If you let it, infertility can have a devastating effect on your marriage. These tips on how to stop infertility from ruining your relationship will give you hope and encouragement, as well as practical ideas for building a strong connection with your husband.
“My husband and I have been trying to conceive for two years,” says Cerise on Help Coping With Depression When You’re TTC and Can’t Get Pregnant. “I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 17. I had a scan recently and was told my ovaries were covered in cysts, and my bloodwork showed my hormone levels are high. We have an appointment next week to see a fertility specialist and get more tests. I just pray we don’t get bad news. I always worried that I could never have children, all I ever wanted was a family. My husband and I have argued about infertility, and a couple of months ago I couldn’t stop crying and wouldn’t get out of bed. I was so depressed but my husband stuck by me and was so supportive. He really is an amazing man! I just hope one day I can give him a child, and that infertility doesn’t destroy our marriage.”
Feeling depressed because you’re coping with infertility is normal, and so is not wanting to get out of bed because you just want a baby so bad. Infertile couples – or couples who’ve been trying to conceive for months or years – are facing one of the most stressful challenges to their marriage.
The stress of infertility and not getting pregnant can lead to depression, despair, and a variety of emotional, spiritual, and physical health issues. And, the worst part is there isn’t an “agree to disagree” resolution to infertility fights in a marriage. Infertility is too emotional and important to just let it go.
How to Stop Infertility From Ruining Your Relationship
These tips are inspired by my experience with infertility, and by an interesting research study that reveals how men and women respond differently to not being able to get pregnant. Knowing how you and your husband are different can help you handle the stress and depression of coping with infertility.
First, though, here’s what my husband and I did to stop infertility from ruining our marriage…
1. Talk openly and honestly about infertility pain – but don’t camp there
We can’t have children biologically or naturally because of azoospermia (my husband doesn’t produce sperm because of a genetic abnormality). This added an extra dimension to our infertility “marriage crisis” because some men feel less masculine if they don’t have a strong sperm count or production. Indeed, my husband did struggle with idea of not making sperm – mostly because it was a shock! All those years of using condoms to prevent pregnancy weren’t necessary. But, thankfully, my husband’s identity wasn’t connected to his body’s ability to produce sperm and get me pregnant.
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We stopped infertility from ruining our marriage by talking about the painful and disappointment we felt. Just more importantly, my husband and I didn’t dwell on the pain or disappointment. We found ways to heal, move past the pain of not being able to have children, and start enjoying life in different ways.
If you’re struggling with male factor infertility as a married couple, read When Your Husband Has Azoospermia.
2. Take time (if you can) to carefully explore your family options
After visiting a couple of different fertility clinics and talking to the specialists, we decided to try IUI (intrauterine insemination) to conceive a baby. We also decided to try this fertility treatment for six months – no more and no less. We didn’t want to embark on a long and winding road of trying to conceive, and I knew I’d want a break after six months of IUI.
I didn’t get pregnant, and it wasn’t fun trying. IUI isn’t painful, but it is disappointing to get your period when you’re trying to conceive! My husband was just as sad as I was when I found out I wasn’t pregnant month after month – and while it didn’t ruin our relationship, it was depressing.
Since I didn’t want to try other infertility treatments (such as in vitro fertilization or IVF), we decided to pray for a miracle! I share our “baby prayers” in How to Pray for a Baby – A Centering Prayer. We also researched adopting overseas or locally and fostering children. Ultimately, however, God’s final decision was no baby for this married couple…and today I am 100% okay with His plans for my life! But acceptance and surrender to God’s will did take time.
3. Solidify your identity as a married couple
Here’s the best tip on how to stop infertility from destroying your marriage: build your identity on God’s image of you – not on your own identity of yourself. Build your marriage on God’s plans for your family – not on your own plans for your life as a married couple. Instead of pushing for your ideal life as the biological mother of two perfect children and a happy husband, step down. Allow God to guide your life and strengthen your marriage.
My husband and I didn’t let infertility ruin our marriage because our identities don’t come from being parents. If all you ever wanted was to be a mother, then your identity is on shaky ground – even if you eventually get pregnant! You may not be a mom for long, or your child may not fulfill your expectations. If all you want is to “give your husband a baby”, then your identity is tied up in your ability to conceive a child and have a family.
Get your identity from God. He created you for a purpose. Instead of telling Him what your purpose is and when He should fulfill your plans and dreams, ask Him to lead your life. Give your marriage to God, and let Him guide and direct your path as a married couple. If you do this, you won’t even have to learn how to stop infertility from destroying your marriage. Why? Because you will be filled with the love, light, joy and peace of Jesus…and that will heal your relationship and take care of the stress of infertility.
4. Learn how marriage conflict affects your health
Marriage and infertility research shows that the health effects of relationship conflict are cumulative – which means they build up over time and can do long-term damage. Stress hormones are released when you fight with your husband. Those hormones damage your immune and endocrine systems, which will actually decrease your chances of getting pregnant and may even increase your fertility problems.
Your immune system is lowered for several hours after a fight with your husband, making you more vulnerable to colds, viruses, and other illnesses. If marital conflict is a constant presence in your life, your overall cardiovascular health may suffer – especially if you’re over 40.
The interesting part of this study? The physical health of wives is more affected by relationship conflict than men. Husbands don’t suffer the same health consequences during marriage conflict. The takeaway? Find ways to resolve conflict quickly – especially if you’re fighting about infertility. Women view emotional relationships as extremely important, which means fighting about infertility can ruin their perspective of themselves and their husband. So, an important marriage tip for couples coping with infertility is to remember that husbands and wives respond differently to conflict.
5. Never take personal responsibility for infertility and not getting pregnant!
Research shows that because women have an instinct to nurture and take care of others, they feel distress when they’re faced with relationship conflict (especially when it’s related to infertility and getting pregnant). Wives are more sensitive to the highs and lows of married life, and are more likely to search for tips on how to stop infertility from destroying a marriage! Women are also more emotional when they’re fighting about infertility and other problems, which affects their physical health.
If you blame yourself for not getting pregnant – or if you’re struggling with female factor infertility and you feel guilty – find ways to accept and surrender to the reality of your body. Remember that women tend ruminate more about problems, fights, and conversations….and find ways to avoid dwelling on the pain of infertility. And, know that simply remembering an argument with your husband about getting pregnant or seeking infertility treatments can cause the same physical effects as the actual argument itself.
Try not to ruminate on what’s going wrong, especially if you can’t control it. Your thoughts are incredibly powerful – which is why you need to learn how to renew your mind and adopt God’s image of you! You’ll find peace, healing, and joy.
How do you feel? Share your thoughts on how infertility is affecting your marriage in the comments section below. And don’t give up hope for your relationship or your future family! Keep moving forward, reconnect with Jesus every day, and let Him direct your path.
If your husband is depressed or stressed because of infertility issues, read 7 Ways to Help an Unhappy Husband and Improve Your Relationship.
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