Infertility - How Does He Feel?
When a couple spends a year trying to conceive, only to be frustrated in their efforts, there can be some serious emotional and psychological affects as a result.
What Women Tend to Do
Women are, by their very nature, emotional caretakers in a relationship. It seems that if anyone is having a hard time of things or something bad happens, a woman will rise to the occasion and take the burden of guilt upon herself. Repressing the feelings simply creates a situation where there will be an eventual eruption - and it won't be pretty.
The Woman - She's Responsible
So it is in the case of infertile couples. Often the woman will protect her husband from his own pain and sense of failure by taking responsibility for the treatments upon herself. What that looks like in practice is a woman going to fertility treatments alone because of the concern of loss of income over time lost at work. While these issues are relevant, by keeping the man at a distance, he is not given the opportunity to take responsibility for his involvement in the treatments nor is he able to really get in touch with his own feelings concerning the proceedings.
No Training In Handling Emotions
Traditionally, men are the "keepers of the fortress" and responsible for protecting the family from harm and danger. Since men haven't always been encouraged to express their feelings, they may feel threatened when it comes to talking about emotions. Their general method of dealing with this is to take charge, make decisions and not to get off the rails with emotions.
Unable to Cope With His Own Fear
When it comes to infertility, a man is struck with myriad emotions he may not be able to define or cope with, and these can be easily exacerbated by the intensity of his partner's angst and pain. As a result, a man may easily throw himself into his work because it is something familiar and somewhere he can exercise a measure of control. Faced with the reality that no matter how hard he tries, he can't make things better for his mate, a man may feel his ability as a protector is diminished. By downplaying her emotional eruptions, a woman may get the message that her man is criticizing her ability to cope rather than seeing that he is trying to deal with his own fears.
A Time to Hold On to Each Other
It is during these times that couples must cling together and work together to talk about their fears and problems. Both feel they have failed at that most basic of all things - reproduction. For a man, his virility and primal instinct is threatened and if he doesn't know how to express this, he may also believe his marriage is a failure as well.
You're In This Together
Both partners must work together to develop a strategy and support system during such a difficult period. Communication is critical, as is touching those sensitive and painful emotions. By recognizing the difference between the way a man and a woman respond to infertility, a couple can work with a professional or a supportive friend to strengthen themselves and their marriage.