A Man’s Guide to Supporting His Partner Through Infertility
Useful Tips for Men to Support Your Partner During Infertility
The fertility journey is stressful for everyone involved which can cause tension in your relationship. However, it doesn’t have to. You can practice the following tips to bridge the communication gap and bring you closer.
Be There Physically and Emotionally
Come to doctor’s appointments. Make time to go to doctor’s offices. It’s one way to show your support and shows that you are invested.
Talk it out.
You already know that communication is an integral part of any relationship, but it’s important to emphasize it. You and your significant other should talk about the limits you are willing to take to get pregnant. (These limits can always be re-evaluated later).
Ask how you can support her.
Ask how the treatment is making her feel. Ask if she is
concerned about what the doctor(s) say. Also, let her know what you think about the process and share your opinion.
Don’t bottle up your anxiety or grief.
The path to pregnancy contains many hurdles. If you suppress your emotions about complications in the process or your anxiety over financial issues, then you are doing yourself and your partner a disservice. As men, it might not be your first instinct to share your emotions, but sharing can help your wife to know that she isn’t the only one burdened. Sharing your fears makes her feel like she isn’t alone and allows you to support her better.
Show your support by alleviating other responsibilities.
Taking care of chores that you wouldn’t usually do like laundry, cooking, or cleaning can all be ways to show you care that won’t go unnoticed. Chris Wohl, an infertility advocate who was featured on MTV’s True Life “I’m Desperate to Have a Baby,” writes in his blog post that he supported his wife by keeping track of and scheduling doctors appointments. He even administered her shots!
Don’t try to “fix” her.
It’s tempting to try to fix your spouse’s problems, especially when they are so emotionally charged. Don’t! She doesn’t need you to give solutions, only to empathize with her by listening. An excellent way to show your support is through active listening (hearing what the other person has to say and paraphrasing it back as a response).
For example: If your spouse tells you after your doctor’s appointment, “I’m not sure what we should do. There are so many options.” You might practice active listening by saying, “It sounds like you are overwhelmed by all the options there are for treatment. Is that right?”
Lastly, don’t make a promise on anything you can’t keep.
While promising that she will get pregnant one day comes from a genuine place, you can’t guarantee it. Instead, offer comfort by telling her that you will be by her side no matter what.
It is essential for men to come alongside their wives and research what methods are best for their situation. Learn about diagnostic tests and treatment options for both men and women. Research ways to finance if your health insurance doesn’t cover treatment. Read our blog posts about other fertility topics such as common medications and their side effects, the chances of IVF success, and fertility foods. Ask your doctor about any specific concerns you might have during your next appointment.
Seek Out Help if You Need
Know your limits and seek professional counseling (single or couple) if needed. Expanding your family shouldn’t destroy your relationship; it should strengthen it. The National Fertility Association (RESOLVE) has many support groups across the United States as well as an online community. Anna Slager, a RESOLVE group host, writes, ”Infertility can be an alienating experience. Many of us tend to suffer in silence. I’m grateful that with the help of my support group, I didn’t have to.”
You can support your partner by being present – physically and emotionally. Talk about fears and concerns that you might have and be willing to help alleviate other responsibilities, but most importantly listen. Keep up with research so you can help make the right decision for your family. Join a support group or get professional counseling if needed.