Monday, 14 October 2013

The gender differences toward healing

Yesterday I discovered that when I showed my husband Aisha Tyler's video, it really set him him back in his healing.  I knew it made him sad to see it, as it did myself.  But I didn't know it actually made things worse for him.

Men and Women.  We are so different in how we need to handle things.

For me, reading, watching, talking and blogging about childlessness is helping me work my way through the grief.  It is helping me to understand my emotions and how I feel about the many issues associated with this journey.  Connecting with other women who are going through, or have gone through this, is a really important part of the grieving and healing process.  As is crying over someone elses story, like Aisha Tyler.

For my husband, it is an altogether different story.  Talking about it, hearing about it, reading about it.  All these things make it worse for him.  He needs to let take time him through the process.  He needs space to allow the emotions to work their way through.  He doesn't need to be reminded it about over and over.  He doesn't need to immerse himself other people's stories.

He rightly believes that everyone's experiences are different, and what we are going through as a couple and individuals is unique to us.  And that is true.  So for him, there is no point in hearing about others.  It only provides a constant reminder that we are going through something awful.  And he gets enough of that just from daily living in our society, let alone from his own emotions and thoughts. 

In contrast, for me it helps enormously.  As I am reading other peoples stories and hearing their opinions and experiences, I am discovering what is true for me individually.  I am agreeing with some things, and not agreeing with others.  I am experiencing the same things as some people and not having the same experiences as some others.  Instead of just living with confusing and overwhelming emotions, I am gaining structure and understanding to my grief.  And I am learning a lot about myself along the way. 

I greatly respect my husbands needs and, as such, I don't bring it up very often.  But every now and then, it all just overwhelms me and I need to talk to him.  He understands this just as much as I understand his need for silence.  And he agrees that is important for us to talk about this as a couple.  So, we are gradually finding a balance.  When I really need to talk, he is fine with that.  And  I respect the fact that if I talk about it too much, it will drive him crazy!!  Thank goodness for this blogging outlet!

Our talks can be stilted for a while, and then I will suddenly find out some amazing revelations about what he is going through.  I love finding out how he is feeling and what he is experiencing.  I love it when we connect on the same things, but I also appreciate it when I found out that something is so very different for him than it is for me.  I treasure learning more about him.  Each thing I discover strengthens my understanding of him and increases my respect for his own individual journey.

Our first wedding anniversary is this weekend.  We've been together six years and started trying to conceive several years before we got married.  But still, the end of the parenthood dream has been a huge issue for us to have to go through in this first year of marriage.  My only hope is that it brings us closer together.

This is such a complex issue - the gender differences toward healing.

What has been your experience in the differences between how you and your partners have dealt with grieving the loss of parenthood? 


  1. My hubby's the silent type. Actually there's this belief that many Finns are the quiet type. During my infertility journey, I tried not to rely on him too much because I didn't want him to suffer more by seeing me suffer. I think in the beginning I even tried to keep it all in - until my worst moment happened and I just had to share with him. However, after going down the healing road even further away and I've found many wonderful blogging friends, the need to share with hubby has lessened. He actually doesn't really talk about his feelings verbally - mostly through jokes and many times I have to be the one asking questions about what he feels.

    In the beginning of our infertility journey, I was SO scared that it would break us apart. I was SO angry and sad that I angrily vowed that I would never EVER let infertility (or the quest for children) be more important than us (add plenty of expletives here he he...). So in a way, I think I mostly let hubby deal with infertility grief on his own. So I'm REALLY thankful for this wonderful online community and these days I'm also in Gateway Women Google+ community. Jotting down my thoughts in my blog has also helped me tremendously.

    Anyway, HAPPY upcoming ANNIVERSARY!!! I think your positive attitude in dealing with all this (your respecting your hubby's needs and your efforts in understanding your infertility journey) and your hubby's thoughtfulness will ensure that you'll both be brought closer together. So I wish you many more loving, fun, wonderful years together...

    1. Wow, thank you so much for your honest and open reply. It helps me so much to be able to hear your story and to read about the similarities. I had started to wonder whether talking about this was a taboo subject. It took a bit of searching to find another blog post by someone else also talking about these differences.

      Thank you for your anniversary congratulations! We are spending a night in the city - dinner, wine bars, music and a gorgeous hotel room overlooking the parklands!

    2. OOHHHHH that sounds GREAT. ENJOYYYYY your anniversary celebration! :-D

  2. I get an hour for lunch so I often go home and have lunch with the only takes me about 10 minutes to get to and from work, so I usually get 30-40 minutes. I have the late lunch, so I usually turn on "The Talk". They day Aisha told her story...I was in tears by the end.

    Most of the time, I believe I am past the infertility, the miscarriage, and the failed failed and more failed adoptions. But then there are days like that it all comes back.

    1. It is so hard isn't it KT? How difficult it would have been to go back to work after seeing that episode of The Talk live. May there be less and less of those bad days.

  3. I think your dh is fairly typical... and so are you. ;) That said, everyone does make their way through this process in their own way & their own time, there are always exceptions.

    My own dh tends to be a little more willing to talk about his feelings than many guys -- he was the one who was most keen to become a facilitator for our pg loss support group (& having him there was a big reason why our group was consistently able to get more dads to come to meetings -- and then come again). But he was also the one who said it was time to quit, that he couldn't listen to any more sad stories.

    1. Thanks for that Loribeth. It is reassuring to hear that things are fairly typical!

      Your DH sounds terrific!