Tips for Husbands with Infertile Wives by Baby Hopeful

Back in December I did a piece “Tips for Wives with Infertile Husbands“, it was one of my better pieces that I am hopeful people found beneficial.  As a follow up I thought it would be great to do a follow up piece on the other side of things, what can a husband do to help his infertile wife.  Unfortunately I don’t have the biological make up to do a piece like that so I had to seek out help.

One of the many great people I’ve connected with over the last year in the infertility community is a woman who runs a website called Baby Hopeful.  She and her husband have been going through infertility for over three years.  They’ve dealt with miscarriages, treatments and a whole lot of heart ache.  It’s a truly heartbreaking story to follow.  But they are people the infertility community looks up to for their courage, resolve and sharing so that other couples going through similar experiences can understand that they aren’t alone.  It’s a great website and blog that I highly recommend people check out as well as follow her on twitter at @babyhopeful.

It is with great pleasure that I present to you her piece geared towards Husbands who have infertile wives and what they can do to be there for their wives as they navigate their infertility journey.  I hope that those men who have infertile wives find this piece helpful and hope that infertile wives can share this piece with their husbands.  I can’t thank her enough for her putting this AWESOME piece together and for all of the work she does through her website.

Tips for Husbands with Infertile Wives

As an infertile wife I am often so self consumed with my own woes, that everything is about me.  I admit, there have been times when it hasn’t even cross my mind how hard it is for a husband to deal with an infertile wife.  So I have put together a few tips based on my experiences for husbands who have infertile wives.

1.) Put yourself in their shoes

Try to imagine how you would feel if you were the reason you and your wife couldn’t have a baby.  Would that make you feel like a failure?  Make you feel like you were letting her down?  Make you wonder if they even want to stay married to you (after all they might be able to have children with someone else)?  Well, imagine that for a moment… That is exactly how she is feeling.

You need to reassure your wife that she isn’t a failure and she isn’t letting you down.  Most importantly, reassure her that you will not leave her because she can’t have your children.  This has crossed my mind more than once, and my husband always tells me that “he wants children with me, not anyone else.  He doesn’t want to be married to someone else and that if we never have children, he will still have me and that’s the most important thing.”  This is the right thing to say!

 2.) Recognize the emotional and physical effects

I have had test after test; blood tests, surgery and internal investigations that have inflicted pain and have taken away my dignity.  In comparison, my husband has had two blood tests and two sperm tests.  I have had three miscarriages which have been painful and left me run down, tired with messed up hormones to boot. If your wife is dealing with all this, accept that she will be emotionally and physically tired.  What should you do?  Ask her if she is ok (often), spoil her (surprise her with flowers or a get well card, take her shopping), look after her (breakfast in bed), make her feel loved (hug her and tell her you love her… a lot).  She will be feeling pretty pathetic and will need it.

2.) Think about the biological differences 

I know how much men want children and I don’t want to offend men reading this (I apologize if I do), but don’t underestimate a woman’s internal desire to carry a baby; to give birth and to nurture a baby as a mother.  It is the strongest, most overpowering, consuming feeling I have ever known.  My biological clock (which I never knew I had until 3 years ago) has been ticking louder and louder over the last few years and I have become desperate to become a mother.  I think the key for the husband is to try and understand that the desire for a child is not a completely conscious decision; it is coming from the “mother within”.  There is not a lot you will be able to say to make this ok.  But you need to say that you understand (even if you don’t), reassure her that you still have lots of time, but also make sure she knows you are on her side and want this baby as soon as possible too.

3.) Patience

There have been times when I have cried my heart out literally every day; when I have been so angry I have slammed doors, stormed out of the house and thrown out insults like an obnoxious ungrateful teenager; when I haven’t laughed or smiled for weeks; when I have been a shadow of the woman my husband married.  Allow your wife to let these feelings out.  Be there for her, hug her, let her cry, be patient.  The wife you know and love will return, even if only for brief moments at first.

4.) Don’t take it personally

Know that it’s not you your wife is angry at, it’s infertility.  Anything your wife throws at you, don’t take it personally.  The harsh comments aren’t directed at you (even though it will often sound like they are).  We all take things out on those closest to us and in this instance the poor husband gets the short straw.  The only advice I can give on this one is don’t fight back with insults or harsher comments.  Bite your tongue, try to ignore what has been said, and know that your wife doesn’t mean it.  I know it’s hard and it’s allowing her to take no responsibility for her words or actions.  But don’t worry, she will realize this for herself and will usually apologize when she has calmed down.  Deep down she will know she was wrong to act like that/say those things.

5.) Talk, but get the balance right

Women (in general) talk more than men, it’s the way they rationalize thoughts and deal with problems.  An infertile wife will go over and over the same problems with her husband, trying to come up with a solution.  However, with infertility the conversation may never end because there’s no quick fix.  Of course a husband must listen and talk, but get the balance right and know when to have a break.  On more than one occasion my husband has said to me “We’re on holiday, let’s not talk about babies for now.” Or “Let’s enjoy our meal and talk about that tomorrow”.  At first this used to annoy me (because I wanted to talk about it there and then), but I soon realized that this was the best thing he could say.  It meant my brain was having a rest, that we could go back to just being a normal man and wife for a while (not “man and infertile wife”).  Arrange to do things you enjoy and don’t talk about babies/infertility while you do it.  Believe me, distraction is a good thing, even if only temporary.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I hope it helps any men out there dealing with infertile wives.  You could even ask your wives to read it too, see if they agree.  They might have some more advice of their own to add.


19 thoughts on “Tips for Husbands with Infertile Wives by Baby Hopeful

    1. gsmwc02 Post author

      It maybe another blog. Our infertility isn’t just my azoospermia but it’s impossible to tell if we would have been able to have children if I wasn’t infertile.

  1. journeyformybaby

    I would have liked for my husband to have always said/done the right things, but our case is so complicated as we both have major infertility issues. It would have been and still would be nice if we always knew the right way to deal with eachother because even now, with our baby, looking to the future and knowing a second child may not be possible still stirs up those same feelings and controversy. Its such a delicate topic. So hard to always know what to say to help. This is an awesome list!!!

  2. TOP

    I understand that men must be supportive, but our anger and grief is just swept aside here. It’s been 16 years now, and we have adopted, but the pain never goes away. I will not pass my genes on as long as I am with my wife. That is a huge sacrifice. I can’t even feel the ‘right’ to have loving feelings about my ‘sons’ as they are part of someone else. I can’t watch baby programmes, and feel miserable when others talk about their children. Our marriage vows keep me from leaving but there are days I wish I’d never gone down this road.

    1. gsmwc02 Post author

      You have every right to feel the way you do. Your anger and grief should not be swept to the side at all. I hope that you are able to get the support you need and deserve.

    2. Marcus

      I know I’m in the same situation but I haven’t adopted and don’t intend to. Everyone acts like the women are supposed to get all the support and forget the men and how they feel. Passing your genes along and see pieces of yourself in your offspring is a feeling everyone should have if possible. My wife acts like I’m some evil cold hearted man because I want kids.

  3. Marie

    Just last night my husband and I were having an argument. He mentioned the fact that I was unable to have children. However he didn’t say it nice at all. This is another day and I’m still crying off and on. I feel terrible. He wanted to have at least one child. I have a son by my former husband. By the time my current husband and I got married, I was infertile. Also I had 3 abortions (due to my first husband not even wanting to have the one child that we did have, etc.). My current husband called me names and said that I couldn’t have any more kids because of my abortions, etc. I am so deeply depressed today. I deprived him of having kids and I just feel awful and guilty for having the previous abortions. The doctor didn’t say that it had anything to do with the abortions, but my current husband seems to think so. I feel both nauseaus and depressed. My eyes are red and all that I want to do is be alone and cry until it goes away.

    1. gsmwc02 Post author

      I am so sorry Marie for what you are going through. Though it sounds like your husband is deeply hurting it is no excuse to call you names and lay a guilt trip on you. He is likely sad and frustrated but it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the situation. He needs to address with his hurt. My advice would be individual therapy for him and at the very least marriage counseling. Your husband needs to recognize that having a child is not a cure for his hurt or your marriage. Unaddressed issues if not ever dealt with will only get worse. Its taken my wife and I almost two years to get to a truly open place and despite that we still have a lot of work to do and still unsure of what road we’ll go down. I wish you both the best of luck and hope things get better.

  4. HopsandBarley

    I agree with some of the men here saying our feelings get swept aside. The author posts in this article “put yourself in their shoes” but nobody ever says to the women who’s infertile to put yourself in your husbands shoes. It’s not all about the women it’s about the man too! Does the female with fertility problems understand the sacrifice the husband is making by staying with them? Does the wife understand the husband has put their lives on hold to stick by their wife? Does the wife understand how much financial sacrifice their husbands have made? I also disagree with the author here saying men don’t have as strong as a desire to have children. Yes you did offend me. Maybe your situation is different with your husband but I can tell you I have the desire to have children as much as my wife and I’m not the first person in this situation to feel this way. I would love to see the author post an article from the husbands POV that is dealing with an infertile wife. Unfortunately not many of those articles get written.

    1. Husband

      I would imagine the reason not many of those articles get written is because we men don’t really like writing about this sort of topics, so laced with feelings and healing and whatnot. We prefer to escape our problems then talk about it. Not speaking for you, but speaking for men in general. Find me a single blog by “man struggling with not having babies”, I’d be surprised if there were more than 5 on the entire internet

      1. gsmwc02 Post author

        Thank you for visiting and commenting. I happen to agree with you completely about why more men don’t open up about infertility.

        Best of luck to you in your journey.

    2. Daniel M.

      AMEN HopsandBarley. Any article you find about supporting your husband (of course all written by women, who may have “consulted” a man or two) is all about men who are infertile themselves and just want to see their boi play football and pass on the family name, or whatever stereotypes the writers come up with. There’s no support for the man with an infertile wife, who loves and supports her and would never leave her, but is being absolutely crushed by his responsibility to be the one she leans on while his own back is to the wall. My wife and I have been at this for 4 years now, and if I even barely mention any hurt/hopeless feelings or show any signs of emotion other than rocksteady support for *her* emotions about her infertility, she will either dismiss them as “not understanding what she’s going through” or begin blaming herself for my pain, which ironically requires me to throw my own emotions back in the trunk and suppress them again (!!!) so I can reassure her that I don’t blame her, I love her, and I’ll never leave her, etc.

      It’s shameful that no matter the situation, the loving, devoted husband gets no support for his role and his pain. If the couple makes it through, he gets graded and possibly congratulated on how well he managed to support *her* through *her* trial, or even *their* trial, but since so little confidence exists these days in a husband’s character (thanks, TV), any pain he might’ve felt through the whole thing is chocked up to sinful byproducts of his own impatience and the cold, calculating, emotionless personality of all men. If we feel pain, well apparently it’s because we’re selfish jerks. Heaven forbid we’re in pain because it hurts to see our wives in so much pain, with so little we can do to help them.

      There’ve been times, at my deepest lows and heartbreaks during this infertility struggle, when the simplest “Thank you for loving me,” or “Thank you for being here for me,” or any other tiny amount of feedback that what I’m doing is helping her make it through the day, would’ve rocked my world and brought me the greatest encouragement imaginable. It’s something that just hugging back or responding “I love you too” don’t fully express. To all women reading this, please… your husband needs to know that his sticking through this with you *means* something to you. He needs it more than anything else you can give him.

  5. Husband

    Every single point could be applied to the wife. Of course, these are all points useful in any difficult situation between two people. The presumption I get from the article and from the topic of infertility in general is that it is up to the husbands to “understand” and “be the strong one” and “deflate the situation” and “react in a certain way and everything will be fine”. Which is fair to some extent, I think husbands have the role of being stronger and giving in more often, but it would still be immensely useful for wives to receive some tips and understand what it’s like for their husbands (for exactly the same reasons you wrote this). So here you go, this is just me writing for 15 minutes, I could go into much more detail on many points:

    1. Put yourself in their shoes.

    Try to imagine how you would feel if your husband was obsessed with making partner by 45. At the end of every month he would look at his sales and realise nothing had improved, and he is still only 7th in the company in line for partner, and then goes into a foul mood where he shouts and screams at his wife, slams doors, then is depressed and won’t speak for 5 days. He finds these online courses every few months that only cost £3000 and insists on doing them to help his salesmanship, and when his wife says she wants a new car or a bigger house he gets angry and insists that every penny is needed for him to improve his game. Imagine what it’s like after 50 fights over 3 years where he blamed her and apologised, called her names and apologised, threatened to leave her and apologised, broke things and apologised.

    I think you’d understand that at that point the wife would HATE the topic of her husband’s job. She would revolt at the idea of talking about it, she would get to the point where she would tell him to leave the job, if not for fear that he would say no and leave her if that was the choice.

    2. Recognise the emotional and physical effects

    Dealing with someone who goes through intense bouts of depression, anger, rage, and who has fought with you (even though it wasn’t really about you and you shouldn’t have taken it personally) for years takes its toll on a person too. Husbands have heart attacks as young as 40 when they are in a marriage that has fertility problems. Yes it’s not the wife’s fault she feels like that, but the tip is to try to understand that no husband is just a ethereal shell who lets everything pass right through without being affected. They can feel hopeless, trapped, out of their mind with stress.

    I’ve had situations where my wife started a usual fight with me and was in full blame/insult mode and I’ve literally felt I could burst out of my skin with stress. It’s more than stress, it’s distress, it’s explosive, it’s HORRIBLE. It makes me scream and shout at the top of my lungs and need to smash something and I hate every second of it. I want to get away, drive away but I have no where to go, no other life to go to.

    Husbands want to know their wives respect them, and that they can trust their wives and when an infertile wife goes into full rage mode out of the blue for no good reason it’s like taking a knife and plunging it in her husbands heart over and over. It’s nice to give tips to husbands, that if they just followed those tips everything would be alright but it doesn’t work like that. They are going through hell too and while they can learn to understand that they can’t prevent their wife from suffering, nor can they do much to get her to stop doing the things that result in his torturous stress, it is STILL TORTUROUS STRESS and if these blogs would put a little bit of effort into making wives understand that, that might help matters greatly for both.

    3. Think about the biological differences

    Men don’t have a huge urge to have babies. Men can’t understand the pressure. Men can’t understand why women react the way they do, it is bizarre and hard to deal with to them. It can be difficult to understand why we now hate person x because person x said y, or, even more importantly, why this beautiful marriage and friendship has to be interrupted so often with such horrible situations. We will have babies eventually, or we won’t, but we have each other and life is good! Why are you so down? Why did you say you wanted to die the other day? What’s wrong with what we have? What’s wrong with me? I don’t get it, I don’t.

    4. Patience

    If you feel like hurling abuse at your husband because he got stressed when you were “opening up to him”, have patience. Hold your tongue. Let it out and it’s out for good and will haunt him for years, will put him on edge, lower his trust and accomplish nothing. If your husband can’t talk about it, wants to be alone so he can relax or get away from a horrible tense situation, let him.

    5. Don’t take it personally

    If your husband can’t handle it. If he can’t deal with it right now. If he doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. If he doesn’t want to do this or that, don’t take it personally. Even if you bring up a topic at a “good time” and you are in a good mood and aren’t insulting/raging at him, and he still walks away. DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY. He is stressed beyond belief, if you’ve been paying attention. He recoils at any mention of the topic by now. He doesn’t get it. He probably understands by now that you can’t help suffering and that your suffering is intense, even if he can’t figure out why, so he isn’t blaming you. He just needs to get away and needs you to let him go. You may need to talk to him but don’t take it personally if he can’t or finds it hard.

    6. Talk, but get the balance right

    The article has this one SPOT ON for both sexes.

    1. Husband

      Hi, after posting this I was told this is a blog written by a guy, so having known that I might have written this a bit differently, as you can imagine.

    2. husband

      As a husband going though this now, I feel you anger and frustration. Each one of your points hit home for me.
      I want so much to help my wife and feel such a loss of control that I cannot find a way. Between work and non-stop fertility at home, I often feel I have no were to relax and shed stress.

    3. Husband

      Man, is there a way to turn your comment into an article itself, so that wives and husbands experiencing infertility can find it directly?? You hit everything square on the head. I’d never been able to completely wrap my head around what I was feeling in the depths of those abuse/raging sessions, but yeah… stress is it. Or even panic.

      My beloved wife’s defense mechanism is to pull away, to refuse conversation, to leave accusations and untruths in your face and storm off to hide and dwell on them all until they become reality in her mind’s narrative. Any disagreeing statement more than one sentence long is “yelling,” and regardless of content, it becomes “yelling” in the narrative. This is… impossible to deal with… in my finite mind. So I’ve learned how to be the most loving, the most gentle, the most patient husband possible, so as to gently lead my family in the way it should go, while avoiding forest-fire topics I’ve learned about the hard way, and trying not to repeat past mistakes.

      But all this is thrown out the window when the irrational raging starts.

      Suddenly, I can’t avoid the insults, the accusations, the twisting of the narrative that paints me into corners and off cliffs and makes me feel alone and utterly helpless. It saps my energy, it drains my willpower, it makes my body trigger fight-or-flight, like I’m running towards an active shooter. I hadn’t even thought about heart attacks before, but my single uncle died of one at 40 and I’m not far off his age, so… I don’t know what to do. I’ve mentioned this in a previous comment, but I’m unable to even mention my own depression or stress to her, because as best she’ll blow it off as “not as bad as what she’s going through,” and at worst she’ll break down in fear that I hate her for “failing me” and I’ll have to re-suppress my own pain so as to reassure her I’m never leaving her, I still love her, and I’m still on her side.



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