Partners and Retreats
Fertility struggles place enormous stress on a relationship. Rarely do both partners respond to the experience the same way, and often partners find it harder and harder to connect as the journey becomes increasingly difficult.
Attending a retreat together can be very therapeutic for partners, who often find reconnection and new bases for dialogue, healing and relating to each other as a result of the experience. You may have a lot to work through, and that will take time - but, retreat can give you new tools with which to restart the conversation.
We know that signing up for a retreat can be intimidating for anyone, and particularly so for men. The men who attend our retreats are some of the most courageous we have ever met. They often come primarily in support of their partner, yet usually leave touched themselves, with a new perspective on their lives and relationships, and stronger, healthier and more hopeful. Said one man at a recent retreat, "I feel different. And I feel better." Said another, "I felt it was my fault we could not get pregnant. I've felt broken, defective. Now I know I am not broken. And there are things I can do to increase our chances of success."
Although it is usually the wife who seeks treatment for fertility enhancement, we have found that when both partners participate in the process, they are much closer to reaching their goal than if the woman does all the work without her partner's support. We strongly encourage couples to consider attending together.
The ratio of men and women changes in every retreat - sometimes it is nearly 50/50; other times, there are fewer men. Even retreats where a man was the only one there, he said it was a great experience and one he would do again without hesitation. Don't worry, men! We will warn you in advance if it is looking like you may be the only one! Plus, we have wonderful strong men on our staff that helps to ensure a good yin-yang balance.
From Dr. Randine
Sam Keen in Fire in the Belly said of men, We need...validation and acceptance that we receive only from our gendermates. There is much about our experience as men that can only be shared with, and understood by, other men. There are stories we can tell only to those who have wrestled in the dark with the same demons, and been wounded by the same angels. Only men understand the secret fears that go with the territory of masculinity."
Infertility is a difficult struggle for our partners, too. I once heard a speaker who said, "Men, imagine your perfect profession. You have trained for it all your life. You went to the best university, got the highest grades, passed all the tests with flying colors, and received superb recommendations. You created a fabulous resume. You looked great. You knew you would get the career of your dreams. You interview for a couple jobs per week. The interviews go great, and you know they like you. But they don't offer you the job. Well, maybe it wasn't the right one, you think. You'll just wait for the perfect opportunity. Then a friend of a friend gives you the inside scoop on a coveted position at a corporation where you always envisioned yourself. You have to get this job! You're the best candidate for it. You meet the partners; they seem impressed by you. But they don't call you back. This happens again and again, month after month, ad infinitum. Eventually you start to question yourself, What's wrong with me? you think. It seems like the whole rest of the world has the ideal job, except you. You hate watching all the other people leaving for their jobs in the morning. You feel like a failure. You don't even care about your wife as much anymore because you can't provide for her in the way you always thought you should. Your whole world seems to focus around your inability to get a job. That's what infertility is like for your partner."
Does it seem farfetched to you that a man might relate your inability to conceive with his inability to get a job? When I suffered my last miscarriage, I was devastated. I couldn't lift myself out of the cloud of depression. My husband, in an effort to console me, said, "I think I know how you feel. I once lost a job and I was depressed for weeks." I thought he was the most callous human being alive-to liken the loss of a child to the loss of a job! But I see now that it was the best he could do. And, in truth, there is some accuracy in the analogy. Women who pursue children month after month no matter how difficult the road often have a lot of their emotional self-worth tied up with being a mother. Men, on the other hand, have a great deal of their emotional self-worth tied to their profession and career. Without children, some women think, who am I? And men think, If I'm a failure in my profession, what good am I?
A Shared Journey
In the United States, it is estimated that approximately 15-20 percent of the population has difficulty conceiving. Male and female factors are equally accountable for the problem for these couples, and one in four couples has multiple factors contributing to their failure to conceive. Whether or not sperm factors impact the physical challenges, emotional issues between the couple most definitely impact the ability to heal and overcome fertility difficulties
A couple experiencing infertility often has experienced a relationship progression something like this: they began their life together in a state of love, hope and abundance. They decide to build on what they have by starting a family. Often, the woman has a strong desire to pursue this; the man agrees. They begin trying to conceive, turning to timed intercourse which disrupts the spontaneity of their relationship. As lovemaking becomes increasingly purpose-driven and without result, they begin to lose their connection to each other. The woman may start to become fearful and frustrated. As she shares her concerns with her partner, he may feel unable to support her because he doesn't have the answers - he can't fix the situation. Each becomes more withdrawn as they are increasingly unable to relate to each other, and the predominant emotions of the relationship become longing and deprivation. The harder they try to have a baby, the more the relationship suffers. She desperately wants a baby. He doesn't even want a baby anymore.he just wants his wife back.
A relationship is like a three-legged stool composed of the self, the other and the relationship. When you experience infertility, it is as if this three-legged support has lost a leg, each partner is standing alone and the stool is in constant risk of toppling over. Infertility is one of the leading causes of divorce, even if a child is eventually conceived. And it is clearly a deep source of stress for couples who are afflicted by it.
If you are in an intimate partnership, the dynamic of the relationship can impact your ability-or inability-to accept a new life into your environment. According to Eastern philosophy, the coupling of the mother's yin with the father's yang is precisely what ignites the call to the soul of the unborn child. If there is discord in the partnership this will impact the energies that will or will not come together to create life.
Couples are drawn to each other for many reasons - their desires, past experiences, influences of their childhood caretakers, present needs and future goals. We may combine and subconsciously project onto our partner our needs based on all of these factors. These unconscious fragments form the container, or 'relationship vessel' that will eventually house the child. When the container becomes filled with toxic debris after years of suffering through infertility, the relationship is no longer a place for loving support, but one where we may begin to resent the accumulated rubble and the 'other' who is responsible for putting it there.
Through the retreat program, we work with each partner individually to heal the obstructions of their body, mind and soul, and with both partners in relationship. The accumulated debris becomes the fuel to transform the present relationship into a supportive container composed of the highest vibrational components (love, emotional support, creative energy) of each partner, so that together you may energetically attract the child you know you were meant to have.
We hope that the through the retreat process, each couple learns to communicate in a new way. The woman feels loved and supported, and the man feels like he doesn't have to take on the burden of an unfulfilling relationship and a problem that he can't fix. Men learn to stand tall and proud in their partnership. They learn how to be supported by other couples going through the very same issues. They heal deeply, and learn to live and love again.
As one man put it, "I finally have my wife back. We have our love back. How could a child have come to us when we were in such a state of constant anguish? My wife always felt a connection to a soul, and I felt like I wasn't really involved in the process. Now. I feel a whole new hope for living, loving and inviting our child into our family."