How do men feel being on a fertility journey and how is it possible to support each other?

bigstock--154407380In my recent post I wrote about how women feel when they go through fertility issues. I received a beautiful comment on this post that said. “Please don’t forget to also talk about men and their feelings being on this journey”. Thank you for bringing it up – I love receiving your comments. I was planning on doing an extra post for men and this will be the topic today.

Men always seem very strong, which of course is also something that society (sadly) expects from them, but how does their inside look like wanting to become a dad and going through fertility issues and a waiting period with their loved one?

They often don’t know how much of their pain they should show and how much is better to hide. They might also feel overwhelmed by their feelings because they maybe weren’t raised talking about them or sharing them. At the same time feeling the same pain as their wife does makes them often think they need to be the strong one in the relationship, which unfortunately often leads to the assumption that they don’t care that much.

For men who want to become a dad the pain doesn’t vary from the pain women go through…it is the same sadness hearing others announcing their pregnancy…the same frustration about the one million dollars questions such as “do you have kids” or “why don’t you have kids yet”…or the same despair seeing other women being pregnant, a couple pushing a stroller or watching a father playing with his kids in the park…

Seeing their loved one’s pain which isn’t fixable and the ugly inevitable feeling of failure and not to forget their own pain – is a hard role to be in. I don’t want to excuse any disappointing behavior, but it might explain why it takes sometimes time to find the right way to support each other along the way. It needs a lot of understanding of each other’s roles.

Waiting to become a mother can be painful and frustrating and it can be the same for a man, but of course everybody is different. Even women act differently on this journey, what’s hard for one doesn’t mean it’s as hard for another one. Men also coming from another biological background feel and think again differently. As well as there are women who don’t have a strong feeling of becoming a mother or don’t even want to be one there are also men who feel the same way. Therefore it is extremely crucial to talk about any feeling along the way and share what it is like for each part. That will give answers to all the assumptions that go on in each other’s heads.

I recently talked to a woman who just learned that her IVF attempt had failed. She told me she called her husband and told him the sad news, he went silent for a second and said then. “Oh ok…I was planning on going to Target after work…do you need anything?” She was so upset about his unemotional reaction – understandably. However I told her to sit down with him at the same night and talk about each other’s feelings. It is most likely he reacted like that because he noticed how upset his wife was and that he was afraid of making it worse showing his own sadness, too. He might have thought he had to be the strong one. Communication is always key, even if it is painful and we are not on the same page emotionally. As long as we are open to accept, understand and support each other’s feelings we can still find our balance together.

I often hear that women feel their husbands seem fine with the thought of not having children. I am still convinced that they often say this to give a positive perspective and yes maybe they can picture a life without kids more easily. As we know everybody is different. However I also believe that mother nature does its job to keep evolution running, of course on men and women. Anyhow since women carry the babies I feel nature is still stronger on women…which might answer why women cannot picture so easily not having kids.

My husband for example has been always a magnet for kids, no matter where we go and no matter whether they are infants, toddlers or preschoolers, they all love him and he plays with them for hours. That made it very hard for me during our fertility journey and it put even more pressure on me. I sometimes wished he wouldn’t care that much and he would be Ok with having no kids.

I think it doesn’t matter in which direction men tend, whether they seem ok with having no kids or as in our case the other extreme. In order to find a loving balance with each other’s baby wish it is important to talk about each other’s feelings. It is also important of being aware that it is hard being the right support for someone who shares the same pain. As a matter of fact it is a tricky mixture – on the one hand it is easy, because the pain is familiar, but on the other it is also very challenging.

I remember times, when I seemed to be in a good place, but my husband wasn’t and he wanted to talk about it. My very first thought was. “Oh no please don’t take me down. I am so happy being in a good place right now”. Of course we talked about it and I supported him, but that wasn’t always easy, because seeing my husband sad made me sad and seeing him losing hope made it difficult for me staying hopeful. Same vise versa. And then there were times where we supported each other without losing our own positivity. It was different from day to day or moment to moment. Very unpredictable.

Fertility issues are constantly pulling on both and it is not controllable. What made it easier for us was accepting being in a painful situation and not pretending everything is fine. We allowed our feelings along the way and tried to be honest about them and open with each other. Accepting the frustration and pain led to more ease, peace and love in our relationship. This waiting period takes a lot of energy and puts a lot of weight on a marriage…However if you keep communicating about your emotions there is a great chance you will come out on the other side as a very strong couple. There isn’t a lot then anymore that can tip the marriage boat – because you have learned so much about each other. So at the end there is even a little silver lining being on a fertility journey.

Keep up the communication and stay interested in each other roles. Both roles aren’t easy that is for sure.

Let me know your experiences. What has helped you as a couple to get through this waiting period together?

Thinking of you! Have a great day!

 

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