The pain of infertility creates a heavy burden not only in our day to day lives but especially in our romantic relationship. The stress and weight of infertility creep into our lives, health, emotional well-being, career, finances, and relationships. Learning to navigate disappointments, differences in responses, stress, fears, and financial pressure while supporting one another is tricky. Tricky. Tricky. Tricky. It can strain relationships enormously and hijack intimacy and sex (infertility doesn't feel too sexy, right?). It can also strengthen relationships and bring spouses closer together. For that to happen, it's important to look for ways to nurture your relationship and make it a priority.
Here are a few ways to walk through these relationship challenges with grace and love to create benefit to your relationship instead of damage:
1. Your sex life often changes.
Let's be honest; timing sex around ovulation, medications and basal body temperature is not romantic. Or sexy. Infertility can make a once fun and spontaneous sex life stressful and lacking passion.
While you may feel alone in this struggle, it is a common one for couples going through infertility. You can shift this pattern by prioritizing opportunities for emotional and intimate connection. A few fun ways to do this could be using a relationship app that asks questions you might not have thought of yet, or putting aside time during the month to do fun things together. Create spaces and times when there is a no-fertility talk zone. This allows you to connect on other topics and reminds you of the love and care you have built in your relationship.
2. You may disagree on important parts of your fertility journey.
There will be big decisions you will have to navigate as a couple going through infertility. Misunderstanding, fear and different ways of coping with difficult decisions can lead to many disagreements. Everything from when to ask for help, what approach for treatment you should take and how to deal with significant financial decisions can be exhausting as a couple.
Workshops or groups can be a great place to find support and encouragement in your relationship. Our Stronger Together workshop is designed to help couples enhance their intimacy and connection amid the fertility journey. Attending these events gives you and your partner more tools and support to help you in this part of your relationship and many others.
3. You may feel isolated from your regular friend group.
Suppose you're at a point where baby announcements and friends are starting their journey as parents are the norm. It can be complicated to navigate those relationships while facing (in)fertility yourself.
You may want to be supportive but also be triggered by the influx of baby announcements, baby showers, and excited baby talk from your friends. Also, if your friends are aware of your infertility struggles, they may feel uncomfortable saying or doing the wrong thing. This can create a void in your relationships and make it feel like it's just you, your partner, and your doctor in the thick of the fertility journey.
It is a great idea to find supportive communities that may be able to offer more understanding and encouragement for you both. To normalize that not everyone gets or stays pregnant easily, a community of people who get it. Asking your fertility clinic if they have a support group you can connect with or finding an online community where you can express fears and ask questions openly are great ideas.
4. You may experience resentment towards your partner.
It's always hard when one person may have to endure more treatments and tests than the other, and it's natural to want to find a place to put your anger. However, these feelings of resentment can cause pain and disconnection from your partner. In this situation, it is best to approach ourselves and our partners with empathy and remind ourselves that we all deal with pain differently.
We can focus on becoming gentle listeners and a safe space for the pain and heartache of each other. Sometimes this can be too much, so it's always a good idea to reach out for professional help from a fertility (reproductive) Psychologist. An experienced reproductive health & fertility therapist can support all stages of your journey and help you cope with any fertility-related challenges that may arise. As well as helping you find ways to keep your relationship strong while you build your family.
Here are a few other ways you can connect with your partner to repair and strengthen your relationship:
Make time for quality conversation - Set aside time each day to discuss your lives, feelings, and thoughts. Communication and openness are essential, especially when going through a difficult season of life together.
Flirt and make time for laughter together
Show physical affection - Give your partner hugs, kisses, back rubs, or other physical gestures to show your love.
Share meaningful activities - Spend time together doing activities that you both enjoy, such as playing sports, going for a walk, or watching a movie.
Give thoughtful gifts - Surprise your partner with a thoughtful gift that shows you appreciate them.
Express your gratitude - Let your partner know how thankful you are for them and all they do for you.
Do you want more support in your relationship and fertility journey? Join us on our social media platforms, where we share even more supportive and helpful tips.