My Journey to Joy

October 26, 2011

How Infertility Can Affect Friendship

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM

You all have been awesome, even when I’ve been a prickly porcupine!  🙂

How Infertility Can Affect Friendship
By Joy Englesman

During an adoption training a number of years ago, I
talked with eleven couples about how their friendships were affected by
infertility. One man’s summary best expressed the thoughts of the
others interviewed: “We know that our friends love us. They just don’t
know how to show it. We have to show them how.”

Here are some ideas about how infertile couples can encourage and retain their friends:

Recognize and appreciate love, even when it is cloaked in clumsiness.

Acknowledge others when they attempt to understand your situation.

Realize that “hurting people hurt
people” and that loving us in the middle of our pain is a bit like
hugging a porcupine. Try not to poke people with your quills!

Share your knowledge about infertility, when appropriate.

When well-meaning friends tell us one of those amazing
stories about couples who adopted and then were able to get pregnant on
their own, I smile and say, “How wonderful for them! Did you know that
happens to only five percent of couples?”

Meet your friends half way-don’t expect them to come all the way to you.

Encourage your friends to ask you directly rather than mistakenly assume that your infertility causes pain in all situations.

Don’t assume that your friends:

  • Are unable to understand your feelings, treatment, or grief.
  • Are ignoring you when they don’t ask how you are.
  • Are purposely avoiding you when they don’t invite you
    to events. (They may be trying to protect you from being around
    children or in other potentially painful situations).

Some years ago, I said to several friends, “Please
trust us to be honest with you. We need to be invited to events. If we
can’t handle the situation, we’ll tell you. Please don’t decide that we
can’t handle it and then exclude us.”

Be honest with your friends and ask them to be honest with you, even about the secrets you want to keep.

You could say, “My husband and I are struggling through
another cycle, and we appreciate your prayers. Please don’t ask me
about details; we need our privacy now. But I appreciate hearing from
you and knowing that you care and are praying for us!”

Recognize that each person carries
pain in some form. Give the people around you the love and support you
crave. It serves no purpose to compare pain. Rather, honor the role God
has given you as a “wounded healer.”

My mama always says, “When you’re feeling down, do something for someone else.”

Make a list of things that people
could do for you when you are down. It makes them feel better to have
something to do, so tell them, and then let them do it.

One friend asked what he could do for my husband, so I
mentioned that he loved Rice Krispies bars. The following Sunday there
was a plate of Bob’s favorite snack in our box at church.

If your friends let you down-and at times they
may-remember that there is one Friend who always understands and who is
always watching to see our tears strike the ground.

Reprinted from a previous Stepping Stones.  



  1. Nice counter balance. Everyone has their problems, but it’s so hard to know how best to help. I love the idea of a list and just being honest & admitting, I can’t take this or I want to be involved in this etc rather than making friends guess. That’s what happened this summer-wrong assumption. It’s a learning experience for all isn’t it?!

    Comment by Sue Fleming — October 26, 2011 @ 12:35 PM | Reply

    • To be fair, sometimes it’s a moving target! Ex: There have been times when I could barely attend a baby shower; Sat. I’m hosting one and feel fine about it! I hope I’m learning to appreciate people’s efforts, without everything being exactly to my way of thinking. If someone is trying to help, I can appreciate that, even if what they said wasn’t the most tactful/politically correct/whatever. It’s a blessing that people care enough to try!

      Comment by aunthoddy — October 26, 2011 @ 1:34 PM | Reply

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