Over the past 6 months, MBL and I have been going through a bit of a rough patch. Not really a marital rough patch, but more of a life one. Without going into too much detail, MBL has really been struggling. He has never been great with seeking out healthy outlets for his feelings/frustrations and, unfortunately, that has led to him make some bad decisions. Now, I truly believe that this has been a life long struggle for MBL, but it has never been to this extreme before. During this time of reflection and recovery, one of the most important questions I have asked MBL is what precipitated all of this. Like I said his inability to cope healthily with stress/emotions has been lifelong, but clearly something shifted over the last year or two that caused him to really struggle. I never would have guessed his answer... He told me that he really started to struggle when we went through our first IVF. Wow. I really never knew that infertility was impacting him in such a deep and significant way. Sure, I knew that what we were going through was both personally and financially stressful, but I felt like I was taking on the brunt of that. I was, after all, the one receiving all the shots, getting my blood drawn, and having the vag-cam get far too comfortable with me. I just assumed that MBL had the easy role; all he had to do was accompany me to appointments and hold my hand. Oh, and provide a sample on the big day.
Looking back, I feel bad that I was so selfish about the whole thing. He's always been a good provider and a good supporter, I just assumed that he was okay with everything because of how well he supported me through it all. We went to see a therapist after our first IVF failed, but we ended up talking far more about other issues and the stress of TTC/IF/IVF kind of fell to the wayside. And all along it was still an underlying stressor for MBL. I know that I fell into a depression after our first IVF failed and I coped with eating too much and being cranky. I eventually pulled myself out of that funk and tried to get back into running and making healthy choices. I felt good when we went through IVF #2, both mentally and physically. I just never thought to check in with MBL to see if he felt the same because it just seemed like he did. And the reality was that he continued to let various issues pile on top of the stress of 21 months of infertility, $30,000 worth of medical bills, and, then, the anxiety/increased responsibility of expecting a new baby. And I guess he reached his breaking point.
To be completely honest, up until recently (as in the past 6-9 months), I really did not know that MBL was in such a bad place. I had no idea how deeply he was hurting. I've always been able to cope with hard times/stressful situations by turning to friends and family around me and by running. When faced with tough times, I try to buck up and make things better as soon as I can. Even if that means just the rush of endorphins from a good run. Now, MBL should have been verbalizing how he was feeling long before getting to rock bottom. We were seeing a counselor on a regular basis for over a year and none of this was ever brought up. I wish he would have just shared with me or someone else what was going on. How much he was struggling with everything. It's too bad that he didn't have his own version of the ALI/blogging community to turn to. I feel like I have support on every side and MBL doesn't have that. He hasn't built that for himself. So, now we're trying to do that. We're trying to build up MBL's support system and trying to build up our marriage so that he feels like/remembers to share what is going on in his head before it comes out in an ugly way. With all that's been going on and with all that we went through prior to this, I've been saying that something good better be coming our way... I'll have an update on what that is in the next week :).
How have you and your spouse dealt with infertility or any struggle? Do you draw closer together? Do you have any strategies or great resources you want to share?