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Is Infertility Testing Your Marriage? 10 Tips For Managing Your Relationship

Sep 1, 2008
Infertility is a medical condition that affects both partners in a relationship. This is true even if it is only one of the partners who is experiencing reproductive problems; infertility is a couple's issue. Maintaining communication between the two of you is of utmost importance. You will be the support system for each other as you navigate the options you have for adding a child to your family. It is likely you will have good days and bad days together. Learn from these experiences and your relationship will grow even stronger.

What was once basic communication suddenly becomes extremely complex. The simple act of telling each other how you feel may seem like an insurmountable task. With that challenge in mind, here are ten ideas to keep your relationship at the forefront during your infertility journey:

Communicate. Make sure you communicate openly and honestly with your spouse. He may not understand your desire to have a baby or he might be as emotional as you are. Help each other learn what your family-building options are so that you can make decisions together.

Support each other. During this time in your life you will need a lot of support from your partner. Remember that he, too, needs you to hear his side or understand his point of view. Recognize that you might not be experiencing the same feelings. This is okay. All you need to do is acknowledge the other person's emotional state, even if you cannot understand his or her feelings.

Minimize regrets. Find a friend or someone you trust who you can tell things you are not ready to say to your partner. Although most of your feelings and opinions should eventually be expressed, sometimes it is best to run ideas or thoughts by another party before actually saying them out loud and potentially doing irreparable damage to your relationship.

Advocate. Relationships with in-laws or other family members can be stressed when you are experiencing infertility. Tell your partner how they can help you communicate with their family and friends. This is a tense time for everyone, even your in-laws or your partner's best friend.

Reduce stress. Recognize that you have differing ways of coping. For example, maybe you like to spend your time researching the reason(s) for your infertility and possible treatment options. He wants to go for a five-mile run instead. Discuss your coping mechanisms with each other so that your differences don't hamper your ability to communicate and support one another.

Seek counseling. Sometimes you might need the help of a therapist. Infertility can create very strong emotions and you might not know how to support one another or you might have differing ideas about how to proceed with your lives. An impartial party can help you communicate more effectively than you might be able to manage on your own.

Enjoy date nights. Remember what it was like when you weren't trying to get pregnant? Get some of that romance back through date nights. Try not to talk about having a baby or your infertility. Instead, engage in meaningful conversation to rekindle your relationship.

Make a plan. At some point you will need to determine what your plan of action will be. For example, will you attempt in vitro fertilization(IVF)? If so, how many times or at what point will you stop? Will you consider adoption? If so, when will you start researching the different ways to adopt? Will you consider living child free? At what point? It is important for both partners to agree to the same plan. Be aware, however, that many couples will not always be ready for the same step at the same time. Try to have patience with your partner as you work to find a plan that is acceptable to both of you.

Make small gestures. Do a little something for your partner. If you are a man, consider flowers, cards, favorite candies, or gift certificates for her to pamper herself. If you are a woman, consider cards, gift certificates, or a six-pack of his favorite beer. Even a quick email to let your partner know you are thinking about him or her can do wonders for keeping the relationship strong.

Say "I love you". During a time when your relationship is probably strained, it is important to remember that you made a life-long commitment to each other. Don't forget to say, "I love you." Without your love for one another there will be little satisfaction when you achieve your dreams of parenthood.

Once you recognize and accept that you and your partner will most likely approach infertility differently, it will be easier for you to navigate your relationship. Communication is of utmost importance and can be the glue that holds the relationship together. Don't forget that infertility is a couple's issue. Tackle this obstacle together; in each other's arms.
About the Author
Kelly K. Damron is the author of Tiny Toes: A Couple's Journey Through Infertility, Prematurity, and Depression. Damron is the mother of twin girls conceived via IVF and born 10 weeks premature. She is an advocate for the infertile and prematurity communities. To learn more about her book visit: Tiny Toes.
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