Protecting Your Relationship During Your Journey
When you’re TTC and on your infertility journey, you realize right away that it’s personally stressful and difficult. People who are struggling to conceive often report feeling depressed, anxious, and as if they have lost control. Infertility and fertility treatment are also very stressful to a marriage or relationship.
How can you reduce the tension and keep your relationship strong through this strain? Here are some ideas.
Be Kind, and Get Help
When you’re both stressed out, it’s easy to speak without thinking, to say something hurtful in reaction to the other person’s actions. When you are taking fertility medications, you may experience mood swings that make you want to overreact. Men often cope with stress in different ways than women, leading women to think, “he doesn’t care as much as I do”. Take a deep breath and be kind to each other. Listen to each other. Try really hard to communicate what you feel, your fears, your worries. Remember, you are both going through this together, although the female partner may feel she is carrying the heavier load. You may find counseling or a support group helpful as you go through your fertility journey. Your fertility center may have support groups or be able to recommend a counselor.
Take a Break from Infertility
Connect about other things in addition to your fertility journey. What did you talk about or do before you started down this road? Have date nights or do fun activities that have nothing to do with trying to conceive. Make a list together of things you’d like to do again, or new things you’d like to try. This may take some effort, but it’s worth it to strengthen your relationship and distract you from infertility hanging over you like a cloud. Some people also find it helpful to limit the amount of time they talk about their fertility problems, setting aside a designated 20 minutes per day for that purpose. If you find your sex life is suffering from stress or lack of connection, reclaim it from infertility. Make it about love and closeness again. A counselor may be able to help with this as well.
Don’t try to go this journey alone as a couple. Research has shown that social support helps the relationship of couples going through infertility. Agree on who you want to share with, and reach out to them for support. You don’t have to tell everyone, or share your thoughts and fears with people you don’t know well. You may choose to tell close friends and family members so you have a close group of people you trust. Just make sure you both agree on who to tell, so one partner doesn’t feel their privacy is being violated by the other.
Accentuate the Positive
Sometimes we forget to say positive things to the people we love, and all they hear is negative. This is corrosive to a relationship. Relationships need care and tending, like a garden does, or they will dry up and die. Remember to thank each other, to acknowledge the kind or helpful things you do or say to each other. Your relationship is about more than having a baby, and most relationships will survive infertility, no matter how the journey ends.