"We Can't Get Pregnant and It's Driving Us Apart"

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His Turn

"I didn't mean it when I told Carolyn I should leave," said Barry, 35, his voice laced with regret. "I still love her. I lashed out because I didn't want to talk about infertility again. This is the only subject my wife wants to discuss, and it breaks my heart even to think about it.

"Fatherhood has always been one of my greatest desires, and I feel a tremendous void in my life without a child. But dissecting our problem ad nauseam won't make me feel better. Truthfully, I'm not sure how I feel about egg donation or adoption. I just know I'm too emotionally wiped out to explore either option right now.

"Baby making has dominated our lives for too long. Our discretionary income goes to IVF, so we can't afford to eat out, attend concerts or go away for the weekend. Rock climbing and Rollerblading are out, too, because they're too dangerous while Carolyn's going through IVF. Even our sex life has gone south. Forget spontaneity; as soon as we started trying to conceive, sex revolved around Carolyn's ovulation. Then, during treatment, we abstained on doctor's orders. Now we're so upset with each other we're not interested.

"I grew up in a blue-collar family in a small New England town. As a child, I loved smelling fresh-cut grass, watching the leaves change colors each fall and seeing the stars twinkle in the clear night sky -- stuff I miss living in New York. Because I lacked the grades and money for college, I worked in several fields after high school before I found my niche in health club management.

"Carolyn was not only the most beautiful woman I'd ever met, she was warm, adventurous and honest. I was excited to meet someone in her 30s who shared my interests. If we disagreed about something, she'd defend her opinion and then challenge mine, a quality I found intellectually stimulating.

"Unfortunately, I had serious acclimation problems when I moved to New York. I hated the noise, traffic, fast pace and throngs of people. Worse yet, I hated working for my father-in-law, a gruff manager who's a poor listener and never praises. I'd love to move back to New England, but I feel trapped because of my job and our ties to the fertility clinic. If we pursue egg donation, it would be foolish to start all over again with new doctors. So for the short term at least, I'm stuck.

"Yes, I'm guilty of staying out late and not phoning. Yes, I've drunk too much. I'm not proud of this behavior, but I'm so miserable about everything that hanging out with friends has become a respite.

"I'm sorry Carolyn feels I'm being insensitive when I refuse to discuss our options. I know I can't avoid a decision forever, but I don't like being pushed. Maybe counseling can get our marriage back on track."

Continued on page 4:  The Counselor's Turn


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