This month, I’m reflecting on how everyone’s story matters. If you’re beginning you’re “infertility journey” or 12 years deep, how you feel and what you have to say about your experience should be valued and heard. Which is why this month, I would like for us to encourage the men in our lives to share their stories dealing with infertility. Father’s Day is coming up and it can be just as hard for men as it is for women on Mother’s Day. Take time to celebrate the men in your life this month!
Here are some tips to help him get through this difficult day-taken from RMA Long Island IVF:
- 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.