Talking about your feelings often helps her hinders him

Studies show that among couples who go through IVF treatment, both women and men get the majority of their emotional support from their partner. Mostly this works well, because there's give and take on both sides of the relationship and when one partner feels down the other steps up to the plate, and vice versa. But what happens when both partners feel down and have trouble coping with the demands of IVF? As a general rule — and it's certainly not true for everyone — women feel better having a good talk about what's troubling them and men feel better if they don't talk about things.

People manage stressful situations in different ways. The three broad types of coping styles are

1 Avoidance-oriented: People who tend to use the avoidance-oriented coping style prefer to dodge the stressful situation altogether. If this is you, you feel better if you don't talk about your failed IVF cycle. You do all sorts of things not to think about it, like immersing yourself in work, playing sport or spending time with people who don't know you're having IVF treatment.

1 Emotion-oriented: People who tend to use the emotion-oriented coping style throw themselves into the feelings that arise from the stressful situation. If this is you, you want to talk at length to your partner and then five of your best friends about how disappointed, upset, sad, frustrated and worried your failed IVF cycle makes you feel.

1 Task-oriented: Task-oriented people want to deal with a stressful situation head-on. If this is you, you may want to find out exactly what went wrong, searching high and low for information about how to avoid the same thing happening again, straight away making an appointment with your doctor to ask when you can start the next cycle and how your treatment protocol will be changed so that it works better next time.

Some of these coping styles are more commonly used by women and others are more commonly used by men, but there's no right or wrong coping style. However, when partners who get disappointing news use different coping styles to deal with the inevitable stress, they sometimes clash. So, if it helps you to talk about how bad you feel and it helps your partner not to talk about how bad he feels, you may have a problem — unless you understand that you're both hurting and just dealing with the issue in different ways.

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