Here are a few tips for strengthening your marriage during the stress of fertility treatments or the heartbreak of knowing you can’t get pregnant.
Love and Infertility: Survival Strategies for Balancing Infertility, Marriage, and Life is Kristen Magnacca’s firsthand account of not being able to get pregnant, and strengthening her marriage as a couple. They did achieve a pregnancy; her strategies can help you cope when you’re struggling with infertility as a couple.
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Some couples are coping with unexplained infertility, which may be “worse” than knowing you can’t get pregnant because of endometriosis, fibroids, or sperm health problems.
Knowing why you can’t get pregnant doesn’t mean infertility treatments, fertility drugs, or surgeries can fix the cause of the problem. And, the stress of knowing or not knowing — not being able to get pregnant — can wreak havoc on your marriage.
And here are a few tips for healing your marriage when you can’t get pregnant…
How to Save Your Marriage When You Can’t Get Pregnant
Research shows that an overly supportive husband or wife can actually cause problems in marriage. A series of University of Iowa studies shows that too much support – or the wrong kind of support – can be bad for a relationship.
“The idea that simply being more supportive is better for your marriage is a myth,” Erika Lawrence, associate professor of psychology. “Often husbands and wives think, ‘If my partner really knows me and loves me, he or she will know I’m upset and will know how to help me.’ However, that’s not the best way to approach your marriage. Your partner shouldn’t have to be a mind reader. Couples will be happier if they learn how to say, ‘This is how I’m feeling, and this is how you can help me.'”
She adds that if you don’t get enough support from your spouse, you can make up for it by getting extra support from family and friends. But if you’re getting too much support, you can’t adjust it as easily.
And to learn more about the research I mentioned above, read my article about giving and receiving fertility support in your marriage.
Learn your partner’s “love language”
Just like there are different ways of giving and receiving love in relationships, there are different ways of giving and receiving support in marriage. An example of a love language is verbal affirmations. I feel most loved when my husband actually says, “I Love You” – while other women may feel most loved and supported when their husbands perform acts of service such as doing the dishes or making the bed in the morning.
With regard to marriage and not getting pregnant, your husband may feel most supported when you share different types of research or information about fertility, such as foods that increase sperm count. Or your wife may feel supported when you discuss how it feels to keep getting a negative pregnancy test.
If your marriage is suffering because you can’t get pregnant, talk to your spouse about how you give and receive support.
Learn about the different types of support you can give your spouse
Listening and empathizing, taking your spouse’s hand, and giving him or her a hug is a type of emotional and physical support. If your spouse isn’t naturally physically affectionate, then he may not respond to this type of love. If your marriage is suffering because you can’t conceive a baby, then you need to pay special attention to how your spouse responds to your attempts at connecting.
Another type of support includes expressing confidence that you will have a family together one day and offering positive encouragement). “Informational support” such as giving advice and gathering information is a third type of support – but we know that women don’t often want advice when they’re talking about their feelings about the problem getting pregnant!
A fourth type of support is taking on household responsibilities so your spouse can deal with fertility treatments or overwhelming emotions about yet another negative pregnancy test. This is a more practical, tangible type of support that can heal a suffering marriage.
Ask your spouse how you can show your love and support
In the paragraph above, I said “women don’t often want advice when they’re talking about their feelings about the problem getting pregnant.” Is this true for you? Maybe it’s not – and we shouldn’t assume all women feel this way!
Nor should we assume men don’t need to talk about their feelings about marriage and not getting pregnant.
Is your marriage suffering because you can’t get pregnant? I welcome your thoughts below. I can’t offer advice or counseling for couples coping with infertility, but it might help you to write about your experience.
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For encouragement and hope for your future family, read Discouraged Because You Can’t Get Pregnant?