3 Stereotypes That Make it Harder for Men to be Empowered Infertility Partners
I wrote the other day about how society and media often hold really low expectations for men.
When my wife and I started on our infertility journey, I quickly learned that the messages and expectations I'd heard as a man over and over throughout my life were NOT going to help with our infertility struggle. In fact, those messages only made it harder.
And that's a shame. But here's what I know is true: every man going through infertility wants to be a supportive and empowered partner. I could easily tell how difficult it was for Olivia to grapple with each cycle without a positive pregnancy test, and I was feeling sad and disappointed and frustrated myself. I wanted to support her as best as I could, and had to learn the best ways to do that. I know the millions of other men experiencing infertility with their partners feel the same.
So how can men feel more empowered, supportive, and successful? A great first step is to reflect on the stereotypes and beliefs that society pushes on men, and work to start challenging those beliefs and retraining our brains. Here are three stereotypes that make it hard for men to be supportive partners during infertility. Sound familiar?
Men should hold in their feelings.
Men take action and fix things.
Men shouldn't ask for help, it shows weakness.
If those stereotypes/beliefs strike a chord, you're not alone. While things are certainly starting to change for the better, most people grew up with movies, tv shows, songs, books, and other people who (intentionally or not) expressed the three ideas above in some form.
In the days ahead, I'll pick apart each of these stereotypes, talking about how they make the infertility journey harder, and offering some suggestions for how men and their partners can start to challenge these ideas. If you're a fellow guy, think about how often we see these ideas portrayed. And for women reading, maybe share this article with your partner--my hope is it can spark a conversation.
These ideas run deep, but it's worth the time to challenge them so we can be empowered, and supportive partners on the difficult journey of infertility.