As I’m sure you’ve undoubtedly realized, having a good support system while you are TTC is very important to the success of your endeavors. Throughout my TTC journey I’ve seen/heard all kinds of things about the “love and support of the most wonderful, supportive husband in the whole wide world,” “he’s been there with me every step of the way, cheering me on,” and “he was just crushed and heartbroken when AF showed up.” (That last one is my personal favorite.) But let’s be honest. While I do believe there are some men out there who are every bit as in tune with the feelings and emotions of their wife/significant other as the men described above – how many of you have husbands like this? If I asked 100 women who have been actively TTC for longer than 3 months, I would bet my bottom dollar that the number of them that would describe their husbands as being everything described above and more, somewhere between 0 … and 2. So what does that mean for the rest of us? If a firm and stable support system is essential to successfully TTC but we aren’t exactly married to Prince Charming – where do we find our support system?
The good news is that you are most definitely not alone. Truthfully, we should be getting more support from our husbands during the TTC process. And you may find yourselves in the same boat as countless other women; DH may be super excited about starting to TTC, and you may even find him asking you periodically throughout the cycle how things are going. “When are you supposed to ovulate?” “Should we have sex in specific positions?” “It’s OK that it didn’t happen this month; it’ll happen next month for sure! Don’t cry, baby! I love you so much!”
Any of that sound vaguely familiar? And then it’s like all of a sudden you realize that while he used to listen to you intently as you break down the interpretation of your BBT chart and he would hang on your every word, he seems disinterested and distant. He doesn’t ask questions anymore about where you are in your cycle and worst of all, the romance seems to be fading from your relationship. What happened? Is it you? Is he unhappy because you’ve put on a few extra pounds or that you’ve decided to go a few days without makeup? Does he not love you anymore? Or God forbid – could he be seeing someone else??
Chances are, that unless you’ve recently been contacted by Jerry Springer requesting your presence as a guest on one of his shows, the answers to these questions are almost undoubtedly “NO.” There’s nothing wrong with you. Your spouse did not marry you because he only loved your perfect body (although I think it’s a safe bet to say that your (at least to him) perfect body did and probably still does play a major role in your relationship.) He doesn’t give a rat’s ass whether you wear enough makeup to make Tammy Faye Baker feel neckid, or none at all. The lack of spark in the bedroom may have to do with several factors, and while most of them will involve you in some shape, form, or fashion, I doubt it’s in the ways that you’re thinking. So relax.
First, understand that men and women see the TTC/parenthood process in two completely different lights. Most women are born with what’s called “maternal instinct.” We instinctively want to grow up, get married, and have babies, even from a very young age. Don’t believe me? Take a peek inside any daycare – every single one of them will have at least one station with baby dolls that is just full of little girls (as young as 1-2 years old) that are feeding, changing, rocking, and pushing their “babies” around in strollers. Girls are drawn to this type of motherly thing. Boys? Not so much. What do you see little boys playing with? Cars, trucks, trains, dirt, sticks, poopy diapers (if they can open the Diaper Genie and remove them without getting their hands stuck), bugs, solar garden lights, those springy door stops, Mommy’s bra, Daddy’s Army boots, etc. (Can you guess that I have a 2 year old little boy? That kid is into everything!! Stuffed an entire bath towel into the toilet the other day – it sopped up every drop of water in the bowl and he came dragging it into the living room, super proud of himself.) The point is that baby dolls do not even enter the equation. But what does that really even mean? Does that mean that he’s lying to you when he says that he wants a baby?
You see, whereas women are born with the desire to have and raise a family almost ingrained in them from a very early age, men do not. What does society tell men about families as they are growing up? That they’re responsible for the financial support of them. It’s their jobs to make sure that Mommy and Baby have food on the table, clothes on their backs, and a roof over their heads. While most men have at least a working knowledge of the female reproductive system and how it works, the vast majority of them simply never give it much thought. That is why they can become so curious in the very beginning of the TTC process. They truly want to know what it all means and how it works. Let’s face it: they already know what it feels like inside, but they have no idea about hardly anything else.
One of the reasons that the fire that was roaring in the bedroom when you first began TTC has burned itself down a bit, is that TTC for a man can become very overwhelming when it comes to his bedroom performance. I have struggled with this one myself. While it has never affected Matt’s ability to “perform,” he has told me before that I make it feel like a job and he was absolutely right. I wasn’t showing much interest in BD-ing in the start of the cycle, and then all of a sudden (when I would get a +OPK) he was having to beat me off of him with a stick! I would take advantage of him for several days on end, and then after O came and went, I went back to not showing much interest. From what I’ve seen and heard, this is very common with couples TTC. I’ve also seen that often times us girls are putting so much pressure on our husbands about having a baby and going on and on about when we’re supposed to O, that it’s all DH can think about during BD and it turns out that DH might not even be able to “finish.” Which in turn adds more stress, and around and around we go!!
For many couples, as their journey lengthens and drags on, the wives find themselves obsessing more and more over it … while the husbands get more and more over it. It loses the excitement. And chances are that you’ve allowed TTC to consume more of your life than you had originally intended it to. So what’s the solution? What can you do to not only improve your chances of successfully conceiving that perfect baby you are so longing for, while simultaneously mending the unintentionally damaged fences in your marriage/love life? I can’t give you a definitive answer; I can only tell you what seems to be working in my own marriage.
For Matthew and I – less is more. The less I tell him about my cycle, BBT, and O, the less he feels like I’m just using him for his Baby Gravy. I’ve also tried to incorporate a few little things into our relationship that I know he likes but that I haven’t done in a while. I might do my hair nice one day and wear his favorite button down the next time around. And I always wear his favorite perfume. You’ve gotta let your husband know that his likes and things that are “sexually important” to him are also important to you. True – he “should” also try to go out of his way to do these kinds of things for you, but honestly most men wouldn’t know romance from a good bowel movement if you drew them a freakin’ picture! And don’t just jump in the bed, get all tangled up in the bedsheets, prop your butt up for 10 minutes and then get up to finish going about your day, if at all possible. Quickies are fun, but you shouldn’t make them the “norm.”
I’m not saying that igniting a little spark in the bedroom is going to magically create a sensitive, perfectly supportive husband who’s going to cry with you when AF shows, but let’s face it – without the sex, there can be no baby. And getting closer in an intimate sense may allow you to grow closer together in deeper ways, too. You won’t know until you try!
So where should you go to have that strong, supportive “safety net” in the meantime? There are oodles of sites, forums, blogs, and Facebook pages created by women in the midst of their TTC journey for women in the midst of their own TTC journey. You’d be amazed how much it helps just to have someone to vent to about anything and everything, knowing that she not only understands your struggles because she is struggling too, but also someone who will not pass judgment upon you for being “too hormonal.” Find a cycle buddy, someone on the exact same CD that you are! Reach out and introduce yourself – you won’t be sorry you did!