Miscarriages, infertility, and other fertility issues bring hurt, grief, sadness, and loss.
It can be painful, overwhelming, and shocking when you learn you may have difficulty getting pregnant, when you get an infertility diagnosis, and when you’re on the long and tiresome journey of trying to have children.
It’s important to know how infertility affects you and your relationship.
You and your partner may experience more feelings of anxiety and stress when dealing with infertility.
Fertility issues can impact the mental and emotional health of both partners in a relationship, no matter what the specific issue or diagnosis is. You may be worried about every appointment, every cycle, every trial, and what other factors may be involved. It’s overwhelming and exhausting and it can feel very out of your control.
It can be hard on both you and your partner to manage normal activities when you’re dealing with fertility issues.
If you see your friends getting pregnant or raising their children, this may be even more difficult. It can be hard to be around baby showers, birthday parties, or other events. You may find yourself or your partner isolating more.
Shame and guilt can be heavy on you and your partner.
Whether the fertility issues are linked more to one partner than the other, or even if they’re unknown, infertility can bring feelings of shame and guilt. Even though it’s not your fault, these feelings do still come up at times. And those feelings can create conflict in your relationship. You might feel blamed by your partner, or you might begin to blame them. You end up in disunity and frustration.
You might focus on trying harder.
If you’re trying to get pregnant, you begin to focus so much of your energy on the timing, the body temperature, and any other factors you can think of that might be conducive to fertility. It’s easy to fall into a trap of being obsessed with trying to conceive. You might lose the intimacy of sex. If it becomes a scheduled meeting filled with stress, you may find your closeness you need beginning to dissolve as you focus more on the outcome.
Fertility issues might come with loss and grief.
It can be harder for others to understand. Whether you haven’t been able to conceive, you’re dealing with a miscarriage, or something else, recognize that you and your partner may be grieving. You’re grieving the loss of a child, the loss of hope, the loss of expectations and dreams. If you and your partner are experiencing these feelings, you may not be sure of how to talk about it or get through it. It can be difficult to keep hope.
Here’s what you can do to care for your relationship when you and your partner are dealing with fertility issues:
First, take a deep breath and work on just acceptance of what’s happening.
I believe this is the first step for any difficult thing- just to be able to know and accept that what you’re going through is hard, and it’s normal to not feel ok about it right now.
Plan date nights that aren’t consumed by infertility-talk.
Use this time to enjoy intimacy. If you do have sex, don’t make it about getting pregnant. Make it about having physical intimacy and connection with your partner.
Know your limits and be willing to say no to certain events.
Don’t let this turn into isolation, but know that it’s ok if you can’t go to a friend’s baby shower, or a child’s birthday party, or something else. Give yourself and your spouse the space and freedom to say no.
Be kind to yourselves and each other.
Remember, you and your partner might be overwhelmed with grief, loss, feelings of guilt, or even shame. Don’t let hurt turn into anger and build into conflict between you. Be kind. Extend grace, even on the hard days. It’s important to value your relationship and the comfort and support you can give each other.
Don’t get caught in blame.
Be united. Especially if either of you get stuck in negative thoughts of guilt and blame, put a hard stop on that. Fertility issues likely aren’t something either of you wanted or even expected. So don’t let these issues tear you apart. Instead, focus on how you can work together and love each other better.
Make time specifically to talk.
Share your feelings and discuss big decisions together. There might be times neither of you want to talk about it. And that’s okay too. Respect that this can’t consume your life. But it is important for you to be able to talk about what you’re going through with each other. Even if you have to schedule it, set aside time to talk and share your feelings. Plan time to talk about decisions together. Work to stay on the same page and make decisions as a team.
Ask for what you both need.
If you need a break, take it. You may need to take some time before trying again. Or you may just need a day to yourself. If you need to talk, then talk. Talk with your spouse. Talk with your doctor. Talk with your trusted friends. If you have questions, ask. Be fully informed and united in getting information and treatment. Speak up for yourselves and each other.
Create happiness in the small moments together.
Clear your schedule before and after appointments when you can. Listen to good music in the car together. Take a bath. Go for a walk. Do the small things that bring your and your spouse joy.
Don’t isolate yourselves.
Seek help. Talk to each other. Don’t isolate yourselves from each other or from your friends and family. You don’t have to go through this alone, and if you try to, you’ll only end up hurting more. So keep yourselves from isolating. It’s incredibly important to talk with a therapist and get the emotional support and guidance for yourselves and your relationship.
Let me leave you with some words of love and support. I don’t know how your journey through infertility ends and I don’t know what’s at the other side of this for you. But I hope that you and your partner remember the gift you have in each other, that your relationship grows stronger through this, that your friendships become more authentic and supportive, and that your heart heals.