Written By Janet Jaffe, Ph.D.
Center for Reproductive Psychology
Adapted from Unsung Lullabies: Understanding and Coping with Infertility (St. Martin’s Press, 2005)
Infertility is not just an individual trauma. The stress on your relationship can leave you feeling that you’re alone in this, not facing this crisis together as partners, as a team. The very person you want to feel closest too may be pulling away or doesn’t feel as if s/he is on your side as you both struggle through this. Not only do you each have to deal with the trauma individually, you also must cope with how your partner is coping. If you do not understand how each of you copes, you may easily misinterpret your partner’s behavior, leading to hurt feelings, criticism and defensiveness. In your confusion, you may take your differences in coping and reactions personally, feeling that “if my partner really loved me, s/he wouldn’t act this way.”
“I was four days late this month,” said Roseanne. “My breasts were very swollen and sore and I felt exhausted. I really thought this might be it.” Roseanne and her husband, Glenn, were in the midst of an infertility workup and still trying ‘on their own.’ When her period started, Roseanne turned to Glenn for support. He, understanding of how sad she was – once again – let her cry, gave her a big hug, then started talking about the lunch meeting he had with his boss that day. That’s when she lost it. “He just switched gears on me,” she cried. “Sometimes I think he doesn’t care!”
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