Do Men Just Not Understand?

I was very upset with J last night and it all started over a loose button.

He mentioned that his shirt button was loose and, since he doesn’t know how to sew a button, I said I could fix it. I said the fee for sewing it on was a massage. Then he said that the fee for sewing it on was him going to my clinic appointments. I know he meant it playfully, but the whole atmosphere changed with that one comment. I quickly said that the appointments are for us. He said he knows, but I have him getting his sperm checked (and the undertone was that this was unnecessary). I told him that the doctor wanted him to and he sounded doubtful when he said, “Already?” I assured him that yes the doctor wanted it done now and he said, “ok”, but it sounded like he was still skeptical. So I pushed it saying that I didn’t think he believed me and he got defensive and said that he did and “jeez, it was just one comment.” I was so hurt though and I hid my head under the covers and cried, which he picked up on. He said he didn’t mean for it to come out that way and I said, “Well it did and I’m extremely hurt.”

I know two things for sure: 1) J loves me and 2) he wants a baby. However, he doesn’t seem to feel that our issues with TTC are as urgent as I do and he really doesn’t seem to get it. Here are the things that were going through my mind while I was crying:

  • He hasn’t really had to change his lifestyle at all. As far as TTC goes, he just needs to be ready for sex whether he’s in the mood or not. So month after month of not being pregnant doesn’t really seem to affect how he lives his day-to-day life.
  • As my acupuncturist pointed out on Sunday,  he’s not the one who gets his period every month. He doesn’t get a week-long physical reminder of the fact that he remains childless.
  • I once told him that it can take up to a year for healthy couples to conceive and I think he took this to be the average. He doesn’t seem to realize that once a year has passed that you’re technically infertile. I think he thinks there’s some gray area between “all is good” and infertility.
  • He doesn’t seem to realize that we’re essentially at that year. I have been off birth control for 14 months; at the end of this month it will have been 12 cycles where conception was possible and 10 where we timed sex around ovulation. It’s not too early to be concerned, yet his attitude makes me feel like I’m totally overblowing things and he thinks I’m just being a stressed out lunatic.
  • Even though these appointments are for us and it’s likely to still be me who has to go through the most tests and deal with the most side effects/life changes, it shouldn’t matter whether these appointments are for us or me. I never once complained or made it seem like a favor when I went to J’s appointments when he was diagnosed with diabetes. I was at the hospital as soon as I could be (I was working out of town when he was initially admitted and diagnosed) and I visited him in the morning before work and after work. I only went home when he told me to. Once he was released from the hospital, we both went to his appointments with the nurse and dietician at the diabetes clinic. I was there to support him in more ways than one.

I felt better this morning and decided to drop the subject with J (I’m not a fan of confrontation, usually just end up crying, and he gets really defensive). The issue just didn’t feel big enough anymore to start something. But when I got to work, I decided I needed to bitch to some women. So two of my coworkers listened and empathized. Even though neither of them has dealt with infertility, both have dealt with husbands who just don’t seem to get it. They assured me it was a “man thing” and not that I had married an a*hole. J is a really great man, and he will be a wonderful father, but he seems to be oblivious to what I am really, truly going through. I think he thinks he gets it, but he doesn’t.

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17 thoughts on “Do Men Just Not Understand?

  1. Hello from ICLW! Like your friends, I think that men process these kinds of things in a different way. I know that my husband felt a lesser sense of urgency than I did to find a solution and a way around the problems. But even if people feel things differently, it’s important for a couple to support each other, so I hope you find a way to both feel validated.

    • Thank you. I agree that it’s important for both of us to feel validated and supported. I tend to swallow my feelings (and then ruminate on them – not healthy coping) to avoid confrontation. But I completely agree that it is important to discuss these things. J and I are usually pretty good at communication, but everything about TTC makes me feel so vulnerable and sensitive that I’m likely to bite his head off if he says the wrong thing and he’s likely to get very defensive in turn. I’m hoping that our RE will say some things that help open J’s eyes to the fact that I’m not just overreacting.

  2. It’s so frustrating when they just don’t get it! And I think we’re just wired to think about it constantly and it doesn’t cross their minds nearly as often… so of course we’re going to be more sensitive to it all. Thankfully my husband has been great about things for the most part, but he has definitely had his moments where I just want to punch him for saying something that just hits me the wrong way.

    • A big part of it for J I think is that he still has it in his head that we’re normal and there are no issues. If the doctor’s can’t explain our infertility I think he’ll think that it’s just in my head/because I’m so stressed out. But I am stressed out because it hasn’t happened, my charts suggest a poor/late ovulation and short luteal phase, I hardly have any CM, a gynecologist suspected that I have endometriosis when I was 19 but never did a lap to confirm, and J has type 1 diabetes which is associated with sperm issues (although he’s only had T1D for 1.5 years and it’s extremely well-managed). There are reasons to be concerned. If our RE (who we meet for the first time next Tuesday) says something about how it’s good that we’re getting checked out and if he can find an explanation for our issues then I hope/think J will take everything much more seriously. Right now I think he thinks our problem is that his wife is neurotic and miserable.

  3. Greetings from ICLW!

    Oh man.. while I’m all about the playful and my husband & I are constantly saying inappropriate in jest things.. yeah, that would upset me too because even when they’re totally involved and as supportive as supportive gets, this really is the woman’s burden… Making a joke about it being his would be a temporary moment of severe uncoolness.

    He’ll get it though, he will.

    • He wasn’t actually joking. The tone of the conversation was more that he was doing me a favor by humoring me and getting an SA and going to the fertility clinic. I honestly don’t think that he thinks we need to be at that step yet.

  4. I hear you! Mr. S had his sperm analysis done, but not without making it seem like I was asking him to donate a testicle. I think part of the issue is that if a woman doesn’t get pregnant, or has an issue, they internalize it. It’s something wrong with them. To a man it’s not necessarily as personal. Good luck and I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

  5. The tests are invasive and far out from our physical and emotional comfort zone. I think that first SA puts any men out of their comfort zone. I hope your husband’s comment was just related to that stress. I am sorry you got hurt and I hope you may talk through it and that he will make it up to you. I also hope that you will get good answers from the test results and your journey to baby will be a short one!

    • Thank you. I also hope that he is just stressed about his SA. I really think that a big part of it is that he doesn’t have the same sense of urgency that I have. He seems to think we’re jumping the gun on needing help. I hope that our RE has some clear answers for us and that he recommends a successful treatment option!

  6. Good gosh, this resonates with me. D thinks it’s just “all going to work out” and I just want to see the side of him that hurts and aches for the baby too. Maybe boys don’t really go through this, but I need him to show me that I’m not alone in this desire. I know he wants a baby, too, but time seems to be no factor for him. :-/

    • It’s helpful to know that I’m not alone in this and it’s not just my husband acting like a royal jerk :) I often feel alone and vulnerable because J doesn’t show his desire and pain the way I do. I know he wants a baby but whereas I think it’s more cerebral for him it’s more visceral for me. I know that we’ll both love any children we have enormously, but our experiences in trying to get there are different.

  7. IF affects men but differently. My husband did not feel the same sense of urgency I did either. I think that is the norm. I got used to the idea that I was going to have to make things happen if I ever wanted to get pregnant. I took charge of getting the appointments schedules, finding the money, etc. Its not that he didn’t care, but I don’t think he cared as much as I did. It hurt sometimes, but I knew he wasn’t trying to be a jerk. He, too was just trying to cope.

  8. I totally agree with you, but on the flip side, maybe we need to act more “guy-like” and our not trying will result in ++++ HCG! Ha, if only it were that easy! Best of luck next week, seeing a RE was the best decision we made!

    • Yes, easier said than done. I have tried not thinking obsessing about TTC and positive thinking, but none of it worked. I am trying to be more positive though because my negativity certainly wasn’t helping anything. At what point did you go see the RE? What treatments have you had so far?

      • I stopped BC in Dec 2011, started OPK in Feb 2012 and by Aug 6th 2012 I was at the RE. I wasn’t getting positive OPK until day 22ish, with a 28 day cycle, so I knew something wasn’t right, plus with my husband in the medical field, we were both fearing trouble. Our doctor agreed we needed some intervention and September was our first month of clomid with timed intercourse. Here we are month 2 and on our second round of clomid with IUI, my IUI is scheduled tentatively for early next week, so we are hoping and praying it’s our month. So to answer you question about treatments, I have so far had the required ultrasounds and blood work along with HSG and currently on our 2nd clomid cycle, 1st IUI cycle.

        So here is to us both thinking more positive thoughts!

      • Wow you remind me a lot of myself and my situation. I went off BC in Sept 2011, started OPK in Feb 2012, requested blood work in June 2012 (which took place early July 2012). Although my results were all normal, my doctor knew how concerned I was because I seem to ovulate on CD20 of a 28-30 cycle and she also knew that the fertility clinic here takes 3-6 months to get into it, so she put a referral in. Two months after the referral was received, we got a call and a month later we’ll be having our first appointment. I am not married to a doctor, but both of my parents are physicians so I turn to them (actually just my mom because me and my dad don’t talk about this sort of thing) for advice. I’m a psychologist so I analyze my feelings about all of this A LOT and I’m sure that it’s like what they say about doctors being the worst patients (for me, it’s probably compounded by the fact that I’m essentially playing therapist to myself) :) I will definitely think positive thoughts for us both! I hope this is your cycle.

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