I’ve just seen journalist enquiry looking for people who have had problems in their relationships due to the stress of going through IVF, it is great to see people starting to recognise this huge strain on relationships. I’m not sure why they picked on just IVF when I believe infertility whether going through treatment or not can have a massive affect on a relationship, a long term affect whether you are successful or not if you are not careful.
Unfortunately it can be a doubled edged sword. It is a time when you need your relationship to be the best it can be, a time when feeling intimate and united can actually help your situation but ironically it the situation of infertility that can do the opposite to a relationship. Such is the reality of IVF and infertility. However it doesn’t need to be that way.
How united with your partner do you feel? How supported by them do you feel? Do you know how they really feel, deep down?
It is a stereotype to say it is often the men that don’t share their feelings as much as women however a stereotype in my experience that can be true. The couples I see to support them through their journey it is often the women experiencing the rollercoaster of emotions whilst the men seem to be the strong quieter ones.
So why is it men don’t experience the rollercoaster of emotions that women do?
One reason I think it that they think they need to be the ‘strong one’ for their partner. I thought this. I thought I had to be strong for my wife, one of us had to stay strong and hopeful about the future, for us and our relationship. I thought it was best for me to put aside my feelings and keep focussed and strong, be there for her. However little did I know that it was the opposite of what she wanted. The best way she wanted me to support her was to be on the journey with her, for her to feel united. For her to realise she was not the only one having this rollercoaster of emotions.
My wake up call was when after 8 years of her being infertile and getting a healthy cycle after years of healing and holistic and natural care we found out I was infertile. I could no longer keep playing a role of the strong one and reality hit home. It was then we felt more united on the journey, being able to support each other at different times, a real improvement in our closeness in our relationship on the journey. It was the best and worst thing that happened to us.
Now, I say I put aside my emotions to focus on her however that brings me to another reason why I think men often don’t experience the rollercoaster women do. I think many men are not aware of their emotions. I even had one man tell me he didn’t have any feelings. If that was the case he would be dead! We all have feelings it is just that some of us find it easier to be aware and in tune with them than others. And often men find it difficult to be in tune with their feelings….or do they…
Last weekend was the European Cup Final. Chelsea were 1-0 with a few minutes to go. They scored an equaliser in the dying minutes that took the game to extra time – you could feel the relief of the supporters across the country wave through the TV set. 30 minutes of extra time, a tense waiting game. Then came the penalty shoot-out. The tension went up a notch, this was it, make or break. Chelsea were down and looking like it was it but then they turned things round and when things looked so hopeless only a few minutes previously they were European Champions.
Likewise the UK Premier league ended in equally dramatic circumstances with one club winning the title with 2 goals in 1 minute of injury time. In both situations there were tears of joy and tears of sadness from the supporters. I would like to suggest 99% of the male supporters went through a rollercoaster of emotions. Of course, nothing the same magnitude as infertility however I believe these are the same men who say they don’t feel their feelings!
Men: My recommendation would be to start to share how you feel about your fertility journey with your partner. Put aside the role of being the strong one and get in to the raw reality of the situation with your partner.
Women: I recommend you explain to your partner how best they can enable you to feel united and close to them on the journey. What will enable you to keep the intimacy live? Of course, losing the intimacy means sex becomes more mechanical, something you need to do along with your nutrition, acupuncture and everything else. If your mind doesn’t feel that the relationship is a safe place for your baby to be in, it is less likely to co-operate with your body.
I hope you can identify what you can do to make your relationship the best it can be right now.