Last night the charity Infertility Network UK along with Russell Davis of The Fertile Mind hosted a web seminar (webinar if you will) titled “Supporting The Men”. It was focused around men, how they feel, what support they need and how their emotions differ. My husband and I decided to sign up to watch. I was surprised my husband agreed in all honesty but I’m glad he did because it was actually really helpful. Before I get into the seminar itself I realise that some of the things can be quite generalised and stereotypical but are still relevant. I’m afraid this post focuses more on a heterosexual couple struggling with infertility and going through IVF.
The seminar itself was separated into two main sections. Firstly there was a talk around three main subjects these were introduction, men’s emotions and how to support. Secondly there was a question section whereby Russell answered questions sent in anonymously via the chat system on the online seminar room, not unlike Skype.
The introduction of the talk focused around the differences between men’s and women’s energy/brains. We were played a video whereby it was explained that men have everything boxed away in their brains with nothing touching/connecting, in contrast women have a series of wires with everything being connected. The University of Pennsylvania did a study and found that men are capable of thinking of absolutely nothing whereas women do not have this capability. When men are stressed they go to their “nothing box” and need that silence. When women are stressed they want to talk, because by talking they figure out their feelings. During stressful situations each half of the couple offer their best solution and coping mechanism. Men tell women not to think about things and women hassle men to talk, neither understand that this is not the best way for eachother to handle situations but because they love eachother they just want to help.
Moving onto the “men’s emotions” part of the seminar. This revolved around the idea that men are not always aware of their emotions. This is a form of protection and disconnection. Often men do not have good role models in terms of emotions and this can lead to the disconnection. Russell said that men do feel better when they acknowledge feelings but aren’t always sure how to do this. Nagging them to do so just makes them close up more. A helpful tip to deal with this is for the men to write down how the feel. See it as a problem to solve. Another tip to stop emotional wires being crossed was for the women to write down how they feel. This leads to the man being able to understand how the woman is really feeling and opens them up to their own emotions.
The “how to support” section was the bit I was most interested in. I’ve often felt that I was doing things alone, emotionally I mean, but I’m beginning to realise we just have different coping mechanisms! In order to support your man Russell suggests being clear about what you want, help your husband understand his emotional role. This way no wires will be crossed. However, never assume what your man is going through encourage him to talk to friends but do not put pressure on him to do this. You can also improve things by shifting focus from “Project Baby” to “Project Couple”. No deadlines and let go of judgement stress. Working on you as a couple and enjoying your life together can make all the world of difference.
Overall my husband and I found this web seminar really helpful. There were bits we weren’t so sure about, but my husband said a lot did ring true and was happy we had made the effort to watch. In fact it lead us to have a very open conversation like which we haven’t really had before. I opened up and told my husband I felt he hadn’t really grieved or got upset by our failed first IVF cycle. I was surprised when he said he hadn’t felt the need to. That as we had been told the first cycle is often called the practice cycle he had been prepared for that result. My husband also said that he had been optimistic but because he is emotionally jaded (his words) and everything seemed to go well with our cycle he was expecting the negative. In his eyes he hadn’t felt the need to grieve or be upset because we made progress, our cycle went smoothly and we got an embryo that was good enough to be frozen. I then asked why it felt he was a bit distant about our upcoming medicated FET. The simple answer? Stress. Work has been really hard for him at the moment and he felt like he was battling through one stressful situation (work), coming home where he wanted to relax but being faced with another stressful situation ie our FET. As I don’t/can’t work due to my Epilepsy the only big thing I have on my plate is IVF. I’ve not got the same stress and I need to realise this.
If you missed this webinar then you can watch it in full on YouTube HERE. Thankyou to Infertility Network UK and Russell Davis for this web seminar, it has certainly helped us even in just one night. You dear reader can help this fab charity carry on doing their good work and providing services such as this web seminar,not just during national fertility awareness week by text donating. To do this simply text MAYB22 followed by your donation amount of £2, £5 or £10 to 70070.
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