Equal partners in pain
It is never a happy place to be when dealing with infertility. In fact, many marriages suffer tremendously or end as the result of the inability to conceive a child. The moment you notice that your marriage is being threatened by these events, it is time to make some changes.
The most common thing to happen when infertility is present is for everyone to want to blame someone. If this has happened to you, have you heard people whisper, "Which one of them has the problem?" or "Is it Jane or Dick that's the problem?" People who never had to go through it don't understand it and seem to have no compassion whatsoever. You, yourself, may even be "happy" it's not your issue; or "sad" that it is your issue. Truth be known, this is a couple's problem, a married man and woman's problem, equally.
Working through things together
So how do you maintain a healthy relationship when facing infertility, and how do you work together to communicate as you go through the emotions? Good question. This is not an easy process. If you are struggling with fertility, you probably feel upset, cheated, alone, and have maybe even chosen isolation. If you managed to "get pregnant" but lost a child to miscarriage, this time is most likely even harder for you to get through.
Men react different than women. This is not to say that no man is deeply hurt by infertility. Instead, it's more like having children is part of a woman's journey. Men sometimes are fulfilled by their success in their professional lives; whereas, being a mother is part of most women's identities and dreams for who they will become.
Communication is the key.
Keep talking, keep sharing, and keep listening to each other. Make it a point to have date nights and conversations that do not include talk about babies, pregnancy tests, fertility drugs, or treatments of any type related to making babies. Easier said than done? Absolutely. When all you ever wanted was to be a mom, a good mom, who can make a difference in a child's life, and you find yourself in the infertility statistics, it can be devastating, physically and emotionally. During this time, many women cry at the sight of any pregnant women, whether they know them or not. And if a family member conceives during this tragic time, women sometimes lose their minds and question why God is doing this to them.
No matter what is going on, how long you have been trying to conceive, how many injections you have taken, how many scopes and/or needles you have had inserted into your body or your partner's body, one thing remains. You are a couple. You are one half of a couple. You chose to be married to your spouse, and as cliché as it may sound, you vowed to stand together through better or worse. This is definitely one of the things that fit the "worse" category. But don't stop communicating. Both spouses should talk about what they need emotionally and how they are feeling. Do you best, as a couple, to avoid isolation. Try to be happy for your friends and family members that conceive during the time that you are trying to do the same.
You and your spouse (not you, your spouse, and his mother, or you, your spouse, and her sister) need to come up with a plan of what you're going to do about your infertility. Obviously, you both need to get some tests done to see if there's even a possibility of conception. If not, the option would point to adoption. If so, you may consider in vitro fertilization or other types of fertility treatments. Be sure to know the facts and try not to fall off your chair when you see how much some of these things cost, for a very small success rate. Only you and your spouse can determine what are willing to spend, go through physically and mentally, or if you are willing to look into adoption either from the United States or from another country.
After you and your spouse have determined your plan, it is exactly that: your plan. You don't have to tell other people about your plans, but if you choose to tell them, be ready for some criticism and some hurtful comments. The best advice in handling people who like to offer free advice is to say just this, "Thank you for your outlook on this issue; however, we do not need your advice at this time." If that message doesn't get through, it's hard telling that any message will.
Remember, communication is key to many relationship issues, including problems with fertility. Try not to bottle up your emotions and become isolated from the rest of the world. Being upset all the time will only increase your stress, which is not a good thing to have when trying to conceive. Even though you're probably tired of hearing this also, "If it's supposed to happen it will." That is very true. Give yourself a break.
If you and your spouse are suffering as the result of infertility, you may need to seek professional help. The staff are trained professionals at Orange County Relationship Center and would be happy to help you and your spouse get your communication back on track so you can feel whole, as a couple, once again. Use our online tool to schedule your appointment, or call our office at 949-220-3211 and set one up.