PARTNER SUPPORT

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 work.

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 come.

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 are normal.

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.