Don't let infertility blow up your marriage
The strain of infertility on marriages is a common theme you’ll find in infertility resources. We’ve been lucky – or blessed, I suppose, is more accurate. Infertility has not (except on rare occasions) been a source of conflict within our marriage, and those occasions are a story for another time. But, mercifully, even on those rare occasions, it has turned into a source of deeper intimacy and connection. Yet it easily could have been the opposite.
After all, men and women experience infertility very differently. Men – no matter how sensitive they are – will never fully understand what their wives go through. Even if they are subjected to some tests and some treatments, it will never match the volume of blood tests, ultrasounds (not the exciting baby-viewing kind), medications, ovulation tests and pregnancy tests that their wives endure. Men will never go on the hormonal rollercoaster of every cycle. They’ll never look at a negative pregnancy test at the height of PMS. They won’t weep as their body bleeds out yet another failed hope for pregnancy.
And yet it does affect them.
In part because they are going through their own unique grieving process and in part because they are watching their wives suffer and there is so little that they can do. If wives expect their husbands to feel what they feel and to understand exactly what they are going through, they’ll have a problem. If wives and husbands expect the other to grieve exactly as they are grieving, they’ll have a problem.
But by accepting your own reality, your own particular suffering and your own particular grief, and accepting that your partner’s own reality, suffering and grief is unique to them, you can hold each other through it. If we don’t expect the other to read our mind, then maybe we can start to find the words to communicate it.
My own husband’s even-keeled personality, I quickly realized, is a gift. I am glad that he is not experiencing what I am, because I need him to anchor me with his quiet, calm strength amidst my own inner storms. He may not understand all of this but he accepts me in the midst of it and wants to hold me through it. And he needs me, too, to accept him as he is in all this. His experience, his suffering also deserves to be held – even if it doesn’t look or feel like mine.