Couples and Infertility

“Just relax and it’ll happen!”

“If it’s meant to be, you’ll have a baby.”

“I know someone who got pregnant while she was adopting a baby!”

If you’ve been struggling to have a baby, chances are you’ve heard remarks like these from well-meaning friends and family. Until now, you were able to turn to your partner for understanding and support when faced with these upsetting comments. Lately, though, he’s become sullen and withdrawn. You feel like you’re not communicating the way you used to.

A changing dynamic

Infertility can be a crisis for even the strongest relationship. Suddenly, the future that you expected and planned for is in question. Each partner might react differently to the news. Some may be open with friends and family about the emotional burden. They may seek out connections in support groups or online forums. Others may turn inward out of grief or shame and start to withdraw even from the people they are closest to.

These different styles of coping can create conflict if you don’t talk to each other about it. So, take time to open up about your true feelings and changing expectations. Be forgiving if you don’t see things the same way. Avoid making hurtful remarks to a partner in the heat of the moment when you’re frustrated. Talking to each other respectfully and without judgment will help minimize emotional flare-ups.

Help your relationship thrive

Trying to have a baby is a mission you embarked on together. Develop strategies to cope with your struggles the same way – as a team.

Be sensitive to each other. When the cause of infertility lies in just one partner, he or she may feel anxiety and guilt. Men may feel like “less of a man” if they have issues such as a low sperm count. Women may feel like failures if the infertility is due to them. Tactful, gentle reassurances can help relieve some of the pressure in both situations.

Turn to others for support. It’s tough to be each other’s sole source of empathy when things aren’t going well, even when you love each other. Take some of the burden off your partner by seeking comfort from others when you need to vent. Build a network of friends, family and professionals who you can lean on for support. Talk to other couples dealing with infertility.

Laugh with each other. Infertility can mean sadness, disappointment and loss. That doesn’t mean you can’t find humor along the way, though.

Give each other some space. The pressure to start a family can feel all-consuming. Allow yourselves to focus on your separate interests – work, hobbies, socializing with friends – without feeling like you’re neglecting each other or your desire to have a baby.

Don’t always go by the calendar. Being intimate only in your fertile window can make romance seem like a thing of the past. It sounds clichéd, but scheduling sexual encounters – not necessarily including intercourse – for another time of the month can help you reconnect without the pressure of trying to conceive. Just having low-key date nights together – something as simple as take-out and a movie at home – can boost feelings of closeness.

You owe it to yourselves to strengthen your shared bond. No matter what the result of your quest to become parents, keeping your relationship strong along the way is a valuable investment in your future together.

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