The Impact of Infertility on a Relationship

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Post originally posted on When Infertility Happens-also a blog owned by Danielle Jones.

Infertility can be a real test of a couple’s relationship, and it can shake the very foundation of marriage. It has the ability to turn even the most solid of relationships into a weak and troubled one.  A survey conducted by GfK Roper on behalf of Schering-Plough says that 71% of women said infertility makes them feel flawed, whereas; 50% of men said that infertility made them feel inadequate. Infertility also has a huge impact on a couple’s relationship and 53% of couples try and hide their true feelings from their partner.

For couples who have to unfortunately deal with infertility, it’s no doubt it’s an emotional roller coaster. As individuals who desire to start a family and then are told that it won’t come easy and that we will have infertility issues, it can change the entire dynamics  of a relationship. It impacts both the male and female differently, the interactions with those who have no issues conceiving change and virtually every relationship changes.

The stress of infertility can lead to isolation, anger, depression and envy. Most couples tend to hide their infertility issues from friends and family, so they rarely discuss it, therefore bottling up the stress that comes with it. Some couples will resort on telling their friends and family that they’re simply waiting to have children or that they don’t want children rather than share with them the struggles that they’re dealing with.

It is no doubt that most couples never imagined that they would experience infertility and many individuals also might have believed that they would have no issue getting pregnant when they wanted to get pregnant. For someone who has seen multiple family members have zero issues conceiving, I thought I would experience the same, but that was not destined to be.

Some couples blame each other for their unfortunate situation. Sometimes infertility may be caused by one person within a relationship, and the other partner who isn’t experiencing infertility issues may secretly resent them. They might not mean to, but the entire situation is so upsetting that their mind may have resorted to those thoughts once or twice. Some couples choose to let their unfortunate situation destroy their relationship, and it may cause the two individuals to part ways. Other couples may become closer and more united when going through a situation such as infertility. 

For a marriage to survive the crisis of infertility, couples must learn new coping mechanisms and must provide adequate support, encouragement and love throughout the process. Because most couples aren’t equipped to handle such situations as infertility with poise, it’s important that both individuals put towards effort to put positive energy towards the marriage even more so during this challenging time. 

If you are a couple who are are experiencing infertility, there are steps you can take to enhance your relationship to ensure that it thrives and continues to grow.  Here are eight suggestions on how to do so:

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ALWAYS WORK AS A TEAM

You know the age-old saying, “there is no ‘I’ in team!” Well, there is a lot of truth in this statement because when one person chooses isolation as their coping mechanism instead of addressing the issue as a team, it has negative impacts on the overall relationship. Rather, working together with your partner and brainstorm ways on how to share the responsibilities regarding treatment is the best route to take.

SEPARATE “BABY-MAKING SEX” FROM “LOVE-MAKING SEX”

When you’re going through infertility treatments, your sex becomes very scheduled and tends to become less emotional. When it becomes more of a “must-do” instead of spontaneous, it’s hard to enjoy it. Separating baby-making sex from engaging in pleasurable and fun love-making is imperative to maintaining a healthy sex life during infertility.

TAKE TIME OFF TO HAVE FUN

Because infertility requires so much of your time and energy, it’s important to set time aside to take off from everything infertility-related and make time for each other to go out, enjoy each other’s company and have fun! Make your partner a priority by nurturing positive energies in the relationships and planning little get-aways here and there.

HAVE A SUPPORT SYSTEM

Couples can have an unrealistic and unconscious expectation that their spouse will be able to take care of all of their emotional needs in times of crisis.  It’s a daunting task during infertility, so it’s important to not isolate yourselves from everyone else willing to listen or help in some way. Seeking support from others can help strengthen your relationship with your spouse, and it can also help to attend support groups with those also dealing with infertility. I will say that one of my biggest support system is a close couple who we have been friends with for years. They went through a lot of what we went through but for longer and on a larger scale, but they have two beautiful babies to show for it today. I rely on them and ask lots of questions, and it really helps me cope with it all.

UNDERSTANDING STYLES FOR DEALING WITH STRESS

Both you and your partner may have very different ways to handle stress during difficult situations, so it’s important to accept the differences in a way that can help lessen conflicts and create more of a unity. Men and women feel and deal with infertility very different, which is important to understand.

KEEP A SENSE OF HUMOR

It’s important to realize that no matter how hard things get, being able to find something humorous about the situation can really help to relieve tension and stress within the relationship. Laughing together is good for the health of your relationship.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Pray together. Praying together can help you both talk through what you’re feeling and give you the opportunity to get a sense of how you might be both coping with the difficult situation. Understanding that a higher power is at work is also crucial to understand. He works on his timing, not yours, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to tell Him the pain you both are experiencing because of infertility. Couples who pray together, stay together.

SEEK HELP

If you find that infertility is really seriously straining your relationship, it’s important to seek out and consider counseling as a resource of support. If you find that your usual coping mechanisms aren’t effective anymore or that your relationship has taken a real hit, seek help before things get too critical.

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Your relationship doesn’t have to suffer because of infertility. There will be hard times and tears, but if you’re able to be supportive and strong for each other, then you’ll be able to take on infertility head on and also come out of it much stronger of a couple.

Photo Credits: Ian Schneider , Joshua Earle, Crew

Source: Merck & Co., Inc.

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