COPING WITH FERTILITY PROBLEMS, PART III
In Parts I and II of this three-part series, we discussed the difficulties Sue and Dave were having in producing a successful pregnancy. In Part II we focused on specific steps that Sue could take to cope with the various emotions she was facing concerning their, so-far, unsuccessful pregnancies. In Part III we want to shift the focus to Dave, and ask what coping steps he can take to deal with the stress he and Sue are facing.
—-Dave must maintain totally open and honest communication with Sue. The golden rule of any relationship is, when difficulties arise, communication, negotiation, compromise and acceptance are absolutely necessary to facing challenges in constructive ways.
—-Dave must likewise share his viewpoints. They must discuss how they feel about various options they can choose, and work toward finding a common ground from which to proceed.
—-Dave must reassure Sue that her welfare is his primary concern; conceiving and delivering a child is secondary in his mind to her well-being.
—-Dave must also realize that it is Sue’s energy and resources that are more proportionally focused in the direction of having children. It can be quite natural for him to feel that he is in a secondary position in the relationship, and potentially no longer the primary love object. If Dave has these feelings he must voice them, and he and Sue must come to the mutual understanding that Sue’s focus on having a child does not mean replacing Dave in her heart.
—-Dave must assure Sue that she is not to blame for their situation. He must make it clear that he understands and finds it quite natural that she may feel some guilt. He must help her examine this guilt and critically challenge it as without foundation.
When lines of communication and cooperation are open and functioning, true sharing can take place between Sue and Dave. Eventually, that sharing will lead to acceptance of many truths. For instance, Sue and Dave must consider that pregnancy may not be in the cards for them, and that adoption is their best option. Perhaps Sue should concentrate on her career. Both she and Dave have successful careers and maybe they should focus on just being happy with each other. Some folks willingly accept that what they don’t have in life is far less important than what they have and appreciate.
Sue and Dave’s situation shows us that stress can lead either to deterioration or enhancement in a relationship. By pulling together as a team and confronting any anger, guilt, jealousy, and anxiety in positive ways, Sue and Dave can become more loving, cooperative, understanding and helpful with one another. Earlier (Blog of 9/16/16) we discussed the distinction between stress management and stress enhancement. Sue and Dave can focus on stress enhancement to produce outcomes that will lead to increased personal and emotional growth. Such focusing is precisely the strategy any of us must pursue when we face coping challenges.