I’ve had the honor and privilege of connecting with so many wonderful people in the infertility community. One of those great people is Justine Froelker. I connected with her a few months back through this blog. Justine is an infertility survivor who also is a Therapist. She has a unique perspective of someone who has been through the grind of infertility but also the insight of a professional therapist. Her blog is a must follow for anyone going through infertility. I can’t say enough good things about her work and how supportive a friend she has been.
I recently had the honor of reading a chapter from her upcoming book “Ever Upward” which is due to be published on October 1st. She gave me the choice of selecting a chapter to read and review. The one I choose is called “Reigniting the Spark”. The chapter analyzed the impact infertility can have on a marriage and how couples need to find themselves again:
Our grief was no different. I think some of it is personality difference and some of it simply gender difference. I feel a lot, I talk a lot and I express A LOT. Chad does not. Whether or not it is because he is a man or because that’s just who he is doesn’t matter. However, I have also concluded that a big part of it is also the circumstances of our IVF journey, losing our babies and accepting our childfree life. I felt all of it, all of the time and always very openly. I think this open expression shut down Chad’s emotions at times, leaving him with the sense of needing to pull his shit together in order to remain strong for me and pick up my pieces.
This quote from the chapter explains the complexity of infertilities impact on marriages. It is typical of couples facing infertility that although they are faced with the situation together their processing of the situation can vary. That varying of emotions leads to conflict and in some cases can break a part a marriage or at the very least cause a couple to lose a sense of themselves.
What makes or breaks a couple going through infertility while it is thought of as becoming parents is not the case. A baby or child may resolve the childlessness that infertility causes does not heal the personal or marital wounds left by infertility. The reality is couples have to find themselves again if they are going to survive together as a couple.
The biggest piece about moving forward together was learning to redefine ourselves both as a non-father and non-mother but also as a couple and family.
In redefining their marriage Justine and her husband make a commitment to engage in a number of activities over the course of a year. I thought they were all well thought out and as the case with the curveballs with infertility throws couples they had to adjust when they did certain activities. All of the activities were really neat ideas that helped them remember why they fell in love with each other and made a lifelong commitment to one another. Though my least favorite activity they did being a bitter Met fan who still has nightmares of Adam Wainwright striking out Carlos Beltran in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS (thought for sure that was the Mets year) was their “Cardinals Baseball Game” activity. At the end of the year long set of activities they had rediscovered themselves and their family. It’s a story book ending to what was a difficult journey.
Reading this chapter really hit home for me personally at this point in my infertility journey. I am hoping to get to the point where K and I can redefine each other as a couple and a family. Refining ourselves as a family is the hardest part for me. I’ve had it stuck in my head for so long that a family is defined as a unit of adults and children. Without those children I never defined adults with a marital or non marital bond as making up a family. It’s something I need to let go of especially with it being very likely that K and I will never have the opportunity to become parents.
Whether you are someone who is just beginning your infertility journey or if you have resolved your infertility, I think this book is a must read. Justine’s unique perspective bringing that personal touch with her professional touch delivers a powerful message to the reader. I would like to thank Justine for giving me this opportunity to read just a small piece of her book that I am looking forward to purchasing on October 1st.