Planning to conceive a child or going through pregnancy is considered one of the happiest times in a couple’s relationship, but if you and your partner are dealing with issues of infertility and/or are having trouble getting pregnant, this can be a very stressful and challenging time for you and your relationship. A recent survey indicated that about one fourth of couples dealing with infertility experience negative impact on their relationship. However, about a third of those surveyed reported the struggle has benefited their relationship and brought them closer together.
When dealing with infertility, a lot of emotions come up at every step of the way. It is not uncommon for both men and women to feel anxious, depressed, and guilty, point blame, and feel isolated or alone. You may be feeling that all the dreams and the hopes you had for that perfect family are suddenly threatened, and worry creeps in. Depending on what the cause of infertility is, you might be pointing blame or feeling guilty. What doesn’t help is seeing your friends and/or neighbors getting pregnant or with children, and that may leave you feeling alone and misunderstood by others who have not gone through the struggles you are experiencing.
But you are not alone. Getting help is sometimes necessary, whether it be in the form of therapy or joining a support group. As a Marriage and Family Therapist (with background and experience in Prenatal and Infertility Genetic Counseling) I have helped and treated many couples coping with infertility, and have found the following tips useful:
- Do not point blame or accept responsibility for the infertility. There are many things in life over which we have no control, and this is just one of them.
- Be united and strong to fight infertility, and tackle it together. Externalize the problem, do not let it define you or your relationship, but see it as a common challenge to overcome together.
- Invest in your relationship. Go out on dates, take on a new sport together, and keep doing all the things that define you as a couple. Keep your relationship strong and close.
- Communicate with each other, talk about your feelings and listen to one another. Don’t assume your partner knows how you feel or what you need in the relationship (unless he or she is a psychic).
- Let spontaneous sex back into your relationship, and even spice things up if necessary. Have some fun with each other, and enjoy sex without the stress of having to get pregnant.