Infertility is one of the most stressful issues a couple can face. These tips for keeping your marriage strong will help you cope with infertility, and help save your relationship whether or not you get pregnant.
“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” – Mignon McLaughlin
If you’re having trouble getting pregnant or coping with infertility treatments, you may also be struggling to stay in love with your partner! That’s normal – it’s challenging to sustain love in the best of times — much less when you’re coping with the stress of infertility.
For extra help, read Love and Infertility.
And here are a few tips on keeping your marriage strong.
Keeping Your Marriage Strong for Couples Coping With Infertility
It’s not infertility itself that can weaken your marriage – it’s how you cope with infertility as a couple that counts.
1. Accept that it’s a lifelong process. Coping with infertility – and perhaps accepting that you’ll have a childfree life together – can take years. You won’t mourn the idea that you may never have kids once and be done with it! Rather, you may have to accept it anew when you see a pregnant friend or talk to relatives you rarely see. Keeping your marriage strong in infertility involves the realization that your sadness may be a constant companion. Your partner may never “get over it.” It may affect his/her life forever.
Have you started fertility treatments? Read How Fear of Infertility Treatments Affects Getting Pregnant.
2. Set your boundaries. If your partner needs to talk about the IVF struggles or miscarriages more than you do, then you need to set your boundaries. Boundaries are important for strong marriages – they allow partners to communicate what they need and why. Boundaries also include compromises: if you don’t want to talk about infertility issues and your partner does, then your boundary could be a certain amount of talking time…and that’s it for the day (or week, even). This is SO dependent on what the couples’ situation and personalities – there are no set rules for keeping your marriage strong in infertility!
3. Give more than you get. This may seem contradictory to “setting your boundaries”! If both partners are giving as much as they can, then they’re building a strong marriage. But, giving all you can doesn’t mean letting your partner take advantage of you or disregard your boundaries. The more you do for your partner, the more you’ll get in return (providing your partner isn’t selfish, oblivious, or emotionally unhealthy).
4. Say what you need. Whether or not you’re coping with infertility as a couple, you need to share your wishes, needs, and hopes with your spouse. Few of us are accurate mind readers! If you need to take a few months of IVF or serious attempts to get pregnant, then say so. If you need more cuddling first thing in the morning, you have to speak up. Unexpressed emotions and needs will ruin your marriage.
5. Think of life without your spouse. Chances are, you feel sad at the thought of divorce or separation because of infertility (if you feel happy at the thought, then you may be heading in a different direction!). To keep your marriage strong when you’re coping with infertility, you need to find ways to truly appreciate and cherish your spouse. Picturing life without him/her could be all you need to feel grateful and happy that you’re together…whether or not you have the children you want.
To learn more, read Depressed About Not Getting Pregnant? Tips for Husbands & Wives.