That’s okay.  I know you are trying.  I can help.  You don’t need to do anything to fix it.  Just hold her and listen.  Fellas, she needs you very much…and she needs a child, too.



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