Not all marriages survive infertility – even if one spouse wants to stay married. Here are a few tips for coping when your relationship ends because of infertility issues.
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Divorce and Recovery: 101 Stories about Surviving and Thriving after Divorce by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Patty Hansen will help you grieve the end of your marriage. This book is full of support, inspiration, and sometimes humor on all the phases of divorce. The writers share their personal stories about the initial shock of the decision, to the logistics of living through the divorce, to the inevitable self-discovery, and the new world of dating and even remarriage. It is a wonderfully uplifting book, and it will help you cope when your spouses leaves because of infertility.
These tips are inspired by a reader’s comment: “My wife of 5 years and I have been through a lot since being married,” says C. on How to Let Go of Someone You Love. “We wanted to start a family so much and went through in vitro fertilization in which our dreams came true…but a short time after getting the great news, my wife miscarried. It was devastating. She stopped eating properly and has lost weight. All she does is stay on her laptop computer. We tried to sit down and talk but it didn’t get anywhere. We both have been very critical of each other and have started arguments for no reason. Our sex life, which was great, has not been the same.”
He explains that his wife said she was sorry, but she felt they needed to separate. She asked him to leave for a short time so they could sort through their feelings.
“Wow was I shocked,” he says. “I told her I did not wish to go and asked her for her reasons. She did not respond. I did pack and she said she was truly sorry and that it should not be that long as she needed to sort through things. She asked not to be contacted either phone or email. A few days later she said she thinks she is done and does not wish to be married anymore.”
How infertility affects marriage is different for every couple and every individual. Some people are so hurt by not getting pregnant, they withdraw from the marriage totally. Other couples draw closer together, holding on to what they have.
Here are a few thoughts for C., and all readers whose spouses left their marriage because of fertility problems.
When Your Spouse Leaves Because of Infertility Issues
Accept that you can’t change her response to fertility problems in your marriage
My husband and I can’t have children, and he’s more disappointed about it than I am. He’s always wanted six kids; I’d be happy with one or maybe two. When we found out he as azoospermia (no sperm), we decided to try fertility treatments with a sperm donor (intrauterine insemination or IUI). It didn’t work after six tries, and I didn’t want to try in vitro fertilization. We don’t really want to adopt…and so we don’t have kids.
I love my life, and am fine with not getting pregnant – though I would love a pregnancy miracle! My husband feels the pain a bit more than I do, I think, but is choosing a positive, happy, resilient mindset.
My point is that for some men and women, infertility is devastating. C’s wife may be one of those people who wanted to conceive a baby and start a family more than anything…and she just can’t overcome her frustration, depression, and heartache at miscarrying.
If that’s the case, then there’s nothing he can do to help her. She needs to work through the pain and loss on her own. He has to do the hardest thing of all: give her time and space.
One of my infertility articles, Miscarriage Support – How to Cope With Pregnancy Loss, is written by a husband who has experienced his wife’s failed pregnancies. It may be particularly helpful for men, since it’s written from a guy’s perspective.
Gain insight into your response to the failed in vitro fertilization
“I know I play a part as I also have been ignoring her,” says C. “This has pulled us apart.”
Yes, your response to your wife’s miscarriage affected your marriage. Maybe you didn’t respond in the best way possible – but we do the best we can. All married couples do and say things they regret; marriage is about overcoming our failures and pulling together despite our mistakes.
You can’t change your wife’s way of dealing with the infertility and miscarriage, and you can’t force her to leave the house, get a job, or take build a healthy life outside of her laptop. You can’t communicate with her if she doesn’t want to talk about leaving the marriage…and you certainly can’t force her to change her mind on the marriage.
But, you can talk to a professional about your response to the infertility issues you’ve faced. You can get as emotionally strong and healthy as possible, and gain some insight into your own style of coping with problems.
If I were you, I’d focus less on trying to let her go, and more on getting emotionally and spiritually healthy. If she decides she wants to talk about the separation or possibly reuniting, then you’ll be ready. Right now, you’re both blinded by pain, frustration, and fear.
This wife may need to change her focus
Also – C. mentioned that his wife doesn’t work and relies on him to pay the household bills. I think he should give her a set period of time (eg, two months?) to find a job and get financially stable. She can’t leave her marriage, and expect her husband to continue to support her financially!
Getting a job will get her out of the house, give her a reason to get out of bed in the morning, help her meet new friends in person, and instill a sense of confidence and independence. Or maybe she needs to get a student loan and go back to school. She needs to stop focusing on infertility, pregnancy, fertility treatments, miscarriages and the hope of having a family.
She needs to find the strength to rebuild her life – and hopefully she’ll find it before it’s too late to save her marriage.
Read How to Live Without the Man You Love to help you cope when your spouse leaves because of infertility.
Have infertility issues affected your spouse or marriage in devastating ways? Do you have any tips for this husband? Comments welcome below…
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