My husband and I don’t dance.
We both love to sing, and listen to a wide range of music, but dancing has never been our thing.
A few years into our marriage I thought we should try dancing. We’d just had our first child and were looking for a hobby we could do together to create some quality time. Something about the physical intimacy and partnership of the tango has always intrigued me.
The rhythm. The passion. The connection.
My husband is a successful lawyer and I run my own social work practice. Carving time out of our jam-packed professional lives to do anything other than parent our daughter was next to impossible. Months and then years passed and the beat of the Tango started to fade away.
My desire to try dancing was replaced by a new calling: a need to have a second child.
This is where the real life dancing began.
We had conceived our daughter in our first month of trying. I was so relieved. It had been so easy. Now all of the sudden we’d been trying to have a second child for over a year. I was depressed. My husband was frustrated. The dance of secondary infertility was taking its toll.
I was ready to adopt a baby from China and my husband was just fine settling with the one child we already had. My husband is an only child. I figured this was perhaps why he didn’t care as much as me.
Overtime, I realized that our secondary infertility was a completely different experience for him as it was for me.
I now know men and women experience infertility differently and that we were moving at different rhythms.
It was harming our connection as partners. We became less passionate as lovers.
We spent a lot of time in the space between the intersection of making love and having sex to procreate. Each month our energies were spent maximizing my most fertile 48 hours. It had nothing to do with how we felt, or actually wanting to move together. All of our focus was on targeting that egg.
As a result, we began to move apart. Not only were we not making love, not dancing together, but we were on totally different dance floors.
I was frantically off at the library trying to plough through as much information I possibly could about infertility. I spent hours a day dissecting the data and trying to process it. While I had my head in a book, he was on the couch, watching baseball, drinking a beer. I know deep down he cared, but it felt like he didn’t.
Most of the time, unless he was needed for a test or sample, I would go by myself to the early morning cycle monitoring at the fertility clinic. The night before, I would intensely prepare the information and questions to present to our doctor.
I felt like I was dancing alone. Spinning out of control. Helpless.
My husband would always call to check in to see how my appointments went. He wanted to make sure I was ok, but he would not engage with any of my many attempts to discuss the life span of a sperm or the shape of my uterus.
He had boundaries that initially made me very sad.
I judged his boundaries, thinking he wasn’t as into the journey as I was. It seemed like he was set on being passive. He always just listened to the doctor and said he felt reassured. I was always second guessing and questioning.
Slowly, I began to appreciate the way he was interacting with doctors. The way he was always expressing love to me on the phone or before we fell asleep. I realized he was relaxing into this dance, as opposed to frantically trying to control the process.
We started to talk, make love, connect and move together. This understanding between us has changed the way we relate.
In hindsight, there were many things we could have done to strengthen our intimacy earlier in our journey.
There is no doubt that infertility changes intimacy.
We may have never learned the official Tango, but the dance of secondary infertility has proven to be equally challenging. And in the end, it may have saved our relationship.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith/Editor: Catherine Monkman