Infertility and Divorce – How to Know if You Can Save Your Marriage

infertility and divorce

Infertility can take you from “I love you” to “It’s not you, it’s me…”

Some couples coping with infertility are overwhelmed with grief or anger, and divorce is the only option. Can you save your marriage – and do you even want to?

Here are some thoughts from a marriage expert that might help.

“If you are considering leaving because your marriage is difficult, and you want a quick fix and think the grass is greener on the other side, I ask you to stay and commit fully until you feel that you have put in the work that your marital commitment deserves,” says Susan Pease Gadoua, author of Contemplating Divorce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Deciding Whether to Stay or Go. “Do everything in your power to work things out with your spouse.”

If you thinking about divorce because of infertility, read Contemplating Divorce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Deciding Whether to Stay or Go by Gadoua – it’s a wonderful resources for couples with marriage problems.

And, read on for some suggestions that might help you figure out if you can save your marriage, or if divorce might be the better option…

Infertility and Divorce

Uncovering your motives for wanting to save your marriage – or get a divorce – is key to making the right decision. The reasons you stay married can be less important than your underlying motives for staying married. For couples coping with infertility, it can be even more complicated and painful to think about divorce versus saving your marriage.

Here are some misguided reasons for staying married, plus an explanation of the motives that keep a marriage together (or drive it apart!). For more info about infertility and divorce, read How Infertility Can Affect Your Marriage.

Misguided reasons for staying in a bad marriage:

  • Money and security
  • Love (marriage requires much more than love to be workable)
  • Fear
  • Guilt
  • Comfort and familiarity
  • Pain avoidance
  • Maintaining friendships and relationships with relatives (such as in-laws)
  • Keeping up appearances
  • Keeping promises

“These misconceptions keep couples in unfulfilling or unhappy marriages, and are based on what I consider to be impure reasoning,” writes Gadoua in Contemplating Divorce. “But what is a good reason to stay or go? This is subjective territory…every one of the above misguided reasons can be a perfectly valid reason to stay. This is where the motive piece comes in.”

If you suffered through a miscarriage and your reason for leaving is because your spouse didn’t support you, read 5 Places to Find Support for Pregnancy Loss.

Moving Towards a Goal Versus Moving Away From Unpleasantness

Sign up for my free weekly "She Blossoms" newsletter

One Blossom Tip a week. Short and sweet. You'll love it.

* indicates required

Moving towards a goal can be a healthy reason (motive) to save your marriage. For instance, the goal of working through your grief over infertility and thoughts of divorce, and making it to the other side with your spouse, could be a healthy reason to stay married. Infertility and divorce don’t always go hand in hand – but if you want to build a happy marriage, you need to work through the underlying pain, blame, or guilt about infertility.

On the other hand, moving away from pain or unpleasantness is not a healthy a reason to stay married. Here are two examples of fear-based reasons for wanting to save a marriage: “No one will ever love me like this again” or “I’m staying because I’m afraid I won’t be able to support myself financially” are fear-based reasons.

Are you trying to save your marriage because you’re afraid of unpleasantness or the possible consequences of divorce? That may not be the best reason to stay married – and perhaps then getting divorced is a better option.

Factors That Will Help You Save Your Marriage

  • Mutual love and trust
  • Honesty
  • Sense of emotional, mental, physical, and financial safety
  • Good communication
  • Care and concern for each other
  • Kindness
  • Fidelity
  • Shared interests
  • Commitment to the marriage from both spouses
  • Reciprocal partnership
  • Self-esteem and esteem from spouse
  • Mutual respect
  • Common goals

If these factors don’t exist in your marriage, then it’ll require more work to stay married – especially if you’re mourning a broken dream that infertility represents.

This is just a brief, basic overview of the possibilities surrounding divorce, infertility, and staying married. Gadoua goes into much more detail in Contemplating Divorce – it’s an amazing book, and belongs on the shelf of even happily married couples! She discusses how to rebuild marriages in practical ways — and I describe four specific ways in The Top Predictor of Divorce – and How to Avoid It.

For more help for couples coping with infertility, read Tips for Keeping Your Marriage Strong in Infertility.

If you have any thoughts on these ideas about saving your marriage, divorce, and infertility, please comment below…

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

7 thoughts on “Infertility and Divorce – How to Know if You Can Save Your Marriage

  • Jose

    Ok, I know I will sound like an a-hole or what have you but this is my perspective on this. My wife and I have been married almost 3 years now and when we found out that we could not conceive it was devastating. I have a decent job and she works for her parents but still what was put into savings was spent because of poor money management. I will file for divorce because we just don’t have anything in common anymore and our goals and hopes and dreams aren’t the same anymore. I married her knowing she had a newborn son but she always throws it in my face that she didn’t have a problem having him until she met me. That was before we found out we could conceive children without ivf. So about this article I believe that it is both fair and just for a couple to divorce if their dreams included children of their own to raise, and not adopted kids because that is a whole nother debate, and cherish and love the whole idea of the pregnancy and watching life being created inside the mother gets ruined (for lack of a better word) because of infertility).

  • Kouri

    Ramona I’m in the same boat as you. That’s a hard one esp. if money and time was spent actually going thru the IVF process. IVF can leave a couple financially and emontionally wrecked. We never will be able to get the money up for any ivf/iui what have you. I have pcos and I have had several surgeries to try to correct my disorder. My husbsnad however won’t even consider getting a verocile repair. I’m so tired of it. I ‘ve thought about getting a divorce. I feel like a huge experiment and my husband is just sitting there laughing at my pain. He’s older then me and i don’t think he understands the urgency I feel i’m in my mid 30’s and i sware my biological clock is screaming. Honestly I don’t think he understands that just because we concieved once and only by chance, and it ended in very early m/c that some how it’s all my fault and he’s “fine”. He won’t do anything to help himself he won’t quit smoking, or eating crap or work out a litttle. Me I’ve gotten a lapand lost almost 100 pounds since we started this whole infertiltiy mess, had sevral painful surgeries on my lady bits and been to one gyn after another. I’m so tired of it and he don’t seem to understand the pain I feel. We can’t even talk anymore and even our intamacy is gone. It’s like we don’t relate anymore and it sucks. I want to leave and i think he feels it too.

  • Laurie Post author

    SoumZub, thank you for that tip! I haven’t heard of the film, but think we couples coping with infertility need all the help we can get. It’s really hard on a marriage. My husband and I aren’t getting divorced (that I know of!), but we do mourn not having kids.

  • SoumZub

    watch this film “The b.a.b.y.m.a.k.e.r.s” u’l have an idea how to save your marriage due to infertility…

    if ur husband really loves u he should accept the way you are watever the situation is!! thats the meaning of true LOVE!!

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Ramona,

    I am SO sorry for missing your comment! I don’t know how it got past me. If you’re still around, let me know how things are going — I’d be glad to give you my input.

    And Diana, thanks for your tip on infertility and divorce. I appreciate your taking the time to comment.

    .-= Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen´s last blog ..7 Cheap Ways to Lose Weight and Save Money on Your Workouts =-.

  • diana@divorce and kids

    One of the several things you can get done to avoid a divorce and save your marriage is to discern the source of the crisis. You must sit down and reflect on what led to the present demand for a divorce between you and the person you have always respected and desire to share your future with.

  • Ramona

    I think my husband and I will get a divorce because I can’t get pregnant. Can a couple live together and be happy after trying and failing to have children for 9 years?

    thanks for your advice,