MALE AND FEMALE PERSPECTIVES
Men and women tend to think and feel differently. The
infertility experience is no
exception to these differences. How can two people going
through the same thing have such different perceptions and
perspectives? The following observations may be typical
for couples riding the emotional roller coaster of infertility.
He is more optimistic. Until a doctor tells him that treatment
is not ever going to work, he assumes that it will, in time. Until
she holds a baby in her arms, she assumes that treatment may not
She wants to discuss and plan for the "what ifs" because
then she feels more prepared and in control. He cannot imagine
putting time and energy into something that may never be necessary.
He becomes the more rational and practical partner and tends
to look at finances more closely. She doesn't like to let money
limit something so priceless and knows that he is monitoring that
for them both.
He feels she worries about infertility too much and that it is
not helpful. She worries that he is not concerned enough.
He often feels that he is the designated target for her anger
and frustration. She may realize this, but she is not used to
feeling so angry and frustrated. She feels closest to him and
thus he is the one she shares these emotions with.
She is upset and may want to keep talking about the same issues.
He feels that they have had adequate discussion of these issues.
He feels that the longer they go through treatment, the harder
it becomes for him to say the right thing. He tends to back off
in order to avoid hurting his partner. She presumes that he is
not as affected as she is by their situation and the stress.
She wants to be happy for pregnant friends and family, but the
experience is heart wrenching. She wants it to be her turn. He
is not as worried as she is because he believes their turn will
Intimacy can be negatively affected by fertility treatment. Sex
is one way men cope with stress. Women cannot focus on sex when
they are stressed.
He minimizes the negative impact of infertility by focusing on
what is good in their relationship. He can compartmentalize the
infertility. She appreciates the good, but infertility becomes
the umbrella above everything else.
She tries to read, research and become as informed as possible
about infertility in order to regain control over her life. He
does not necessarily feel his life is out of control and has come
to rely on her as the expert.
His success is defined by his work. He is asked "What do
you do?" She may feel that her success is defined by her
ability to be a mother. She is asked "Do you have any children?"
He will go to counseling to help her and therefore help them.
He may not feel as great a need for himself. He wants his wife
back and wants her to be happy again. She wants him to go to counseling
to better understand her and help him realize that her reactions
She copes with stress by finding an article such as this. She
asks him to read it. Hopefully he will, and they can acknowledge
their differences and realize they each have their own unique
ways of coping with stress.
Wendy Bauer, M.S., is a licensed counselor
who works with individuals and couples who are dealing with infertility
issues. You may contact her at 214.750.0000.