How Does Infertility Affect Relationships? 3 Things To Remember
Infertility can be devastating. The process of trying to get pregnant and experiencing a cycle of disappointment can take a huge toll on you and your partner’s mental health. Fertility treatments, timing, and planning can all take up your mental and emotional energy. You might feel like you’re living in a possible future, rather than the current reality.
If you’re experiencing infertility, it’s important to recognize the ways in which it’s affecting your relationship right now rather than just the family you’re hoping to have one day. By understanding how infertility will change the dynamic between you and your partner, you can better build the strong bonds you’ll need to get through this.
Here are three helpful strategies for counteracting the new strain on your relationship.
1. Communicate and compromise
Resentment and tension build as a result of infertility. It can be a very isolating experience. The two of you are likely feeling shame and guilt depending how much you know about the root cause of your infertility. One person might blame the other for not feeling as upset about this as they “should” be. The other might be feeling helpless as they’re catastrophizing the situation. This is a recipe for bitterness to enter your relationship.
Both of you need to work hard on maintaining healthy communication. Let your partner know it’s okay to feel how they’re feeling. Be open and honest with each other to make sure you’re on the same page, or you’re not isolating yourself.
Even if it’s scary to share some of your darker emotions at this time, it’s important so that your partner can be there for you and empathize. Find balance with each other rather than avoiding what you’re going through.
2. Make a plan in the face of uncertainty
It’s much easier to think of life and relationships moving in a linear progression. First comes the long-term partnership, then the pregnancy, then baby arrives, then your family has started. But infertility throws a wrench into that plan. When the pregnancy doesn’t come easily, your path takes several detours.
Suddenly you’re having to adjust your timeline—it could take months or years longer than you imagined. Your financial situation is also less certain. Fertility tests, doctor’s visits, IVF treatments, and taking time off work all can amount to a significant financial strain.
As you communicate and compromise with your partner, be open about finances and setting goalposts. Make a new timeline together. Decide who you’re willing to share your infertility with and when. Be open about the possibility of adoption or living childfree. Each of you should be on board with how you’re having to adapt.
3. Connect in other ways
Trying to get pregnant can be exhausting, and for infertile couples even more so. Suddenly everything revolves around treatment cycles, sex, and doctor’s visits. It puts couples under a ton of pressure. Be sure to also make time for other bonding activities. Have date nights.
Do the things you once loved to do together. Engage in touch without the expectation of sex. Having moments where the conversation isn’t all about fertility will help strengthen the bond the two of you share.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
The process of choosing your path forward through infertility shouldn’t be taken alone. A licensed therapist can help you navigate your experiences of grief, loss, anxiety, anger, depression, or any other feeling you might be going through on this journey.
A therapist can also serve as a mediator between you and your partner as you transition to a new stage in your relationship.
If you would like more information on how counseling can help you as your relationship deals with infertility, please reach out to us.