The Urban Dictionary defines “baby fever” as, “When a girl starts feeling a strong desire to have a baby, possibly to the point of obsession.” Husbands reading this are probably well aware of that look their wife gets when they have baby fever. Every time they see a baby under 6 months old their eyes soften, lips pucker slightly and then they turn and look at you as if to say, “we need a baby too, don;t you thing?” When baby fever hits, it can seem like the rest of the world stands still, and there is little a woman wouldn’t do to have a baby. However sometimes, things don’t work out as planned. When traditional methods fail to result in a cute little bundle of joy, couples often search to the ends of the earth to find alternative methods to conceive a baby of their own.
The New International Standard Medical & Health Encyclopedia shares an extensive list of alternative methods that include drug treatments, artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, gamete intrafallopian transfer, zygote intrafallopian transfer, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or even surrogacy. All of these methods can be time-consuming and expensive, and none offer a guarantee of conception. When couples start down this road, they may have high hopes that, over time, can be let down. The light at the end of the tunnel grows dim, especially for husbands when they don’t feel the same “baby fever” their wives feel. So what happens when he finally says, “Enough is enough! This isn’t working. Let’s give it a rest.”?
I’ve personally known couples and have counseled with couples that have gone through this process only to be faced with disappointment time and time again. Couples often struggle with continuing to try at all costs to start their families. Amazingly enough, husbands will often want to stop the quest to conceive first.
When couples are not on the same page with their desire to have children, women may ask, “Why would he want to quit now after we’ve invested so much?” Some even think, “Should I continue without him knowing?” This isn’t an insignificant relational conflict, like how you squeeze the toothpaste tube. It is a major life decision and defining issue for couples. It may be important for prospective mothers to understand some common reasons he may be done trying.
- Money: Alternative methods are expensive, and surveys show that men’s top worry is about money and finances.
- Time: Alternate methods of conception take time, and after many methods have failed, men may feel that that time has been wasted.
- Stress and Disappointment: The constant “trying” to get pregnant can be very stressful, and when it has not worked, the increased disappointment can cause extreme feelings of stress and inadequacy in men.
- Feeling Secondary: Believe it or not, a man does not want to feel like he is just a “baby maker.” Men who are in committed relationships, the kind that “try” to have children, want to feel like they are loved and appreciated, and like they come first in the relationship.
Whether these reasons are warranted or not, they may be part of why your partner is “done.” The following things can help to make the best of this hard time in your relationship, and possibly get you closer to having the child you long for.
Communicate and problem-solve: Listen to each other. Try to understand before being understood. Understand each other’s “why”: Why you want to keep trying, and why he doesn’t. Identify things that are within and outside your control, and how you and your partner’s “whys” can be met. Be realistic and willing to make compromises.
Put your marriage before your pregnancy: No man wants to feel he is playing second fiddle to a child, before or after the child is born. Committed relationships are about shared decisions and shared happiness. Just as it would be unwise for him to make important decisions without your approval, it is inappropriate for you to continue to “try” to get pregnant without his approval.
Stop “trying”: As we’ve discussed above, “trying” to get pregnant can be stressful and discouraging, but simply stopping trying not to get pregnant can be fun and strengthening to your relationship. I’ve seen many situations where couples have “tried” everything, and were even in the process of adopting a child, when they have become pregnant simply by stopping their efforts to “try not to get pregnant.”
This is not an easy situation to be in, and there are no perfect, easy answers, but there are things that can strengthen your relationship and decrease the stress of the “she wants to, he doesn’t” conflict. Remember that when he says, “I’m done,” or “I’m not ready,” that may not mean “never.” Your dreams for a family are not over, but it is important not to destroy the family you do have in your desire to add a child to your family.