Home > Infertility Help > 4 Ways Infertility Affects Marriage – How to Stay Connected

4 Ways Infertility Affects Marriage – How to Stay Connected

If infertility is affecting your marriage negatively, how do you stay connected as a couple? Here are four common effects of infertility on marriage, plus tips for staying close.

Before the tips, a quip:

“All married couples should learn the art of battle as they should learn the art of making love,” said Ann Landers. “Good battle is objective and honest–never vicious or cruel. Good battle is healthy and constructive, and brings to a marriage the principle of equal partnership.”


To learn more about healthy marriages, read You Don’t Have to Change Who You Are to Have a Great Marriage: The Power of the New Breakthrough Marriage Blueprint Method by Dr Max Vogt.

And, here are tips for infertile couples…

4 Ways Infertility Affects Marriage – How to Stay Connected

1. Emotional disconnection. Many couples struggle because one partner wants to talk about feelings, while the other thinks there’s nothing to talk about! Often, it’s the husband who is emotionally distant. He may not feel there’s anything to talk about, or he may be embarrassed or even ashamed if he’s dealing with male factor infertility. She, on the other hand, needs to talk about the options, her feelings, his feelings, and their future.

To deal with emotional disconnection, talk about each partner’s needs (I know that’s easier said than done!). It may be helpful to see a counselor who has experience with marriage and infertility.

2. Money, fertility treatments, and debt. Paying for IVF (in vitro fertilization) treatments, surrogacy, genetic testing, or simple fertility tests can put a strain on the strongest of marriages!

Two coping tips for money issues: 1) make a financial budget for fertility treatments; and 2) decide as a couple if you’re willing to go into debt to get pregnant. Be aware that debt and finances brings another strain on your marriage, and work to stay connected as a couple.

3. Different family goals. I’m content if we never have kids – I’ll be sad, but not devastated. My husband wants children more than I do; he’ll feel the pain of a childfree life more than I will. Our different perspectives can lead to friction because we don’t always agree on how far to go with infertility treatments.

Working this out is different for every couple coping with infertility, but the bottom line is that both partners must agree on their family goals. Compromise is inevitable, but it can lead to a stronger connection.

4. A stronger, healthier marriage because of infertility. Not all couples coping with infertility are destined for disconnection or divorce! Some actually learn to communicate better and get to know each other more deeply than if they’d never faced infertility. On one infertility message board, I read that a couple going through infertility “never splits up.” I don’t think this is true, but I do believe that some couples are stronger because of infertility.


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If you’re worried about divorce, read When Your Spouse Leaves Because of Infertility Issues – How to Cope.


9 thoughts on “4 Ways Infertility Affects Marriage – How to Stay Connected”

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Amanda,

    Is having a child the most important thing in your husband’s life? That puts so much pressure on you and the in vitro fertilization treatments! Isn’t marriage supposed to be “for better or worse”? One of the worst things is not being able to get pregnant.

    Do you really think you should leave your husband because infertility is your “fault”? I don’t know how he feels, but most husbands put their marriage vows above their desire to have children. Can’t you and he talk about other ways to start and love a family?

  2. Hi im a bit lost at them moment about to start my first ivf treatment and have made the decision in my head that if I am unable to have a child I will push for a divorce it my fault we are going on ivf and my husbands dreams for a child out weigh everything I need him to have the one thing he has always dreamed of. This makes me want to curl up and never bother with anything again I can’t do this I’m not strong enough to get through all of the I need help

  3. Dear Ken,

    You’re right that your marriage won’t magically be “fixed” or happier because of a baby. Research and many couples’ experience shows that having kids actually reduces the quality of marriage because of the stress and energy that children require.

    If your marriage is rocky now, it’ll get rockier if your wife does get pregnant.

    I think you and she should focus on building a strong, healthy, happy marriage before you decide about fertility treatments (or adoption, or fostering).

    And, I think your wife needs to talk to women who coped with infertility, who are over age 40 and who are living fulfilled, happy lives despite the fact that they never had children! Your wife may be surrounded by women with families, and may think children are the ONLY way to have a happy life. But that’s not true.

    Coping with infertility and marriage takes time, effort, and energy — especially if one or both partners really want to have children. It’s hard, it’s painful, and it may feel impossible. But, the time and effort you put into your marriage now will make both you and her happier in the long run.

    I hope this helps a little, and wish you all the best in your marriage.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  4. My wife is so obsessed with getting pregnant, it’s straining our marriage. She actually said out loud that our marriage sucks, and I’m not a bad person, but I could be a better husband. She also said if she can’t get pregnant she wants a divorce because she does not want me to be an obligation.

    She is afraid to make the decision to do IVF because of the cost and possible failure. But so she thinks it will naturally happen. I keep asking her if she really thinks this baby is going to fix our marriage problems. She said she doesn’t know but at least she will have something to look forward to.

    She says she is not suicidal, but she keeps saying her life is over if she is not pregnant by the time she is 40. She will be 39 in a few months.

    I think she has all of the classic signs of infertility depression.

    Am I wrong to think this is not the time to bring a child into this world with the issues she has mentally.

  5. Nobody Important: If you adopt, what you really should try to avoid is not counseling (social workers don’t care one way or another and it would be a lawsuit for them if they denied adoption for that)but stepping hip deep into a situation you can’t back out of and can’t handle at first. We had a situation like that. Luckily, the situation is no longer as complicated as it was and I am sure we are going to be overjoyed again and again to have adopted. Just some advice.

  6. Thank You for those comments Laurie. I have been suggesting we see a counsellor but not getting anywhere. My wife is looking at adoption and thinks that counselling will indicate that we have relationship issues and make social services hesitant in granting us approval. I believe we need to find some solutions before we go down that road as we are both miserable right now.

    Infertility has taken all the problems our marriage has, and that I mentioned before, and shone a bright light on them. I can’t speak for her, but I feel as though a terrible truth has been revealed to me. The cruellest thing of all is that YES, I DO love my wife. Contrary to popular opinion (and music) however, you need a whole lot more than just love to make a relationship last the long haul.

  7. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    I’m so sorry to hear how infertility is affecting your marriage! It is devastating, especially after failed in vitro fertilization.

    My husband can’t have kids, and I want to get pregnant. So, I know how your wife feels….and I would be devastated if my husband left our marriage because of male infertility. I’d rather be with him and not have kids, than with some other guy and have children.

    I encourage you to talk to your wife — ask her if she wants to your marriage to end. If she says she wants to stay married, then you need to LISTEN to her. Do not assume you know what she wants, or what would make her happiest. You don’t know how she feels or what she thinks unless you ask her…and then you must believe her.

    Women don’t just need a “fertile man” to make them happy! They need love, connection, and communication. Your wife is MUCH more than a body who wants to get pregnant.

    The lack of intimacy may be a result of the infertility treatments and disappointment. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have a “bad” or unhealthy marriage — it’s a normal part of this whole infertility journey. I wonder if your statement that “your marriage isn’t that great anyway” is a justification or rationalization for leaving her.

    Please talk to a marriage counselor — one who is experienced in helping couples cope with infertility. Don’t give up on your marriage yet! Find ways to reconnect with your wife, my friend.

    You’ll never regret doing the best you can to build a better marriage…but you might regret leaving your wife.

    Keep in touch.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  8. I have male factor infertility and am thinking about leaving my wife. Every day I see her suffer the grief of childlessness and 3 failed IVF cycles and I am the cause of it. The short term pain of seperation might be worth the longer term benefits and happiness she would gain by meeting a fertile man. The only thing she wants is to be a mother. Our relationship isn’t that great anyway, we share few interests and have no intimacy anymore. I can’t live with myself to put her through it any longer when I ask myself what exactly is there in our marriage?

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