Trying to make a baby is an exciting time – at first. Early on in the process, you don’t necessarily expect to get it right. You imagine, however, that after two or three months tops, your partner will be proudly displaying that positive pregnancy test. However, when a couple is struggling with infertility, things can get much less exciting and much more anxiety-provoking. The monthly cycle becomes one of hope, excitement, anticipation and then letdown. Wash, rinse and repeat, every month.
You’re probably going through some of those ups and downs yourself. When you’ve been struggling with infertility for several months, it’s important to encourage your partner so you can draw from one another’s strength.
Learning to Just Listen
For many men, listening to a partner struggle can be terribly frustrating. Your first instinct is to try to solve the problem. If your partner is frustrated that she’s had yet another failed pregnancy test, your immediate reaction is probably to say something like “don’t worry, we’ll get it right next month.” The fact of the matter is, however, that she probably doesn’t want to hear that. She knows there will be more chances. She’s not concerned about the future. She’s concerned about the disappointment she’s feeling right now.
Active listening – where you listen what your partner says and then demonstrate understanding and empathy by restating their feelings back to them – is often much more effective than trying to problem-solve. There will be enough time to work on the problem later on.
Talking About Your Own Frustrations
Men often loathe discussing their own feelings and frustrations. You’re worried it will make you appear weak, or that you’ll bring your partner down. You’re wrong. Sharing your own emotions with your partner will help strengthen your bond. It makes your partner feel more connected to you, as if she’s the one person in the world with whom you’re willing to let down your guard.
Using “I” Statements
When you talk about these emotions, be careful not to place blame. Instead of saying “you frustrate me when…” say “I feel frustrated when…” This makes all the difference in the world. It turns a potentially offensive statement into one that takes responsibility for your own actions and feelings.
Dealing With Your Own Stress
If you’re going to be a good support person for your partner, you need to keep your own stress and anxiety under control. There are some relatively simple techniques you can use to do just that, such as:
- Regular exercise: Regular exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, which naturally help to combat stress.
- Balanced diet: Stress can, in many cases, be compounded by unhealthy eating choices. Foods rich in nutrients can help your body and your mind handle stress better.
- Learn stress management techniques: Sometimes just listening to some soft jazz, meditating or engaging in a favored activity is enough to reduce your own stress levels.
You can even work together with your partner on some of these activities to help reduce stress for both of you.
Ultimately, being there for your partner means learning to listen, communicating effectively and managing stress. Do these things and you’ll be able to tackle your infertility struggles head-on.