The decision to have an abortion affects men in many different ways — that is why we provide Helping Men services.
You are allowed to have your own feelings about this decision. You and your partner may not be looking at things though the same lens, but it’s important for healthy healing that you understand and identify what you are feeling and there is honest communication between you and your partner.
Having an abortion can be emotional and challenging for everyone involved. Often times the men involved have their own feelings about what is going on, but don’t know exactly how to put a name on those feelings or express them. In some cases, everyone is focusing on how the woman is coping, and no one pays attention to the partner or even asks how they are holding up.
Understanding how you feel and being able to express your feelings is going to help you and your partner to cope with and heal from this decision. It’s common for men to feel a sense of responsibility for their partners and families.
Men feel they should be able to take care of or fix whatever needs fixing in the relationship. Men need to take action; they need to feel useful or productive and to see a concrete result from their actions to feel validated. When men are involved in an abortion there is nothing hands on they can do, and that can make them feel frustrated and useless. They feel like they have absolutely no control over what is happening. A woman you have been intimate with is about to undergo a procedure to end a pregnancy, aside from the feelings about the decision there is also the idea that this is a medical procedure you may not understand.
You may be scared for her, feel responsible for putting her in this situation or feel like there is nothing you can do. However, you have a much more important role than you think. Your emotional support means more at this time than anything else you can do.
Ask her what she needs. The statement, “I don’t know what to do, please tell me what you need” is honest and lets her know you want to support her. But, you have to come through! If your partner tells you what she needs you have to do your best to do it! Listen to your partner; let her be vulnerable and scared and even mad if she needs to be. This may seem insignificant to you, but your attention to your partner is what she really needs. Reassure her you are here for her, and she’s not alone. Non-verbal communication is important too, hold her hand or rub her back or shoulders, even just a smile lets her know she’s not alone.
What if you don’t agree with the decision or don’t believe in abortion?
This is hard for everyone involved. If you feel this way and are still in a center that provides abortions to genuinely support your partner, thank you. Otherwise, there is no perfect solution or words of wisdom. You may be feeling frustrated that you can’t stop the abortion or angry that how you feel isn’t being considered. It’s hard to keep these emotions in check and not say hurtful things in the heat of the moment.
Hopefully you respect your partner enough that you can accept her decision and will work together to find a mutual understanding and you can both move on.
You may need some support of your own. Asking for help is the best thing you can do for yourself. Keeping your privacy and confidentiality in mind, do you have a friend or relative you trust? Opening up to someone who is outside of the situation may give you the support and perspective you need. Being able to communicate in a respectful manner takes patience and thought. No one is good at it the first time. Feelings about abortion are some of the hardest to talk about. Think about what you are really feeling and use words that can describe how you feel without judgment. You can even write it down if that helps you. You also have to encourage your partner to express herself to you. You both have to feel respected in order to have an open dialog about some very personal feelings. How you and your partner communicate and deal with your feelings can make your relationship stronger.
Remember no one is perfect, both you and your partner are going through an emotional, unsettling and challenging time.
Both of you may be more sensitive than normal and you may be making a decision you never thought you would. Think about what you are feeling and communicate in the best way that you can.
You will get through this, it will be okay.