Infertility can be a frustrating issue for couples, not only because of the inability to get pregnant, but also because of the emotional stress it puts on a relationship. Sometimes trying to start a family can end up ruining a family.
According to research, couples who don’t have a baby after fertility treatments are three times more likely to get divorced or break up than those that do conceive.
The feeling of loneliness, financial strain, and stress that can come with infertility takes its toll on a marriage. Research shows that women with infertility have the same levels of anxiety and depression as those with cancer, heart disease, and HIV.
But infertility isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s a couple’s issue that’s more common than you think. About 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility, and men contribute to 50 percent of infertility cases.
The emotional strain fertility problems cause can often break a relationship. “Going through an extremely disappointing and frustrating experience as a couple often pushes both people to their limits, and they end up falling apart,” Diana Kirschner, a clinical psychologist, told health.com.
But if you’re having fertility problems it doesn’t have to ruin your relationship. Here are some tips for strengthening your relationship while you deal with infertility.
IT’S A TEAM EFFORT
When a couple struggles to conceive, people tend to think the woman is to blame. However, men are solely responsible for 30 percent of infertility cases. Despite those numbers, 80 percent of guys won’t get a fertility evaluation, leaving the woman to carry the burden.
The first thing a couple can do to avoid infertility stress is to form a united front. Guys, that means getting your sperm checked. And it’s actually pretty simple. You can do it right at home with SpermCheck, an over-the-counter male fertility test that measures your sperm count.
Whether the fertility problem is caused by the man or woman, it doesn’t matter. You’re in this together. Never blame each other for something that’s beyond your control.
TALK TO EACH OTHER
Infertility can be the elephant in the room that couples avoid, but not talking about it doesn’t help. You may deal with the issue differently than your partner, but you two need to take time to discuss it openly and honestly.
Set aside time each day to share your feelings and frustrations. Getting things off your chest can be helpful. Don’t forget to listen to your partner as well. Most importantly, discuss how you’ll handle infertility, and agree on how much to spend on treatments.
FOCUS ON YOURSELVES
Though you should talk about infertility, make sure it’s not all you talk about. The burden of trying to have a baby often causes couples to neglect their relationship.
Agree to a limit of how much you’ll discuss the issue and go on non-fertility dates, where you get out the house and enjoy each other without baby talk. Make your sex life spontaneous for a while too. Forget about ovulation cycles and just enjoy the pleasure of intimacy without the pressure of trying to reproduce.
Couples often feel isolated when dealing with infertility, and some reports say 60 percent of couples don’t share their issue with others.
There are plenty of other couples having similar issues, and finding a support group not only can help you through the process, but it can sustain your relationship through rocky times. Resolve, the National Infertility Association, can refer you to local support groups.
Infertility is stressful on its own, adding relationship stress to it makes the issue even harder. Make sure your marriage doesn’t fall victim to an infertility split by communicating, focusing on each other, and getting the support you need during the process.