A woman who is going through fertility treatments experiences physical and emotional upset on a regular basis. She not only has to deal with the repercussions of treatments, which cause significant physical side effects, but she also deals with feelings of sadness and shame. The husband’s role during fertility treatments is to provide support since the woman must be the one to undergo the treatments. Fortunately, a husband can help his wife—and himself—through the process of fertility treatments in several ways.
How Infertility Affects Men
Although there is no denying that the woman withstands the worst of the pai—both physical and emotional—when she is undergoing fertility treatments, men also experience emotional stress. Men feel empathetic toward their wives, but they also feel hopeless at times since there is nothing they can do to relieve the stress completely and give their wives what they want most. Some men play a very active role in supporting their wives through fertility treatments, but others who feel overwhelmed by their wives’ emotions may focus their attention in places where they feel they can be successful. Typically, this is at work. It is important to understand that men and women process their feelings and emotions differently. Women sometimes believe that a man’s tendency to keep his emotions to himself relates to indifference, though this is rarely the case. On the other hand, because women generally play the role of caregiver (and because fertility treatments create hormonal imbalances), infertility causes them to be overly emotional. Men may inadvertently criticize their wives for their emotions, putting even more strain on the relationship. Communication is incredibly important among couples struggling with fertility. Honesty and openness can save marriages, especially in situations such as infertility.
Research, Research, Research
A husband’s role in fertility treatments is different from the wife’s in that he will primarily play a support role. As such, he can be better prepared for his role by taking the time to research the various aspects of these treatments. Understanding the woman’s emotional upset, the changes taking place within her body and the way infertility in general makes her feel can go a long way toward bridging the communication gap. It also leads the wife to believe that her husband is generally interested in her well-being. Men generally play the role of the provider in relationships. As such, men may take solace in researching the financial aspects of fertility treatments. For instance, having a long conversation about the cost of in vitro fertilization, the amount of money that is in the budget and what will happen if the first attempt does not work can help in relieving stress for both the husband and the wife.
Be Her Cheerleader
Fertility issues leave most women feeling completely defeated at least a few times throughout the course of treatment. Often, they feel responsible for infertility, believing that something is “wrong” with them. Some women believe that something they did in the pas—or something that is happening in the present—is causing the issue. For this reason, they feel guilt and weakness. A man can become his partner’s cheerleader throughout fertility treatments. He can make an active effort to admire her, keeping criticism and sarcasm to a minimum. Although there is a time and a place for jokes, it is never appropriate to joke about a woman’s fertility issues. More than anything, men should keep the goal of the treatments in mind. After all, it will be the wife who carries the baby to term and the wife who struggles through the labor and delivery. There has never been a truer gift of love.
Provide Physical and Emotional Support in General
Men seem to be the repairers in relationships. Whether it is a broken door or a broken heart, they want to fix things for their wives to make them feel comfortable and secure. Unfortunately, though, it is impossible for a man to “fix” fertility issues. As such, the best thing a husband can do during this difficult time is to listen to his wife. He cannot make the problem go away, but his support can alleviate the symptoms of the problem.
Women do not hold their husband responsible for their infertility, but they do expect their husbands to try to understand their concerns. Physically, a woman who is going through fertility treatments will feel very tired. Hormonal imbalances may cause nausea, fatigue and even pain. Being available to help her with everyday tasks like vacuuming floors and cooking for the family shows commitment. Husbands can help their wives by providing a quiet, comfortable space for naps when needed, and they can actively participate in nutrition. Offering plenty of water and healthy snacks to a women in the middle of fertility treatments helps protect not only her health, but the health of the future baby. Although a woman’s emotions are unstable throughout the course of fertility treatment, it is important for the husband to be available and affectionate. A hug, a kiss, or even a handholding session during a movie shows compassion and support. This feeling of togetherness is often all a woman needs to feel strong, confident and capable.