Bumps Ahead – When Baby Making is Relationship Straining
“You have absolutely no idea what I'm going through,” insisted Sarah to Brett, her husband of nine years. “ Your entire life doesn't focus around trying to get pregnant – you can get up in the morning without having to pee on a stick or obsess over every twinge and think, ‘It might be it this time.' I'm the one missing work, taking medicine that makes me feel like I'm crazy and your big job in all this in being a sperm donor! Poor you. ” With that, she stormed out of the room, leaving Brett feeling hurt and angry.
When a couple has difficulty getting pregnant, it isn't easy. There's no “fair” way to split the burden. “Infertility is very difficult on couples,” explains Dr. Tarun Jain, a reproductive endocrinologist with Chicago IVF. “It often involves painful tests, long waits and uncertain results. I think the effect of stress on our physiology is truly underestimated and couples need to be intentional in taking steps to protect their relationship.”
Difficulty getting pregnant can affect couples in several different ways:
- Financial pressure
- Individual feelings of inadequacy
- Sexual stress
- Loss of spontaneity
- Differing opinions about how to move forward
If you find your relationship is starting to show a little wear and tear from your baby-making blues, consider making some of these changes:
Find a Referee
Not to duke it out, but to be an outsider who can help you both sort out your thoughts, feelings and goals. Sometimes having someone to listen to can improve your emotional well-being, minimize your stress levels, and help you better understand your partner's perspective. Ask your health care provider for a reference for a mental health professional who specializes in treating couples experiencing difficulty conceiving.
Different isn't Bad
It doesn't take a psychologist to know that men and women are wired differently. The way you respond to the stress and rigors of baby-making will probably be very different from how your partner responds. That doesn't mean either one of you are “right” or “wrong.” It means you're different, which is part of what attracted you to one another in the first place. Accepting that you will each be in different places emotionally at different times is one way to stay healthy.
Give Him the Silent Treatment
Every once in a while, you two need to take a break from talking about babies and baby-making. Plan some non-infertility dates where all things related to fertility are off-limits. No talking about semen, ovulation, menstrual cycles or babies. You two have lots of other topics to talk about, you just might be out of practice.
Take a Procreation Vacation
You remember your honeymoon, right? Wherever you were, it was a little slice of heaven because you were together. See if you can find room in your budget for a getaway – even if it's just for the weekend. Timing it around ovulation might not be handy if you're going through a medicated cycle, but plan it so the two of you can connect and remember why exactly you thought growing your family was such a good idea in the first place.
Some vacation hotspots even cater to trying to conceive couples and offer special packages like the Birds and the Bees package at the Five Gables Inn & Spa on Maryland's Chesapeake Bay includes a two-night stay with a couple's massage, oysters (purported to be an aphrodisiac) and wine, a pair of heart-print boxer shorts and a CD from love crooner Barry White. For the more adventurous, the Westin at Lucaya Grand Bahama Island offers a procreation package complete with Caribbean fertility concoctions.
The Good News
In a recent study conducted by the national nonprofit organization Healthy Woman, the majority of couples have a relationship that comes out stronger following an infertility struggle. In fact, ninety percent of women are still with the same partner they were with when they went through infertility treatment. Those that separated said the treatments were not a major reason for the breakup.
There are ways to protect your relationship and to keep yours happy, healthy and going strong - however you build your family!