Whether or not you actually tied the knot, if you are fighting infertility…you are in it for the long haul.
For better or for worse.
Infertility, without a shadow of a doubt, falls under the category, “worse”.
No matter the diagnosis, it quickly becomes all-consuming. The life you once knew ceases to exist. The dreams you shared about starting a family when you’re ready are shot.
Suddenly, your relationship exists within timeframes and schedules. Charts, temperature readings, pills, injections, and even suppositories (yup, been there) become the new normal.
The problem, of course, is that there is nothing even remotely “normal” about navigating the ups and downs of infertility.
Even the strongest relationships can start to come unglued when infertility drags on. It’s difficult to maintain intimacy when sex becomes a full-time job. It’s difficult to maintain communication when infertility talk leads every conversation. It’s difficult to cope when coping styles clash.
It’s just plain difficult.
But not impossible…
Be honest: Honesty is the key to surviving the ride. Be honest with your partner…about what you need, what helps, and what makes you feel worse. Be honest with your friends…about what you’re going through and how they can help. Be honest with yourself…about your limits. Try not to push yourself for the sake of others.
Be accepting: It’s no great secret that men and women tend to have very different coping strategies. In general, women prefer to process while men prefer to problem-solve (although this is not true for everyone). Try not to resent your partner if he or she doesn’t feel as angry, sad, or overwhelmed as you do. Everyone processes difficult situations in their own way. Be accepting of that, even when it’s hard.
Set limits: Once the infertility talk starts, it can be difficult to make it stop. While it is important to get your feelings out and work through difficult things together, focusing exclusively on an overwhelming topic more often than not can increase feelings of anxiety and depression. Consider setting a timer for 25 minutes. When the alarm beeps, move on for the night.
Plan on fun: Even when you set the limit, it can be hard to bounce back from an emotional conversation. Rent a funny movie, play a good old fashion game of Scrabble (you know, with the actual board and wooden letters?), or head out for some mini-golf. Have something fun in mind so that you have a plan post conversation.
Infertility free day: Plan at least one day per week that you agree to avoid all infertility talk. Preferably on a weekend day so that you can actually enjoy a day together. Come up with little adventures to keep busy and just enjoy being together.
Listen: Infertility is not your fault. Infertility is not your partner’s fault. Infertility is a disease that quickly leads to feeling a complete loss of control. Listen when your partner needs to talk. When we don’t listen, we end up arguing. When we listen, I mean really listen; we stand a chance of working through these difficult feelings together.
And when in doubt, there’s always Cabernet…