4 Steps to Follow that can Keep Your Relationship Strong During Infertility

Couples who are going through infertility know the stress, tension, disappointments and disharmony it causes in the relationship. This comes with the territory unfortunately and if you want your relationship to survive and thrive throughout it all, you must both work together for that goal. Marriage takes work and especially when under this kind of stress, couples have to fight to stay united and supportive through the processes of infertility treatments.

As far as numbers go, a study published in the journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, reported that researchers tracked 47,515 women who were evaluated for infertility over 12 years.

The women on average were 32 years old at the start of the study.

Of those women, 57% ended up giving birth to a child after their fertility evaluation while 43% of them did not have a baby.

After the 12-year follow-up period, it turns out that the women who didn’t have a child were up to three times more likely to have gotten divorced or ended their relationship with the person they were living with at the time of the evaluation than the women who gave birth.

The reason can be summed up in one phrase: emotional trauma. “Going through an extremely disappointing and stressful experience as a couple often pushes both people to their limits, and they end up falling apart,” explains Diana Kirschner, PhD, a clinical psychologist in New York City and author of Thirty Days to Love. What often happens is that the woman gets really depressed, not only because she isn't able to conceive, but because the situation itself is almost entirely out of her control. Then, her partner, who's also depressed, gets even more upset, she says.

“See, men in general like to fix things—they measure their self-worth by their ability to perform,” Kirschner says. “So when a man can’t help his wife or partner have a baby and therefore can’t pull her out of her depression, he’s not only sad about the situation itself, but he feels like a failure, too—so it’s a double whammy of depression.”

And when both parties involved are feeling sad and helpless, it leads to double the irritability and stress, which makes it even harder to communicate in a loving and appreciative way, Kirschner says. If the couple doesn’t actively work through their issues, they can end up drifting apart. But the one silver lining here is that there are definitely steps you can take to lessen the blow.

Follow these four tips from Kirschner to help repair your relationship.

Michael Hickey