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Well, you married him... - Elizabeth Unexplained
Lots of data but no answers
Well, you married him...
I still read a number of infertility blogs and one of the message forums that I read on Ravelry is for infertile folks who knit and crochet. Generally I like reading this stuff; I find the combination of black humor and information on other people's treatments useful. Sadly there is one thing that you often see that really annoys me: the occasional woman who constantly whines about her spouse.

I have no objection to the occasional discussion about how hard infertility can be on a relationship. It's pretty much universal that nothing will kill the romance like doing it month after month not when you feel like it but when your pee sticks say it's time. It's also not uncommon for folks to need the occasional reminders that infertility is really rough on the men too, they just talk about it less, feel it at different times, and aren't getting the same feedback from their bodies. Discussions about these issues are useful and I have no problems reading about them. It's when a woman constantly goes on about how her spouse won't do X, is not supportive of her, or seems less committed to having kids that I get annoyed. When reading blogs this is pretty easy to avoid, you just don't read that blog anymore. With forums it's a bit harder to avoid. I can ignore the individual poster, but then there are all the other posters who feel compelled to offer sympathy or whatever. It gets on my nerves.

I think the reason why it bugs me so much is that I feel like it's not appropriate to be complaining about your spouse in a public forum. In our culture we all pick out spouses. You meet someone, you date, a proposal happens, and if both parties are agreeable you get married. It seems to me that it is the responsibility of both people involved to do some vetting of their potential mate at some point before a wedding happens. It also seems to me that one should ask about the things that are important to you sooner in a relationship rather than later. If you find that your spouse isn't as committed to having kids as you are, or isn't supportive enough to meet your needs, or whatever it is, isn't that an admission of failure on your part to properly choose your mate? Maybe I'm just not a very sympathetic person, or maybe I just don't fully appreciate just how lucky I was to find Warren, but I am just completely unmoved by the women who seem to want sympathy for how their spouses behave while admitting no responsibility on their own part. Also, complaining on a public forum about your spouse may be temporarily cathartic, but it absolutely will not improve the situation over the long term. You aren't going to wake up and find yourself married to a guy who is committed to working with you to beat infertility unless that is the guy you married in the first place. That happens to be the kind of guy I married, but I'd like to think it was good vetting on my part and not just dumb luck.
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firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: June 7th, 2008 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree that it's a bad idea to trash your spouse in public. But I think that it can be hard to check for compatibility in all the things that you're going to care about for the rest of your life (some of which you might not even have realized at the point that you get married), and even if you could, there's probably not going to be anyone who is exactly the way you want them for everything.

I also suspect that a lot of people don't make a distinction between complaining about Stuff and complaining about People, or take into account the fact that complaining about People can hurt them while complaining about Stuff probably won't. So they just use complaining as general venting to feel better, rather than looking for improvement.
greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: June 7th, 2008 11:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would agree that you probably can't achieve compatibility on everything, especially on things where your views may change. Expecting that would be unreasonable. I do expect people to be able to choose a spouse with compatible views on whether or not to have children and how important that is. That's one of the big decisions in any marriage, if not the biggest. If you get the big stuff right it probably doesn't matter so much if he leaves his dirty underwear in bed. I don't think its unreasonable for people to take responsibility for finding a spouse who is compatible on the obvious big deal things (kids, money, home location).

There is also a difference between occasional venting and constant whining. The occasion vent is generally a good thing. A person who complains about their spouse in a third or more of their posts is doing something destructive and unhelpful.
enugent From: enugent Date: June 8th, 2008 12:28 am (UTC) (Link)
While I agree that the parties should talk about whether they want children beforehand, there's a subtle difference between whether and how much that can come out in stark relief when infertility rears its ugly head. Fertility treatments are onerous for both members of the couple, even if they're mostly only physically painful for the woman (barring TESE, which I understand hurts like a m-f). I can see not really discussing in advance how far you'd be willing to go down that road - it doesn't even occur to most couples to wonder if there will be a problem in that department. In addition, neither party may know in advance how far they'd be willing to go down that road. I started out being totally opposed to IVF (for me, not in general), but I changed my mind.
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: June 10th, 2008 02:36 pm (UTC) (Link)

I suspect that part of the problem is that some people aren't considering the forum to be public; they strongly identify with the community of forum participants and feel deep intimacy as if these people were family or lifelong friends rather than pixels on a website about physiological malfunctions.

That said, someone who complains about their spouse that much even to their closest friend has problems, but I would say that the complaining in that case isn't the problem, but a symptom of the problem.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 10th, 2008 04:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think that some of these people are less likely to complain about their spouses to anyone they know, so it might come out a bit more in a forum like Ravelry - there is the seeming anonymity, and the assumed similar values and problems, etc. People talk about all sorts of stuff on there that I certainly don't discuss with my face-to-face friends! They'd think I was a freak!

No, I don't think it's a great idea to continuously complain about one's spouse on a forum like that - but I mainly feel sorry for those people. And I wonder if they'll make it together. Sure, I'm still blind-sided on occasion by views I had no clue my husband had (and we've been together 12 years now!), but for the most part you work through it, you know? If you start losing respect for your spouse, talking behind his/her back - how long will it be before it's just over? Yeah, venting is important, too - I've certainly done that! But it should make you feel better, get some perspective, and move on.
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