If you have continued reading this week, you are most likely experiencing infertility or know someone who is. Hopefully our information has been and will be informative for this difficult process. I know we've said it earlier in the week but it needs to be said again.....Our hearts go out to any couple experiencing this difficult process.
Today we want to talk about how isolation occurs both individually and as a couple.
Typically, women isolate before men do. They don't want to talk about it with friends for various reasons. When friends are pregnant, having babies, or talking about friends having babies, it's difficult to be happy for others and sad for yourself. To be frank, it's draining. So the natural tendency is to withdraw.
It's difficult to share personal things because of the reaction you may get from others. You really don't know what to expect. Some people may try to help you "fix" the issue (as if you haven't tried everything possible). This isn't out of maliciousness. It's usually out of discomfort that they feel BECAUSE they can't fix it. They often say silly things that again, aren't malicious, but hurtful. With all of these challenges, it can feel easier to isolate.
Being around others can also be triggering and remind them of their pain. They may go to a wedding and not be thinking about it at all and someone may come up and tell them they are pregnant. They weren't expecting this, it was out of the blue, and now they are feeling sad and disappointed (all while trying to act happy for the person who is expecting and for the couple getting married). Again, it feels easier to withdraw than to anticipate every possible trigger.
Social Media can be a big trigger with the announcement of pregnancies, births, and even pictures of other people's kids. It is one reminder after another of the pain they feel.
These are things that happen individually, but couples tend to become isolated as well. For example, they may not want to go to Holidays or traditional get togethers with friends because it's too hard to be social. When you're feeling sad or overwhelmed, it's hard to be happy in a group. This is also a time for triggers. You may be at a Super Bowl party and someone makes an announcement (yet again). It's hard to pretend everything is ok so it feels easier to isolate at home together.
When so many friends are having kids the couple also starts feeling like they don't fit in. Speaking of fitting in, church can be a challenge as well. There are many families there with small children, announcements about births, and babies crying during the sermon. All of these are triggers and can cause the couple to want to run and hide, as well as them feeling "different" being married without kids.
All of this is challenging because this is so private and the couple or individual doesn't want to talk about it all the time. Yet they need to talk about it with someone who understands. That is why supportive people are so important to the couple. People who either have been there or who are sensitive to what is going on are vital. You can't always say the right things but you can lend support and ask questions appropriately about what is and what is not needed or appropriate to that couple or individual.
Tomorrow Joleen will share more about how infertility effects couples sexually. Thank you for reading this week. If this was helpful please share on social media to reach out to others needing support. Thank you!
Written by Natalie Chandler
Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville