The most common question I get asked by the partners in a trying to conceive couple (TTC) is what does my partner want from me support wise?
In a lot of ways I can really empathise with someone that is close to a person who is experiencing infertility. You are living on a field of emotional land mines.
Some are obvious and easier to tip-toe around, but others are hidden and you never know what will set them off!
Our partners in particular need to become experts at navigating this field...
There can be no doubt that facing infertility changes you. It’s such as significant emotional experience to go through…and as a result you can find your relationship in a whole new world.
As a couple it impacts how you spend time together, your sex life, dominates conversation and also dints your financial situation.
The woman you fell in love with changes.
I try to put myself in my husband's shoes sometimes. Its never fun to be around someone who is grumpy to the point of irrationality. Or tired and sad to the point of depression. Or in full crazy-perfectionist mode.
I'm sure he has his moments where he wonders what happened to the woman he married!
It’s awful to watch the person you love suffer so much. More often than not in fertility challenges there is not much you can do about that suffering.
Despite all this infertility is also an experience that can bring you closer together. TTC has taught me a lot about myself, but it’s also taught me a lot about my husband and our relationship.
Yes it’s been hard, but it’s also bonded us closer together. Believe it or not in a lot of ways it’s changed our relationship for the better.
I've come full circle from Why me? Why us? to Lucky me! Lucky us!
I might not have my baby yet, but I have this amazing man, this wonderful relationship, this wonderful home.
That makes me one of the lucky ones in this game called life!!
So What Are My Tips To Partners Trying To Navigate The TTC Minefield??
Never, Ever Tell Her She Is A Hormonal Nightmare!!
Now I'm not an advocate for IVF or TTC being free licence for being a total cow...however…
There is a huge amount going on both physically and emotionally. It’s impossible to describe.
But it’s as simple as this - the fuse is going to be shorter than usual and probably go off in times that logically make no sense. A bit of leeway is required!
Telling someone they are being awful, or not handling things well, or that they are being hormonal in those moments is like poking a sleeping bear!!**
It also has a long-term effect - guilt and paranoia. Hormones pass but that comment remains, and it feeds the negative self-talk. Cue anxiety and stress about the next round, which in turn makes the hormones worse!!
In short, it’s a no-win!!
Instead try walking away from the moment until cooler heads prevail - debrief on better ways to handle things when the emotion has subsided! Or just simply not reacting yourself and instead asking what you can do to help!
**Note I must say I'm fortunate that my hubby has never said this to me – wise man!! :-) But many do, as it can be hard to know how to react when faced a hormonal woman!! I often see the flow-on effects of it in my coaching sessions
Stim Cycle time is your time to do the little things without being asked. Do the shopping. Cook dinner. Fold the washing. Foot Rub. Anything you can do to lighten the load. Sometimes it’s the small, mundane gestures that can mean the most.
Be a listener
Do you wind up feeling that no matter what you say is the wrong thing?
Sometimes people just want to get things off their chest. Maybe try empathy instead of heading straight for solutions if you are getting resistance to them.
Phrases like - 'I can't imagine what that must be like for you - is there anything I can do?' or 'I can see this hard for you- how can I help?' or even just a hug can be real winners!
Be A Couple
Find ways to keep the essence of what makes you a couple. Guard against your whole relationship becoming about fertility challenges by including those important relationship rituals in your life!
What are some great things your partner does to support you while TTC? Or what do you wish they would do??