This post is part of the “Ask Me Anything” series. I answer reader-submitted questions about our experience with infertility and IVF.
A reader asks, “What do you do when your husband doesn’t understand infertility and the hurt that you are going through, or the sense of urgency in trying to get pregnant?”
Here’s my answer: I cried. A lot. I researched obsessively and told him all about it. That’s about it. And let me tell you, it did not work well.
For a better answer, I thought I’d have my husband share some of his thoughts. We hope they’re helpful.
I must approach this topic carefully as I come from a husband’s perspective, but I do hope I can offer something of value. First, let’s talk about the covenant of marriage. My wife and I entered into a covenant, not a contract, that we would love one another, fight for one another, no matter the circumstances, until death do us part.
Now that my preaching is done, I want to fully admit there were times I wanted to give up. Infertility is so freaking scary. It is one of the hardest things a couple can go through, and no one ever should tell you (or your husband) that it’s not okay to get really upset.
If you’re going through infertility, you can be sure that your husband is hurting a great deal. Despite what our culture says, being a father is a desire that most males have. Any threat to fulfilling that desire is difficult and frightening.
Although we don’t always show it, husbands inherently care very deeply for our wives, and we want desperately to “fix” any problems bothering her. But infertility is a problem that we cannot fix on our own. Once you factor in the shame that often accompanies infertility, facing it head-on becomes a very unattractive option for a man.
My point is that the lack of urgency and distance may be a natural reaction from your husband to avert the pain, as if it will go away if he ignores it enough. We sometimes irrationally hope that it just might fix itself or that other alternatives will arise in time. This tactic of avoidance obviously doesn’t work, but it’s something we often try.
My only advice here for women is to please be patient. Infertility is very painful on an emotional, spiritual and physical level for us men, and it takes time to process the gravity of the situation. If your husband is not taking an active role in supporting you, it may be a defense mechanism. If you truly believe he is not feeling your urgency whatsoever, you need to have a very real and serious conversation with him. You are traveling through a valley together, and it requires all of the both of you.
To men who may be reading, do not hold your feelings in. If you are having a hard time talking to your wife, find someone else to share with. I personally saw a therapist and talked to a friend who had also experienced infertility. I know not everyone has those luxuries, but try to find a confidant. Personally, I had to share it or I thought I would explode. There is a very real fear around sharing it and being judged, but it’s worth it to get it out there. Keeping the guilt, pain and sadness inside just causes it to fester and become something bigger than it was. This can erupt in an ugly way, often manifesting as resentment toward your wife. She doesn’t need that, and neither do you.
If it seems that your wife is much more emotional than you, it’s because it is incredibly real and urgent for her. Most women are also wired with an innate desire to mother and nurture. Remember that husbands are called to love and protect our wives and that means meeting their emotional needs and truly listening. It’s not always easy, I know. You may discover in this process that you have communication issues in your marriage that need to be corrected before you can adequately support each other during infertility. Seeing a marriage counselor or pastor can be extremely helpful.
If all of this sounds a bit preachy or know-it-all, I apologize and humbly admit Lisa and I miscommunicate all the time. We’ve had some hard cries and some crazy nights of yelling. However, at the end of every day, we always were next to each other, side-by-side. A husband and wife need each other, even more so during infertility. If you can find a way to walk through it together, you’ll be closer and better when it’s done.
What about you? How have you handled not being on the same page emotionally with your husband? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
- Infertility: Husbands Experience It, Too
- Marriage and Infertility: Why You Need to Pray
- 3 Conversations You Need to Have With Your Spouse Before You Start Infertility Treatment
- When You and Your Spouse Don’t Agree About Infertility Treatment
- Cultivating Your Marriage During Infertility
- The Infertile Marriage Bed
- How Did Infertility Affect Your Sex Life?
Looking for more encouragement during infertility? Be sure to download my free infertility prayer calendar.