7 Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship During Infertility
Struggling to conceive can be emotionally painful and stressful. Growing a family is a big decision that involves peoples' emotions, time, and energy, and it can be especially difficult when other people are involved in the picture. With 1 in 8 couples experiencing infertility, it's no wonder that the process can take a big toll on any relationship.
Infertility is a serious way to test the strength of a couples' relationship, but there is some good news. While the experience can be emotionally and physically taxing, research shows that "...for most infertile couples, the experience strengthens their marriage by teaching them life-long skills to deal with problems." (Shady Grove Fertility, 2022)
If you're hoping to keep your relationship in a good place, below are some ways you can strengthen your partnership while going through infertility:
Remember you are on the same team.
Infertility can be due to either or both partners. But remember: no matter where the issue lies, you have to approach the diagnosis together. No one wins by pointing fingers at each other, so you must find ways to build trust, share responsibilities, and be on the same page approaching treatment.
Communicate your needs.
Out of all the tips for keeping a strong relationship when you're trying to conceive, this is one of the most important. You must remember to communicate openly, honestly, early, and often about your needs. If you're having an emotionally tough day, if you need space, and if you need time to heal, be sure to let your partner know. When you feel safe communicating your needs in your relationship, you're more likely to find the support you need.
Plan for fun in your relationship.
Dealing with infertility together can be physically and emotionally taxing, so it's important to take time away to prioritize your relationship without all the baby talk.
Can a regular date night get scheduled into the calendar? Is there an occasion you can celebrate together? Plan for fun ways to prioritize fun with your partner and nurture your relationship.
Keep date night ideas in rotation like a dinner date (make reservations in advance or make it spontaneous!), a play date (something active or out of the ordinary for you both), a date night at home (cook together, DIY spa night, or plant something), and a special outing date (think: a day trip, museum night, or a surprise!)
Seek individual and joint fertility support.
While it's important to communicate your needs to each other, no partner should be expected to carry the emotional weight or needs of the other person on their own. Because infertility can feel very isolating, it's important to find someone or a group you can talk to individually and together as a couple. Need some ideas for how to find individual and group support? Check out this recent post: How to Reduce Stress & Anxiety with IVF.
Keep the intimacy alive—without the pressure of conceiving.
Sex can feel like a chore when you're growing your family with the stress of a ticking timer. If you're tired of the timing and scheduling, take baby-making off the table for a little while and remember that there is room to just focus on each other and be intimate together with or without intercourse.
Head to your local spa or health & wellness store and pick out a bath bomb for a bath together, get a couples massage, or plan a romantic getaway with opportunities to plan recreational sex. You deserve to feel pleasure and experience intimacy even through infertility.
Identify how you cope under stressful situations.
Every person copes with stress differently. It's important to recognize how both you and your partner deal with conflict individually and together. When you gain an understanding of how both of you react and cope, you'll be more likely to know how to support each other and make sure you're getting the help you need.
Get professional help.
Seeking professional help from a relationship expert like a counselor or coach is one of the best things you can do to make sure you have the information, resources, and strategies to deal with the stresses of infertility and life together. By giving context surrounding the issues, you'll more likely be able to solve your problems together before it gets unmanageable. Looking for professional help? Don't hesitate to reach me for a consultation call.