7 Strategies to Help a Couple Support Each Other When Struggling With Infertility
Dealing with infertility can be one of the most difficult challenges a couple can face in their relationship. The emotional impact of infertility can take its toll on each partner, diminishing their self-esteem and making them feel like they have no control over their life. For women, especially, medication and procedures can make them feel like their body isn’t their own anymore. To add to this, couples also have to deal with the financial burden of infertility as well as work-related stress. But instead of crumbling under the pressure of understanding infertility and its implications, couples can use this as an opportunity to strengthen their bond. Here are a few ways for partners to support each other while they embark on their journey to conception.
1.Understand how each of you is coping
Most men and women cope with the stress of infertility in a completely different way. Women prefer to voice their anxieties and speak at length about their emotions with their partner, family and a close circle of friends. In a lot of cases, men are the polar opposite. When men feel upset or anxious about infertility, they tend to internalise their emotions and try to work through it by themselves. This can make their partner feel like they’re aloof and disinterested. Understanding how each of you is dealing with infertility can go a long way in avoiding miscommunications and resentment. Try to have an open, honest conversation with each other so you can understand the other better instead of reaching conclusions on your own.
2.Openly discuss your feelings-but choose your words carefully
It’s completely normal for couples to experience feelings of inadequacy and guilt when coping with infertility. However, a lot of times, these emotions can be expressed instead as anger and resentment. When there is a lack of communication about infertility, marriage problems can often arise. This is why you should try to talk about your feelings honestly with your partner. But even while you have an open conversation, it’s important that you carefully think about your words and the impact that they might have. Using phrases like “you never” and “you always’ can make your partner feel attacked and distract from the matter at hand.
3.Go to all your doctor’s appointments together
Dealing with infertility as well as the emotional and physical stress which come with it can often be a very isolating experience. Societal conditioning can make women feel like infertility is their fault and that their body has betrayed them. Infertility can also make men believe that they aren’t as virile or ‘manly’. But throughout this emotional turmoil, it’s important for a couple to remember that they are in this together. Being able to lean on each other can be the best way to face infertility head-on. One of the most effective ways to do this is by going to every doctor’s appointment together. Even if both partners aren’t required for the procedure, simply being there will help the other person feel like they have unconditional support.
4.Share the burden of daily chores equally
When they’re already dealing with stress due to infertility, additional burdens can often be too much for a couple to bear. Much too often, women do the bulk of the housework as well as daily chores like grocery shopping and picking up the dry cleaning. During fertility treatments, they also often go through the most number of procedures and medication. Both of these can affect a woman’s mental and physical strength. In these situations, it’s important that men realise what their partner is going through and try to lighten their load as much as possible. This means cleaning the house, cooking meals and simply being there for their partner when she needs it.
5.Express your admiration for each other
Self-esteem can often take a massive hit when a couple goes through the struggle of infertility. Both partners tend to feel inadequate and are riddled with feelings of guilt and insecurity. For women, infertility procedures and medication can worsen things because they can make her feel like her body is being violated. The side-effects of these procedures and the pain can also make a woman feel unattractive and less womanly. At times like these, both partners need to constantly reaffirm their love for each other and express their admiration for the person that they are. Just by frequently complimenting your partner, you can help your partner rebuild their sense of self-worth.
6.Find stress-busting activities to do together
Finding productive outlets for stress can help prevent it from building up and turning into anger. Stress is almost always the reason why couples become impatient with each other and constantly bicker when they’re dealing with infertility. Instead of allowing stress to consume their relationship, couples can use this as an opportunity to come closer. Stress-relieving activities like yoga, meditation and even working out together can kill stress and give couples a fun way to bond with each other.
7.Make an effort to increase intimacy
Even though sex is the most important aspect of conception, ironically, it’s often the first thing to take a hit when a couple is confronted with infertility. Because of what it represents, sex can often remind couples of their failure to conceive. Sex can also become difficult when you’re trying hard to get pregnant because almost every aspect of it becomes monitored. Both partners can feel like there is no emotional connection anymore and often lose their sex drive. Men can also experience erectile dysfunction if they feel too pressured to perform. This is why it’s important that couples take time out to increase feelings of intimacy through romantic gestures. They should also try to have sex during non-ovulation days, so they don’t feel burdened by the pressure to conceive.
At Motherhood IVF, we understand that infertility can be demanding, emotionally stressful and physically draining for every couple. This is why our comprehensive infertility treatments include counselling to make the journey to conception easier for you. Visit Motherhood IVF today and take the first step towards your dream of becoming a parent.