How to support your husband through infertility | Robyn Birkin | Author, Podcaster, Eternal Optimist

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We’re talking today about supporting your husband through infertility.

Husbands are funny beasts, they’re so different from us.  We can quite often figure that they struggle too, until sometimes they have these big blow outs of emotions or they just crumble.

I want to start by saying you always need to put your own oxygen mask on first. It’s the number one thing. If you’re at negative 25 and they are dumping on you, then nobody is going to be helped, okay? It’s the same analogy as putting on your own oxygen mask or your own life vest first. You need to survive and you need to take care of yourself, and that’s how you can then support and take care of other people.

When you keep everything in, then it will build up and one day it’ll explode.  That’s what happens sometimes – we put on this brave face and we’re strong, then all of a sudden everything crumbles and actually we’re not. I think this is something that can happen sometimes a lot more to guys than it can do to women.

So what do we do in these scenarios? What happens if your husband has just all of a sudden broken down due to infertility? You’re doing all these things to get support – you’re part of all of these Facebook groups – but he’s in this really bad space as well and you don’t know what to do.

SUGGEST RESOURCES TO HIM

There are actually a bunch of resources about guys and infertility.  There’s a Reddit thread.  Just like we have lots of Facebook groups, there is a Facebook group for guys going through infertility.  We have some guys in our practitioner Facebook group.  So you may want to look some of those things up and suggest them to your husband to help him see that he’s not alone and can find support through infertility. 

But how do you even broach the topic of checking in with them and seeing how they’re going?

So a few things that I suggest are never ever, ever, ever, ever say to someone, this is a hot life tip,

  • “We need to talk.”
  • “I think we need to have a discussion.”
  • “Can we have a chat later tonight about a few things?”

It’s a real red flag to someone that something is not right and it might feel really awkward to your husband.

The best way I found to broach a conversation with my husband is the walk and talk method.  It’s where I sneak in the serious stuff while we’re doing something else.  It makes it more casual that way.

For example, we might be in the garden gardening, maybe we’re going for a walk together, maybe we’re walking to the shops and we’re in that point when we’re getting into the shops, maybe we’re in the car. Those moments where something else is happening. Maybe we’re cooking together, and I’ll just cut to the punch line. I’ll say something like, “I feel like you’re not dealing that well with this journey. Do you want to chat about what’s going on?” Or I’ll say, “I’m just checking in. How is this all affecting you? I’d love to know.” Or you might say, “Do you chat with your friends ever about what’s going on?”

Just to try and open up the conversation and get a little bit out of them. Don’t expect a whole lot out of them. Don’t ask them a question that they could answer just yes or no, like, “Are you finding this journey really hard.” Get them to say more than just yes or no.  And try to be really conscious of listening, not interrupting, allowing them space to speak.

Allowing sometimes an awkward silence to make them answer. Ask the question, and even if they don’t even answer you right away, they might mull over it, and then in bed later that night at 11:00 PM say, “Yeah, actually I’m really struggling on this journey.” But just to know that you’ve opened the door a little bit. You haven’t had this huge build up or made this big deal of it, but you’ve let them know that the door is open and that you’re wondering if they’re okay, and I guess subtly knowing that you’re here for them if they need it. 

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GIVE HIM SPACE TO EXPLORE

Community is just as important for men as it is for women.  Guys need to find some community, and in the beginning you’ll probably need to help him find it.  So I strongly suggest if you’re going through the infertility journey that you open up just a little bit because you never know what other blokes might come out of the woodwork, and they can then maybe message each other, or catch up for a beer or something like that.

I know alcohol isn’t ideal for male fertility, but one beer here and there won’t really make a difference, and sometimes guys like to chat over a beer.  The time spent in community is worth the investment.  So if your husband wants to go out for one or two beers on a Friday night, I would really encourage you to let that be, and encourage him to find support because stress manifests itself in a lot of physical ways as well, and we have to balance all of this.

So that doesn’t mean letting your husband go out on a Friday night for an all night bender, but I think that if your husband wanted to go out for a drink or two every Friday night with some guys that they can talk with, and that was what resonated with him and helped him, that is be a positive thing.  It also gives you the bonus of alone time!  You can read a book, have a bath, or watch Grace and Frankie on Netflix.

hobbies are important

They might also want to develop a hobby. My husband loves surfing, forward driving, he actually is really into our veggie patching in the moment. But what kind of sports might there be that your husband could get involved in? Are there any sports that your husband was involved in when he was in college, or at school? And there are some that are big time no-gos like competitive cycling, but there are lots out there that are probably fairly harmless and might be a really good way for them to find some community. Maybe the two of you together can join a golf club and do some things, but finding something for them to do with their hands that might also help them find some community or some people to talk with, or something outside of being in the house.

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little love notes

A nice little thing that you could do to support your husband through infertility is to just write your husband some tiny little love notes on Post-it notes and leave them in places in the house. So you might leave once a week or even every day a little note in the bathroom, a Post-it note on the mirror that says, “I wouldn’t want to go through this journey with anyone else but you.” Or, “I just wanted to say I love how you kiss me on the forehead.” Something that’s just really nice, that uplifts the mood, that just created a little bit higher of a vibe in the household, and just develops a little bit more of that deep love.

When we have gratitude, it’s really hard to have all of these other emotions like resentment, and anger, and sadness, because it brings us back to the present.  It gives us this really positive happy high vibe emotions.

So what kind of little notes can you leave for your husband? Can you leave something with his lunch every day, or if you make him a coffee in the morning, can you put a little love note next to his coffee? But little love notes, that’s how we start to bring back the romance, that’s how we start to make our partners feel just a little bit better.

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be the example

Another thing that you can do to support your husband through infertility is lead by example. Be the example. If you start to learn lessons, if you start journaling every day, if you start meditating every day. Some of the most successful people in the world meditate. So many of the world’s billionaires who are men meditate and do yoga, and write in a journal. It’s not a girly thing, lots of people do it. But you can’t just tell your husband that he needs to start journaling, you need to lead by example.  When he sees you leading the way he will likely follow.

There are so many good programs out there to join. Sarah Clark from Fab Fertile has a couple’s program. Maybe you just do a six week meditation course. Maybe you start going to yoga classes. 

Leading by example is how we get other people to change, and when they start seeing that all of a sudden we’re happier and that we are learning and discovering things that we can pass on to them, but then that empowers them and helps them feel more confident with making changes in their life too. Leading by example is one of the most important things we can do, not just in our relationships but at our work places, when we have kids with our kids. So really try and be the change that you wish to see in other people.

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recap

So let’s just do a little recap on ways to support our husband through infertility. First off, holding everything is isn’t a good idea because everything will just build up and explode.  It’s also important to protect our own energy. Let’s look after ourselves first so that we can handle it when that happens, but we can start encouraging them bit by bit to open up to us by first of all checking in and asking them how they’re going, but not doing it in this way that makes it such a big deal. Open the door that they can talk to us if they want, but also checking in and seeing if they have opportunities within their social life to reach out to other blokes as well.

So that might be by giving them a new hobby, that might be by giving them permission to go out and socialize. Giving them permission to do that and to find their own community and the people that they can download to.  Giving some little love notes and really trying to get into a space of gratitude.

The last thing that we can do, the most powerful thing I think that we can do is to lead by example and start taking action ourselves.  Leading by example and being that change is an amazing way to help support your husband through infertility.

I’ve got some cool things happening in July! If you want to know about all of it, then please make sure you’re on my email list!

How to support your husband through infertility | Robyn Birkin | Author, Podcaster, Eternal Optimist
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