A diagnosis of infertility can be devastating, but as surprising as this may sound, it’s not all bad news. While both parties are navigating a complex web of emotions, the journey brings up some big wins. Most couples find this as a time to grow closer together, strengthen their relationship, learn new ways of communicating, share coping strategies, and as an opportunity to get to know each other in ways they never expected. Here are four ways you can nurture and strengthen your relationship with your partner while going through fertility treatments.
Agree to a time-out
Between the doctor appointments, the early morning monitoring, medications, injections, and procedures, it is hard to focus on anything but your fertility treatment. However, it is critical to carve out partner time that has nothing to do with this journey. Together, you can agree on parameters, such as time set aside to do things you both enjoy, taking a break from all the “baby talk”. While you should talk about the challenges you are facing together, giving yourself permission to celebrate all of the things you have always enjoyed doing together and separately will be incredibly beneficial for you and your partner.
Work as a team
It is much easier and more bearable to get through challenging times when you feel like you have someone on your side. Divvying up the tasks to achieving this common goal will make everything more manageable. For example, you might schedule and manage all of the doctor and specialist appointments, while your partner organizes the medication, injection schedule and procedures. This equal amount of responsibility will give you both the necessary space to achieve your goals, thereby bringing each of you a greater sense of accomplishment. Likewise, you must be each other’s cheerleader! Take turns lifting each other up in times of need. This will make your relationship that much stronger and allow you to appreciate your relationship and partner more fully.
Each partner in this journey will have his or her own pain points. What one partner may think is the least of the concerns may be the thing that triggers the highest emotions for the other. First, know that this is normal because we are all hard-wired differently. The most important aspect of working through the other partner’s pain is to practice empathy. Try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes to understand where he/she is coming from and the reasons they feel the way they do. Even if you disagree, having empathy will widen your perspective and soften your approach to each other.
Get professional counseling
Going through fertility treatment tests individuals and couples in ways they did not expect. Seeking professional help does not mean your relationship is weak or flawed, but rather that the healthiest relationships consists of individuals who are open to getting help when a problem arises. Think of couples counseling as an investment in your relationship. You can use your fertility center as a resource to find a mental health professional that specializes in the issues surrounding infertility, or sometimes your insurance provider or fertility benefit management company will offer behavioral health services free of charge.
Going through fertility treatment is undoubtedly challenging for most couples; however, there are ways to nurture your relationship during this time that can help you get through it together. Many couples report a higher level of satisfaction in their relationship after having gone through such a challenging ordeal. Try and stay connected to one another; conquer this as a team and you will likely find that you have a stronger relationship in the end.
Alyssa Baron, Behavioral Health Care Manager at WINFertility
Alyssa Baron, LCSW works as a Behavioral Health Care Manager at WINFertility, the nation’s leading family-building and fertility benefit management company, which provides comprehensive solutions for employers, health plans and consumers. Alyssa and her Behavioral Health team work with WIN’s Nurse Care Managers to ensure that every fertility patient not only gets the clinical guidance they need, but also the emotional support that’s needed throughout the journey. Alyssa spends her time supporting women and men and their mental health as they embark upon egg freezing, fertility treatments, surrogacy and adoption.