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Tips for Couples Coping With Infertility

These tips for couples coping with infertility will help you deal with one of the biggest – and one of the saddest – challenges married people face. Coping with infertility is hard – but it doesn’t have to wreck your marriage! Here are several tips from a mental health expert.

Before the tips, a quip from health guru Dr Wayne Dyer: 

“You can set yourself up to be sick, or you can choose to stay well,” says Dyer.

Don’t set yourself – or your marriage – up to be sick! For help choosing to stay well, read Trying Again: A Guide to Pregnancy After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss by Ann Douglas.

And, here are tips for couples coping with infertility from Jim Storrar, a private mental health nurse practitioner….

Tips for Couples Coping With Infertility

1. Deal with issues as a couple. Communicate! Don’t assume that your partner feels the same way as you do about a subject. Poor communication can lead to frustration which will increase your stress levels. Use support groups – sometimes just knowing other people are in similar situations helps. Seek knowledge, because understanding the issues you are facing can be a great stress reduction tool (and remember: stress can affect fertility levels).

2. Keep spending time together. Join a relaxation class together and keep going out on romantic dates. Sometimes couples become overly preoccupied by the mechanics of overcoming their infertility (eg, taking temperatures, undergoing treatments, etc) – they forgot why they were attracted to one another in the first place.

3. Let your partner de-stress you. Both partners are the ideal facilitators for stress management because each partner knows how to make their opposite half laugh and relax! Keep doing this. Mother Nature sometimes takes her time where pregnancy is concerned…make sure you help her by ensuring you eat a good balanced diet, reduce your alcohol intake, and get enough sleep.

Infertility affects both partners psychologically and physically. Infertility has a serious psychosocial effect as well – so you may see psychosomatic illness, such as depression, increased irritability, withdrawal from social situations, poor work coping skills, apathy, blame, damaged egos (male), and damaged body image (female). Infertility increases the stress on both partners and their relationship. If you are struggling with depression, read Dealing With Disappointment of Not Being Pregnant.

What should couples do if one partner wants to pursue other ways of getting pregnant (in vitro fertilization, for example) but the other doesn’t want to?

Even the closest partners will have different views on how to cope. Sometimes what one person may see as an adaptive solution may be maladaptive to others…and the secret is compromise.

Discuss what you feel are the options, and reach a common ground regarding where you both want to go. Identify any barriers that may be there for your partner, and explore any fears or misconceptions by getting professional reliable advice from a reputable source. Then, discuss it openly together.

We all have different viewpoints, but if we communicate and respect each other’s feelings about trying to get pregnant, we can usually reach a common understanding – even as a couple coping with infertility. Don’t issue ultimatums. Instead, discuss a timetable of decisions that both agree to, and then use it. It’s also good to remember that couples have probably dealt with issues that are just as inflammatory at other times. Think about how you solved your past problems, and use the same strategies.

What do you think of these tips for couples coping with infertility? I welcome your comments below…

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Jim Storrar runs Pasithea Consultancy, a training and mental health care consultancy.

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