Men who accompany women for an abortion or who just want to be helpful usually do not know where to turn to get clear, unbiased information. In order to help to provide some of this information, we have divided questions that are frequently asked at abortion clinics into three categories: the factual, the emotional and the spiritual.
EMOTIONAL Frequently asked Questions
1. What might she be feeling afterwards?
There are many possible emotional responses after an abortion. First and foremost is relief. But it is not unusual for her to also have feelings of sadness. After all, there will have been a loss. As time goes on, most women experience more relief and less sadness. This is a perfect time for you to be a good listener. As time goes on, she should be able to resume her normal life with less sadness.
2. What are the warning signs of poor emotional coping?
The following are signs for either of you to notice. If either of you is having sleep disturbances, meaning you can’t sleep or you can’t wake up, it could be a sign that you are having trouble coping. Also, if your normal eating patterns have changed, or if you feel sadness that is not going away, guilt that is not going away, or if you are continuing to worry if you did the right thing, it may be a good idea for you to call your provider to see if they offer counseling afterwards or if they can refer you to someone in your community.
3. What if I am not feeling the same things she is?
Abortion can be one of the most difficult issues a couple has to face. The two of you might have different feelings about the decision. You might not be in agreement. Feelings of hurt can last a long time, shaking the foundation of the relationship. Men sometimes feel as though the decision is a reflection on them, that they are not a good provider. Or, if she is having an easier time with the abortion, you might feel that she does not care about you or understand. The best way to handle this is to keep talking with one another, and keep listening too, so that each of you hears how the other is feeling. Resources such as Post Abortion Emotional Health or A Guide to Emotional and Spiritual Resolution After an Abortion (www.pregnancyoptions.info/emotional&spiritual.htm) or www.peaceafterabortion.com might be helpful for both of you.
4. She is acting like it’s all my fault that she got pregnant, but I never forced her to do anything she didn’t want to do. I don’t want to lose her, but I am getting tired of her being mad at me all the time.
Believe it or not, what you are experiencing is not unusual. In a very stressful situation many people, both women and men, have so many confusing feelings going on that they kind of shut down for a while. Sometimes it takes the form of withdrawing into themselves, sometimes being grouchy and irritable. The best advice is to be supportive, but also honest and truthful. Try to say how her words and actions make you feel. Let her know just what you have indicated, that you don’t want to lose her, but that you are getting tired of it. Tell her that it is better to let you in on her thoughts and feelings rather than to push you away, unless, of course, that is what she means to do.
5. I thought she agreed with me that the abortion was the best thing to do because we could not provide for another child now in our life. But now that it’s over, she keeps crying and saying she wishes she had the baby. I still think it was for the best. What can I do for her? She can’t let it go.
Your situation is really difficult. You thought you were making a decision together, but now it seems as though you are left with the “blame” for something you both decided. Or perhaps she thought it was for the best at the time, but has now changed her mind. Or perhaps she did not think it through at all, and is really mad at herself for not doing so and taking it out on you. But how are you to know if it is any of the above or something entirely different? The truth is that you cannot know unless she will tell you. There is even a chance that she herself does not know what is going on with her, only that she is in a state of deep sadness. Let us not forget that with abortion there is a loss, even if it is one that you and she chose. So, try to keep communication lines open, but if that does not work, there is always professional counseling available. Experiencing a loss can open up old losses from the past that can get all mixed up with the abortion loss. So keep the option of professional help open if she is willing, or you could go yourself if you can’t sort it all out and/or still want to try to save the relationship.