Sylvia Says: Relationship Q & A

Relationship Q & A

Dear Sylvia: My husband and I have been married for a year. We are both forty-four and this is our first marriage. All my life I’ve wanted to be a mom and was so happy to finally make my dream come true when I met my husband. Knowing it would be difficult, given my age, we began trying to conceive before the wedding. After having no luck for several months, we turned to IVF. We’ve gone through four cycles and haven’t had any success.

Due to the financial, physical, and emotional stress this process has put us through my husband doesn’t want to try anymore. My doctor suggested we consider pursuing other options, like using a donor egg or adoption. Neither of these possibilities are appealing to me. Should I end my marriage and pursue parenthood on my own or listen to my husband and doctor?

Yearning for Mommyhood

Dear Yearning: As someone who has struggled with fertility issues, I can appreciate and relate to your heartache. Realizing that a long held dream may not come to fruition is devastatingly  heartbreaking. With that said, I encourage you to seriously consider your husband’s and doctor’s point of view for your own physical and emotional wellbeing, and your marriage’s wellbeing. As I’m sure you know, the chances of having a successful pregnancy and live-birth at your age are extremely low. Additionally, as you get older, the chance of a positive outcome continues to decrease, but the emotional, financial, and relational turmoil will continue to increase.

There are two issues in your question that stand out to me. Addressing these, with assistance, may help you figure out what direction you should take.  First, I can hear and almost feel your strong desire to be a mother. Second, it is clear that your identity and life-script is highly linked to fulfilling this dream. I fully understand your strong desire to be a mother. However, pregnancy (and being the biological mother of your child) is just one of the many ways you can become a mom. As your doctor noted, a donor egg could be a viable option for you and your husband. I understand that there are questions and concerns that go along with this and I encourage you to talk to your doctor more fully about this option.

Additionally, adoption and foster parenting are options as well. You can also be a “mother” in other ways by volunteering, or taking an active role in the lives of friends and family members’ children. If these are not acceptable options to you, then it may be time to tackle the second issue—redefining your identity and life path.

When we’re young, we often create a life-script that outlines the path we hope our life will take. More often than not, however, our dreams and reality don’t converge (for better or worse). That presents us with a challenge—do we redefine who we are, or do we continue to try to fit a round peg into a square hole? Although it may be extremely difficult, emotionally and psychologically, it may be time to mourn the life you thought you’d have and redefine who you are and develop a new life script, with your husband, that doesn’t include being parents.

This is a complex and difficult process and I encourage you and your husband to seek out a therapist who will help you both negotiate this change in direction. This is challenge not only for you, but your marriage. I urge you to not abandon your marriage in pursuit of this dream, but instead, use this as an opportunity to enhance your relationship and build a dream life for the two of you. It may not be the one you originally envisioned, but I guarantee you, you can still have your happily ever after.

Dear Sylvia: I have developed a crush on my sister-in-law. I think she may have feelings for me too. She seems to go out of her way to talk to me and is very affectionate. Should I pursue my feelings or not ruffle the family feathers?

Smitten Brother-in-law

Dear Smitten: Although you may be hoping for an ending like the one in the movie, The Family Stone, when brothers happily swap love-interests, your situation will not end that way. This is your sister-in-law. Not only is she family, but she’s also YOUR BROTHER’S wife.

It seems that you may be misinterpreting her behavior. She’s likely trying to develop a family relationship with you by talking and being demonstrative with her feelings. Even if she did have feelings for you, she’s a married woman, to one of your family members no less.

So, put any romantic thoughts out of your head and work on establishing a friendship with her. If that proves too much, distance yourself until the feelings subside.

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Sylvia Says: Relationship Q & A

Dear Sylvia: As someone who struggled to conceive and then went on to miscarry, I appreciated your last post on infertility and pregnancy loss. In addition to the suggestions you made, I think your readers should know that it’s not helpful to tell someone who is struggling with infertility or has suffered a miscarriage that “everything happens for a reason,” or “it’s not the worst thing in the world,” or to just “get back in the saddle.” These insensitive comments make healing even more difficult. If you don’t know what to say a simple “I’m thinking of you” or “I’m sorry” is better than a hurtful remark.

—-Mother of an Angel

Dear Angel: I agree. Many people may say the wrong thing because they are uncomfortable with the situation or don’t know how to support you. But, as you point out, sometimes saying nothing may be more comforting than saying something highly insensitive. I’d love to hear the kind of support other readers have found helpful or hurtful during their struggle.

Dear Sylvia: My best-friend has extremely bad breath. Her breath is so bad that I get sick when we talk in close proximity. Our other friends have commented about this before too and we’re afraid it’s affecting her romantic relationships as well. Guys often approach her when were out, but after a few minutes of close talking in a loud bar they take off. Should I say something to her or let it slide?

—-Concerned Friend

Dear Concerned: When talking to your friend makes you gag, it’s time to speak up. If your friend has a sense of humor you can do like my mom used to do and offer her a stick of gum or mint and if she declines say, “it’s not an offer, it’s a suggestion.”

If your friend is a bit more sensitive you may want to have a private conversation with her. Let her know that you don’t mean to embarrass her, but that you’ve noticed that her breath has been a bit foul lately. Ask her if she’s feeling okay or if she’s changed her diet. Maybe she doesn’t notice it herself or she may have an underlying health condition that is the culprit. Although it will be a potentially difficult conversation, she’ll be thankful that she had an honest friend who saved her from further embarrassment.

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