EAAC Best Of: Overcoming Infertility’s Toll on Your Romance, Part 2

In Part 1 of our series we examined the differences in the ways men and women cope with infertility. Today, we focus on how to keep intimacy in your relationship during this difficult time.   

If you’re struggling with infertility, Janet Jaffe, Ph.D., Martha Diamond, Ph.D., and David Diamond, Ph.D. of The Center for Reproductive Psychology recognize that it’s likely impacting your romance as well. In the last Awareness Center blog, we addressed how infertility may be impacting your emotional intimacy, but the struggle has also likely impacted other areas of your relationship as well.

Infertility may have taken your sense of being in control. A natural reflex is a desire to regain control by taking control whenever possible. According to The Center for Reproductive Psychology, “That’s when the “power struggle” so many couples describe during infertility occurs – you and your partner both desperately want your own needs met at the same time. During infertility, couples who previously saw themselves as teammates begin to view each other as obstacles, when that person may simply be trying to keep from drowning in his/her own feelings.”

This loss of control impacts many areas, but finances and sexual intimacy are often the two most directly impacted because every decision in these areas becomes about having a baby. Purchasing a new vehicle or home may not be as crucial to one or the other of you as having a baby. Sex becomes something that is done according to the time of the month and the “the medical timetables and routines can dampen the very spark needed to create a baby” (CRP).

Furthermore, according to The Center for Reproductive Psychology, “Having sex ‘on demand’ is an invasion of sexual intimacy and can create a domino effect of loneliness and isolation by damaging each partner’s self-esteem and their connection to one another.”

Even the smallest of decisions, such as if to dine at home alone or to join friends at the restaurant, can be made exponentially more challenging by the underlying tension caused by your infertility struggle (CRP).

You may find yourself opposing finding a middle ground, for fear of losing more control. However, it’s crucial to the health of your relationship to work towards an agreement, even if that means laying down some of your desires to meet your partner’s needs.

According to Jaffe, Diamond and Diamond, “If ever there was a time to give each other the benefit of the doubt, now is the time. If you can translate your partner’s behavior into feelings and words, you will almost certainly find not a ‘mean, cold, uncaring, overly emotional, demanding, critical spouse,’ but someone who, like you, is in pain and needs help” (CRP).

You can make it through this struggle, the intense testing your relationship may be going through and the difficulties each of you are facing in your own ways. Recognizing the struggle and its source is half of the battle to overcoming infertility’s toll on your romance. It is also the first step in getting the two of you on the same page in determining how to achieve your dreams of family building, whether that be through continuing fertility treatments naturally, considering an egg or sperm donor, or perhaps pursuing an embryo donation or adoption.

For more information on the impact of infertility on your relationship, visit The Center for Reproductive Psychology. For more information on embryo donation and adoption, visit the Embryo Adoption Awareness Center.

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