“…for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish…” Fertility problems may be the first test of your marriage.
Here’s how to weather the crisis and emerge from fertility challenges with an even stronger relationship.
Standing at the altar, reciting those famous words that reflect so much hope for the future, it’s impossible for most couples to imagine that their commitment to these vows may soon be tested. But an inability to conceive can be the first crisis that many couples face together. Husbands and wives may find themselves blindsided by the enormous impact infertility can present, which can place even the strongest relationships at risk. But remember that with every crisis comes opportunity. If you make the choice to embrace this challenge, you can emerge with a rock-solid marriage that will weather infertility...and whatever challenges it faces in the future.
Infertility: Yours, Mine, Ours
It’s no secret that women and men perceive things differently, and fertility issues are no exception. Women tend to focus on the personal struggle of wanting a baby, while men may focus more on the impact the situation is having on their marital relationship.
Coping styles between men and women also tend to be different, and this, more than anything else, can be where trouble starts. A typical scenario may go something like this: Infertility is diagnosed, and the partners console one another. But the crisis continues, necessitating medical interventions, with the woman as primary patient. Over time, her feelings of anger, guilt, and despair grow, along with her need for emotional support. On the other hand, her husband, despite numerous attempts at offering “solutions,” becomes frustrated at his inability to “fix” the situation. Burdened with his own feelings of loss and inadequacy, he withdraws. His wife perceives the withdrawal as a lack of caring, and things deteriorate from there.
Does this sound familiar? Let’s look at some ways to rewrite the scenario and shore up your relationship.
Getting Pregnant: We're In This Together
Although most couples going through fertility treatment would admit that the experience is emotionally stressful, those who have weathered the crisis say that it actually strengthened their bond. That’s because the partners saw it as a shared crisis. These couples were able to recognize underlying issues—for example, difficulties with communication or trust—and realize that these issues would not miraculously disappear with the birth of a child. They chose to tackle these problems before they became parents. So, the key is to recognize a fertility challenge as a relationship issue as well as a medical one.