The Other Half Of The Couple
If you're a woman battling infertility, you may be looking on at your husband's lack of emotional display in awe or maybe even horror. You're feeling sad and depressed, frustrated and angry, but he seems to be feeling…well, nothing much at all. Is he as unfeeling as he seems?
The truth is, he feels the pain, too. But it's important to acknowledge that his feelings and the way he handles them are bound to be as different from your own as women are different from men. Men have a whole set of cultural norms about emotion and the expression thereof that is so deep it has gained firm entrenchment. Men don't like to talk about their emotional pain.
In addition to believing that not speaking up about feelings is a kind of bravery, men also have different feelings about infertility than those experienced by a woman. Let's look at some of the common emotions of men who struggle with infertility:
*Inadequacy—Men who can't impregnate their wives often feel like sexual failures. Our society has reinforced this idea by equating virility with masculinity. If you haven't been able to get your wife pregnant, you may feel like you're less than a man in some essential way.
Or perhaps you think you're not doing things right in the sexual department. Are you doing something wrong? Maybe you even question whether you fit into society since you can't father children or perhaps you feel like you are not a worthy partner to your wife.
*Guilt—As you undergo fertility treatments, you'll begin to accumulate feelings of guilt at not being able to help your partner conceive. You may feel that giving your partner a child is one of your male duties as the family man.
Society still tends to see men as the one who dominates the family. Many still see the man as the provider, even in today's enlightened, feminist reality. If your female partner has been cleared and you know you're the reason for the inability to conceive, the result is going to be a strong sense of guilt.
*No Control—Men like to feel in control of their lives. When they are given a diagnosis of infertility, they feel out of whack because they have no control over this issue. Society has an image of men as strong, organized, and in control 24/7. Men find it hard to handle the idea that fertility is something they cannot control.
*Failed—Men see it as their biological imperative to perpetuate their families. Men are expected to carry on the family name through the act of giving their wives children. A man who suffers from infertility may feel he has failed not just his partner, but his family line, as well.