Without a doubt, most people marry someone who is the polar opposite of them in many ways and areas. I have worked with a lot of couples and time after time, conflict arises from those differences. What is almost humorous about this is that most often it was those exact “differences” that first attracted us to them.
CASE IN POINT: In general, I am what some would call in the world of Psychology and Personalities, a “Type A” person. When asked to describe me in 3 words, my husband has said, “Intentional, Driven and Thoughtful.” Yep, you guessed it. I married a “Type B”. I would describe my husband as “Strong (of heart, character and body), Kind and Genuine.” He is very black and white, and I can see the grey. He grew up in a small rural town in Pennsylvania as the youngest child in a family of boys enjoying the great outdoors, while I grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland as the oldest child in a family of girls who enjoyed shopping and educational activities.
When we first met in college, it was his laid back nature, kindness and unwavering peace and stability that I was attracted to. For him, it was my “go get ‘em” self motivation, drive and strategic purpose to life that was attractive to him. Shortly into our marriage, I quickly realized that the words of the wise Pastor that did our pre-marital counseling started to ring true and play loudly on repeat in my head... “Your initial attraction, may become your biggest frustration.” WHOA… drop the mic right here!
The initial attraction of my husband’s laid back ways started to get on my nerves as I found myself wanting to say to him (while running around the house completing a to-do list a mile long), “can you get up and do something.” Coincidentally, he found himself after a long week of work wanting to say to me, “can you sit down and chill with me for a minute,” despite his initial attraction to my “get ‘er done” approach to life.
Throughout seventeen plus years of marriage we could’ve let our differences frustrate us. We could’ve let our differences separate us. We could’ve let our differences define us. Instead we learned how to let our differences improve us! We see our differences as strengths, not weaknesses. We learned to VALUE our differences instead of letting them annoy us.
Maybe you and your spouse are dealing with infertility and just maybe you married someone different than you. You both will “see” the journey differently. You both will “value” different parts of the process. One of you is probably a “feeler” and one of you is probably a “thinker”. You both will experience and respond to the ups and downs of the rollercoaster ride of trying to conceive differently. So how do you navigate your fertility journey with someone who is different than you? Well, here are 6 Tips:
“You can be right or you can be happy.” I’m not sure who said this quote first, but I want to be happy. Don’t get me wrong, I like to be right...ok, I LOVE to be right… but I CHOOSE my battles and I LOVE-LOVE to be happy:)
Just For Fun: Ask your spouse to describe you in 3 words;)
Joining Couples on the Journey,
P.S. Want to get on the same page, better utilize and value the differences of you and your spouse and more? Check out my 4 Week "Marriage + TTC" Coaching Course HERE.
How do you keep going even when the path towards parenthood doesn’t look like you planned? Every path is unique, but yours may have some dips, turns, and low spots that you didn’t expect. What drives you? What keeps you going? There has to be something deeper than just, “I want to have a baby.” Yes, I know they are really cute, they smell good (most of the time) and you have always pictured yourself as a mother, but WHY do you want to have a baby?
Successful leaders know that they must have a strong WHY component to their business or organization, not just the what and how. Usually this is communicated through a PURPOSE statement. A strong WHY gives employees the drive to continue even when the workplace gets difficult. If they didn’t believe in the WHY, they wouldn’t be able to continue doing the WHAT day after day. One of the leaders primary purpose is to continually keep the WHY in the forefront of the companies mind. It has to be reiterated often and permeate throughout the workplace culture and business. There has been a rise humanitarian efforts and thoughtful partnerships in businesses giving companies a strong why and purpose. Think of Toms shoes and their One for One campaign. It is well known that every time you buy a pair of Toms they give a pair of shoes to a child in need.
So you are on this journey to having a baby... What is your “Why”? What is your purpose?
If you haven’t already, with your spouse determine your families Vision, Mission and Purpose. These will give you clarity on your journey and help you to make decisions based on what matters most to you along the way. When you are at a crossroad, your Vision, Mission and Purpose will help you stay on track and stay true to who you are.
It doesn’t have to be a formal document or super-complicated. It just needs to be a thought out and heartfelt sentence for each that you and your husband work together and agree on. I recommend statements that are applicable to your life and family in general now and throughout all stages of life, not just specific to growing your family. Here are the basics of what these are and an example to get you started...
Vision-This is a statement of WHAT you would like to become/do.
Ikea’s Vision Statement: "To create a better every-day life for many people."
Mission- This is a statement of HOW you will accomplish your vision.
Nike’s Mission Statement: “To Bring Inspiration and Innovation to every athlete in the world.”
Purpose-This is a statement of WHY you exist/reason for being.
Kellogg Food Company’s Purpose Statement: “Nourishing families so they can flourish and thrive.”
Once you have decided on each of these you could type them out and put them on your refrigerator. Even a post-it note on your computer or a note in your daily journal. If you are a Pinterest person, crafter or DIY-er, I bet you could come up with something super cute to display them. A wood sign, a graphic design, a painted canvas... the possibilities are endless. Just make sure to put them somewhere so that you can be reminded daily of WHY you are trying to conceive. This will help you keep going with your Mission if the road gets tough.
Joining Couples and Improving Journeys (In case you were wondering, this is my Mission),
If you have been trying to conceive (TTC) for any length of time then I know you can't wait to say the words... "We're pregnant!" I've heard people laugh when a husband or wife has said these words and responded with some type of humorous remark about how they hoped the husband wasn't pregnant or they've noticed the (pregnancy) beer belly on him, but didn't want to say anything. The reality is that it does take two to get pregnant! Now, as a 3x Gestational Carrier (Surrogate) who has carried 5 children for 3 families dealing with infertility, I know it can take a lot more than 2 people to get pregnant, but you know what I mean.
There is actually a lot of power in the little two letter word "we." The University of California, Berkeley has done studies on the differences in couples who tend to use the words "we," "our" and "us" versus those that use "I," "my" and "you." Research showed that those that used pronouns such as "we" in their everyday lives behaved more positively towards each other and showed less physiological stress. Those that used more "I's" were found to be less satisfied and unhappy in their marriage.
So what does this mean for couples in life and in-fertility? A LOT... God designed reproduction and procreation among humans to happen between a man and a woman. It isn't an "I" thing, it is a "we" thing. Successful marriages are those that make decisions together, decide on how to do finances together, spend time together and grow old together. The fertility journey can be a lonely road to begin with. At the very least you want to be on the journey toward growing your family with your spouse, to feel like you are a team, a dynamic duo, who are joining forces together against infertility.
The use of "we" shows that you are in a partnership in life and in-fertility. It shows that you are connected. Although it is hard to say, "we are dealing with infertility," it is easier to say than, "I am having a hard time getting pregnant." You aren't alone, you get to stand together with your spouse for better or worse, in sickness and in health.
From now on pay attention to how you and your spouse talk. Are you a "we" couple or are you an "I" couple. The great news is that you can make positive changes in your relationship just by using a powerful two letter word more! It isn't just a change in how you talk, but how you think and eventually in how you do life together.
There shouldn't be an "I" in Infertility. From now on, there should only be a "We."
Joining Couples through the Journey,
Tiffany Jo Baker MA, CLC
Research information found at: http://news.berkeley.edu/2010/01/27/couple_we_ness/
You can't control everything in life and in-fertility, but you can control the most important "WHO's" in your life!
Why is it so important WHO is in your life? Well, according to articles in the Huffington Post and Psychology Today, you can accurately predict where you'll be in life 5 years from now, simply by the company you keep and who you do life with. The people you spend time with have a major influence in how you feel, think, and behave!
So how does this apply to couples in life and in-fertility?... A LOT... You have the power of choice, to choose the WHO's on your journey with you. They will have a major influence on how you feel, what you think and what you do on the journey towards growing your family!
Here are the 4 major WHO's for your fertility journey:
1. Your Spouse! First of all, it is important that you marry the right WHO for you. I'll assume that most of you are married and past this first point, but if not... I have worked with a lot of couples and singles and in my opinion, next to your relationships with God, choosing a spouse is the 2nd most important decision you will make in your life.
2. Your TTC Tribe! On your path towards growing your family you get to choose who you invite into your tribe, your support system. I have talked to so many people who are OR who have dealt with infertility and most of them say they feel alone and isolated. It can be such a secretive and lonely place, but it doesn't have to be. It's important to have family and friends in your every-day life / in person that are able to support and encourage you along the way. It can be hard to be vulnerable and share, BUT if you choose the right WHO and intentionally lead the relationship and conversations, it can be a huge blessing!
3. Your Professional Support Team! You get to choose the Doctors, Coaches (like me), Clinics and any Donors that you may work with. I have heard and had some amazing stores of wonderful physicians, caseworkers, donors and such. I have also heard and had some horror stories in my own journey as a 3x surrogate. Do your due diligence and get referrals. Some Doctor's are excellent in their field, but aren't the ooey-gooey bedside manner nice type. Know what matters most to you. Also know that if you get into it and it's not working for you, don't be afraid to change professionals.
4. Your MVP! Last, but not least, the most important WHO... is God. Faith is crucial to the fertility journey and a relationship with God will sustain you during the ups and downs!
So as you continue on this journey, don't do it alone. You have the Power of Who! You get to choose the major WHO's in your life and in-fertility and they will help determine what you have in the future!
Joining Couples Through the Journey,
Tiffany Jo Baker
Tiffany Jo Baker is a 3x surrogate, writer, speaker and Couples Life & Fertility support coach.