Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Manly Point of View

I have wanted to write about how infertility and adoption affect each spouse differently. The endless poking and prodding, mounting medical bills, frustrations in waiting, and invasion into your love life can take a toll on any marriage. Couples who struggle with infertility have a choice to make. They can either blame each other for their problems, or they can face the challenge head on, hand in hand. Infertility can either drive a couple apart, or it can strengthen their marriage in a way they never thought possible. Spencer is always good to remind me that I am not infertile, “WE are infertile.” It is his struggle just as much as it mine, and together we are going to get through it!
With that in mind, I asked Spencer some questions about how infertility affects the husband differently from the wife. With his permission, I share some of his responses here.
Whitney: Thank you so much for agreeing to share a husband’s perspective on infertility, you hunk of burning love.
Spencer: My pleasure, darling one. But I can’t speak for ALL husbands out there, this is just MY point of view.
W: Of course, of course. Good point. Something I have noticed through this experience, is that I am very vocal about our situation. I talk, I write, I cry, and I am always updating you on how I feel about our situation currently. My methods of coping are to vocalize my thoughts and feelings. Please, why don’t you tell us about your methods of coping?
S: Well, I have a hard time vocalizing my feelings sometimes because I am so shy and reserved. {Whitney here, just have to interrupt and let you know that this is Spencer being sarcastic. He is anything BUT shy and reserved. This man will yell my name out at the top of his lungs if we get separated in the grocery store. This man will laugh and joke with any waiter or cashier as if he has known them for years. This man will wear a penguin emblazoned onesie to a Halloween party. You get the idea, moving right along…} I guess my method of coping is just pushing forward with life. Not in a calloused way. I DO feel the loss. However, I have a special responsibility to provide for my family. I have felt sadness also, but then the time comes for me to buck up and go to work. Keep in mind that a man’s role from husband to father might not change as much as women’s role from wife to mother. A man will still go to work to support his family. In our family, Whitney will stay home to take care of the children when they come. Emotionally, the transition to parenthood will be significant for both of us, but my lifestyle will not be altered as much as Whitney’s will.
W: I should say that it was important for me, to realize the different ways that Spencer and I have coped with our situation. At first, I was worried that Spencer wasn’t as affected by this loss as I was. It took me a while to learn that Spencer did need to talk about how he was feeling, just not as often as I did/do.
S: I think that’s partially because women are often deeper than men, emotionally and spiritually.  Whitney has more to say on the subject because a woman’s feelings are more complex.  And because a woman is more in tune with her emotions than a man (as a general rule), she may be able to better articulate how she is feeling. 
W:  I will also say that even though Spencer may not need to talk about the issue as much, he is ALWAYS been a good listener. There have been many times when he has given me his undivided attention whether I needed to vent my feelings or cry in his lap. Spencer, why don’t you tell us how you feel about the adoption process?
S: Well, I am excited to find our baby through adoption. I must admit, however, that it took me longer to get there than Whitney. I have had a harder time letting go of the idea of children that look like us. I wanted little Whitneys and Spencers, but mostly little Whitneys. Eventually, I came to feel, as Whitney does, that it doesn’t matter how our baby comes to us. I know that however he or she comes, they are meant to be ours. It just took me longer to realize that.
W: Like Spencer said, I was the one to kind of… present adoption as an idea. I would love to have children of our own. But my goal is not to get pregnant, my goal is to be a mom. We didn’t proceed with the process until (after much fasting, prayer, and temple attendance) we were both equally on board with the idea. Perhaps I wanted to move in this direction first because as mentioned earlier, I am the one who is not able to entirely fulfill their role as nurturer. Thus far, I have been able to devote more time than Spencer has to the adoption process. He often works twelve hour days, I am currently working part time. We are both working hard, in different ways to build our family. Nevertheless, I have wanted reassurance from Spencer that he is okay with me proceeding “full speed ahead.”
S: I TOTALLY am. Whitney has had more time to devote to some parts of the adoption process (for example, creating our adoption blog). This is probably often the case. I mean, if you look at the adoption blogs out there probably MOST of them were created by women. The woman perhaps takes a more active role in the seeking part of the adoption process. I also like to be involved with what is going on; but a large part of my contribution is working.
W: And he does a great job of being involved. He writes letters to our baby too. He has helped spread the word too. He has researched too. He works so hard for our family. Dealing with infertility and adoption, like all things in a marriage, take team work. We’re doing different things, but all for the common good of our family.  What has been most useful to us is to communicate about how we handle things differently.  Because we have been able to do this, we are not offended by each others different methods of coping.  We also know the best ways to offer comfort, because we talk about what the other person needs. 
For another AWESOME look at infertility from a man’s perspective go here.  Another fabulous blog, by the way.  Please take a peek. 


  1. Super insightful guys. Thanks so much for really putting yourselves out there and sharing this.