Playing the Blame Game in Infertility

Dawn Davenport

17

Blaming in infertility when one partner is infertile

Being the fertile partner in an infertile relationship is hard. Not only are you infertile because of your partner, you also have to be ever so careful about venting or complaining because of fear of making it worse for your infertile partner.

 

Every once in a while when you’re feeling sorry for yourself you might accidentally dip a toe into the blame ocean. It’s not pretty and most folks don’t readily admit to pointing a finger, but it’s an emotion that lots of fertile partners have felt. After all, you aren’t infertile. You aren’t the reason why you aren’t a parent; why your house is so quiet; why you want to hide at family holidays.

Maybe you don’t actually blame your infertile partner,  but find that you are

…quick to anger,

….want to take charge of the infertility treatment decisions, or

…less than patient with your partner’s slow pace.

What Are You Angry At

I am the least likely person to rain on a pity party. I think an occasional sulk, with a few “oh, you poor babies” thrown in for good measure, is good for the soul. However, after you’ve had a good cry, it might help to assess the nature of your frustration.

Are you really mad at your spouse? He/she didn’t ask for this disease. Are you mad at her slow pace at making decisions, or his unwillingness to talk? Remember, she/he is hurting just like you and is coping with a bad situation the best they can. Chances are good that you are both angry at the circumstances — angry that this is the hand you were both dealt.

Getting to “Our”

As the saying goes, it takes two to tango. When one partner is infertile, you both are. Infertility is a couples disease. And yes, it sucks!

If you’re struggling more than an occasional pity party or if it is hurting your relationship, do yourself and your marriage a favor and see a therapist knowledgeable about infertility grief. Creating a Family has resources to help you find an infertility counselor.

Self-Blame

If you are the infertile one in the relationship, you’re probably the one heaping the blame upon yourself. Stop! You didn’t ask for this disease. The only thing you can control is how you handle it.

We talked about this and more in this Creating a Family show on coping with infertility as the fertile partner, with Dr. Andrea Braverman, a Clinical Associate Professor with a joint appointment in the Department of OB/Gyn and Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University, and infertility therapist since 1985.

 

Download

Are you the fertile one in your relationship? How have you handled the blame game? Are you the infertile one? Do you blame yourself?

 

First published in 2014; Updated in 2016

03/10/2016 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Blog, Infertility, Infertility Blog | 17 Comments



17 Responses to Playing the Blame Game in Infertility

  1. AnonT said:
    I have been very careful not to try to play the blame game (we have MFI and we are both “older” wanna be parents). There were times when I felt extremely annoyed when he did not seem proactive about going to the urologist or seeing the RE. I felt many times that he just didn’t care. But when we got our first IVF fertilization report – we had pretty high rates of fertilization and many embryos that grew, he sounded so proud and he made some comments that made me realize how much this diagnosis has been affecting his sense of manhood. Just because he isn’t talking about it doesn’t mean he isn’t hurting.
    [[Creating a Family blog] at 11:11 pm on April 28, 2014]

  2. Dawn Davenport said:
    AnonT-great great point!! We all cope in our own individual ways.
    [[Creating a Family blog] at 11:25 am on April 29, 2014]

  3. Creating a Family Creating a Family says:

    Dawn Davenport said:
    Emily, in a way, all major diseases are a disease of both partners since you go through it together, but infertility is particularly this way, isn’t it.
    [[Creating a Family blog] at 8:44 am on April 25, 2014]

  4. Creating a Family Creating a Family says:

    Dawn Davenport said:
    Leilani, beautifully said!!!

  5. Creating a Family Creating a Family says:

    Michelle K. said:
    Thanks for this, Dawn–am going to listen to this Podcast now. I’m the “fertile one” in our marriage, but I’ve long treated our inability to conceive as OUR infertility. Although I’ve sometimes gotten frustrated at my husband because he (interestingly!) doesn’t seem to share in the sadness that I’ve experienced, I haven’t forced him to talk about it or yelled at him for NOT talking about it. He is not the type to talk “feelings” and I have to consider that he may indeed feel sadness, but chooses to deal with it in a much more stiff-upper-lip manner than I have done. While it may be unhealthy to keep one’s true emotions bottled up for some time, there is something to be said for having the immense strength to deal with one’s pain quietly without harping on it and moving on with life, as my husband has done…
    [[Creating a Family blog] at 9:23 am on April 25, 2014]

  6. AnonT says:

    I have been very careful not to try to play the blame game (we have MFI and we are both “older” wanna be parents). There were times when I felt extremely annoyed when he did not seem proactive about going to the urologist or seeing the RE. I felt many times that he just didn’t care. But when we got our first IVF fertilization report – we had pretty high rates of fertilization and many embryos that grew, he sounded so proud and he made some comments that made me realize how much this diagnosis has been affecting his sense of manhood. Just because he isn’t talking about it doesn’t mean he isn’t hurting.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I have never “blamed” my partner for his IF-it is due to a genetic condition that is entirely beyond his control-it was not, is not, and never will be his fault, and I tell him this everyday in every way I can. But I just wanted to comment on the blame that can be thrown at the non-IF partner for the couple’s IF when it comes to the couple’s decision to seek a way to become parents through assisted means or adoption.

    I have read some very insensitive comments directed at partners of IF sufferers that more or less say “well, if you don’t abandon this person and find someone who can GIVE you children the old fashioned (read:the right way) you yourself are CHOOSING to be IF and as such have chosen to be childless for life) One such comment directed at someone with mfi still causes me to cringe to this day, and it is as follows (with apologies for its crassness I’m just quoting) “By staying with you, your wife has chosen to remain childfree…..” (because in this context the person commenting thought that ART and adoption were wrong ways for IF persons to become parents), ….”unless she has an affair with the mailman in order to get pregnant, she must not want children that badly”

    It sickens me that people in our world hold such ignorant and hurtful attitudes towards those who are IF and those who love them in spite of what that condition has taken away from them. If my husband had another disability, I would not leave him-I would stick by him and we would face it together. Why should IF be any different? As the wife of someone who is IF, I have not chosen to live childfree, any more than my husband has. I have chosen (and will continue to choose) to walk this involuntary path of IF with someone I love more than life itself and who I promised to stay with forever, no matter what. If we choose to walk together on an alternate path to parenthood, we have every right to do so, without judgement and criticism from others.

    If at the end of this path we are still childless, we will still be on this journey together and we will make the best of it, knowing that our partnership is something that we still have in this life and beyond. This is where I stand on the whole “blaming” issue, but it irks me that others might still find reason to stand in judgement of me and my husband for the choices that we have been left to make in the face of IF.

    • Anonymous, I am left speechless at both the ignorance and lack of compassion by the person who left that comment and by the eloquence of your response. Thank you!! You and your husband are truly blessed.

    • Anon says:

      Your situation sounds very familiar to ours. If you don’t mind me asking, what did they diagnose your husband with?

  8. Michelle K. says:

    Thanks for this, Dawn–am going to listen to this Podcast now. I’m the “fertile one” in our marriage, but I’ve long treated our inability to conceive as OUR infertility. Although I’ve sometimes gotten frustrated at my husband because he (interestingly!) doesn’t seem to share in the sadness that I’ve experienced, I haven’t forced him to talk about it or yelled at him for NOT talking about it. He is not the type to talk “feelings” and I have to consider that he may indeed feel sadness, but chooses to deal with it in a much more stiff-upper-lip manner than I have done. While it may be unhealthy to keep one’s true emotions bottled up for some time, there is something to be said for having the immense strength to deal with one’s pain quietly without harping on it and moving on with life, as my husband has done…

  9. Emily, in a way, all major diseases are a disease of both partners since you go through it together, but infertility is particularly this way, isn’t it.

  10. Leilani, beautifully said!!!

  11. Anon AP says:

    This is one area where I feel quite lucky: my infertility is obviously linked to my genetics. Travels along the aunt line in the family, and I can easily point the finger at my genes and say, “you stinkers! this is all your fault.” I think it would be harder if the origin of my infertility were not as clear because I’d wonder what happened. I’m also lucky that my husband has never been anything but a partner who shared in the sadness of the result of infertility equally and who has stood by me as I have come to terms with what it means for me biologically. We have been standing together as we’ve figured out what it means for us as a family. I can only imagine the pain and challenge of getting through this without that support.

    • AnonAP, it is sad indeed when infertility tears couples apart. Even if they don’t split, they end up coping with this horrible disease individually rather than together. So glad this didn’t happen to you.

  12. Leilani says:

    Took me a long time to realize that the only thing I could control was how I handled the situation and not the actual infertility.

  13. Emily says:

    Thanks for this! I was just taking about how infertility is a disease of both partners. Well said! Everyone deals w infertility differently, and though I never experienced guilt, I know many that carry that burden.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top ↑

Content created by Creating a Family. And remember, there are no guarantees in adoption or infertility treatment. The information provided or referenced on this website should be used only as part of an overall plan to help educate you about the joys and challenges of adopting a child or dealing with infertility. Although the following seems obvious, our attorney insists that we tell you specifically that the information provided on this site may not be appropriate or applicable to you, and despite our best efforts, it may contain errors or important omissions. You should rely only upon the professionals you employ to assist you directly with your individual circumstances. CREATING A FAMILY DOES NOT WARRANT THE INFORMATION OR MATERIALS contained or referenced on this website. CREATING A FAMILY EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS LIABILITY FOR ERRORS or omissions in this information and materials and PROVIDES NO WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, implied, express or statutory. IN NO EVENT WILL CREATING A FAMILY BE LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES, including without limitation direct or indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages, losses or expenses arising out of or in connection with the use of the information or materials, EVEN IF CREATING A FAMILY OR ITS AGENTS ARE NEGLIGENT AND/OR ARE ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.