5 Tips for Strengthening Your Relationship During Infertility
This article was originally posted for Pulling Down the Moon.
The infertility journey can strain even the healthiest of relationships, which is why it’s important to protect your partnership while navigating this process. The end goal of any fertility treatment is a baby, but if you’re going through it with a partner it is essential to prioritize connection and communication. This process can be grueling at times - medications, injections, sperm samples, genetic testing - but maintaining a team approach will help your relationship thrive during (and far beyond!) this process.
Avoid the blame game - PCOS, low sperm count, unexplained infertility - these terms may tempt you to assign blame to your partner. Signing up for partnership means erasing the blame and taking a team approach to whatever comes your way. Make a commitment from day one to resist the urge to place blame.
Seek out fun and connection - Spend a night away, plan a date - connect! Lately I’ve been loving the app “Gottman Card Decks”. It offers helpful questions and conversation starters to deepen intimacy and connection. Regardless of what you do, spend an hour or so intentionally connecting and try not to forget the reasons you chose this person to do life with.
Understand and validate your partner’s perspective - Infertility can bring up feelings of shame, guilt, and loss and it’s important to remember that you might have a different range of emotions from that of your partner. These feelings may be deeply rooted in our hopes and expectations of parenthood. Connect to your partner through this shared experience and encourage him or her whenever you can. If your partner is having an especially difficult day, offer your time and listening ear for support.
Find support - We all have different needs. Perhaps an online community would feel safest for you. Maybe an in-person support group or individual therapy would help your partner process this experience. For some, coffee with a friend who “gets it” meets this need. Even within the infertility world, situations and experiences can vary from person to person. Make sure that both you and your partner are surrounded by a supportive community of people who can hear and empathize with what you’re going through. Infertility is a unique journey that stirs up lots of emotions, don’t go at it alone!
Maintain hope - There’s no doubt that this process can be difficult and at times even discouraging. Try to hold onto hope, knowing that you’re doing everything you can. You may have to put some things on hold while going through the infertility process, but move forward where you can. You’re not alone and there are many people out there who have walked this path before. At the end of the day, remember there is a lot to be hopeful for.
Amanda Atkins is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She practices in Lincoln Square and specializes in perinatal mood disorders and couples & infertility. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . Check out more at amandaatkinschicago.com .