Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Husband baffled by wife's issues in yearlong attempt at first baby
Anonymous: We've been trying for our first baby for about a year. My wife has had some medical issues for which she has a whole pharmacy full of medications she's supposed to take daily in hopes of getting her "normal" (her word). She is really stressed about her appointment with the endocrinologist where she may or may not get the green light for trying again.
I understand she is stressed because the doctor could say we should wait longer, but then she tells me she has not been taking all her medication as prescribed.
I'm conflicted. On the one hand, I want to be supportive, but on the other, I can't wrap my head around her being stressed about still being "broken," but not taking her meds.
It doesn't help that all her friends have either just gotten pregnant or recently popped.
Should I get a larger pillow to muffle my screams?
Carolyn: Ask her if there's something bigger on her mind, and let her know it's safe to talk to you. By that I mean, you won't — you can't — use her candor against her.
Her not taking her meds is akin to being passive-aggressive, except that she's turning it against herself. She says she wants something, then fails to take the steps necessary to get it. Equate that to a more familiar squabble, say, over household chores: A spouse says, "Yes, of course, I'll start doing more around the house," yet the dishes keep piling up in the sink.
Usually that kind of resistance has an explanation. Just as the chore squabble has larger themes — as in, Spouse resents being ordered around and rebels quietly by just not doing anything, or Spouse doesn't feel invested in the marriage and the chore neglect is merely detachment — there could also be a larger theme with your wife and her medication.
Maybe she secretly doesn't want a baby, or she's scared of having one, and skipping her meds is easier than facing her fears. Or, another tack, she questions or even resents that she needs the meds, and this is her way of feeling "normal," or just taking control.
This is all just speculation, of course, which is why your best approach would be to encourage her to speak up. Any obstacle is best confessed and confronted — not avoided while you develop a close personal relationship with your pillow.
Anonymous 2: Re: Anonymous: She could be afraid of failing. It's logical to think: I failed because I didn't take all of the medicine. It's harder to think: I did everything I could and I still failed.
Carolyn: Insightful, thanks.
Rest of Us: Any advice for the rest of us who have no engagement/baby news to share and have no dating prospects on the horizon?
Carolyn: Yes — enjoy! Milestones are stressful. The time between them is, relatively, the easiest to control. Stretches of routine are the best time to start doing something you've always wanted to try, for example. They allow you to be a better friend, or a more focused reader, or a more avant-garde cook, or a more thoughtful neighbor, whatever.
Or, if you're sick of trying, just coast for a while.