Children change everything. So does infertility. More and more couples are struggling to become pregnant nowadays. This can lead to feelings of stress, guilt, brokenness, resentment, and failure. Depression and anger increase and leads to more frequent, biting arguments that make being intimate even more difficult. Walls get built, tears are shed, dreams seem further and further away. Infertility is hard enough to deal with in a marriage, but it does not have to lead to irreversible damage.
Some couples find themselves coming closer together emotionally during this time, clinging together to make it through this storm of emotions. Other couples internalize feelings of not being good enough, being broken or guilt that they are the sole cause of infertility. These couples grow apart quickly and find themselves on polar opposite sides of their marriage. These couples tend to shell up during this struggle in an attempt to protect themselves from more pain. Don’t allow this to happen. Your spouse is going through this right beside you. This can be a time to be truly vulnerable with one another and help build even stronger emotional bonds. You will both be stressed and possibly grieving at different times throughout fertility treatment. Hold on to one another. Learn about the other person’s fears, concerns, and strengths. Lean on one another instead of pushing each other away.
Healthy, effective communication is key at this time. Make time to check in with one another and talk about what is going on in your world. Get vulnerable. Talk about your pains, fears, anger, frustrations, and take time to really listen and validate the other person’s emotions as well. Don’t assume you know what is going on in your spouse’s mind, ask them! Recognize that men and women process things differently and seek to gain an understanding of what your spouse is truly feeling and thinking. Try to stay positive and avoid blame and guilt. Really show you understand the other person and ask questions if you don’t fully understand.
Couples also often shift their focus to being entirely about the “what ifs.” They start talking only about children, changing or not making plans on the chance that they may become pregnant. It is important to be excited and optimistic at this time, but don’t let life get away from you. You need to keep your mental health as strong as possible and this comes from nurturing all aspects of “self.” Take vacations, go on dates, continue to have fun with friends and family. Trying to conceive is only one aspect of your life. Try not to set aside all the other pieces of life that make you uniquely you!
Be in love with one another
Don’t lose the romance! When dealing with fertility concerns, everything becomes mechanical, obligatory, set by a doctor’s schedule. Just as much as young parents, couples struggling with infertility need to commit to romance and not just the procreative, scheduled, medically-necessary kind. Infertility requires the kind of romance that restores and heals a marriage that is under strain. You are a team here and you both love each other enough to try to have a family. Stay physically connected, and not just in intimate ways. Hugging, holding hands, and just general contact can help you feel less stressed and more connected emotionally!
This marriage relationship is the foundation of your family. Challenges can be overcome. Don’t lose hope. There is help for managing the stressors surrounding infertility. Counseling can help you work through barriers and shift old patterns of communication and behavior that are damaging your marriage. The counselor’s office can be a safe place to talk about hard things. A therapist can help you talk through the tough topics and get you out of your emotional stuckness. Also look for natural supports, either family or friends, or support groups. Local searches such as Meetups.com or your doctor’s office may have a list of support group locations and meeting times.
If you or someone you love have concerns that your marriage is struggling due to the pressures of infertility or if you want to start building relationship skills before the treatments begin, give us a call today. We can help keep your marriage on the right track!
* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.
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