Statistics say that over 6.1 million couples in the United States have difficulty conceiving. That number represents 10 percent of childbearing-aged couples.
Many marriages don’t survive the stress of fertility treatments.
The painful hormone injections, the endless collection of sperm, the loss of intimacy, the other family members pressure and the shame and anguish that often go hand in hand with fertility treatments prove to be too much for some couples.
However, many couples emerge from the challenge of fertility treatments even stronger than they were before.
If you and your spouse are undergoing treatments, there are many steps you can take to ensure your marriage stays healthy and strong through it all.
Here are some helpful tips from marriage experts and couples who have been there. While the following suggestions have will not eliminate the pain, they will help your marriage weather the storms.
1. Remind your spouse that you would choose him or her all over again.
Infertility can cause drastic negative effects on self-esteem. Remind your spouse that he or she is lovable and amazing. One of the best things to believe and keep saying to each other is this: “If I would have known that you couldn’t produce a baby, I still would have chosen you.”
2. Pray together.
Infertility and pregnancy loss are devastating and can wreak havoc on even the strongest marriages. Cry out to God and lean on Him. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says this: Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
3. Exercise together.
With some medical conditions causing infertility, being healthy can increase the chance of conceiving. Exercising together is a positive way to spend time together and can improve mental and physical health.
4. Volunteer together.
Reaching out to others makes us feel better.
It also reminds us that we have much to offer the world, even if we are not yet a mother and a father.
5. Set goals together unrelated to building your family.
This will help you to avoid placing all of your focus as a couple on having a baby. Some of your goals could be to complete a half marathon together, to travel 10 countries, etc.
6. Take breaks from trying to conceive.
Infertility-related medical interventions are time-consuming, expensive, and stressful. Give yourself an occasional time away. Use this time to really enjoy your spouse. Go on vacation. Enjoy life as it is.
7. Recognize that you and your spouse are unique individuals and may grieve differently.
Be aware that the grief of infertility can hit at the strangest times, and try not to take it personally when your spouse seems irritable or distant. Let your spouse know when infertility is weighing heavily on your mind. Just a simple, “I’m hurting today” will clue him or her as to why you may be very emotional or unusually quiet.
8. Have the difficult conversations.
Discuss how long you plan to try to conceive and how much money you will spend. Talk about adoption. Explore a variety of options to building a family. Contemplate what life would be like remaining childless. Your thoughts may evolve as new discoveries emerge, so it is important to revisit topics and give yourselves the freedom to adjust your plans.
9. Find someone other than your spouse to vent to about infertility.
As caring as your spouse may be, he or she should not be your only outlet for sharing your infertility challenges.
Talking with a trusted friend, attending a support group, or visiting with a mental health professional can be beneficial. If you and your spouse have decided to keep your struggles private, try journaling.
10. Schedule date nights.
Start scheduling monthly dates. Take turns planning surprises for each other. Tell each other how long the date will last (1 hour to a full weekend) and what to pack. No infertility conversations are welcome on the dates!
Edited by Written by Bethany Christian Services With additions from Lady D.