Marriage Makeover: Can Our Marriage Survive Infertility?
"WE CAN'T EVEN TALK ABOUT OUR FEELINGS." continued...
STEVE: "Of course I wanted it to happen just as much as Monica,
and I was very disappointed when it didn't. And then I got kind of callous to
it when we went through it a couple of times. I felt like, Why would it work
this time when it didn't work the last time and was never explained to us? I
was scared to say that to Monica because I didn't want to hurt her feelings or
stress her out any more than she already was."
MONICA: "That's where the communication could have actually
helped. Even if he had said, 'Monica, you look stressed — is there something I
can do?' it would've consoled me. I see where he's coming from, but I want him
to be that person that I can just fall into and be comforted and not have to
ask for it."
STEVE: "I would do anything for Monica to help or comfort her.
But when I don't know what she wants or needs, I don't mind her telling me,
although she would rather not have to. It works both ways."
EXPERT ADVICE: The communication breakdown that the Kleins describe
is extremely common for couples that experience infertility. "Monica and
Steve assumed they were going to have children, and when it didn't happen, they
wanted to understand why," says Waichler. "They both have really
intense feelings of anger, guilt, failure, and blame, and it's become too
painful for them to talk about." Gender difference throws up another
communication roadblock: "Men tend to keep their emotions in check, which
Steve did, because they don't want to put any additional stress on the woman
who's actually going through the treatment," she says.
Waichler suggests that Monica and Steve each write down three ways that the
infertility has impacted them and pick a set time each week to talk about what
they've written. "Writing is a safe way to express your feelings," she
explains. "You can get everything out there, uncensored." Not only will
this get the Kleins talking again, but it will also help each of them
understand what the other went through. "When you can't talk about the
infertility, you tend to make assumptions about how your partner is
feeling," says Waichler. "And if those assumptions are wrong, then they
can actually drive you further apart."
The couple should also consider seeking out a group therapy session to hear
other couples talk about what they've gone through. "Sometimes it's helpful
to be able to ask someone else, 'Did you feel this?'" says Waichler. Steve
and Monica can start by contacting their local chapter of Resolve: The National
Infertility Association — its Website, resolve.org, has a nationwide list of