The stress and uncertainty that come with trying to conceive can take a toll on relationships. Many couples who go through fertility challenges experience tension and conflict.
If you’re hitting a rough patch in your relationship due to infertility, know that you’re not alone. Below are some common reasons why infertility can impact your relationship, and tips on how to maintain a healthy partnership. Infertility can cause disagreements within a relationship, but there are ways to build a secure bond with mutual support and compassion.
Causes of tension and strain
Sex becomes stressful
Sex can be less satisfying when conception feels like the “goal”, especially if you’ve been facing disappointment. Studies show that couples who are trying to time intercourse increases risk of sexual dysfunction for both men and women. Sex is usually a way that couples feel closer to one another. When sex becomes intertwined in infertility, an inherently stressful topic, couples may feel less intimate with one another.
The cost of fertility
Fertility struggles also bring up financial strain, which can cause disagreements. Doctor’s appointments, fertility treatments, time away from work, and medications can all cause financial strain. This can lead to disagreements over whether or not to pursue treatment, which greatly impacts your fertility journey. It can also lead to arguments about whether to borrow money —which puts many couples in debt — or ask family or friends for financial support.
Disagreements about sharing your fertility journey
Infertility can lead to disagreements on when to tell others what you’re going through. Some people don’t want to share what they’re going through because they may feel embarrassed, while others will want to share in order to gain more of a support system or feel less isolated. If a couple does not agree on when to tell others what they’re experiencing, it can lead to tension or even resentment.
Tips for maintaining a healthy relationship
Make time for fun and romance
Reclaim the intimacy in your relationship by making plans together that don’t relate to trying to conceive. Try scheduling a date night, watching a movie together, cooking a nice meal, or starting a new hobby together. It could be useful to decide in advance that you won’t be discussing fertility topics for the whole date. That way, you and your partner can have allotted time to talk about your other interests, and the things that brought you together in the first place.
Ask for the support you need from one another
Prioritize talking to each other and communicating openly. It’s important to discuss the kind of support you both want. Everyone processes grief and stress differently, and therefore, everyone has different needs. Be open about the support your partner needs, and just as importantly, what you need.
Look for help outside of one another
Seek help if you need it. Fertility challenges can put a big strain on relationships, and couples should consider counseling as a resource of support. Therapy can help couples work through the tension they might be feeling, and allow them to strengthen their relationship.
The Bottom Line
Infertility is an emotionally stressful experience. It’s natural that your relationship may be impacted by what you and your partner are going through. By openly communicating, reconnecting, remembering the things you love about one another, and finding support, you and your partner can relieve some of the stress that comes with infertility.
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