Infertility is a silent struggle that many couples face, and it can have lasting affects on a marriage. The desire for many couples to have children is strong, and when that doesn't happen naturally or even after months and years of fertility treatments, it can be a source of much conflict, and even unspoken resentment.
Most couples go into marriage thinking that they want to have kids someday, and just expect it to happen. But after a year or two of intentionally trying to conceive, and there's still no baby, it can begin to get stressful. There's the medical side of the infertility struggle – filled with medications, doctor visits, cycle tracking, and careful attention to diet and lifestyle. Then there's the emotional side – the stress, the hope and disappointment each month that goes by with no positive test, and the wondering why. It also puts a large amount of pressure on having sex, too – seeing it only as a way to conceive, and not for enjoyment. It's no surprise that many couples who struggle with getting pregnant find themselves struggling in their marriage as well.
If you are going through infertility – there are some things you can do to help keep your marriage strong and relieve some of the pressure. Here are a few suggestions:
- Take time just to be a couple – without focusing on conception. A yearly trip away to a favorite place, regular dates, and spending time together outside the bedroom can help.
- Talk about your feelings, both good and bad, related to infertility. By shutting each other out and not being open and honest, you'll be building a wall that will be hard to tear down.
- Don't place blame on each other for your infertility, even if one of you has a physical problem that is hindering conception.
- If you feel you need it, consider meeting with a counselor, alone, or together, to talk about your struggle. You might look for an infertility support group to be a help to you as well.
- If you need to avoid “baby” things for awhile, that's ok, too. Sometimes it might feel like everyone you know is pregnant or has a new baby, and that can feel isolating. It's perfectly fine to back away from those things for a time if it helps you.
It might be important, too, to think about your family plan if a biological child doesn't happen. Adoption is a wonderful option that helps create new families every day. If that's not a choice for you, think about how your life can be without children, too – as that is a possibility. It's always helpful to think and consider all possibly scenarios, and how you might handle them, so you can be prepared for different outcomes.
Infertility affects millions of couples every year. You are not alone. Your marriage can be stronger as you walk this journey together, if you take steps to focus on each other.