Women and men are different. The slew of popular gender studies resources out there should serve to prove the point. Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus by John Gray has been a classic in the area for many years, and has been rewritten from a variety of angles as its popularity continues. “Laugh Your Way to a Happier Marriage” is a seminar, available also on DVD, offered by Mark Gungor. In both of these resources, the differences between women and men are explained so that each can better understand the other and improve their communication skills, and therefore their relationship.
It is therefore no wonder that men and women approach infertility differently as well. Women like to talk through their thoughts and feelings. Men tend to only talk when they already have something concrete to say. Women build relationships through talking. Men talk to exchange information. When it comes to dealing with a diagnosis of infertility, a couple must find a way to figure out how to tread this new territory together, as a unit.
To start, each will assume that his or her own approach to life is the right one. The woman may want to talk about having infertility, a lot, right from the start. The man may need to retreat to his cave and think about nothing, allowing the fact of the infertility diagnosis to sink into his subconscious. The woman may mistake the man’s reaction as disinterest in the subject and get upset unnecessarily, whereas the man may easily get bogged down with what he’d term “constant” focus on the big elephant in the room.
Infertility does need to be discussed among the couple. However, in order to be most effective, it is good to allow each sex to have their own way of dealing with it. In order for the man to have his space, the woman may want to join a support group of other women facing a similar diagnosis in order to get all of her talking needs met. In the process, she will inevitably become better educated on possible causes and solutions to their predicament, which will prove to be welcome tidbits of facts necessary for a successful conversation with the man, once he is ready to talk.
In addition to a different approach to talking (namely, its purpose), men and women problem-solve differently as well. Women are more likely to work out a collaborative solution, using talk as a means of getting to the resolution. Men, on the other hand, feel that they are only able to contribute to a discussion of the problem at hand once they have a solution to offer. As long as they do not know how to fix the problem, they may very well avoid the subject altogether.
Many men come across as disinterested in having a family once they receive a diagnosis of infertility. The problem just seems too insurmountable. However, even with a severe male or female factor that makes natural conception impossible, digging deep enough does offer solutions.
For starters, infertility forces a couple to examine why they want to grow their family in the first place. Many couples realize that it’s the parenting aspect that they long to experience, and therefore third party reproduction or adoption become viable alternatives when the old-fashioned manner has been blocked.
Also, in order to realize that there is still a way to reach the goal at hand, the couple will need to accept that they must let go of the idea of trying to control their family building. Many people, when they first begin to try to conceive, have an ideal family situation in mind: a certain number of children, their sex, when they are born, and how closely or far apart they are spaced. Infertility throws a monkey-wrench into all of these plans.
Infertility carries with it the possibility to really bring a couple closer together. No one wants to be challenged like this, but if tackled with the right attitude in mind, the couple can really draw nearer to each other and gain a better perspective on which to base their parenting. The silver lining is there for the taking.