Marriage Makeover: Can Our Marriage Survive Infertility?
"WE CAN'T EVEN TALK ABOUT OUR FEELINGS."
MONICA: "I remember our first time doing IVF. When the pregnancy test came back negative, I was a basket case. We went for a drive on the beach and we both cried. But the other times, I never saw Steve get upset or heard him speak about it. In a way I was like, Do you even want this? or What am I doing this for? He doesn't talk about his feelings."
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.