Marriage and Fatherhood: Adventures in Humility

Fatherhood seems to be on a decline these days. From portrayals of the “idiot dad” in commercials to the epidemic of single mothers, there is a real problem that goes beyond just our modern culture. Men love adventure, and the real secret of fatherhood is that there is an adventure every day. We’re not talking hostage rescue or dragon slaying adventures, although that may happen when your children start to get more of an imagination. Honestly men have been lied to about what fatherhood means. Men are threatened with the “loss of independence” through movies, TV shows and other modern portrayals of relationships. Economic losses are waved in the face of future husbands, and I fear this has scared many men from commitment. Add to all of this a culture that is hostile to the chivalrous male and you have a recipe for disaster when it comes to holding the family unit together. There certainly is a loss when it comes to fatherhood, but not in terms of what most men think it will be.

Before I was married, I thought I had it made. Every weekend was an open book. I had friends to hang out with, hobbies to occupy my time, and a pretty awesome truck to get me where I wanted to go. There was one thing missing: true joy. All of those things could never fill the gap of a life well lived. After meeting my future wife, I knew I was going to get married. There really wasn’t any doubt. I heard all of the lines from my friends that spelled doom for me after getting married. One friend in particular thought that I was so lacking in brains that he spoke these words, words that every man eats who speaks them: “I’m never getting married; marriage is for suckers.” Needless to say, he’s married with children now, and I believe that I must confess this schadenfruede I’m feeling next time I’m in the confessional (but I digress).

Slowly all of the hobbies and toys that I had accumulated were stripped away and replaced with two little girls and endless adventures. All of the mere things that I was holding onto slipped away, and I missed them less and less. This is where the humility comes in. Life became less about me and more about my wife and girls. My truck was replaced with a beater car so that my wife could have the good vehicle. Most all of my toys for shooting sports were sold for plane tickets to see my wife before we were married. Soon there was a budget and much more.

At this point most people would be wondering about the adventure part. The adventure was in the stripping away of all those worldly things that were eventually replaced by duty to wife and children. There is also one virtue that fatherhood stretches to the breaking point: patience. Punchy kids who won’t go to bed, an exhausted wife that needs help after your own day of exhaustion, a sick dog who left a present for you first thing in the morning and a multitude of other issues can try anyone’s patience on any given day. These are the adventures that bend and shape you as a man in the forge of fatherhood.

Going from having much to possessing very little in the worldly sense helps you rip away all that is unnecessary and helps you to become more like MacGyver. Torn diaper while at church and it was the last one in the diaper bag? No problem; I have duct tape! Being pushed and stretched in all of the daily situations you face helps you become more resilient in the face of actual adversity. Those inconveniences that seemed like mountains just five years ago have been laid low by God’s grace to handle what He throws at you.

This begs the question for those who have become squeamish about commitment and fatherhood: are you man enough to accept the challenge? Challenge and adventure do not come packaged in video games. They do not come in being eternally single (unless, of course, that is your vocation, which I certainly do not mock) or in living in your parents’ basement until middle age or beyond.

Challenge and adventure are lived in the day-to-day humility that every father must face.  They are packaged in wiping the rear of a sick child, wearing a princess crown and feather boa while playing with your daughter (there are no pictures, and no one can ever prove I did or did not do that), putting aside your hobbies so that your wife has time to work on something in the home while you watch the kids, a trip to the emergency room, or any other host of daily happenings. In those tough moments there will be moments that melt your heart. You just have to be open to whatever adventure this day will bring. In the end everything that is made of this earth will rust, crumble, rot or fade. The souls of your wife and children will live forever, and that is the real adventure in all of this.

Ben Ewing

By

Ben Ewing is a husband and father of two girls. He works as a Technical Director for a local iron castings company during the day and as Prince Charming from Cinderella or Kristoff from Frozen in the evenings. When he is not wearing feather boas and glittery crowns or getting his hands dirty in a foundry, he can be found roasting his own coffee blends or creating new recipes for home-brewed beer. Though he is a Coloradoan, he currently lives in northern Indiana with his wife, Jeannie Ewing, daughters, and dog (who is also female).

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  • Kelli

    Sweet surrender to God’s will for your life! Might we pray for all husband’s and father’s to let God into their lives. Even more, to invite him. God bless you and your sweet life. How lucky your wife is :))

  • Ex Nihilo

    Good word Ben! Serviam!

  • Roger Eldridge

    Ben you make it sound like men are making the [wrong – as usual] decision whether or not to get married and found a Family. Getr real. Read up about Brifault’s Law. In every society known to mankind “It is the female who determines the nature of the sexual relationship”
    Women are dependent in nature [not a criticism by the way, just a fact of biology] and sensibly look for someone to look after them and any children they are blessed with. When the State purposely offers them much more than an average guy can women make the choice that best represents their interests.
    Even where the woman has made her choice of a Husband and not the State initially, the State offers her, through faulty laws and corrupt custom and practice, the exit door marked “Just desert your Marriage and the court will allow you walk away with all the assets the Family has accumulated [including the most precious of all, the kids].
    Is it any wonder when one sees the research showing that men who have been divorced are 8 times more likely to commit suiscide than the women who initiated the divorce.
    So until the State stops using taxpayers money earned by men to usurp his potential to be a Husband and removes from the courts Divorce and child custody practices which punish him for having dared compete with the State for her hand only a fool would blame men for their alleged lack of commitment to Marriage.
    God Bless, Roger Eldridge
    Executive Director, Institute of Family and Marriage
    National Office: Knockvicar, Boyle, Co. Roscommon
    Email: familymen@eircom.net
    Telephones: 00353 (0) 7196-67138 00353 (0) 83-3330256

    Chairman, National Mens Council of Ireland, – “Doing what men have always done … protecting their Families, Faith and Freedom from attack by Big Business and Big Government”

  • Ex Nihilo

    Can’t disagree with you and yet… we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

    This is spiritual warfare…

  • Ladasha Smithson

    Man do want to get married. Msgr. Pope talks about why they aren’t here: http://blog.adw.org/2014/12/matrimony-or-bust-another-glimpse-at-why-and-how-the-demise-of-traditional-marriage/

  • jenny

    Nice….and true.

  • No offense, Roger, but I am the wife of Ben, and I read his article before it was published. You really can’t refute someone’s personal experience, and that is what Ben was trying to do – express his personal experience through his perspective, his life, his viewpoint. He wasn’t blaming men per se, just noting the comments and encounters he has had concerning other guys and their marriage phobias. He wasn’t really trying to dissect it economically, politically or even statistically.

  • donttouchme

    Same old apology for modern marriage wherein the husband isn’t the head of the family and he’s supposedly super happy about that fact. That’s why the female commenters are so supportive of this. But it doesn’t work. That’s why interest in marriage is still declining among men in the aggregate. Women are going to have to humble themselves and accept the ancillary status Christian marriage gives them.

  • Mater

    Huh? Not sure where you’re coming from. The Church was the first institution to treat women as equals.

  • craig

    Of equal worth and dignity, sure. But with respect to marriage the Church taught consistently, until the last 30 years when it ceded the field to feminism, that the husband is to lead the family and love his wife, while the wife is to assist and respect her husband. See Casti Connubii for just one example. When the husband’s role is an honored one within the family and in society at large, men want to marry.

    The currently emphasized mantra of ‘mutual submission’ within marriage is in fact a capitulation to secular culture. As popularized in ‘Christian’ books and seminars, a good husband only ‘leads’ to the extent he divines her unspoken wishes, and a good wife only ‘submits’ to the extent she judges his wishes acceptable. In practice, it is female headship in all but name: ‘if momma ain’t happy nobody’s happy’ with a Christian bow on it.

  • KarenJo12

    I always appreciate it when Catholics are honest about their doctrines regarding women. We are equal only after we’re dead. While we’re still alive, your church thinks we’re dirt.

  • skywalker

    Oh, she does? Please tell me more

  • KarenJo12

    Women can’t be priests and we have to submit to our husbands because men = Jesus and women Mary.

  • donttouchme

    That’s not why. It’s because women are objectively inferior in the natural order and aren’t capable of building or sustaining civilization. But since you evidently think so, please explain just how the sexes are equal, apart from human dignity.

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