Helen Adrienne is a well-respected therapist in NYC who specializes in individuals and couples dealing with infertility. So what you’ll be getting from her today will be tried and true sound advice unlike the smart-ass remarks you typically get from me. She talks about both men who have their own fertility issues as well as men dealing with an infertile wife who’s turned into a nutjob. (I don’t think Helen actually uses the word “nutjob” though, but I know from personal experience, that’s exactly what you turn into.)
NEWS MEN CAN USE
by Helen Adrienne, LCSW, BCD
Making your way through an infertility struggle is an ordeal in so many ways. The emotional component of the journey tops the list.
Men – there are two little factoids to consider:
First, it’s no secret that women are generally freer to feel and express their emotions than men. You may be at the mercy of the cultural scuttlebutt that emotions in men are looked upon as weakness. But, Father’s Day is a reminder that you are not a parent yet either. On top of that, if the difficulty in conception is due to male factor, you may be in a tangle based upon a failure to separate fertility from masculinity.
Despite what you may be feeling yourself, you still may feel obliged to take a posture of strength for the sake of your partner. Every crisis is an opportunity and you now have an opportunity to free yourself from what might be an emotional prison so you can be there for yourself as well as your wife.
Second, whether you can claim your right to experience your upset or not, news you can certainly use has to do with how to feel more at ease with the emotions of your spouse if you are feeling unqualified in this realm. This may be especially true if she seems inconsolable and wants you to “fix” not only the conception issue, but also perhaps a financial issue, a who-to-tell- or-not-tell issue, and so much more.
How can you find relief from the many demands? Let’s take a peek at what might be your history. See if this resonates: As a small child, did you have a mother who was often frantic or tearful about situations? Did you intuitively sense that your mother specifically demanded that you “fix” her upset? If so, 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 maybe 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.
Now, if your wife, like any wife in a quest for a baby, 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 men, women or couples, I watch the tension release like air from a balloon. Why wouldn’t you feel triggered, wanting to literally or figuratively run away, get annoyed, judge or scold? Here you are again, feeling the pressure to fix a problem as if you are back in that untenable place of your childhood.
Compassion needs to go in both directions. You each have every right to expect understanding from each other and you both have an opportunity to develop coping strategies that take the needs and emotions of each of you into consideration.
Words are unsatisfactory when seeking to fix this issue – now! Simple words can matter, if you say, for instance, “I know how hard this is. It’s hard for me, too. We’ll get through this. Let me just hold you.” For now, living with uncertainty is a bane.
What is called for—feeling and showing a strong connection, determination to make it through, and love, may not seem sufficient, but it is. The only real and satisfactory fix is coming home with your baby.
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. Love thrives best in truth – the truth of both of you.
Helen Adrienne has been the go-to professional for over three decades for women who are struggling with infertility.
As a seasoned psychotherapist, trained in mind/body therapy and clinical hypnotherapy, Helen is uniquely qualified to teach field-tested, effective techniques for managing stress, rediscovering inner strength and resources and reclaiming control on this journey. Her Best-selling Book: On Fertile Ground: Healing Infertility. https://www.amazon.com//dp/1452853754
And while you’re on Amazon anyway: https://www.amazon.com//dp/B007G9X19A/