Fighting with your husband during IVF is so, so common. You are absolutely not alone if this is where you find yourself. Infertility and treatment is stressful on both of you! In this post, I talk about
- what infertility and IVF was like for my husband, Paul, and me,
- some strategies to use when you find yourself fighting with your husband more than normal
- and a couple of ways to give yourself and your husband some grace and compassion through this emotional roller coaster.
My life as a flip book: The Infertility Chapter
The flip book of your life misses the tears, the pain, the fights with your husband and loved ones during IVF or other treatments.
Looking back at the flip book chapter of our infertility journey almost feels surreal. The first page has the negative tests, flip to the doctors, the IUIs, the surgery, the move, the new doctors, the “answer,” the shots, the egg retrieval, the transfer, and the pregnancy.
There’s a lot this flip book misses. The tears, the pain, the strength, the perseverance. It misses the nights when Paul carried all of the weight because I couldn’t. It also misses all the self-defeating thoughts and the way I put all the blame on myself.
I guess maybe that’s the point of flip books? We live this whole entire life in the minutes and hours of each day. And when we look back, all we have are these snapshots but the snapshots don’t tell the real story, the whole story. They’re just tiny pieces.
Infertility comes with a lot of weight and I carried so much shame and hatred towards myself and my body.
Infertility was the hardest thing I’ve had to go through and it came with a lot of weight. I carried blame and self-doubt. Shame and hatred towards my body and myself. There were times that it was all I could do to get up and sit at work, let alone actually DO anything. I was so tied up in the yuck that there are days I literally don’t even remember. It felt like I would never be happy again.
I treated my husband, Paul, terribly. I thought the worst things about people I didn’t even know, and even ones I did. The fights I started with my husband during IVF and our entire journey ranged from the simplest things to the worst insults. And at the time, I didn’t know where all that anger was coming from and I didn’t know where to direct it.
Finding strength in the most obvious place: My hubby
There are parts of me that wish I could go back and fix the fighting with my husband through IVF…and now I know that I wouldn’t have been able to change it because I couldn’t give myself the grace and compassion I deserved.
Standing in a new light and a new place, I don’t want to say that I’m ashamed of that person because I know what she was going through. I know what she was carrying and how bad she was hurting.
Through it all, Paul was there. Carrying so much of his own stuff but never once showing it. He never once made me feel less than or like our infertility was my fault. In his mind, we were always on the same side, this was the battle we were fighting together.
There are parts of me that wish they could go back and fix what I feel like I did wrong during that time. I would be kinder to him, give him more grace. And I also know that I couldn’t have done that because I wasn’t giving it to myself.
So, what should I do when I’m fighting with my husband through IVF?
Don’t use anger or fights as an excuse to beat yourself or your relationship up
Fighting with your husband is normal and it’s okay. Anger is an uncomfortable emotion but it’s also a very telling one. It alludes to something deeper, probably more uncomfortable. We use anger a lot of times to mask what we are really feeling.
When you find yourself in a fight with your hubby, remind yourself that it’s part of the process. You guys are in a high stress situation with little to no control over what happens. It’s understandable that you’d both be upset.
After your fight, try to relax and remember that you’re both human. If you find yourself thinking thoughts about how your hubby is a jerk or you’d be better off without him, distract yourself. Go for a walk, look up cute cat pics, listen to some music. It doesn’t help to put your relationship, your husband, or yourself on the chopping block when you fight. Distraction will help you to get away from that.
Use your feelings to get creative
This is edgy for me to say but when we are projecting anger, it’s because we are feeling anger towards ourselves. Everything we’re creating in our lives is a projection of how we feel inside. No, this isn’t an excuse to make yourself wrong for the things in your life you don’t like.
Explore them. Explore your emotions. Let them rage, let them out, let them be expressed. Give yourself 20 minutes to do something creative. Journal, write a poem, draw a picture, pick up an instrument. I really don’t care if you’ve never done anything creative. Here’s a picture of my first painting. It’s…unique. It’s an expression of me.
Let your creativity be an emotional outlet. It will help you process and if you keep at it, you’ll find something you love to do that you can’t live without.
Open up space for your husband to surprise you
After being married for a while, I’m sure you’ve had more than one fight in your relationship. You can play out a scenario where you guys would get in a fight like clockwork. Try to visualize a fight where your husband would surprise you. What could you do differently or how could you take ownership for your actions so that you aren’t perpetuating the fighting?
When we make space for our husbands to surprise us by thinking that they actually can surprise us, they usually do. It’s kind of an amazing thing to watch.
As always, look for support. Getting through this journey alone is not an easy one. It’s okay to ask for help.
Infertility is hard on our hubby’s too
Men are expected to show up as nothing but in control and display no emotions to the contrary, except maybe anger.
Husbands are an amazing source of strength that sometimes are taken for granted. Men are expected to show up to the hard things but to never make them look hard. They aren’t supposed to show the tender, feminine emotions. They have to be hard and cold. It’s what they’ve been taught their whole lives.
So when they are put in a situation, like infertility, where they can’t control anything, they can spiral. They revert back to what they’ve been taught: stay strong and don’t show emotions other than mad. When you are fighting with your husband during IVF and other treatments, can you make some space for this piece of him? The piece of him that’s desperately trying to fix this unfixable situation.
Although he wasn’t perfect, when I look back, I see how Paul carried the weight of our infertility with so much grace. He carried me so gently through the hardest time in my life. He let me rage when I needed to and fall apart in his arms time after time. Always there, picking up the pieces.
Infertility puts so much on our relationships so of course it will have you fighting with your husband during IVF. I wish I would have had someone to show me just how much they take on too. Someone to open my eyes to the pillar of strength my husband is, to remind me to give him the same compassion and grace he gave me.
I wish I’d had someone to tell me that when he was reacting or not showing emotion, he was showing me a version of him that was scared. He was trying to hide because what was going on was so far out of his comfort zone that he could react in the only way he knew how. I wish someone had told me to take a step back and see how much he was carrying for me through that time. And even when it felt like he was being mean or just not understanding how I was feeling, he was doing his best, just like I was.
Mostly, I just wish I had someone to tell me that we’d both be okay. The clouds would clear and one day, we’d be standing at a completely different page of our flip book. One where the petty fights didn’t matter. The only thing that would matter was that we did our best.
You can find me on Instagram, doing my best and supporting Paul in his dreams too!