News Men Can Use

Making your way through an infertility struggle is an ordeal. The emotional component of the infertility journey can be even more of an ordeal.

Women are generally freer to feel and express their emotions than men. Father’s Day is a reminder that you are not a parent yet either. Culturally, in a man’s world, emotions can be looked upon as weakness. Even if the difficulty in conception is due to the male factor, men often feel obliged to take a posture of strength for the sake of his partner.

As this holiday approaches, you may or may not care to claim your right to experience your upset. Old habits die hard. But one thing is for sure: the news you can use has to do with how to feel more at ease with the emotions of your spouse.

Think about this: If as a small child, you had a mother who was often frantic or tearful about situations, and if you intuitively sensed that mother wanted you to “fix” her upset, then you would have been tossed into a place of panic and helplessness. A small child cannot make mommy’s life better.

If this was your history and you have not “worked it through,” then as an adult, you would be vulnerable to and often avoidant of anyone who is overwrought emotionally. It would become an unconscious reflex for you to want to remove yourself from those early imprinted feelings of panic and helplessness.

If your wife is thrashing around with her emotional reaction to all-things-infertility, you may unwittingly be tossed into this ancient place, without either of you realizing what’s happening, creating distance when what you need is closeness.

When I explain this to women or couples, I watch the tension release like air from a balloon. What you as a husband need to do when your wife is overwrought is to be there in a loving way—without figuratively running away, getting annoyed, judging or scolding. You need not say anything beyond, “I know how hard this is. It’s hard for me, too. We’ll get through this. Let me just hold you.”

Of course, your wife would need to accept this as an appropriate ministration. If in her agony, it feels to you as if she is demanding that you “fix” the problem, you will feel as if you are back in that untenable place of your childhood.

Here’s where you can use your strength—you can insist that she settle down with you.  The infertility journey has its own timetable. It gets resolved as it can. Meanwhile, you both need to keep your love for each other at the center of this story.

About the Author:

Helen Adrienne, LCSW general psychotherapist, clinical hypnotherapist, and practitioner of mind/body therapy with a specialty in infertility. New York City