2-Minute Therapy is a regular series providing simple, effective advice on how to make sure your whole family thinks you’re as awesome as you think you are.
Can’t score on an open net (sexual metaphorically speaking)? It doesn’t make you a bad hockey player (still metaphorically speaking). Getting literal for a minute, one in 10 couples have trouble conceiving kids, but knowing the stats doesn’t make it any easier. Trying something over and over again, no matter how fun the activity, can make anyone frustrated — especially when it’s with your partner. Do you give up? Do you keep going? Or do you pass to your wingman to score? (Actually, don’t do that — it would result in a bench-clearing brawl.)
When couples have conception issues it’s easy for you and your partner to become weary, irritated and ultra-sensitive. But sticking together as a team is imperative. After all, you don’t want to turn into one of those couples become bitter from the stress and resentment. Brandi Tarver, a Gottman Certified Therapist has helped families who want more family deal with the stress of trying to conceive. Here’s how she say you can stay focused on that tiny goal.
Don’t Pause On The Issue
It’s not easy to talk about hitting speed bumps on the road to baby-making. Plus, any issues will probably just go away on their own, just like that weird pit-rash you had back in college, right?
Tarver says a lot of men think this way, but ignoring the issue makes solutions more difficult. “I know people who had just waited for years and years,” she says. “And here we are, 10 years later, and, really, nothing has been looked into.” That can mean a missed opportunity (people don’t tend to get more fertile with age) and a good deal of resentment from your partner. So swallow your pride, talk to your spouse, and make a doctor’s appointment. Might want to mention the pit-rash, too.
Don’t Play The Quiet Game
Couples tend to clam up when fertility issues strike. And while this couldn’t possibly ever relate to you, Tarver lays out the following very possible what-if:
Your wife is going through fertility treatments. It’s an intense period and she could easily hold back telling you about it. “She might say, ‘I’m tired of talking about it because all I’m doing it living through this day in and day out,’” says Tarver. Meanwhile, you might start voicing your opinion less because it feels like your emotions don’t count. “The husband might say, ‘I’m not going to share what I’m going through, because look what she’s going through,’” says Tarver. Before you know it, every night is Netflix and seethe.
How do you stop the cycle? The most important thing, Tarver says, is to talk through every up and down. It’s as simple as asking What do you need from me? Then — and this is important — telling them, Here’s what I need from you.
Try Not To Make Feelings A Competition
If your wife is taking hormones or undergoing treatment, she’s probably having a worse time than you. A much worse time. One that likely involves dealing with weight gain, moodiness, feelings of guilt, and just the general frustration of injecting herself with some drug that might not even be working. Your contribution is mostly in the pants region.
Thing is, per Tarver, a lot of guys don’t understand how competitive they can be about feelings. The tendency is to enter a game of one-upmanship (“Oh you’ve got the flu? Well, one time I stubbed by toe and that really hurt.”) or ignore the situation if there is no true means of comparison.
“Many people feel like they have to feel the exact same way,” says Tarver, “and it’s just not true.” She sees a lot of men make this mistake but it has a simple fix: your partner doesn’t need you to match her pain; she simply needs you to understand it. She needs to hear, by either actions or words, We’re going to get through this together.
Quit Saying Everything Will Be Okay
It’s natural to want to fix things. But being too positive and incessantly reminding your partner that things will work out doesn’t solve anything. In fact, it makes you seem like an insensitive jerk who doesn’t want to face their true feelings.
“It feels like rejection,” says Tarver about this type of behavior. “It shuts people down. So why would your partner say they’re sad if you’re just going to say, it’ll get better?”
Instead of going the reassuring route, you need to exercise those empathy muscles. “You just need to let your partner know that you get it,” she says. Once they know you understand what they’re feeling and that they’re able to express it to you, it’s okay to let them know you’re still optimistic.
Don’t Go Rogue
When you keep trying and nothing happens, it’s not uncommon to want to give up. You might start thinking about the other options – and that’s okay. But the problem arises when you make decisions without consulting your partner. This ain’t like bringing a Beta Fish home from the pet store.
It’s a problem Tarver has seen a lot. One person starts researching adoption, the person refuses to talk about it, and soon they’re working toward completely different goals and won’t even acknowledge it. “If you’re going to consider other options, you have to really be transparent about your feelings,” she says. And that talk needs to happen before you fly to that orphanage in Beijing.
“By taking the time to have conversations about feelings and goals, you’re reinforcing that you really value each other,” says Tarver. And that goes a long way in being able to value another, smaller person.