Infertility is hard—especially on a marriage. The scheduling times to try to conceive and decisions on what fertility treatments to try (or not to try). If you are going the adoption route, there is the rigorous timeline to endure and heartbreak to deal with if it does not go as planned. Adding in busy schedules and medical bills for past treatments, it can be hard not to feel a strain on your relationship. And this is all happening at a time when you need each other’s support the most.
The sad truth is couples with fertility problems are more likely to experience marital distress, which could result in dissolved relationships. In fact, a study in 2014 revealed that 27% of the participating couples going through infertility were no longer together twelve years later.
But what is it about infertility that causes the dissolved relationships? Shame, blame, financial pressure, intimacy strain, and social isolation are all contributing factors. So it is very important to pay special attention to your marriage during this difficult time.
Being forward with each other and taking precise steps lets you both take positive and preventable action to preserve your marriage. If you are blessed with a child, you will need and want a strong marriage to bring that child into. We made a list of small practices to put into action, so you can keep your marriage strong through infertility.
- Decide to invest in the marriage – Don’t assume a healthy marriage will automatically happen. Proactively decide that preserving your marriage is as important as (or more important) than having a child. Remember what brought you together, invest time, money, and energy into making it strong for when you are a parent. This priority still remains after you bring a baby into your home.
- Make a plan together – It is important that both you and your spouse are in agreement of the plan of action you will take. This includes what treatments to pursue, how much money is practical to spend, how long you’re both willing to wait, and what other plans are acceptable. Remember, your plans will change. You must be prepared to be flexible with one another.
- Communicate constantly – The tendency may be to keep things hidden from your spouse. Whether you don’t want to hurt them or you want to try something they don’t agree with—it can be a temptations. It is important to set aside time to talk to one another about what is happening. It is also equally important to listen as much as you talk.
- Separate intimacy from trying to conceive – Infertility often includes “sex on demand.” Even while trying to conceive, consciously make sex about your spouse, not their gametes!
- Don’t use infertility, stress, or hormones as an excuse for bad behavior – This is not a free pass. Recognize the impact of stressful behavior on one another. Don’t push your spouse away because you can’t fix the problem. Be there to support each other; they are not the enemy.
- Ask for help – Don’t be afraid to ask one another for help. And don’t be afraid to ask for outside help either! Counseling is extremely beneficial for couples facing an infertility diagnosis.
- Keep your minds off infertility – Schedule something to do every week, or at least once a month, that has nothing to do with infertility, adoption, or children. Keeping yourselves busy once-in-awhile with other things will help you both to remember your relationship is not defined by your ability to conceive.