Infertility can have devastating effects on the relationship between husband
and wife. Although many couples report that weathering the
storm of infertility has drawn them closer and made their
relationship stronger, many report having difficulties in
connecting during this process.
Often, the experience of being unable to conceive and carry a
baby to term is the first time a couple has a major goal in their
lives over which they have little to no control. When you marry,
whether you graduate from college or not, if you decide to rent
an apartment or buy a house, what city you choose to live in .
. . as a couple, you have choices and can make decisions regarding
these aspects of your lives together. So, when you are met with
the challenge of infertility, it can be a difficult one indeed.
A large part of the problem seems to be related to that age-old
issue of how differently men and women think and how differently
they tend to communicate (see Male
and Female Perspectives). As we all have heard and probably
experienced in our own relationships, women tend to want to express
their feelings and men tend to want to fix things and solve problems.
This is no different when it comes to the issue of infertility.
Just understanding this difference may help a lot, but often,
the relationship needs more.
What are some ways to improve your relationship when you're
dealing with infertility?
Communicate: Most experts agree that learning to communicate
more effectively is the key. Ali Domar, in her new book, Conquering
Infertility, suggests spending ten minutes per day talking
about infertility issues, using active listening techniques. That
way, the wife knows that she will be heard and the husband knows
that there will be a stopping point, a limit to the conversation.
Affirm the Positives: I have couples focus on the positive
things they do share as a couple. Expressing appreciations to
each other on a daily basis tends to make husband and wife feel
Develop a Support System: Having your partner as your primary
source of support is wonderful, but sometimes you need more than
this. Having a friend or family member or a support group such
as Resolve or a Mind/Body Program where you can get comfort and
encouragement can help make your relationship stronger, because
you're not relying on your partner to meet so many of your emotional
Plan Time for Play: Taking a break from infertility to
do something fun and playful is also important. Too often, infertility
takes on a life of its own, and taking "time off," even
if just for an evening, can remind you again of the reasons you
care about and enjoy being with your partner.
Seek Help Early: Sometimes just having a session or two
with a couple's counselor who understands infertility issues can
help get your relationship back on track and make the road ahead
Susan Leonard, Ed.D., L.P.C., L.M.F.T., works with individuals
and couples in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area who are struggling to
cope with infertility. For more information, contact her at 214.369.4151.