Here’s some advice: Even if you mean well, think of how would you feel if other people start talking about something that hurts you or makes you feel bad? It is not helpful to ask infertile couples about their courses of treatment, or to give them suggestions. If you really care about a couple and want to help them through a specific suggestion, consider asking one of their siblings, parents or a very close friend if they think that making a suggestion would be helpful or harmful. If the suggestion comes from a family member or close friend, the couple may feel more comfortable and might be open to hearing it.
One underlying comment I often hear from infertile couples is: “I am trying everything I can and all of these ‘helpful’ suggestions are so painful for me. Why do people think that we are not trying everything and anything that is out there?” With this in mind, people should please consider all options before presenting a couple with a “helpful” suggestion.
The close family member or friend who is truly caring about your status should say something like this: “I just want you to know that I really care about you and that if you ever want to talk, I am here for you.” The person expressing this sentiment should then honor the wishes of the other without continuing to raise the issue. Please remember that if the person facing difficulty getting pregnant does not wish to talk about her status, constant questioning is unwarranted and often painful. And if you know that a couple is about to go for or has just gone for a procedure, call them to wish them well or to inquire about how they are doing. But while doing this, please do not ask them prying questions. It is very insensitive to do so, and always remember that your sole role is to support the couple in question. After all, it’s all about them! So by being insightful and understanding toward the couple, you will hopefully be successful in completing your mission of being supportive.
Thank you for your letter and for raising this issue. I hope it helps people to realize that seemingly innocuous comments are sometimes actually very harmful and painful, and that those making them ought to cease from doing so.
Being careful with what we say and not causing others pain through our speech will hopefully speed the arrival of Mashiach! This is a time when we need to take a good look at ourselves and make needed positive changes. Doing this will undoubtedly make us better. Since we can unfortunately cause much pain through our speech, please, dear readers, think long and hard before saying something that may hurt others.
Hatzlachah in dealing with your challenging situation, and please continue to try as best you can to stay positive and ignore others’ hurtful comments.Dr. Yael Respler
About the Author: Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at www.jewishpress.com and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at www.dryaelrespler.com.
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