How to Maintain Relationships During the Fertility Journey
Going through the fertility journey can be taxing both physically and emotionally, which can lead to strains on relationships. Between nurturing your friendships to maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner, it can seem impossible to make everyone (and yourself) happy during the journey. Learn how you can improve these relationships with a new mindset and these helpful tips.
How to Nurture Your Romantic Relationship
Perhaps the most challenging relationship to nurture during the fertility journey is the one between you and your partner. You both are going through the experience firsthand and this can cause new issues in your relationship that you never thought you’d have. Take the necessary steps to make your relationship with your partner and your infertility journey work hand-in-hand with these strategies.
Work Together as a Team
Perhaps one of the richest sources of infertility support you can get comes directly from your partner. That is why working together as a team is so crucial. Be each other’s cheerleader and offer help when your partner looks overwhelmed.
There are so many things to get done when you’re trying to conceive, so dividing up responsibilities can take a huge weight off of both your shoulders. For example, your partner can be in charge of scheduling all doctor appointments while you organize the medication, injection schedule, and procedures. Establishing a team effort like this shows that you both care and are in it together.
Find Time for Fun
Nurturing a relationship during the fertility journey takes a lot of communication and hard work, but you need to find time for fun as well. Take a step back from baby talk and lighten up the mood a bit. Reminisce on happy memories, talk about positive life updates, and fall in love all over again.
Whether you choose one day a week to go on a date or make dinner, schedule a chance to reconnect. Any effort (small or big) will help rekindle that flame in your relationship.
Learn to Empathize
Practicing empathy is a basic social skill necessary for everyday life, but it is especially important when your partner is struggling during infertility. Offer your partner infertility support by putting yourself in their shoes. Even if you can’t relate or don’t quite understand their point of view, listening and empathizing makes a world of difference. This not only will make your partner feel heard, but will also give your more insight on their perspective and how you can handle the situation the next time they are upset.
Separate Baby-Making from Love-Making
Infertility can put a huge strain on your sexual relationship because it can feel like a chore rather than fun. To bring romance back into the bedroom, try separating baby-making from love-making. Designating different rooms in your house for “fertility work” and “play” is one idea that may bring a spark back into your sex life. You can also plan intimacy at non-fertile times and do romantic couple’s activities like massages or bubble baths.
Focus on the Positives
It’s easy to get caught up in the negative side of your fertility journey, which is why you and your partner should make an effort to find the positives, no matter how small they may seem. Try your best to refrain from being critical about the situation or your partner themself. Give positive reinforcement on the things they are doing right and look at the bright side whenever possible. This strategy can only help you in nurturing a relationship, so you’ve got nothing to lose!
Consider Professional Counseling
Every couple is different when it comes to accepting professional help. Some prefer to see a counselor right away and others wait until the relationship is on the verge of breakdown. While it is up to you and your partner to decide, it’s important to remember that seeking professional help does not mean your relationship is flawed or that you are weak.
Infertility is extremely challenging and presents a whole new set of issues that you and your partner may not know how to handle. Counseling can you give the tools to work through these issues that you wouldn’t normally have.
How to Maintain Healthy Relationships with Friends & Family
While nurturing a relationship with your partner takes priority during the fertility journey, you want to keep in mind that friends and family are there for you too. Help maintain those relationships with these tips.
Ask for the Support You Need
Communication is key when it comes to getting infertility support from family and friends. Because the lines of privacy are unique to each couple, it can be difficult for friends to know how to communicate with you during your time of need. Set clear boundaries and let each person know the kind of support you want and feel comfortable with. Whether it’s regular check-ins or no fertility talk at all, clarifying with your friends and family will set you up for a successful relationship.
Know what Triggers You
Going through infertility can create a set of triggers you’ve never experienced before. Identify these triggers and communicate them to your friends and family before they’re brought up and an issue arises. It’s crucial to explain and be completely honest from the start because otherwise, resentment can build and slowly cause deeper problems within your relationships.
Choose People You Trust & Share Your Experience
Sometimes opening up is the saving grace for relationships during the fertility journey. Bottling up your emotions when you’re around friends and family is mentally exhausting and may lead to misunderstandings. Evaluate you and your partner’s comfort level and try choosing a couple people to confide in. This gives you the opportunity for more support and strengthens the bond between you and your friend or family member.
Tips for Sharing Your Infertility Experience
If you’ve decided to make the leap and share your fertility journey with those closest to you, know that you are being very brave. Infertility is a sensitive, intimate topic and sharing your experience takes courage. As you and your partner prepare to tell friends and family, consider following these guidelines to make the experience as positive as possible.
Discuss with Your Partner Beforehand
You and your partner need to be on the same page when it comes to sharing your private life. Decide how much detail you both would like to share before meeting with friends and family, so you show respect for each other’s wishes.
Consider Rehearsing Your Story
Explaining infertility to friends and family is nerve racking and can be uncomfortable. Try rehearsing what you would like to share, so you are prepared and confident when the time comes.
Pick the Right Time & Place
Such a sensitive announcement should only be discussed in the proper setting. Pick a time to talk when people are not rushed or distracted and make sure it’s a private place where you feel comfortable.
Communicate Your Support Needs
While you don’t necessarily need to tackle this topic right away, it can be good to address sooner rather than later. After sharing your fertility journey, let friends and family know how they can support you. This can refer to frequency of communication and how you want them to reach you (in person, over the phone, etc.).
Set Boundaries for Communication
Similar to explaining your support needs, you should also identify boundaries. Let them know what topics are off limits and which ones you’d like to bring up yourself. Your friends and family are there to offer infertility support, but they can only do it with your help and guidance.
As you navigate your way through the fertility journey, give yourself and those around you the chance to practice all of these strategies for maintaining healthy relationships. A lot of patience, communication, and effort go a long way and will help give you the infertility support you need. If you need any support on a professional level, Red Rock Fertility Center is available for guidance and advice. Schedule an appointment with a fertility specialist if you have any questions.