6 Survival Tips to Help Infertile Men on Father’s Day
Mother’s Day is without exception widely regarded as the most difficult day of the year for an infertile woman not to have a child—surpassing other painful days like Halloween, Christmas and Hanukkah and New Year’s.
But what about prospective dads on Father’s Day?
Over the three decades that Long Island IVF has been treating infertile patients, we’ve noticed that society’s attention on a couple’s infertility journey is often focused on the woman. This may be because she undergoes the brunt of the physical treatments and she may more openly vent or cry about the process to others, where her man may more often stay silent. Many people tiptoe around her not knowing what, if anything, they should say to help, comfort, or support her. Even her partner may walk on egg shells around her at times. But he needs support too, and it’s very likely that Father’s Day is the hardest day of his year.
Here are some tips to help him get through this difficult day:
- Follow his lead. Realize that he may not feel the same way you did on Mother’s Day. (They don’t say men are from Mars and women are from Venus for nothing). So, let him in on the plans in advance—or better yet, let him take part in planning the day. He may want to be with family and friends and their children, or he may just want to be with you – – so let him choose. Even if that means he doesn’t want to do what you want.
- Acknowledge his pain. He may be putting up a strong front and saying nothing, but inside he struggles, too. Encourage him to talk if he wants to. So often, he may keep everything inside so he doesn’t upset you further. Let him vent to you, or if you know there’s someone else who he likes to confide in—like his father or brother or best friend—carve some time out that day so he can speak to that person.
- Give him space. In addition to letting him choose what to do with the day, realize he may want to be alone for all or part of it. It may be hard for him to express this need. Sometimes the hardest thing is being around a bunch of “the guys” who unwittingly say the most hurtful things. Things like “I just look at my wife and she gets pregnant” or “I’ll get her pregnant for you”. He may even need some time away from you just to process his feelings—especially if he usually keeps them bottled up. Don’t take it personally.
- Buy him something. It can be something he’s wanted or a surprise. Maybe a tangible gift or an experience-- like a little overnight trip or a concert. Think of it as a father-in-waiting present.
- Write him a love letter. Last check, Hallmark wasn’t stocking Fathers-in-Waiting Day cards. But one of the kindest, supportive things you can do is sit down and write your better half a heartfelt note thanking him for supporting you as you navigate this journey together. Tell him all the wonderful characteristics he has that will make him a great father one day. Don’t assume he knows. Tell him.
- Plan or do a project together. Working on something together will help you reconnect to the strong team that you are. (Make it something fun for him, though—not one of those “Honey-Do-This” lists of chores.) If the project is connected to something that moves your infertility journey forward or de-stresses you, that’s an added bonus. For example, planting a garden of vegetables for healthy eating or pretty flowers for a sanctuary space serves a dual purpose. Buying bicycles, joining a gym, or committing to an evening walk together could help as well.
At the end of the day, and actually all through it, you just need to be there for him and realize that Father’s Day is to him what Mother’s Day was to you. You know best what to say-- and not say-- to help him through this painful day.
Of course, there are countless hard days each year and it’s natural to feel sad, angry, fearful, or depressed along the journey. But if these feelings are interfering with your ability to get through your day, you may need the support of a professional.
If you or he could benefit from individual or couple’s counseling while experiencing infertility, Long Island IVF’s Mind Body Program can help you. Bina Benisch, M.S., R.N. is a counselor specializing in guiding and supporting individuals and couples through their infertility struggles. A new group is forming this summer and all are welcome to join. Contact the office for more information.