Men tend to keep their feelings to themselves as the couple goes through the often distressing fertility treatment experience. This is partly because they don't wish to add to the emotional pain of their partner. It can also be due to the male tendency to seek solutions rather than expressing emotions, in this case, "getting on with" the fertility treatment.
It may seem that the man does not care to the woman, but that isn't so. Still, one can see how she might feel unsupported and isolated. If it is she who is infertile, she may feel that her body has let her down. She may drive on with a desperate search for a solution regardless of the physical, financial or emotional cost.
Needless to say, these differing reactions affect the relationship between the man and the woman. Each person in the relationship is under stress, whether it is spoken of or not, and of course, this stress can create a distance between the two people. And with both of them hurting, they may talk less and less to each other, and may even end up separating.
During the IVF treatment itself, the woman needs plenty of emotional support. As counselling psychologist Jo Perkins points out in an excellent article in Therapy Today, there are other critical points at which the woman needs plenty of support from the man and others.
These include miscarriages and the anniversaries of the due dates of the foetuses that miscarried. The news that a friend or relative is pregnant creates another painful pressure point. When it happens, it is being told that the woman's own eggs are not suitable for the fertility treatment.
Many men need to be able to talk to someone about the pain of the experience they themselves are going through, and indeed about the effect of all this on the relationship with their partners. I say "many" men because not all feel a need to discuss their feelings even in this most stressful situation.
Infertility is a tough, tough challenge for any couple. Many couples will hide the effects of this challenge from family, friends and colleagues. But family, friends and colleagues should be aware that however calm and settled everything may appear on the surface, sensitive support could be a blessing to those going through this very distressing experience.
The Therapy Today article at therapy today.net/article/15/33/ categories is well worth reading if you're involved with the infertility issue in any way.
Source: Irish Times Padraig O' Morain