Toll of Infertility on a Marriage
Infertility and finding ways to deal with it is never easy. It’s not easy on the female partner. It’s not easy on the male partner. And it can certain wreak havoc with a marriage! From the time a woman realizes she can’t get pregnant without help to the day that elusive child is finally born or the couple decides to give up, tension ensues.
Will we ever have a baby? Whose fault is it? Are we doing the right thing? Will this pregnancy reach full term?
There are so many questions and decisions related to infertility and how to tackle it, and while many professionals like to say that all of this brings couples closer together, those who have been through it might beg to differ, especially when the outcome isn’t as was hoped.
Infertility specialists agree that there are some problems that almost always emerge, so we’ve compiled a list of the most common infertility-related relationship problems you might encounter and what you can do to lessen their impact on your marriage or partnership.
Mention this 3-letter word to most young couples – especially the male half – and you’ll usually get sly smiles and other happy reactions. But trying to have a baby and not succeeding or trying to time intercourse so that it hits that fertile period can have a huge effect on a couple’s sex life.
Things become very unnatural and the romance disappears pretty quickly. Furthermore, sexual dysfunction is often a problem when sex is forced.
If couples generally report that infertility has its biggest effect on their sex life, they usually agree that financial issues are right behind that on the list of stressors. Addressing infertility can be very costly, especially when insurance covers little or nothing.
Tests, treatments, etc. put a strain on the wallet, especially for young couples. And, sadly, treatments like IVF can create a financial strain that remains even after the baby has arrived.
The blame game
Fights over who is at fault in a couple’s infertility misadventure inevitably come up, even if you don’t mean them to arise. One partner gets angry and says something he/she shouldn’t, blaming the other person for the struggles they’re facing.
It’s never a healthy thing to do, but it happens. Experts also note that many people practice self-blame, accepting the responsibility for the problem to spare their spouse. That’s not healthy either.
Ways of coping
Everyone handles stress differently. For some, stress might prompt the desire to simply stay home and keep to oneself. For others, staying super busy might be the only way to relieve the anxiety associated with treatments and waiting to find out if you’re pregnant.
The problem arises when there’s one of each in the relationship. When that happens, the homebody accuses his/her spouse of not really caring and the busy bee thinks the homebody is overreacting.
Opinions about next steps
Many marital arguments among infertile couples derive from the need to make decisions about how to proceed. For example, if IVF isn’t working, do you consider adoption or perhaps a surrogate?
Is it time to stop trying now that you’re 40-years-old? Should you pay for another round of treatments? Things like this constitute serious decisions and, often, couples aren’t of the same opinion when it comes to making these choices.
Relieving the Stress
The infertility struggle is real but thousands of couples make it through each year. While there probably aren’t any miraculous solutions to the stress and anxiety an infertile couple might experience, there are some tried-and-true ways that can set you in the right direction.
Communication is – of course – essential to every marriage at all times but is especially important to couples facing infertility. It seems cliché and almost ridiculous to suggest simply talking to one another, but it truly does help. But don’t talk about your infertility ALL THE TIME.
Strike a balance between talking about decisions, hopes, dreams, and disappointments related to your infertility and other things that are still part of your life.
Speaking of other things in your life…Don’t make your entire existence about infertility and the desire to have a baby. Certainly, that can be hard to do, especially when you’re in the middle of it all, but if you keep pursuing your hobbies, social relationships, and the other things that make your life complete, you’ll have less time to obsess.
Accept that your experiences will be different
If you both want a baby, both of you will be hurt, disappointed, and depressed when it doesn’t happen. Neither will hurt more than the other, though it might seem that your personal pain is worse than that of your partner, especially if your partner’s reaction isn’t as severe as yours. Maybe your partner is just a more positive person in general. Don’t be angry at him/her for that and accept that your reactions and experiences will be different.
When the stress on your marriage seems to be taking you to the breaking point, look for help. There’s no shame in telling a professional that infertility is affecting your relationship. Many counselors, psychologists, etc. specialize in working with infertile couples and can assist you with communication and more.
Remember that this, too, shall pass
The state you’re in right now as an infertile couple won’t last forever. You’ll either have that baby or you won’t. And even if you don’t, you’ll eventually realize that there are other things on the horizon for you, and the stress of trying to get pregnant will disappear from your life.
It’s hard to determine when you’re in the midst of the turmoil which way it will go, but you know if will go one way or the other and you’ll like survive, whichever it is.