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Dear Dr. Yael & Dr. Orit,

My spouse and I are married over two years and have not yet been blessed with a child. This is causing some friction between us. He does not share my anguish and pain. He is calm and confident, and certain that soon Hashem will help us. He is not at all enthusiastic about seeking medical help. How can I get him interested in sharing in my infertility research, and how do I make him realize that we may have a problem without affecting our relationship?

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A Distraught Wife

Dear A.D.W.,

In my years of counseling couples with problems of infertility, it is usually the wife who suffers and struggles more intensely with the problem. This is not to say that the husbands do not share their pain. However, it is the woman who often is asked more painful questions, is confronted with her many pregnant friends and is more intimately connected with the problem. A man’s identity is more often related to his work and learning while women are more intimately connected to family and children’s matters.

Your problem is magnified by the fact that you are a frum young woman. When a couple is Torah observant and they do not have children after two years, people often assume that there is an infertility problem and this only intensifies their concerns and worries. The anxiety may actually affect the fertility process as well.

I think that you need to talk with your husband about how you are feeling. Make sure to use an “I feel” message so your husband doesn’t feel defensive. Explain to your husband that although you appreciate his optimism, you are feeling alone in this struggle because it is hard for you to be as positive as he is. Perhaps you should also consult your Rav about the possibility of seeking fertility treatment to help you start a family. It is also important to realize that it is positive that your husband has bitachon and his upbeat attitude can be an asset to this situation. I understand that you feel he may be unrealistic in his positive attitude and may even be denying the reality of your problem. This invalidation of your feelings may be causing you stress. However, please note the benefits of his optimistic attitude. Furthermore, it is also possible that he is just pretending to be positive in order to be strong for you. He may feel he is protecting you by doing this and he may not realize that his positivity is making you feel lonely and invalidated. This is why it is crucial to open those lines of communication. Communicating will strengthen your relationship and bring you closer to each other if done correctly. Remember, stay positive, non confrontational, and use “I feel” messages so your husband doesn’t feel blamed at all.

I want to also take this opportunity to remind everyone to think about the trials and tribulations of people who struggle with infertility and attempt to be more sensitive to them before asking inappropriate, painful questions. I wish you hatzlocha in getting the help that you need!

* * * * *

Dear Dr. Respler,

I suffer from nightmares. For the past few months I dream that I am being chased by arabs through the streets of New York, but whenever I try to call the police the phone does not work. I have never lived in Israel and I have no family there. What does this dream mean?

D.V.

Dear D.V.,

A dream can be a reenactment of issues that preoccupy you and recurring dreams may indicate a problem that is unresolved. Your particular nightmare indicates possible deeper fears and frustrations. It would be helpful to examine your life and attempt to ascertain what precisely is troubling you and causing your anxiety.

Although fear of arabs may be related to the traumatic situations that are occurring in Israel, in your dream you can’t seem to find the police. This may indicate that during your waking hours you may be perplexed by an unresolved dilemma or are seeking emotional balance in your life. Perhaps you are concerned about failing an assignment or an ethical predicament.

As you are attempting to understand these nightmares, try to assess if these dreams are related to a trauma from your childhood. The dreams may reflect unresolved conflicts that should be addressed. Dreams can be a valuable tool to gaining insights and solving current problems in your life or to examine issues that haunt you from your past. Hatzlocha in dealing with your nightmares and please seek professional help if your nightmares continue to plague your life!

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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 deardryael@aol.com. 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.